“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” –Win Borden

Finally deciding to pursue adoption was pretty scary. I’d always imagined having adopted children, but I hadn’t ever realized that having adopted children meant I actually had to adopt them. Doesn’t a stork just drop them off on the doorstep?

I spent a lot of time browsing the internet for information on adopting in Alberta. I read everything I could find so many times that it was nearly memorized. At some point I landed on the government site with the profiles of the cutest damn kids I’d ever seen. I’d been to this site a few times over the years and I noticed that a lot of the profiles hadn’t changed during that time. There was one sibling group in particular that caught my eye; they had been on the site as long as I could remember and it broke my heart that they still didn’t have a forever home. That was the day I picked up the phone and called the head office in Edmonton for more information on the adoption process. I talked to a very helpful woman for nearly an hour, and I gained a lot of information. I knew right then and there that I was going to submit an application, but there was one thing I needed to figure out before I did.

I was in a relationship at the time. It wasn’t a particularly serious one, but still it brought up a lot of questions about adopting as a young single person. I wondered if I was giving up something I might one day regret. I wondered if I was willing to put my love life on hold for at least a couple of years until my kids were settled, and I considered that being a single mother might make me less desirable to potential husbands in the future.

It was a tough situation to be in, and one I thought about for a few months. What I concluded was that adopting was my dream and not one I would ever be willing to give up, so if that made life more complicated in the future then that would be okay. There are only so many things you can control in creating the life you want for yourself. I couldn’t force “Steve” to show up before the time was right, but I could go ahead with the rest of my life, anyway.

“If you wait to do everything until you’re sure it’s right, you’ll probably never do much of anything.” –Win Borden

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” -Napoleon Hill

“What made you decide to do that?” is the most common question I’m asked when I tell people about my ambitions to start my family via domestic (government) adoption, and that’s where I’m going to start my story.

I never really “decided” to adopt. It was already decided for me; be it by early life experiences, my subconscious, or God, I don’t really know.

Honestly, I can’t really remember a time when I didn’t simply envision adoption being a part of my life. As a kid, I loved playing “house” with my friends. We had dolls, but much of the game was made up of imaginary people. My make-believe husband’s name was always Steve, I had a baby doll named Samantha, and each time during this little game of grown-up, I would somehow welcome more imaginary “adopted” children into my pretend-life. The circumstances behind my pretend adoptions were never played out; I was too young to understand those kinds of things, but my longing to be a mother to anyone who needed mothering was always very apparent.

As I grew into my teenage years, this image of Steve, Samantha, and my adopted children remained in the back of my head; I assumed that someday that would be my life, and I didn’t think about it any further than that until I was well into my twenties.

Going from the point of imagining I would adopt to actually filling out the application wasn’t really the smooth and natural process you would assume. For a few years in my twenties, I forgot about my childhood dream. I was doing a lot of “growing” as a person; finding my place in the world. I focused on my career, had a few relationships and got my heart broke once or twice. There was even a period (however short-lived) when I wasn’t sure if I wanted kids at all. I was finally past that point in life where every day was a struggle to survive. I was enjoying my career and making decent money and I liked the freedoms that came with it. I wasn’t sure if I would ever want to give it up. That feeling didn’t last very long however and soon I was once again under the impression that I would one day find my “Steve” and have a family of my own. At that point, I hadn’t considered adopting on my own, and I wasn’t really in a rush for a family, so life went on for a couple of years with nothing in particular happening.

It’s strange how sad things in life can turn into really amazing opportunities. In November of 2011 I unexpectedly lost my father. The year following that was an emotional roller-coaster but I took the necessary steps to work through my grief and I came out the other side with a lot of clarity. I was a different version of the same person; I had “grown up” you could say.

I realized that waiting around for life to happen is stupid. I had goals, dammit and there was nothing but fear standing in between us. I didn’t have my “Steve” but I had a good job, a supportive family and a lot of love to offer. I was ready to move into the next phase in my life, and if I had to do it on my own then I would.

“Cherish your visions and your dreams as they are the children of your soul, the blueprints of your ultimate achievements.” Napoleon Hill

Posted by: Sarah
Are you following me on Twitter? @sarw1985

Navigating the adoption process – Training

We finally decided to adopt.  Now what?

