SingleMoms

When One Door Closes…

…another one opens. We’ve all heard that before, but the beginning of my adoption journey is a perfect example of how true that is.

Near the end of 2012, I had dedicated myself to this life changing decision to adopt a child, but I spent the next few months hitting roadblocks at the most well known adoption agencies in the Chicago area. One after another, telling me it was highly unlikely I would get picked by a birth mother because single parents weren’t considered desirable.

After licking my wounds, it was time to explore other options. As I mentioned in my last blog, I had previously looked into foreign adoptions and foster care but found little hope of success there either. I specifically checked on adopting from India, but they were not accepting applications from prospective adoptive parents overseas.

With the odds against me for a domestic adoption, I decided to re-explore the international route. Countries that follow the Hague convention rules have all developed their own list of criteria for whom they will allow to adopt. They require things; like, a certain age range for adoptive parents, there are residency restrictions, health specifications, minimum income, how many children are allowed in the home and marital status.

I was surprised and disappointed to learn just how many countries would only consider adopting to married couples.

The decision to go it alone, which had felt so liberating, was turning into my biggest obstacle – no matter where I tried to adopt from.

One afternoon during this challenging time, I got a phone call from my sister. Her voice sounded inappropriately excited relative to my glum mood. She was passing along a message from her friend who suggested I try to adopt from India. Her sweet friend, of Indian origin, was discussing the sad state of all the homeless children encountered  during recent travels. That killed me. Frustrated, I told my sister that I had previously looked into India and they were not accepting foreign applications.

I don’t know what made me check again. What seemed to be a split second decision to surf the web changed my life.

My sister’s friend didn’t know this when she made her suggestion, but India had just reopened its doors to overseas applicants DAYS before. She had no insight into international adoption regulations, but was simply passing along what struck her heart. Had she not brought it up, it’s doubtful I would’ve pursued it because I didn’t think it was an option.

Additionally, consider this: India lifted its stay on foreign adoptions LESS THAN THREE WEEKS after I received a gut wrenching blow when I was “released” by another adoption agency that decided I wouldn’t find success there.

Furthermore, India was one of just a handful of countries I explored that allowed single parent adoption.

Two cliches ring true. Timing is everything and there’s no such thing as coincidence.

My fascination with India was actually piqued shortly before my daughter was born. I love to look back and marvel at where I was, and where my daughter was, at any given time before we met. A few years prior, while recovering from a breakup I found solace in yoga. I started attending regular classes, workshops and reading books about its origins. Suddenly, India was on my radar. Other “yogis” I talked to kept mentioning their travels to India. It seemed like I went decades without paying that much attention and suddenly everywhere I turned I was hearing or reading about India. I developed an intense curiosity and admiration.

Something clicked inside me when I saw the alert posted on the U.S. State Department’s web site about the change in status for Indian adoptions. I knew the little girl that I automatically kept picturing in my head was there.

However, the notice also indicated they were only allowing children classified as “special needs” to be adopted overseas. This didn’t deter me in the least. For some reason, I didn’t believe it. It wouldn’t have made a difference in my decision, but for the record, my daughter is healthy and not considered special needs.

This was just the beginning of my miracle slowly unfolding.

***India has since opened its doors to foreigners for adoption of all children available, not just those classified as “special needs.” Changes in the requirements and status of active foreign adoptions are updated frequently. For the latest information, check:

www.travel.state.gov/content/adoptionsabroad/en.html

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SingleMoms

The Beginning

People often ask me why I chose to adopt a child from India. The most accurate answer is, “because that’s where my daughter was born.” Fairly soon into my adoption journey I knew this in my heart. I can’t explain it other than divine intuition.

Most adoptive parents I’ve talked to agree that their particular child was meant to be with them. I’ve heard, “Your child finds you,” “God matches you with your children,” etc. It doesn’t feel random at all. Although before your miracle happens, more often than not there are some bumps and bruises along the way that cast doubt and disappointment.

I started the process of trying to adopt at the end of 2012. I had previously been through a divorce and a couple of subsequent relationships that at one point I hoped would eventually lead to kids, but things didn’t work out. I never thought I would have the ability, time, resources, etc to be able to be a single parent. Thank God I was wrong.

For some reason, I mustered up the courage to go it alone. I had been pining for a child for years and suddenly decided I was going to the take steps to have one, regardless of my relationship status. Little did I know at the time, but just months prior, while the idea was coming to fruition in my brain, my daughter had been surrendered for adoption to an orphanage in India.

International adoption was not foreign to me. My teenage niece and nephew were both adopted, from Russia and Romania, respectively. Russia had just closed its doors to international adoption when I began my journey. I remember briefly looking into India out of curiosity but it was also closed at the time. Before checking much further on other countries, I started on the path for a domestic adoption. I signed with a well known agency that seemed to encourage that route, citing some concerns about Americans getting healthy babies overseas.

The initial phase involves some preliminary paperwork and classes. I was so excited once things got rolling! It finally felt real. From the get go, I had this vision of a little girl in my head. The agency told me that toddler and older children adoptions were rare for them. They typically helped pregnant young women find families to adopt their newborns to. Furthermore, adoptive parents could not specify a requested gender because, as we know, ultrasounds are not always accurate.

