Trisha adopted her son from Thailand in 2011.
What I Learned From Adopting My Son
people found Trisha's experience helpful.
"Adoption" is one of the most meaningful words in my vocabulary.
In 1962, my mom was adopted after losing her mother to an inoperable brain tumor. Twenty years later, my mom adopted me from foster care. Motherhood has always been synonymous with adoption in my mind. I've always known I would adopt, and I finally achieved that goal in 2011.
My husband and I decided to adopt our first child from Thailand. After applying to and being accepted by an agency, our adoption coordinator sent us a DVD with pictures and interviews of waiting children in a Thai orphanage. From the moment we saw the one-year-old boy with the big brown eyes and the bed head, we knew he belonged with us. We're often asked, "Why Thailand?" And our answer is simple: "Because that's where our son was living."
As cliché as it sounds, we just knew.
Problems and Issues Encountered
The hardest part of our adoption journey can be summed up in one word: waiting.
When we began the process, we were told that it would take us 12 to 15 months from start to finish. Instead, 30 months later, we were finally home with the little boy we had watched grow up via occasional photos. Our baby was four years old by the time we brought him home. We have since heard this story many times from families who are adopting, especially if the adoption is international. The delay had such an impact on us that we ended up writing a book on waiting!
The timeline can be very unpredictable. Another challenging aspect of our adoption was deciding who or what we were willing to add to our family dynamic. Early into our paperwork, we were given a list of potential issues ranging from minor birth defects to HIV to terminal illnesses, and we were asked to check the boxes of the issues we would accept. We had to wade through honest questions and battle personal guilt to decide what we thought we could handle. Bringing a child into our home with physical needs that we would be unable to meet would be unprofitable for everyone involved.
It is paramount to understand that an adoption process is a personal journey, which means no one else's story, opinions, timeline, or feelings will look exactly the same. And that's OK.
What I Would Do Differently
I would do my best not to put my life on hold while waiting for the adoption to be finalized. By the time we hit month 12 or 15, bringing our son home was all I could think about, so the second half of our adoption wait was excruciating. Holidays were especially difficult. Watching my friends have their first (and second and third) babies while I waited for one made me feel like I was being punished.
I hit a milestone birthday during our adoption wait, and my husband and I decided to get out of town for the weekend. We left the state and went to a zoo in Toledo — a really dumb move for someone trying not to think about kids.
My Advice For Others
First of all, know that your adoption experience is and will be absolutely worth it. Every piece of paperwork (and there will be tons), every tear shed (and there could be tons), and every bend in the road (and there might be tons) will lead you to the child or children that belong in your home. The same morning I finally held my son in my arms on an open-air porch in Central Thailand where the sweltering heat mixed with the curried aromas from the nearby street carts, I was ready to do it all again.
Second, find other people who are adopting in similar situations and pool your resources. I joined Facebook groups specific to our adoption agency and country of choice. When I had questions, I asked. People were always able and happy to answer. Some of my closest friendships were born in these groups.
Third, prepare to be asked any number of personal questions. For some reason, adoption seems to warrant intimate conversation. We've been asked about our fertility, our son's personal health history, and the circumstances around his being surrendered to an orphanage. Strangers in the grocery store will look at my son and ask things that make me blush. In the beginning, this infuriated me. Now, I see each question as an opportunity to reinforce to my little boy how very much he is loved and accepted.
Finally, understand you are making a difference.
From someone whose life was saved by adoption, I thank you.