When I started these interviews, my main intention was to share experiences surrounding all aspects of adoption. I am very excited to share this interview with you! Cheryl and her partner seem like wonderful women who will make amazing parents. A big thank you to Cheryl for sharing her story and good luck on your adoption journey!
When did you decide that adoption was right for you and your partner?
By coincidence, we both read The Kid, Dan Savage’s memoir about the open adoption of his son, years before we even knew each other. That’s what planted the seed. When we talked about having kids of our own, we initially talked about having one bio kid and one adopted kid. And we always knew that open adoption was our preferred means of adoption. Our child won’t have as many of those “Who am I?” questions that kids sometimes have in closed adoptions. Also, the more I learn about birthmothers’ experiences, the more I understand how open-ness can mean the difference between a totally traumatizing experience and a difficult but ultimately positive one. I’d rather be part of the latter.
What options, if any, did you look into besides adoption?
I tried to get pregnant (with frozen donor sperm) a few times. I did one cycle of IVF–I knew I didn’t want to get on what our agency calls the “infertility treatment treadmill” for long, but I thought it was worth a try. I got pregnant with identical twin boys, but miscarried at nine weeks. It was really devastating, and my grief was hard on C.C.’s an my relationship. But I don’t regret the experience. If anything, I think it will help me understand what a birthmother goes through when she says goodbye to the child she carried. I know that you have a relationship with that baby long before it officially becomes a baby.
Are you currently waiting to be matched with an Expectant Mom?
If so, how long have you been waiting?
We’ve been waiting about six months so far. Of course it feels like forever, but I know it’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things. We’ve been trying to focus on other great things in our life: C.C. is in grad school, I teach and write, and we’ve taken some fun trips (which we know will be hard once we have a baby).
What has been the most difficult thing about waiting to be selected?
The lack of control! I’m a bit of a control freak, and the entire process of having a child has been a big fat unwanted lesson in letting go. So I spend a lot of time updating our website, because it’s the one little thing I can do. It’s hard not knowing who will choose us or when, and we know there’s a chance that the expectant mom will change her mind. All we can do is try to approach each bend in the road with humor, dignity and love. Some days I’m pretty good at this. Other days I fail spectacularly.
What kind of challenges have you faced or do you think you will have to face being a gay couple adopting?
There are lots of challenges when it comes to adoption (see above!), but most of them aren’t gay-specific. We’re lucky to be working with an agency (the Independent Adoption Center) that is VERY LGBT-friendly; to live in a state in which gay adoption is legal; and to have a supportive network of family and friends, including other LGBT families.
I do think there will be more challenges down the road (I wrote a column about it for our agency, if anyone is interested in a longer answer to this question). There are still a lot of prejudices in our culture about all kinds of nontraditional families: gay, adoptive, single-parent, etc. I hope our family will be able to educate people–but I also know we’ll just be a regular family with the same flaws and challenges as everyone else.
Do you fear an expectant mom might be more hesitant to select you since you are in a same sex relationship? If so, what have you done to overcome this fear?
I have all kinds of fears, but believe it or not, that’s not one of them. According to our agency’s statistics, same-sex couples adopt about as quickly as heterosexual couples. Also, I know that expectant moms are all different, just like hopeful adoptive couples. So it’s just a matter of finding one who’s right for us, and vice versa. Another comforting fact: Young people tend to have more positive attitudes about gay marriage and gay families than previous generations, and since the average age of birthmothers who work with our agency is 24, I’m imagining an open-minded young woman. (Although if she’s an open-minded 37-year-old, that’s fine too!)
What is your biggest fear towards adoption?
My biggest fear right now is that the expectant mom who chooses us will change her mind, and we’ll be heartbroken (even though we understand she absolutely has the right to parent). Later on in the process, I wonder if I’ll feel like I have a “right” to be our baby’s mother, since I’ve heard from other adoptive moms who’ve struggled with this. But I’m pretty sure that a few diaper changes and sleepless nights will convince me I’m a real live mom.
What do you and your partner look forward to most about the adoption process?
Oh, so much! C.C. is great with kids, and I’m really looking forward to seeing her with our child. We’re looking forward to the things that all parents do: cuddling, playing and watching our child grow into his or her own person. Reading him or her our favorite books, picnicking in the park, spending time with grandparents and aunts and uncles. I think all of it will be a super fun adventure.
Also, I’m looking forward to interacting with our child’s birthmother. Both C.C. and I have mentored young people at various points in our lives, and although this will be a very different experience, I think we like the idea of having a new member of our extended family. The more the merrier.