When Dan and I made a firm decision to adopt our first child, we started the home study process immediately, in May. Over the summer, during the crazy home study process, I began to make a mental to-do list for before our baby’s arrival. Since we’d been in Silicon Valley only about eight months at that point, key on that list was developing a support system to have in place when our child came home: building existing friendships, making new friendships, developing a path to much greater community. I was actually tempted to suggest putting off adoption for a year to give us more time to do that, but I was also excited to get going on bringing our child home.
When we finished our home study the last week in August, we signed up with the facilitation service that our adoption attorney offered. We knew that our attorney had a quicker than average match-and-birth rate than most agencies, but that we were likely looking at six months to one year before our child came home. My to-do list moved from a mental one to a written one. I planned to have many of the practical items checked off by October 15th–very early, given the estimated match times, but I am a planner at heart.
Less than two weeks after we finished our home study, in early September, we got the call that Liam’s birth mom had given birth that day and then, if we would accept, had chosen us from our attorney’s website to become the parents to her son.
In many ways, it was an ideal situation for us. Less than an hour later, we said yes. Four hours later, we went to the airport to fly to Liam and his birth mom.
I had had this vision of us having a fall baby, but I had told myself over and over how unlikely it was that we would match that quickly.
Liam’s adoption is, and always will be, one of the key stories of my life. In many ways, it is miraculous to me. I would never go so far as to say that it was meant to be, as I think that minimizes the experiences that Liam’s birth mom had to go through (and must still be going through, as she grieves), but I could (and may later) enumerate a whole series of serendipities that led to his successful birth and our match with him. And he is a chill and happy little boy, which fills me with awe, as I am naturally neither very chill nor particularly easily happy. I wake up bleary-eyed in the morning when he begins to make noise, I carry him to change his diaper, and he inevitably looks at me calmly and then gives a huge grin. . . . Over and over, I can’t believe my good fortune of having this amazing son, so quickly and easily when the adoption processes are rarely quick or easy.
Yet there was that whole to-do list of ways that I wanted to get ready for his arrival. Some of it was pretty easy to accomplish at the last minute: one expensive trip to BabiesRUs and one mind-blowingly expensive Amazon order accomplished a lot of what we needed. Friends helped in many ways by offering items their babies had used. (Over time, gifts also poured in.) We weren’t finished saving for the later adoption expenses, so very large sums for adoption costs went on two credit cards. (We’ll have half paid off by the end of this year, and then we’ll have to pay off the rest next year.) I had been diligently working on inducing lactation to breastfeed our future child, but my breasts weren’t close to ready with this early match, so instead Dan and I picked up breast milk donations from a bunch of awesome moms all over the Bay Area. We just dealt with a lot of what had to be done.
But there’s no shortcut to building community. It takes time and energy and commitment. It also takes a sense of self-worth that I have sometimes lacked in the last two years. At times, it has been easier to rely heavily on my husband for my social outlet than to reach out over and over (which is what it takes) to new people, often in new situations. Yet it is essential, to me, to raise a child within the interconnectedness of a support system–not least because it is essential for me to have that community for my own wellness.
We’re now faced with needing to build community while raising an infant: an amazing little boy who consumes most of my time and energy and will-power right now. I have a great list of ways to find and create relationships at this stage of life. I just have to find it in me to follow through day by day.