We’ve always assumed that we’d be a family larger than just three. In both of our families, the siblings were all relatively close in age, with 3 years being about the average gap. So when Seth turned 3 this last winter, we were already starting to think pretty seriously about the plans for the next kid in the family.

The question became, how?

Here are the potential options, in roughly the order we dismissed them:

Still ain’t happening.

Older kid adoption
Having to start sharing the spotlight is going to be tough enough for Seth. Having a new sibling who is an older brother or sister? He would really struggle with that, and it doesn’t seem fair to him.

Domestic infant open adoption
And here’s where the decisions started getting tougher. We had an amazing experience the first time with our open adoption – why would we not want to do it again for kid #2? Well, there were 3 reasons:

  1. Our experience the first time was so amazing, that it seemed that a repeat would be doomed to fall short in some way.  We struck gold the first time out, with an amazing birth mom and birth dad, and their families and communities, and they have been/still are so generous with their time and care above and beyond what can be reasonably expected.  If we tried to form an open relationship again, it might not go as smoothly, and there might be some resentment or frustration associated with that.
  2. For healthy American infants, there is a waiting list of parents wanting children.  For the next two options on the list, there are waiting lists of children who need families.  We felt called to pursue the path where we were most needed.
  3. The first time out, the idea of becoming parents scared the heck out of us, and the idea of having a child who had anything but immaculate mental, emotional and physical health was a complete terror. But now, while we’re still learning everyday about how to be parents (and failing multiple times each day), we’re a little more prepared for kid #2, and maybe more ready for a child that needs some special attention and care.

International Adoption
This was the first option we started looking at for Kid #2, and we very easily could have gone that route. It’s more that we felt called to the next option on the list, than anything disqualifying International Adoption. But there are some tricky parts to international which would have been tough. Some countries have very stringent requirements on adoptive parent ages, net worth, or number of people in the family already. And almost all international adoptions require significant time (several weeks or even months) in the country, which would be difficult for my work and would have been tough on Seth.

Maybe someday (I wouldn’t completely rule out kid #3, although that’s not the current plan), but not this time.

We’ve been talking about being part of the foster system when we grew older for a while now. My vision was more along the lines of waiting until Seth was 12 or so, and we were well-established in home and career and parenting, but… why not now?

The top priority of the foster program is to reunite birth families, meaning that the children only stay with the foster family for a short period of time before going back home. But that’s not always feasible, and there are children for whom the case workers know that reunification is unlikely, or children who are already “legally free” at the time they need foster placement. At the time we started our research (around April/May this year), King County had a Foster program which focuses specifically on children for whom adoption was the most likely outcome, and matched them with parents who had an interest in adopting.

There’s a lot of risk in this adoption route, between dealing with the impacts of the child’s early life to high risk of a ‘disruption’ in the adoption planning, but the more we thought about it and prayed about it, it felt like the right path for us. So that’s what we’ve been preparing for.

Next step: Foster classes and foster paperwork.

So, after months and months of deliberation, research, and discussion, we’ve finally made a decision on our house situation. And that decision is…

…well, we decided that we’d rather not put it in our blog for the entire Internet to see, as the entire Internet includes such people as potential employers, financial institutions, and what-not who should have access to this information on a need-to-know basis only.

However, we’re more than happy to tell any of our friends, family, or loyal readers of this blog. I’m going to put together a quick form email (basically a blog post, but not on our blog), and if you want a copy of that, let me know. We’re not going to provide specific dollar amounts, but I should be able to give the basic outline of our decision using percentages and rough outlines of scenarios.

The long story short, though, is that near the end of this year or early next year, the plan is to move from our beloved West Seattle/White Center/Rat City up closer to where most of our friends and family are – somewhere in the range from Mill Creek to Shoreline. And we are very much at peace (finally!) with our decision.

Who needs money when you look this cool?
Who needs money when you look this cool?

We knew what we were getting into was going to be a challenge. Seattle is one of the most expensive cities in which to live in the U.S., and while I make a fairly good living, it’s still pretty firmly in the middle-class range. Trying to support a family of 3 (or more, someday) and pay a mortgage, all on a single-income – it wasn’t going to be easy.

