Jason and Heather with their daughter Ryhanna
We are pleased to present our second blog series by an adoptive family! This three-part series, written by Jason L., will cover his family's experience throughout the big steps of adoption: getting ready to adopt, the matching process and finally, your adopted child becoming a part of your family. This first part is all about Jason and his wife beginning their adoption journey.
It all started with a conversation over dinner on vacation. My wife Heather and I had been talking about adopting since we were dating, but the timing had never seemed right. After we got married in our mid-20s we focused on building our careers, traveling and busying ourselves with everything that life had to offer us as a married couple. Then, during a long weekend in Québec City in March 2017, the subject of adoption came up again. This time, something had changed. Suddenly it seemed to finally be the right time. For the rest of the trip, each dinner included planning for this new chapter in our family’s story.
When you stand at the beginning of the process of adoption, it’s hard to know where to start. There are plenty of blog posts and opinion pieces to read, but this journey is personal. Aside from the paperwork, the path you take is different for everyone. You can get advice and input, which is important, but the final decisions are yours.
The best thing you can do for yourself is to find a supportive and knowledgeable agency to work with. For us, Cambridge Family & Children’s Service was the organization that provided the support and guidance we were looking for to begin our journey.
When we walked into our first Massachusetts Approach to Partnership in Parenting (MAPP) class , little did we know our fellow classmates would become part of our support system and extended family. I’m not saying that these relationships can be found in every MAPP group but I’m so glad that we found them in ours.
No matter if you already have children or are brand-new to parenthood like we were, the MAPP classes are a crash course that offers answers to pretty much any question you could ever think to ask. Some of the discussions are light-hearted, but a great deal of them offer insight into dealing with the trauma and difficulties that children in the foster care system deal with. These kids have been through situations that many of us couldn’t even imagine experiencing. One thing to remember is that no child enters the system by choice – there is always some form of trauma attached, so while adoption may be a happy moment for you, it may include some sadness for the child.
The MAPP classes feel like a daunting task to overcome in your journey toward adoption, but the real work begins once they’re complete. That’s when you begin the home study process.
The home study is the document that tells the whole story – the truth and nothing but the truth – about you, your family and the backgrounds you’ve all come from. Some of the questions may bring up difficult memories for people, while others will make you think about happier times. But the home study’s purpose is not only to enable you to reflect, but also to provide caseworkers with the background they need to ensure that you’re matched with the child you’re best suited for. The home study offered my wife and me the chance to reflect on what had actually drawn us toward the idea of adoption and why it was so important to us. It also gave us a chance to revisit how we had been raised and the things we’d do differently as parents.
The process of adopting, from the initial paperwork to the final approvals, is daunting. I don’t say this to deter anyone. You’re dealing with the lives of children. The process should be one that makes you think about and question each step, but all the work is worth it when you finally complete your family. After the home study comes the part that makes this entire process very real: being matched with a child. I’ll write about our experience with matching in my next post.