Sunday, December 13, 2009

In Which We Consider Adoption

Now that Jer can keep his feet down all the time instead of having them elevated, he's able to fit into some smaller spaces. I'm excited to tell you that a few days ago he was able to actually make it into the bathtub (using a sliding board to get onto a bath chair) to have a shower for the first time since August! No more sponge baths! He was very happy about it, and it was a very long shower. Can't say I blame him.

We've started talking a little bit more about plans for the future. Now that Jer is able to start doing some more exercises (Once they find him a pool that is warm enough, that is!) and is able to actively move forward on his journey to walking again, it no longer feels like we're stalled or waiting; we can start thinking about what we'd like to be doing a year or two from now.

And we think what we'd like to be doing in a couple of years is to be welcoming a brother or sister for Connor into our lives.

We think the timing will be right; a year from now we'll be firmly ensconced in the new house, Jer should be as recovered as he's going to be and will know exactly what he'll be doing job wise, and if by the time we make it through the adoption process Connor will be five years old.

Jer and I have known we wouldn't have any more biological children since we first received word that he is the carrier for Connor's genetic condition. We only have a 25% chance of having a child who has a normal genotype. We have a 50% chance of having a child with either Connor's condition or its genetic opposite, though it's not likely that all of those children would survive to term (for a more in-depth explanation, look here) and a 25% chance of having a child who would be a carrier and thus have to make all of the same decisions that we've been presented with if they chose to have children. While we would be fine with parenting another child with special needs, we feel like there are already a lot of kids out there who need families and we don't really feel a burning need to have another child who is biologically related to us. We both absolutely want more children, however, though we're divided on how many-- Jer would be happy with two, and I'd love four, but either way we don't want Connor to be an only child. So we've decided to adopt.

We'd like to adopt another child with physical special needs. It makes a lot of sense to us; we're already very comfortable with a wide variety of medical conditions, we'll be completely set up in our new home for a child with potential mobility impairments, we know sign language, and there are a lot of children with special needs out there waiting. We've done a little soul searching and decided that there are really very few medical conditions that we wouldn't be comfortable with-- total blindness, because our kids would never be able to talk to one another (Connor doesn't have the motor skills to fingerspell into a hand), moderate-to-severe cognitive impairment (we want our next child to grow up and LEAVE the house), severe behavioral issues (Connor can't defend himself) and terminal illness. Otherwise we're good with just about anything; we could care less about ethnic background or gender. Now that we're starting to talk about the future again we're beginning to hash out the details.

There are so many choices to think about: international, domestic, or foster-to-adopt? One at a time, or a sibling group? Infant, toddler or child? Open or closed? We know we'd like to keep the kid's birth order the same, so that means five or under, but other than that I think we're pretty open as far as age goes. While domestic adoption would mean that we'd possibly be able to parent from day one, we're not really sure we'd be very good at the whole "advertising ourselves as good parents thing." I mean, I write long and in-depth blogs about poop, Jer sings insane songs to our son about about inappropriately named stuffed animals, and while Connor is very cute his list of medical conditions can certainly be intimidating. Jer and I aren't sure there are a whole lot of birth mothers (or any) out there who would look at our crazy lives and think that we're the perfect family to parent their child. There's also the fact that we feel like there are multiple families oftentimes who would like to adopt those children, and there are a lot of kids who are just as wonderful that are waiting for families. At this point I think we're leaning towards foster-to-adopt. Our big issue would be that we'd have to only accept a child who was completely legally free, as Connor wouldn't understand if a child entered our home and then left it again. While international adoption would be great too, and there are certainly a lot of kids waiting, we're not sure how comfortable the other countries would be with Jer's potential disability, and also they are somewhat cost prohibitive.

So we'll have to see. But we definitely both have itch; Jer and I point out cute children to each other while we are out and about, we love to borrow our friend's children whenever we can, and we spend quite a bit of time talking about it. It's so hard to wait.

I think if we knew for sure what Jer would be doing in a year we'd start the process now!



