When I was eleven years old my parents decided to open our home to a foster child. I will never forget the first and only newborn baby that entered our lives. We called him “CJ” and he was five days old. He was tiny and plump, with thick ink black hair.
CJ changed the whole dynamic of our home; I saw a side of my mother I had never seen before. I remember coming home from school hearing my mother singing, laughing, fussing over this little baby that needed her in a way my brother and I no longer did. Even my father and brother who rarely showed affection, enjoyed CJ’s company.
Four days later, CJ’s paternal grandmother decided she would be his guardian and CJ was gone.
It was the first time I saw my mother cry. In only four days CJ made us all fall in love. And more than two decades later, I still think of him.
A few months after CJ left, a social worker rang our bell one rainy Tuesday night with a wobbly toddler wearing a yellow and white sweatsuit. Her name was Jennifer. We were cautious at first, not wanting to get too attached. But it didn’t take long for Jennifer to feel like she was part of our family. And we fell in love with her as easily as we did with CJ. Years later when Jennifer was finally eligible for adoption, we didn’t even have to think about it.
In these last few months, I’ve been considering adopting a child of my own.
After my son Norrin was diagnosed with autism, I couldn’t imagine having another child. Not while working full-time and navigating the complex world of special education. Another baby would only make our family life more complicated. I was content with our family of three.
Eventually I decided I was ready and almost immediately became pregnant. For sixteeen-weeks I let myself imagine our life with a new baby. During my sixteen week appointment, I found out I had a missed miscarriage. The days and months that followed were the darkest of my life. And I haven’t had the courage to really try again.
But I would love for Norrin to have a sibling. I would love for him to have a companion, I like the idea of a family of four. And I would love to open our home and our hearts to a child. A few weeks ago I decided to take the first step. I attended an adoption information seminar and it gave me so much to think about.
We Want to Adopt a Child. 6 Thinks We Need to Consider. 1 of 7
Click through to see some of things we need to consider if we really want to pursue adopting a child.
Can We Afford It 2 of 7
Children are expensive. Adopting a child can be costly, especially international adoptions. I would love to open our home to a child from another country but I know it's not something we can do in the immediate future. When adopting a child from another country, attorneys are usually involved and traveling to the country at least once. While at the seminar, I learned that every country sets their own restrictions and policies for adoption.
However, there are so many children within our home state of New York, that a domestic adoption is a more realistic option.
Do We Have the Space 3 of 7
Currently, we live in a two bedroom/one bathroom apartment. It's manageable for just the three of us. But a second child could mean we'd have to move sooner rather than later. And it has nothing to do with kids sharing a room. I grew up sharing a room with my brother until I was about ten and I know siblings (even opposite sex siblings) who share a room their entire life while living at home. I wouldn't mind having my kids share a room but an agency may not approve our home situation especially if we wanted to adopt a girl. It may be easier for us to move to a bigger place first and adopt after we're settled..
Do We Want a Baby 4 of 7
I would love nothing more than adopting a baby. It's really the ideal for most couples who consider adoption. But I don't know if I'm ready for midnight feedings and diaper changes. Norrin is seven years old, it's a pretty big age gap to start all over again. I'm not saying impossible, but it's something else for me to consider.
Or Do We Want a Big Kid 5 of 7
If we pursue adoption, I would like to adopt a child from the foster care system. I know that becoming foster parents (with the option to adopt upon eligibility) is not an option for us because I couldn't risk that kind of inconsistency with Norrin - it would be difficult to explain. There are so many kids - seven and older - who are eligible for adoption. I know that we could provide an older child with a warm loving home. But with an older child there are so many factors to think about.
Will Our Family and Friends Be Accepting 6 of 7
Adopting a child involves the whole family. I want grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends to understand and respect our decision. They would need to understand that our child cannot be excluded or made to feel like an outsider.
What About the Kids 7 of 7
Probably the thing that concerns me the most. How will Norrin react to a new baby? How will Norrin react to an older child - a live in peer? I remember with my parents we had a meeting about becoming a foster family. I can't do that with Norrin and ask his opinion.
And on the flip side, if we adopted an older child - how will they feel about having a special needs sibling? Will they resent it, be ashamed? I don't know.
Have you considered adoption?
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.