Narrowing It Down

Today and tomorrow I am answering questions from fabulous commenter Artemis: “Hi. I guess my question is why you decided to place, and how you came to that decision? Maybe you covered that already but I only discovered your blog about a month ago. And what made you choose Ruth and Nora?” If you have a question, lay it on me.

How did I pick Ruth and Nora? Well, although I was not able to use the agency I first contacted (instead I had to use an agency from the state in which I lived, an agency about which I have many unpleasant things to say), I started out thinking that I would be working with them—so I looked through the couples on their website first. I had a long list of things that I wanted, some more important than others:

  • I wanted a stay-at-home parent. I know that many excellent parents put their kids into daycare—and, in fact, Cricket may start daycare next fall—but I don’t like it, personally.
  • I wanted the couple to live in a big city. I’ve lived in big cities and tiny towns, and felt trapped in the small towns.
  • I wanted Democrats. Obviously I can’t choose what beliefs his parents share with Cricket, but—during the entrustment, Ruth talked about wanting Cricket to grow up with a strong sense of social justice. How great is that?!
  • I wanted a gay or lesbian couple. This was one of my more flexible criteria, and in fact I shortlisted several straight couples. Here was my thinking: I had been lurking adoption forums for awhile before I made my choice, and I saw a number of women adopting because of infertility who had a great deal of grief and rage, some of which got taken out on the birthmothers. I can’t tell you how many times I saw the “pregnant, crack-addicted sixteen-year-old” nastiness, and as a twenty-five-year-old woman who used no drugs and was in a monogamous relationship…I wasn’t impressed, let’s just say. I know that there are many, many straight couples adopting because of infertility who are generous, kind, awesome people. But I couldn’t find a way to pick them out based on their “Dear Birthmother” letters. =/ In Dan Savage’s book, he talks about feeling that being able to adopt was an amazing privilege, and I thought, What a great way to come into adoption. I want that.
  • I wanted a couple who were religious, but not fundamentalist.
  • I wanted a couple with no more than one child already. I grew up fundamentalist, and it left me with a bias against a great many things, large families among them. My mother didn’t have enough time and attention for all four of us; I wanted Cricket to be the center of somebody’s universe. That said, it wasn’t important to me that he be an only child, and if all goes as planned, he won’t be. But I do like it that he will have had a couple of years as the star of the show.
  • I wanted them to own their own home. A lot of money wasn’t important to me, and in fact Ruth and Nora are not well off—but they have enough money to have bought a house and to be able to get Cricket anything he needs.

There’s one thing that wasn’t on my list going into the process that ended up being incredibly important; Ruth and Nora looked genuinely happy in their picture. I would say that more than half of the couples in the pool did not look really happy in their picture, but Ruth and Nora seemed glad to be next to each other, glad to be wherever they were. It was a nice bonus that Ruth is a vegetarian, like me; I was pretty sure that they lived in the Emerald City, where I planned to move. I thought that I would get along best with Nora—she actually looked like someone I would have dated—but in fact Ruth and I have ended up building a close friendship, while I’m just amiably not close to Nora.

By the time that I first spoke to them, I was sure that they were the ones. They were fairly reserved during that first conversation, which I now know was a good sign—they wanted the right match, not just any match—but at the time it made me feel as though I had to win them over, rather than vice versa. After that conversation, I got a copy of their full profile, which felt to me as though I was just confirming what I already knew: Yes, yes, these are the ones. After a second conversation in which I explained that I still wanted to match with them, they planned a trip to visit. It went well. =)

It’s funny; I still look at the agency website sometimes, see who is in the pool. There are couples waiting whom I evaluated back in the day—there is even one couple I liked, but their Dear Birthmother letter says so little about them that I didn’t seriously consider them. I even—and this is strange—will pick out the couple I would choose if I had to pick today. Right now, it’s a charming gay couple with a three-year-old daughter (if you wondered).

3 thoughts on “Narrowing It Down

  1. I think this is one of the things that really bothers me about people with those businesses of helping potential adoptive parents market themselves to expectant parents. First of all the whole thing is yucky (and you know I read The Kid and swore I’d never do a domestic infant adoption because of the high yuck factor and lo and behold — sigh). But when these “consultants” step in with their scrapbooking materials, they encourage people to be less than honest right from the get-go. There’s this assumption that expectant moms are all teen girls yearning for picket fences and a stay-at-home mommy and daddy with a brief case and maybe a golden retriever when of course expectant mothers are PEOPLE whose needs and goals and hopes for their children are as varied as they are for any of us. Pennie chose us for the reasons other people didn’t (that we had a child, that we were interfaith) and another agency might have encouraged us to be a little less forthcoming about those “minuses” to snag a baby faster.

    • Yeah, it does seem in some ways self-sabotaging to market yourself to that ur-birthmom–our #2 pick had a stay-at-home dad who was a roboticist, for heaven’s sake, not what the imaginary teen mom longing for Mr. and Mrs. Cleaver would have had in mind. And if you’re looking for an open adoption, you’re going to be in contact with this woman possibly for the rest of your life; you should probably let her know who you really are. I didn’t even know about the whole scrapbook thing until after I was matched; Ruth and Nora’s profile was just on printer paper. [shrugs]

  2. Thanks for answering my question.
    It goes to show that there’s no advantage in being inauthentic in this thing, because there’s no way of telling what important to who.

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