We did all the calculations, though, and as long as we continued to live a pretty frugal lifestyle – eating at home, borrowing movies from the library, riding the bus to work – it looked like everything would work. We’d be starting with a healthy cushion which we’d have to dig into a bit, but as my earning potential continued to rise, we’d get back into the positive fairly quickly:

Insert: Simple Line Graph, with the y axis labeled “net worth” and the x axis labeled “time.” The line starts at a pleasingly high point on the y axis, dipping slightly before starting to rise again in a jaunty manner. The overall effect is not unlike a lazy summer smile.

Then things got a little more complicated. We found out that our path to becoming a family was going to involve a lot more people than just the two of us and an obstetrician. As some of the institutions helping facilitate that process require compensation, we were also going to be starting with a much smaller cushion than expected, as well.

We did the calculations and projections again, and with some much-needed assistance from our families, it looked like we’d just be able to pull it off. It was going to be tight – very tight – but we could tighten our belt a notch or two further, Betsy might be able to put in a few hours here and there working from home for the farm, and I had a good job with a strong company with reasonable salary increases on the horizon. If push came to shove, we just sell our house and go back to apartment living for a year or two.

Insert: Graph #2. This line starts at lower altitude than the first, and immediately swoops down rapidly in a dizzying dive. The line skitters and screeches across the bottom, throwing off sparks and smoke, before being wrestled back up by the heroic crew. The line, a little battered and beaten but flying steady, exits the right side of the graph at a reasonable level.

Then as the process unfolded, expenses from the agency came in ways that we weren’t anticipated. Dings here and there to the pocketbook that started to add up quickly. The starting cushion was deflating at an alarming pace.

And then the economy crashed, and suddenly, “the reasonable salary increases on the horizon” that I had been expecting started slipping further and further over the horizon and out of sight. Layoffs were happening all around me and the valuable marketable skills I was developing became just another commodity in a buyer’s market. Finally, my company announced that they were instituting salary cuts across the board for all of the employees still left standing.

Insert: Graph #3 – the line is floating low, just above the rooftops of the city below, when it gets snagged against a radio tower and OH THE HUMANITY

So, we’re at a point right now where we’re looking at our options. Terms like mortgage adjustments, short sale, and other such fine instruments of financial torture are being tossed around pretty regularly and we’re doing a lot of research into our options. We’re continually looking at ways to shave a few dollars off of our monthly spending, but at this point, any further cuts would be no longer cutting off fat but shaving pretty near the bone. If we seem a bit frazzled now and then over the next few months, this’ll be why.

But the one thought I keep returning to is this: nothing truly valuable is at risk. We will always be well-fed, we will remain warm and dry and sheltered, and we will all remain deeply in love with each other, and have the love and support of our families. We might end up losing some of the investment we’ve made in this particular piece of real estate, and I might not have this particular piece of land to have backyard grilling sessions on, but we’ll always have each other, and we’ll make our way in the world in the best way we know how.

When we started the adoption process, one of the questions that naturally popped up (along with closed vs open, domestic vs international, etc) was if we were open and ready to adopt transracially. And my considered-for-a-whole-20-seconds answer was, duh! of course we’re ready! Well, in the admirable and amazing way our agency has of doing everything, they make folks really consider what they think and put it to paper. One is encouraged to read specific books on transracial adoption and raising multiracial children, and talk to other parents who have adopted transracially.

Amidst all this reserach, I was driving home from work and listening to NPR. February 1st was the anniversary of the Woolworth’s Sit-In, so they asked one of the four men who participated to relate his experience. I was brought near tears by how scary that must have been, and how brave they were for doing it anyway. And I thought about how I’ve maybe been judged for having pink hair or wearing black, brown and navy blue in the same outfit, but never discriminated against in the way people of color were or are.

While race may not matter inside the four walls of your own house, it sadly does outside in the real world. The “ready to adopt transracially?” is really a number of questions rolled into one:

- are we as parents ready for the comments and assumptions people will make when we’re out with our child who may be of a different ethnicity than us? that we’re not their parents or that they’re not our child?

- are we prepared for dealing with the comments that people make to our child? will we be able to prepare our child with a healthy self-esteem to deal with and deflect such comments?

- can we step outside of our comfort zone to find resources for our child to grow into their ethnic identity?

- are we ready to deal with not only a) parenting, b) adoption, c) open adoption, d) open adoption of a child who may be of a different ethnicity, but e) all of the above?