We got the application paperwork filled out and submitted.  This was the first step in our journey of “hurry up and wait”.  We discovered that there are piles and piles of paperwork to complete, and each step required some scrambling and tough conversations.  Then we would wait.  Being the analytical type, I may have made these steps a little more exhausting than I needed to…but lucky for me, my husband was prepared for that.  We started our first adoption in 2011, so please keep in mind that some of the steps may have changed or been improved since that time.

So first we had to decide what type of adoption we wanted to pursue.  We looked at international adoptions and what countries we might qualify to adopt from, but we ultimately decided that our hearts were set on the route of a domestic adoption; adopting a preschool aged or older child from our social services system.  Our original plan was that we would begin building our family through adoption and that we may add to our family with biological children down the road (On a side note, now that we have 3 adopted children that plan has changed!).  Once we had made our decision, that’s when the journey really started moving.

Our initial batch of paperwork was submitted, so the next step was to sign up for the next available Adoptive Parent Training session.  I think it was about two months before we were scheduled to attend.  There we spent two days learning about the system that children in care were involved in and the process of adoption.  One of the facts that really stuck with me was that each child in care was considered to have special needs.  Even if there are no other diagnosed needs or challenges that each child may have, they are all children with special needs based on the early trauma in their lives and the separation from their biological families.  Attachment disorders, therapeutic parenting styles and FASD were all a big focus during this training.  I asked my husband what his favorite part of the training was…apparently, it was the shwarma place next door.  (To be fair, it really was amazing!)  When asked to try again, his answer was when we had the opportunity to meet some adoptive families and their children.  It was nice to put some faces to some of the stories that we had been hearing and a chance to ask about their experiences navigating the system.  The home study process was certainly a hot topic for questions when these families came in to visit.  That was the next step in the process of adoption.  Once the training was complete, we started the next batch of paperwork and the waiting to meet the person who would delve into our lives as individuals and as a couple… On to the home study!

Posted by: Cara

Making the decision to adopt. Sounds like a big deal…right?!

I remember trying to figure out the best way to bring up the idea of adoption to my husband.

We had talked about starting our family, but really hadn’t looked at timing, finances, and just generally where we were at in life.  At least not really seriously.  We both knew that we wanted children, but that was pretty much as far as we had gotten.  So I had been walking around with it (the idea of adopting) in my head for almost a month.  Actually, I had wanted to adopt since I was about 13 years old, but I had only started thinking that it was something I was ready for over the last month.  I had looked into the process but really only at a surface level.  I didn’t want to get too excited at the thought since I wasn’t really sure how my husband would react.  I knew that he loved kids and hoped for a family.  I knew that he would be an amazing father.  I knew that he had one of the biggest hearts I had ever seen, but adoption wasn’t something that we had ever really discussed or knew much about.  We both have people in our families that had been adopted, but that was just part of their story.  Who they are has never been defined by being adopted from an outside perspective, so it was never something that we had really looked at in depth.  Our families are our families, and we love them.

After driving myself crazy with excitement at the idea of building our family through adoption, I had to put it out there.  It ended up being on a holiday to the family cabin.  It’s so quiet there.  So peaceful.  I had spent all this time in my head trying to figure out the right time and how to bring it up…  In my head I was thoughtful, articulate and eloquent in my reasons.  We were outside at the fire pit, and I guess I must have been unusually quiet.   My very perceptive husband asked me what was on my mind, and after all the time I had spent thinking through the idea of adoption and how I wanted to present this to the man I love, all I managed to blurt out was “I think we should adopt.”  And then I waited.  I’m not sure why it felt like such a big statement and why I was so nervous about his response, but I was terrified.  Looking back now, almost 4 years ago, it seems a little surreal.  When I look at all that we have in our lives and all that we are a part of…so much of it started with that moment.  That conversation.  I remember so vividly the feeling of anxiety coursing through me as I waited for my husband’s response.  While I was holding my breath, trying to prepare myself for the barrage of questions and funny looks that I was sure to receive from my husband, he looked over at me, grinned and said “Okay!  I always thought about adopting!”.  Seriously??

If he knew what our world would look like after the ball started rolling, I wonder if it would’ve been so easy…  🙂  And just for the record, the conversations we have had with so many others since then haven’t always gone quite so smoothly, but if we had to choose, we would do all of it again!  But that’s for another post.

Posted by: Cara