Audrey said...

this is all very exciting!

could you please elaborate on what the different kinds of adoption are? I have never heard any of those terms...

lots of love from coooold switzerland

Anonymous said...

Looks like you are far along the road by coming to the decision but I wouldn't see any harm in beginning to contact agencies or organizations - to make comparisons. Even if you don't know next year for sure, there may be other preliminaries you can prepare in the meantime, if you know what they are.

Oh, my, I so admire you and Jer.

And a real shower has been a landmark event in the life of many my patients. I so get how important that is.


Kristin said...

Congrats to Jeremy on being able to shower!! Its a wonderful feeling! i hoe they find him a pool soon. I'm sure he anxious to get started on more therapy.

Adoption is a wonderful idea. B.J. and I have considered it too, but it would be farther off for us. A lady I work with is fostering a sibling group of 5(!) all under the age of seven. She will find out January 7th if the children's parents' parental rights will be terminated. If they are, she wants to adopt all five. Seeing the joy these children have brought into her life and the remarkable difference she's made in theirs -WOW! definitely a great choice for her. I hope you find the same joy in your experience.

leah said...

It would be wonderful for Connor to have a brother or sister! I think you guys make awesome parents- you have a sense of humor, you are dedicated, and you have a lot of love.

We have some friends who have gone both routes (domestic via fost-adopt and international). Some of the kids are legally at-risk through the fost-adopt system, but there are many kids who are completely legally free.

One other thing to think about with international adoption is the travel requirement. Some countries (Russia, e.g.) require two separate trips to the country for the adoption process. South Korea currently doesn't require any travel (three mommies from my Mothers of Preschoolers group have recently adopted from S. Korea).

There is currently a $10,000 tax credit to assist with the cost of adoption- I'd check into that, too!

Kierstyn said...

Very exciting! Any child would be blessed to be added to your awesome family.

Curtis and I have recently begun talking about adoption. We have several close friends who have adopted in the past two years, or are in the process of adopting. After the birth of Timothy, if we feel led to grow our family more (this is usually when people start laughing at us) we would choose to do that through adoption.

Looking forward to seeing your story play out!

J. said...

We adopted from Foster care, our kids were older though, I am sure that whatever route you choose you will be fabulous!

Galen said...

As an adoptive mom to kids (well, not "kids" anymore) with disabilities, I think adoption would be great. But be sure to get all the info you can, find an agency that's honest with you, and do a lot of reading about attachment disorder.

And I know that Jer was happy to get a real kids who were in body casts for months were always thrilled to get in the tub!

Julia O'C said...

I think once you put the feelers out, the right child (or children) will come to you. You hear so many stories about parents who just "knew" that they'd found their child. Out of such darkness, so many wonderful things have come to you and Jeremy [deservedly so] that I have to believe that when you're ready, your new son or daughter will come to you.

I look forward to the day when I can log on to read "Connor and ****'s Song"!!

Terena said...

there are so many children with disabilities who are never adopted. this is wonderful. I wish you all the best as you create your future together

Anonymous said...

You should look into Reece's Rainbow.

Wherever HE Leads We'll Go said...

That is so exciting! I know a family that has done international adoption and a family that has done a domestic adoption - both took what seemed like FOREVER. So I wonder if there is some preliminary paperwork that can be done now even before you have all your ducks in a row. I have no doubt that you will do your fair share of research and determine the best approach. It is very exciting (did I mention that?).

Katy said...

awesome. awesome. awesome. Like you, I do think that maybe I would be open to adopting a child with special needs, but Hubby has his heart set on another biological child and there's nothing really stopping us there so . . . who knows what the future brings?

I do know of a blog--foster parents--might be of interest to you. The address is:

Robin said...

I am so glad you are considering looking close to home. There are so many kids here in the US that need homes. Some have medical needs, some have emotional needs. We adopted our boys from the state, they were technically foster kids but were very close to being legally free. Our state has a subsidy program that covered adoption cost and medical cost - even after adoption. If you have any questions about our situation feel free to email me.

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