It may be really challenging, scary, awkward, and life-stretching, but after much percolation (which I won’t go into at this time, but we’re happy to discuss), we think we’re ready for it. Carefully considered this time, the answer is still, “Yes. We’ll do our best.”

I realized the other day that this journal has been long (sometimes very very long) in information about specific events, or emotional issues, or weird people sitting next to me at the fingerprint office, or things of that nature, but we’ve never really taken the time to give people a good idea of what the process looks like.

Here, then, is the high-level overview of the whole process, including how far along the path we already are:

  1. Decide to adopt Done!
  2. Decide on an adoption “path” (domestic/international, open/closed, infant/child, etc) Done!
  3. Find an agency to work with Done!
  4. Our agency’s specific steps
    1. Attend the informational seminar in Portland Done!
    2. Submit paperwork, fingerprints, documents, etc Done!
    3. Meet with counselor for Intake interview Tomorrow!
    4. Homestudy process – in-home interviews with counselor (2-4 months)
    5. More paperwork – biographies, photo collages, letters of recommendation, etc. (2-4 months, simultaneous with step 4)
    6. Preparing our home and lives (2-4 months, simultaneous but nearer the end of with steps 4 & 5)
    7. Jumping in the pool! (Early next year?)
    8. Waiting for the call… biting our fingernails… obsessively checking our voicemails… (could be 3 weeks… could be 3 years.)
    9. The call!
    10. Meeting the birthmother and making sure that this is the right fit (This “usually” happens 3 months before the birth, and can take a few appointments before everyone is comfortable. It could, however, happen in just a couple of hours, if the birthmother first contacts the agency after the birth and the process is accelerated.)
    11. Mediation – establishing agreements, attending any additional counseling, figuring out details. (Shortly after step 10.)
    12. Birth!
    13. Legal stuff that I probably should have been paying more attention to during the seminar, but I dismissed as “I know I’ll forget this, so I’ll study it again when we’re closer to the date” (Few days, most likely)
    14. Baby time!

So! That’s a rough outline of the process. Obviously, the only things set in stone so far are the very first steps (deciding to adopt and the adoption method we’ve chosen), and it could turn out that when we meet our counselor tomorrow, it just feels like a bad fit, either from their perspective or from ours, and we’ll have to start again at step 3 again. (I actually had a bad dream the other night in which Betsy and I were at a restaurant, and our waitress recognized us and let us know that the whole adoption community was abuzz about how angry our counselor was after finding “that little website of yours”.) But based on the information I’ve gotten from them so far, I’m feeling pretty comfortable that we’ll be able to work together pretty well.

So, we’re on to the next step tomorrow – the intake interview with our new counselor, who will be our guide the rest of the way. Wish us luck!

So, at this point in the story (mid June), we’d read a handful of books, and gone to one meeting that was informative, but which didn’t feel like the right “fit” for us. We were still in middle of trying to figure out where we stood on the big five questions of adoption, and so far there had been no ray of light beaming down from the sky illuminating any single path. We needed more information.

Betsy did some research online to find a listing of a bunch of local agencies, and checked out the websites of all of the agencies listed on there, looking for ones that caught our eye and (most importantly) had an informational meeting that we could sign up for. As we went through the listings, the sites started to blend together – soft-focus pictures of infants, happy thoughts about bundles of joy, and very vague language about the actual process itself.

One of the sites was very different, though. Instead of warm, dreamy pictures of beautiful people holding their beautiful babies, we saw real people – a listing of the candidates waiting for a child to be placed with them. Instead of optimistic promises of a speedy process, we saw actual statistics (and if you know me, you know how excited I was to see that). And instead of painting a picture of mindless bliss and dreams come true, we saw the site clearly discuss and address the fears and concerns about open adoption.

But, wow, those fears and concerns… I had had some vague misgivings about the concept of open adoption, but I hadn’t yet put in enough time thinking about it to really understand what I was worried about. On the website was a nicely organized, easy-to-read list of exactly what I should (and would) be worrying about. Jealousy, last-minute disruptions, attempts to reclaim the child, split loyalties – all of the nightmare scenarios started to pop up, and the idea of hiding away in a nice, safe closed adoption started sounding more and more appealing. They wouldn’t have to write this stuff on the website if they weren’t legitimate fears, right? I mean, you don’t see a toaster manufacturer trying to defuse fears about the toaster spontaneously combusting and setting the house on fire because such a thing never happens – you only have to fight fears that are legitimate. (Although now I know what’s going to keep me awake all night tonight… maybe I should unplug the toaster before I go to bed. And stick it in a bucket of water.)

