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.