Adopting a baby is like running a marathon only, instead of a set route, you run through paper and background checks and intruding questions and family references. You don't necessarily notice the insane checklist until it's over, which is usually when you simultaneously realize there are so many things you can only learn about your partner after you've adopted a baby.
We began our adoption journey while moving across an ocean, renting a new apartment in a new city, and finding new jobs. By all rational thought, it's a terrible idea to do all of those at once. Oh, did I mention we bought a house in our original country, the week before we moved? When it rains paperwork, it pours paperwork. The good news is that a whole lot of the paperwork from all those life changes overlapped! We just wore out the photocopier in the process.
Our daughter miraculously arrived just five weeks after we moved. We got the call one morning that our daughter was here and we met her sweet, tiny self in the NICU that evening. It was only several months later that we realized what a feat we had accomplished together, and in order to create our family. And I was so glad to tick off a whole new list of things I had learned about my partner in the process. Things I hope I never have to re-learn in the future, and thankfully involve no time standing at the photocopier, but a welcome list nonetheless. From my husband's ability to perform CPR to whether he's wanted for armed robbery in another state, adoption teaches you a whole load of things about your marriage and your partner.
Their Reasons For Wanting To Become A Parent
That adoption application pretty much forces you to lay it all on the table early on by having conversations that you might eventually get to if you're starting a family, but in most cases never come up. I can't say that my partner and I would have ever discussed why we wanted to have children so much if we weren't forced by the adoption paperwork. However, after many years of infertility, and wondering whether we'd ever be able to start our family, it was a welcome reminder of why we were running this marathon to begin with.
If there's one thing you need in that marathon, it's to remember how you got there and what's at the end of the tunnel.
What Their Friends And Family Think Of Them
Our agency required five letters of reference, from friends and family members and members of our community. You don't always get to read them, but because we had friends and family overseas who needed email our references, we got cc'd. The words our friends had to say about my partner were heartwarming and confirmed everything I ever thought he would be as a father, even before he became one.
How They'd Perform CPR
You're probably going to hope they take that infant CPR class pretty seriously. And, honestly, you're probably going to think it's awfully cute when they do. CPR is something every couple should be trained in, but it's not a requirement for having a biological child. For adoption, it's on that long list of to-do's.
If They Can Make It Through A Background Check
If there are any skeletons in the closet, they're gonna come out before you adopt! Federal background checks and admitting any felonies are unavoidable. Best come clean before that paperwork comes back, my friends.
Who They Want To Take The Kids If Anything Happens To You Both
Something you and your partner should talk about before having kids, but not something most people actually end up talking about, is what should happen in an event you both die. It's a really unpleasant conversation to have, to be sure. However, with adoption, there's really no avoiding that question in the home study.
We discussed it at length and chose one of my husband's brothers and his wife, but we realized how happy we would be if any of our siblings were able to take in our children. We had a ball discussing what their lives would be like and quickly forgot what a morbid conversation it actually was, thankfully.
How Your Partner Responds To "Those Questions"
You know, like "What happened to her real parents?" Well, given we are her real parents, what happened is we are standing right hear listening to your silly questions. I'm the type to act graciously but make up a lot of comebacks in my head that I'll probably never use, whereas my husband is the type to act and think diplomatically and without blame or judgement. Basically, he's a kinder soul than I am.
What A Natural Parent They Are
When you experience pregnancy, you have a little time to get used to the idea of becoming parents. I've never been through it, but I imagine it involves some serious preparation, like reading baby books or setting up a crib. Adoption can involve those things too, but because we didn't know our baby girl was coming until she arrived, we didn't want to jinx our chances by getting too prepared too soon. We didn't want to get a nursery all set and start reading baby books only to be waiting with an empty nursery for years.
All that to say, we landed in parenthood (relatively) cold, and I couldn't believe what a natural parent my husband was and is. I still scratch my head at some of his techniques, but he took to it like he was made to be a dad.
How Flexible They Are
Life literally flips upside down the day you have a baby, and most of it rights itself eventually as you find your groove. However, imagine finding out one morning (in the parking lot of your job on your lunch hour from your incoherent wife) that you were going to be a dad in just a few hours. For my husband, life flipped upside down and stayed that way for a good long while. I learned quickly that he's the more flexible one of the two of us, and can handle being flipped upside down much more gracefully.