This is Anthony Romeo's third article in a series about adoption. Read his first article in the series.
October 13. Mark it on your calendars, friends. In addition to being a great day for a hooded sweatshirt and a pumpkin-spiced anything, it’s also the day that Dom and I go in for our initial session with an adoption agency in New Jersey. Scott Goldman, a friend of mine and also a gay dad blogger himself, recommended A Loving Choice* very highly; Scott and his husband welcomed their beautiful baby girl Abby into their lives because of this agency, so it’s where we’ll start our search.
I’ve been in contact with a wonderful woman at the agency, and they’re excited to welcome us for a meeting on October 13. They’ve been quick to respond to every cautious and furtive call and e-mail I’ve sent their way. I know I’m reaching out too much, but I’m nervous!
The information session happens two weeks before I turn 30, so it could be quite the month by the time you hear back from me. I imagine we’re asking ourselves the same questions, and having the same apprehensions that many parents in our situation asked themselves. In no particular order, those thoughts and questions follow. You’ll forgive the occasional stream of consciousness; I imagine there’s some legitimate stuff under the snark.
Is it wrong to tell them we want a newborn? New Jersey does have a foster-to-adopt program, and since our first few pieces for Gays With Kids came out, we’ve heard from lots of folks around the country who are advocates for the foster-to-adopt system. It looks amazing, truly, and knowing that the cost is next to nothing for foster/adoptive parents is incredible, attractive, and appropriate.
However, in New Jersey, the reality of the program is that the system is full of older children looking for loving homes. It’s an enviable system, to be sure, but one that doesn’t line up with the needs, wants, and wish-lists that we’ve established for ourselves. Our hearts want to experience every possible moment of that baby’s life. And as I type that, I feel myself defending a position that I feel, in some ways, is wrong. I’ve been told that, when it comes to starting your family, it’s okay to be selfish. I just have to get my Italian, Catholic-raised brain to believe that that’s the case, and that I shouldn’t feel guilty for wanting what I want. We adopted an adult cat, but for our people-family, it’s got to be a baby.
Are they going to judge us if we express that we are only interested in adopting a healthy baby? I’ve written about my relationship with a good friend’s adopted child, and the lessons he’s taught me about life on the autism spectrum. In every foster program and adoption system in the country, there are thousands and thousands of children whose physical, mental, and developmental needs are of utmost importance, and require a level of care that my husband and I, in all honesty, find ourselves unable to provide. And while I envy the fortitude and grace of parents of children who are born with added challenges, I recognize that that skill set isn’t something that Dom and I necessarily have.
While we’ll deal with whatever challenges come our way as parents, we’d prefer to start off on a path with normal expectations of raising the next POTUS. But what are the right words to explain that to an adoption agency, without sounding like I’m saying “Oh gosh, thoooose babies? No no nooooo...” I’m not sure why I’m characterizing myself as Lady Tremaine in this story, but it’s the snootiest character I could imagine. All respect, of course, to Lady Tremaine and her multitude of daughters.
It’s not all about the money, um, except when it is. Look, I work in sales, I get it. To make money, you have to talk about money. And you have to do it comfortably and confidently. I’m sure the same is true with starting a family. But is this going to be like a yard sale? Can I haggle? Because my step-mother taught me from an early age how to get everything in this world at a yard sale, and for pennies. I’m ready for the punch in the belly that comes when they review the fee schedule, if that’s even what happens in the first meeting. Just wait 'til I get them to give me a baby in installments of just $9.99 a month.
Take your pumpkin and shove it up...Ready for some real talk? I saw a Facebook announcement last week from someone who was announcing her pregnancy, and had decided to make the big reveal in a pumpkin patch, holding a big orange pumpkin in front of her belly. Ok, let’s just collectively get this out of the way. One, two ... awwwwww!!
Ok, now that we’ve gotten through that, can I just vent and say how frustrating that is, for just a moment? Fully aware that this might make me a bad person, let me express this honestly. We don’t get a pumpkin. We get to go to a room full of strangers and hope that my husband and I don’t feel awkward and out of place. The joyous Facebook reveal is substituted for a social worker who comes in and checks to make sure we don’t have sharp edges on our tables, or frayed wires, or that we’re not hoarders. ("That’s not hoarding, ma’am, I just collect Martin Brodeur hockey jerseys…") So while it’s enviable and admirable that some families spring forth from a bottle of wine and a soft blanket, we’re working on accepting that our road to parenthood is a little more…bumpy. (Saying “ribbed” was the cheaper joke there, but please know that I typed it and deleted it four times. I’m classy.)
October 13. Tick tock. Cross your fingers for us, faithful readers. It’ll be the most interesting day we’ve had so far on our road to parenthood. And to the lovely folks at A Loving Choice in Shrewsbury, New Jersey, maybe you could put out some pumpkin muffins. I’m a feelings-eater, and I think it’s safe to say, I’m going to be hungry.
* To visit the agency's website, click here.
Read the next article in Anthony Romeo's series about his adoption journey.