It was time to get more information – learn more about the benefits, get more information about the risks, and understand the process a bit better. Betsy and I called in and signed up for a meeting, and attended during the first week of June.

This time around, the nerves weren’t as bad as with our first meeting. We’d been to meetings before, we knew the process – we were seasoned veterans after that first session. Or, at the very least, we weren’t about to run away and hide in the bushes to avoid showing up. This meeting was in downtown Seattle, rather than in Renton like the first one was. This seems like a meaningless distinction, but for some reason, it was somewhat comforting to me – I’ve been a devoted Seattlite for past 9 years, and I felt like a big-city interloper when we drove out to the suburbs to the first meeting. This time, we could ride the bus and walk to the meeting, which is what our lifestyle is geared around, and it felt almost more “authentic” to talk about adding a child to our family when we were being ourselves in transportation choice.

We waited patiently outside the building for the meeting to start, sneaking the occasional glance at the other people sitting around the entrance – were they here for the meeting too? Or are they just here to meet a friend after work? The meeting facilitator came down and let us all into the building, and sure enough, all of the other people waiting outside were coming to the meeting with us. There were 5 couples there that night, and 3 of the 10 people were female. We’ve since found out that this is one of the few agencies in the city that would allow a ratio like that – definitely more of a progressive atmosphere than some of the other agencies we had looked at.

The meeting itself was pretty straight-forward – we spent a little bit of time introducing ourselves, the coordinator talked about the structure of their program specifically, a little bit about the legal requirements of Washington state, about her personal experiences, and talked a lot about the concept of open adoption itself.

So, what is open adoption?

Open adoption, in its simplest form, means that the birthparents and the adoptive parents know who each other are – full names and everything. In this specific program, this means that the birthparents choose the adoptive parents out of a pool based on an introduction letter/scrapbook the adoptive parents put together, and begin forming the relationship early – ideally, while the birthmother is still pregnant (there are some last-minute in-hospital adoptions, but this is less than 25% of them). After the birth, the birthparents remain in contact with the adoptive parents and the child, and becomes like a good family friend or a relative.

Remember in one of my recent posts, how I mentioned that Betsy and I are somewhat shy, and not particularly skilled at things like small talk? And now the plan is to form an intimate relationship with a complete stranger, with only a few months time? Oy.

But as I thought about it more, I kept coming to the same conclusions. It’s indisputable that this is healthier for the birthparents than the old system of “pretend your pregnancy never happened”, and the bulk of the evidence collected so far (this is a relatively new concept, after all) indicates that children are much healthier when they have a chance to interact directly with all of the important people in their life and when they can get honest, straight-from-the-source answers when they have their inevitable questions about “why”. In our marriage, we’ve put in a lot of work at confronting tough questions and discussing them openly rather than trying to hide them away or trying to pretend that the problem doesn’t exist, and I’ve tried to advise my friends to use similar tactics of honesty and vulnerability to solve problems instead of putting up emotional shields.

As I contemplated the idea of open adoption, I kept asking myself the same question – would I be able to look my child in the eyes ten years from now, and tell them that I chose to not let their birthmother be a part of their lives because I was feeling shy? Or because I felt there was potential emotional risk? If I wanted the values I intend to raise my kid with to be true, I had to take the first step in being open and caring about others in the adoption process.

Once that fifth question (“open or closed?”) had become clear to me, the rest of the steps were obvious. I felt a level of comfort with OA&FS that I hadn’t felt with any other agency I had read about or visited, and they were definitely well-equipped to fit our needs. Unfortunately, the concept of open adoption precludes an international adoption, but that just made the decision process that much easier. I talked about it after the meeting with Betsy, and we were on the same page – this was the right path, and this was the right agency to work with.

The next step in their adoption path is to attend a two day seminar – they hold them quarterly in Seattle, or monthly in Portland. Unfortunately, the next available seminar in Seattle wouldn’t be until November, and it was June when we were making these decisions. Slightly better, but still not great, Portland had an opening in September – specifically, September 17th and 18th. We signed up for that seminar and will be down there next week.