That prompted me to do a little research into the fostering-to-adoption route. What I discovered is while that may be the perfect path for some, it wasn’t for me. I was uncomfortable with the possibility of not being able to adopt a child I was fostering and became attached to, if the biological parents were able to regain custody. Everyone has a different adoption journey. You have to do the research and figure out what feels most right for you.

I happily continued on my path of classes and meetings for a couple of months until one day I had a request for a phone interview with someone from the agency. Of course! I spent nearly an hour on the phone with a top administrator answering questions about my intentions to adopt, my plans for childcare, raising my baby, etc.

At the end of the conversation she said, “I don’t think our agency is for you.” I was stunned, thinking I had answered every question to their liking. She went on to explain that the last single woman they had adopted to waited nine years. Nine years! She said young pregnant women typically are searching for a white picket fence scenario (or, what appears to be so) and would never consider a single woman to adopt to because they themselves feel unable to raise a child alone.

She then gave me the name of another agency and ended with, “You’re welcome to stay with us for as long as you’d like, but I don’t know if it will ever lead to the outcome you want.”

I was crushed.

I called the other agency she recommended and made an appointment asap. That meeting only confirmed my worst fear.

“I don’t know why they would recommend us,” I was told. “Why would you have any better luck here?” They described equally grim odds for single parent adoption. It felt cold, but these administrators were simply stating the truth, as they saw it. I’m sharing this not to discourage single parent adoption. Just the opposite. I’m hoping this information will spare someone from a setback of months and a lot of disappointment. There are other routes out there!

Regardless of my detour, I don’t regret any part of my journey because it led me exactly where I needed to be. The most poignant moment during my time with the first agency happened when a middle-aged man who was adopted as a baby came to a meeting of prospective adoptive parents. He shared his story of wanting to meet his biological mother. He didn’t want to tell his adoptive parents because he didn’t want to hurt their feelings. The agency arranged a private meeting. He described all his emotions leading up to this huge encounter. When he finally came face to face with the woman who gave him life and then put him up for adoption he said to her, “I just have two words for you.” At this point, he got choked up, his voice cracked and his eyes filled with tears.

“Thank you,” he said.

All the twists and turns, even the struggles, led me to the perfect child for me. My daughter. My heart. The little child I can’t imagine ever living without.

In the spring of 2013, I was struggling. I knew she was out there somewhere. I just didn’t know how to find her.

At least not yet…

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SingleMoms

A Day I’ll Never Forget…

We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of one of the most important days of my life. On October 8th, 2014, at 10:something in the morning, I got the news. After nearly two years of paper work, aggravation and lots of disappointment along the way, there had finally been movement in the courts in India. That was the day I legally became a mom!

I was out on a news story at the time. I was reporting on the aftermath of a hostage situation that unfolded earlier that morning. Serious stuff. It was about 15 minutes before my hit and while waiting to go on air, I glanced at my personal phone and checked my email.

It said: “Good news, Susan. The courts have approved your adoption.” It was from the head of an orphanage in Mumbai where my daughter was housed. His brief, profound words were followed by some legal jargon that my now swirling brain could not comprehend. All I could think about was letting it sink in – – I was finally a mom!!! No, I was finally HER mom; the little girl I had fallen in love with eight months earlier through pictures and occasional brief updates.

This was the news I had been waiting to hear for so long.  I couldn’t contain myself. I called my parents, my sister and sent a quick group email update to my close, supportive friends and relatives who had been keeping me sane through all the unexpected twists and turns of my adoption journey.

Within minutes, all the news crews around us, who were also preparing for midday live shots, were buzzing with excitement, as well. Colleagues were coming up to congratulate me with tears in their eyes.  One photographer I barely knew at a competing station approached and said, “I don’t know you, but I just heard the news and I’m so happy for you.”

It was a moment I want to preserve in my memory forever.

I didn’t know this at the time, but it would still be another long, three months before I was finally allowed to book travel to India to pick her up and take her home.  The details still had to be ironed out, but MY ADOPTION WAS APPROVED!

I couldn’t keep the giant smile off my face through mic and video checks. Two minutes to air. My coworkers in the control room and transmission were in my earpiece, congratulating me as well. Word travels fast. My eyes were welling with happy tears.

You probably don’t think about reporters’ personal lives when they stoically deliver the news. Sometimes, it’s the biggest challenge to push everything aside and put on an appropriate face. Maybe the person you see on camera is quietly dealing with a loss, sickness or personal demons. Or, maybe they’ve just received the best news possible.

OK, time to get serious. Focus on the story here. Gotta go on the air…and then, I could return to my ecstatic state and continue celebrating this life-changing day.

This anniversary has prompted me to start a blog in the hopes of helping others, particularly other single career gals who may fear they missed the boat on having a family.  I’m finally ready to share the journey of finding my daughter and my 180 degree life transition, as I’m still adapting to balancing a demanding job and motherhood in suburbia after long-time, single life in the city.

More to come….

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