Thursday, September 11, 2014

Harder and Harder

We withdrew our application to adopt with Catholic Charities today.

And it broke our hearts.

It's not supposed to be this way, you know.  Adoption isn't supposed to be so hard. Adopting domestically especially should not be so hard.   Adopting as Catholics working with a Catholic agency, in particular, should not be so hard.

My great-grandmother was adopted.  In those days, if a parent couldn't care for their child, they or others looked for a family they trusted and gave that child to them.  A trip to the county courthouse a few weeks or months later sealed the deal.   Or in my great-grandmother's case, the deal was never made official.  She just lived with another family as their daughter for the rest of her life and took their name. The family cared for her and raised her as their own and until death, she loved them dearly.

I'm not advocating that we return to those days.  Of course not.  I'm certainly understanding of the need for background checks, family histories, tests for communicable diseases, inspections of the home environment, and even, to some degree, the financing of birthmothers' expenses and payments that support agencies who assist couples trying to navigate the adoption process.   All of this is necessary today and understandable.

However, I do not understand why a process that is already fraught with red tape as well as emotional and financial stress, that takes months to complete followed often by years of waiting, why do we make it even harder?

We withdrew our application because it was getting too hard.  Harder than it needed to be.  Harder than, in our opinion, it should be.   We withdrew because someone decided that before a couple completes a home study (and all that involves), it would be "good" for them to attend mandatory trainings for six weeks.  Even if the trainings are located 100 miles away from their home. Even if the trainings require couples with children to find childcare.  Even if the trainings require the couple to take time off work.  Even if the trainings are only offered once or twice a year.  Even if the couple has already been through the adoption process before.

We tried to get on-board.  We really did.   We arranged the child care.  My husband informed his employer that he would not be able to take any business-related trips for the next six weeks, and his employer graciously understood and agreed.   We tried to figure out a way for my husband to make up the hours of work that he would be losing in order to attend the mandatory trainings.  He'd have to work on weekends, or late into the night.  We would be leaving in early afternoons and getting home after our boys were already tucked into their beds, hopefully sound asleep, but without their nightly ritual of bath, story, prayers. We ordered the two books we were required to read, one about open adoption and one about transracial adoption, and read the first 55 pages required before the first meeting.  We burned the midnight oil as we each wrote up our responses to the 22 questions (plus subparts) that the agency asked us to address for our "social history".

In the end, we realized that it just wasn't going to work.   It was too much for us to agree to.   So, we are back to the beginning again.   After already having started this process once before, in November 2012, we are back to square one again.

We will find another agency, but it will not be the one we wanted.  We wanted to work with Catholic Charities because we are Catholic.  We love our Church and when we decided to adopt again, we wanted to do so within our Church, and we were happy to put our finances and time into supporting our Church in that manner, even though we knew our odds of getting a baby were better if we went elsewhere.

And so, I will end where I began, by just asking, why do we have to make this harder than it already is?  What is really necessary for a couple to be ready to adopt?  Is it 6 hours of videos followed by 3 hours of discussion?  Is it completing 10 hours of required reading about transracial and open adoption?   Is it attending 8 hours of parenting classes?    All of this is well and good, but when it gets to the point that these requirements become discouraging, instead of encouraging, to couples pursuing adoption, I think adoption agencies may have missed the bigger point.  I think maybe they have forgotten that what is really required can not be found in a book, or a video, or a support group, or a classroom exercise.

My great-grandmother was adopted by a minister and his wife who were older in age and known throughout the community as "barren" because they had no children of their own despite years of marriage.  They were known to be good-hearted people, hard workers, devout Christians, and financially stable because he got a small stipend each month for his service in the Civil War.   And so, when a small girl was found abandoned at a train station by her mother, it was to them that the child was taken.  Because they met all the requirements.  
And as a result, here I am today.
Just trying to meet all the requirements, too.


  1. You left out the part where you have to do back flips on a tightrope. I hope your next agency will be better.

    1. Thanks, Lena. In some ways, back flips might've been easier! :o)

  2. Lynda, we are matched at a part of this parenthood journey at last! We too are trying to figure out which agency/how to do this, and Catholic Charities of Omaha are not taking new adoptive families for the next year, at least. :( We too thought we'd be a good match with them, and the alternatives just don't seem as perfect to us, but we're trying to figure out what to do. We are praying for you!

    1. Thanks, Chella. I'm not sure what's going on with Catholic Charities, but having worked with them in two states now for adoption services, they seem to be moving out of the adoption business for various reasons, which is a tragedy. The lack of infants available for adoption (thanks primarily to legalized abortion) has definitely changed the playing field for adoption agencies. Yes, let's pray for each other.

  3. Just catching up with my blog reading! So sad to read this update. You know, I wish you were the first person I had read a post from who said something like this about Catholic Charities. It irritates me that you're not.

    How are children loved and nurtured and served by these kinds of obstacles to adoption? I will just never understand. Somewhere also there is an echo in the air of an ignorant person saying "just adopt". I can hear it and it makes me want to chase those people down with a wiffle ball bat. If only they had a clue what people go through to try and adopt...

    1. If there were more babies being given the chance to be adopted (instead of being aborted), the adoption process in this country would look completely different. Sadly, that is not the case. And, I'm right there with you on the wiffle bat!

  4. I'm so sorry that this is such a difficult journey. I hope you find a good agency that will work well for you and you can get back on this journey very soon. I'll be keeping you and your family in my prayers.