Early Stages of Adoption
As the years went on (10, to be exact) and more holiday seasons passed and more friends expanded their families, Diana's willingness to pursue adoption increased. "There's more to life than having children, but being a mom was simply what I wanted to do," she says.
One day she found herself surfing adoption sites on the Internet. She came across an agency that intrigued her. Leery, Diana checked it out through various adoption resources and the Better Business Bureau. The more Diana read, the more excited she became. "The agency had an average wait time of one year -- not nearly as bad as we had feared," she says. "We just had to travel to the state where the baby was born."
Best of all, the counselors were sensitive to the couple's hesitations about open adoption. Diana and Jim agreed to having initial contact with the birth mother and exchanging an occasional letter through the agency. But they wanted minimal contact beyond that, even if it meant waiting longer than a year to find a birth mother who agreed.
First, however, they had to complete a home study, which is required in every state before an adoption can take place. "It's odd to have to explain to strangers what your childhood was like, and to be fingerprinted and checked by the FBI," Jim says. "You can't help but think of all the biological parents who never have to go through that process."
"But for the first time I began to see the potential of a happy ending," Diana says. "That was worth all the hassle."
In most domestic adoptions these days, birth mothers select adoptive parents based on profiles they obtain from an agency. "Waiting to be chosen was nerve-racking," Diana says. "I used to look at all the profiles online myself. There would be doctors with wives who could stay home with the children, and they'd have photos of themselves on their sailboat or in front of their pool. I'd look at our little house and say, 'Jim, we're never going to get picked.'"
Waiting is the hard part of adoption. The call could come the next minute or the next year. "No one checks up on you; there aren't any status reports," Diana says. "You just wait and wonder if there will ever be an end to the waiting."
For Jim and Diana, that end came 10 months later. Ironically, a birth mother selected them for the same things Diana feared would put them out of the running. Their modest lifestyle was similar to hers, and they had many of the same interests, such as cars and horses. The birth mother felt that Diana and Jim even looked and dressed like her and the baby's biological father. Finally she, too, preferred to have little communication.