By Mike Lepley
Published in Resolve for the journey and beyond, Winter 2013
Dear Mike (circa 2005),
I hope this letter finds you well and that you are enjoying life. Surprisingly, it gets better... and the best is yet to come. So try to stress less and love more.
I know that you are going through trials and tribulations to conceive. Since I never articulated it properly then, thank Karryn for being a great wife through this process. Yes, it was stressful, and both of you said things that you wish you hadn’t, but that’s a function of the situation and not the relationship. Go thank her now.
In the near future, you’ll be thinking about whether to continue trying to conceive biological children or pursue adoption. Adoption will be quite a mystery to you. After all, since you were a child, you had imagined having kids – just like Mom and Dad. Adoption means not carrying your genetic “footprint” into the next generation. And that will be a hard pill to swallow for a while. The truth is, as you kiss the foreheads of your adopted children and tuck them into bed, you won’t be able to imagine it any other way.
Oh, and speaking of Mom and Dad, they will both love those kids with all their hearts, so don’t even worry for a second about that. In fact, as a side note, I think they’ve scratched us out of the wills and wrote them in instead.
You’ll see a lot on the Internet about all of the ways to adopt, which will make your head spin. Let me give you the short version: there are effectively seven adoption routes, each with their pros and cons: foster-to-adopt, domestic adoption, international adoption, attorney placement sources, do-it-yourself, facilitators, and adoption consultants. You’ll decide to work with an adoption consultant because of the balance of ethical practices, cost, safety, and speed. You’ll find that others choose different routes for equally good reasons as well.
You’ll be tempted by adoption resources that are solely focused on adoptive parents. But instead, find resources that care about the entire adoption triad – the child, the adoptive family, and the birthparents. Not only is that just the right thing to do, but it separates the good resources from the not-so-good ones. You don’t realize it now, but you’ll care for and respect the birthparents quite a bit and it’s important to the kids too, so don’t mess this part up.
Make sure that you assemble a strong adoption team. Use good adoption professionals. And contact Dr. Anderson – he’s a great pediatrician, will offer you advice during the adoption process, and doesn’t question you taking three lollipops when you only have two kids.
As much as you try not to, you’ll worry about whether the birthparents will change their minds after the adoption process is completed. Much later, you’ll learn that these situations are quite rare and can usually be avoided entirely. So, educate yourself on adoption, be on the lookout for red flags, and build that great adoption team.
I know you’re thinking about buying a new car to replace the old beat-up one with the ripped seat and broken radio. Soon, you’ll hear about the cost of adoption, and you’ll think “Woah! So much for buying a new car!” Well, guess what – long after adopting, you’ll still be driving around that old beat-up car. And every time you try to turn on the car radio and it doesn’t work, you’ll glance at the kids in their car seats, get a big grin, and think about how lucky you are.
Although at times it may feel like you’re moving backwards, with adoption, bringing a child into your home isn’t a matter of “if,” but “when.” Steve Jobs once said, “as with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” You’ll feel with your heart and soul that you were meant to adopt the kids that become your daughter and son.
So, hang in there, enjoy a little time as a childless couple, and then take the adoption journey in stride. It’s so worth it at the end.
Mike (Your Future Self)
P.S. Buy Apple stock. You can’t even imagine all the i-stuff that’s coming. Trust me on this.
Mike Lepley is the Executive Director of The Adoption Lantern. The Adoption Lantern provides prospective adoptive families education, profile book services, phone/email support, and referrals to great placement sources, with the goal of helping them adopt within a year. Mike is a member of RESOLVE, Save The Adoption Tax Credit Working Group, CAFFA, a Walk for Adoption Chicago Gold Sponsor, and is a frequent speaker and writer about adoption topics. Most importantly, Mike is the adoptive father of two great kids. For more information, visit www.TheAdoptionLantern.com.