Beginning a Family – Our Way!

my storyFor us, we always knew we wanted to adopt which probably made our case different from most. It also took more convincing since a lot of people could not understand our decision or thought we were not being honest about our intentions. We won them over by candidly answering any questions they had. We were both 35 and working and felt we were financially and emotionally ready to begin a family……our way!

Our little boy has been with us since May 2013. We commenced the process mid-February, 2013 and frankly; we were dazed at the speed at which things moved for us, especially since we were told by the agency that the process generally takes eighteen months!! Suddenly three months later, we were pinching ourselves…..We were going to be parents!

What really caught us by surprise was the paperwork – the sheer amount of it, the notarizing of documents, the money involved and the tediousness of getting it all done. As a working couple, it was not easy to pull together reference letters, letters from the Church and other documents quickly. Nobody sensed the urgency and hence delays were inevitable. Once we had submitted our files, we were given the number of the social worker who conducted our home study.

Our home study was surprisingly much easier and more relaxed than we expected it to be, as compared to the feedback we gathered from the internet. Our social worker was to the point and so were we, in our responses. We were advised by friends who had gone through the process not to be tempted to lie, even if we felt that the answer would be more suited to what the social worker may want to hear.

“The home study isn’t done to judge anyone but to determine that the home, family, couple and intentions are right for a baby – understand this and you will not be nervous. Questions typically address your qualifications, career, religion & beliefs, marital relationship, family set-up, what your family circle feels about adoption, what your ideas are about adoption, gender and age of the baby desired and how open you are to the background, colour, caste etc of the baby. You may also be asked about child care arrangements, if you are a working couple.”

We first saw our little darling mid-April, at little under 4 months of age and brought him home before mid-May, only because I pushed and pushed everyone like a woman on a tight deadline! Soon after we committed that we wanted to get the medical formalities completed for the baby boy shown to us, we were told to put together more paperwork – income tax returns, salary slips, investments etc. Any copies had to be notarized.

Finally, after medicals were done, we had to meet the lawyers. We were given forms to fill and acceptance paperwork. A guarantee letter from a younger relative had to be signed and notarized too.

We were not given any details on the background of the baby boy. This did not really matter to us or our families. We knew we would love this baby regardless. Our families were so excited – booties were knitted, streamers were made, welcome home plans were in place, a surprise baby shower was organized……the only thing everyone waited for was “D Day”.

We had leave to organize at work, essentials to be bought for the baby as well as the visit to the lawyer in that short span of time besides juggling our regular lives at work and home. To say that it was all worth it in the end is an understatement!

Bringing baby home was overwhelming. We did not sleep a wink the night before in excitement and were not given the chance to sleep that night by a crying baby who wanted feeds every two hours!

All through it all, it helped to talk to friends and other adoptive moms who know what you are going through. It’s funny how relieved one feels about a situation when another adoptive mom reacts by saying “Oh that is normal, don’t worry” or “Yes, it usually does take that long”.

Bonding with our baby has been a special experience, one that I cannot put into words for anyone to fully comprehend. If there were any doubts about whether this child would take to me, they vanished the very first day he snuggled into me and settled into a deep sleep – so trusting, so beautiful! There has been no looking back since. He is a lively, adorable, intelligent little boy whose love for life is so wonderfully infectious that I am sure he has rubbed it off on us, making us laugh and giggle so much more since he came home! Yes, we go out to dinner less often and haven’t watched a movie on TV uninterrupted for ages, but all that seems so irrelevant. I love the spontaneous kisses, the constant babbling and impish expressions that take up my days. I so often drift into dream world at work, missing his soft pudgy warm hands on my face…….

I love the idea of sharing these experiences and hope that we can collectively help one another, even post-adoption. This could cover birth certificate formalities, passport issuance and even providing current and pertinent data to working moms who face issues with adoption leave. My own place of work did not have adoption leave but considered it based on research I presented about private firms providing this leave.

All through the process and even now, we have questions that come up about what the future holds in store. Will our boy understand “adoption” when he grows up, how will we tackle his questions and how can we protect him from cruel remarks that are bound to be tossed around as he grows up……..we decided to just do what we did from the start – answer his questions honestly and pray that we have brought him up in a secure loving way that the truth does not hurt him. We plan to be open about his adoption from the time he can comprehend what we are talking about.

Lastly I would like to share some advice with all PAP’s out there – do not to be easily intimidated by gossip and stories you may hear. This is an important decision and one that YOU must make after YOU have approached a legitimate agency and heard for yourself what the requirements are. Do not be put off by agency workers who may be stern or guarded – remember that the kids are their priority. In hindsight I realise that they often put on that exterior to filter out couples who are sure of their decision to adopt and are ready to face anything and anyone to get what they want.

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