After that meeting, we started letting our friends and families know about our adoption plans, and we officially launched this blog. And that pretty much brings us up to the current day. A few more books, sneaking peeks at the mountain of paperwork that awaits us after next week’s seminar, and a lot of anticip…

I’m going to mess with Todd’s chronology a bit by letting you know that in nine days’ time, we’re going to “the adoption seminar.” Because we signed up for it about three months ago, the seminar has been the single event thus far on which we’ve been hanging our hopes, fears, and just about every other emotion. Any adoption conversation with folks who know the blow-by-blow so far, opens with, “So when are you going down to Portland?” Todd and I talk pre- and post-Portland; we’re twiddling our thumbs now, but oh, man, after the seminar we can really get the ball rolling!

I shouldn’t underestimate the importance of this thumb-twiddling time, though. It’s been so good for us to have time to catch our breaths, collect our thoughts (as much as we can think and project upon the unknown future), pray, and prepare for the enormity of what’s coming our way. With that in mind, I’d like to share a few quotes from The Spirit of Open Adoption by James Gritter. It’s the second of three required books I’m reading in anticipation of “Portland,” and it’s blowing my mind with information…

Children are not deserved and cannot be earned. In our desire to create children, we are ultimately powerless. We cannot produce them on demand. For proud, capable people, this is an infuriating truth. We strive to master our circumstances, but the fact is, children are only available to us as gifts, and all we can do is receive them humbly. Like it or not, the only verb that appropriately brings children into our lives is receive…Children belong to God, not us. Parents are privileged to hold them for a while, but they cannot be hoarded and contained. From the day we first welome children into our lives, we know our goal is to prepare them for the day they will leave. They are entrusted to our care, and it is our responsibility to nurture them toward independence. As parents–biological and adoptive–we are stewards, not possessors.

I was telling a coworker about reading the above truth, and saying that it was so obvious but also so overlooked. Her son died a couple years ago and she shared with me that that was the one thing that helped her come out the other side of grief. She remembered that he belonged to God, and while she got to enjoy him as a gift for three years, God ultimately had bigger plans for him.

We must be careful not to sanitize, sentimentalize, or even glamorize the pain of adoption. It really is miserable stuff, and it is intensely personal. It is internal. The pain of adoption is not something that happens to a person–it is the person. Because the pain is so primal, it is virtually impossible to describe…Surely, no outsider fully understands the to-the-bone exasperation and helplessness of biological mutiny…And it is folly to suppose that someone who has not been there can really grasp the interior emptiness that exists when one leaves the clan. And somehow, not being understood makes the pain all the worse.

To think that I’m going to be party to this pain, among all the other emotions and experiences, is hard to wrap my head around. But reading this book (oh, if I had the room to quote the whole thing!) has galvanized the idea that if we are indeed meant to adopt, open adoption is the best way possible. But I better stop there before I fully rip the rug from under Todd’s next post! Until next time…

After going to a meeting with the first agency, we had a pretty good sense of what type of questions we had to ask ourselves. Those questions were:

  1. Agency or Private?
  2. Infant or Child?
  3. Healthy or Special Needs?
  4. Domestic or International?
  5. Traditional or Open?

Private or Agency?

The idea behind a Private adoption is that the adopting couple retains the services of a lawyer to handle all of the paperwork and to give legal council, but to not work with an actual agency. Instead, the couple will advertise in local papers, magazines, websites, and send out letters to friends and family, searching for a birthmother in need. A well-chosen lawyer will have some experience with the advertising process, but the couple is largely on their own.

Maybe when we’re on our twelfth adoption and the process is old hat, but for now? No thanks! We need all the support we can get.

Infant or Child?

Again, this was a pretty easy question for us. We are definitely interested in raising our child from as early of an age as possible – as mad as it might sound, we look forward to the dirty diapers, the sleepless nights and all the craziness of that process. It would have been difficult for us to give up those early months and go for a child already past that stage.

“Healthy” or “Special Needs”?

One of the fields that WACAP (the agency who hosted the first meeting we went to) works in is with Special Needs children. During the presentation, they showed us a book full of children currently looking for placement, with any number of physical or learning disabilities.

It’s extremely difficult to look at these children, in need of a home and a loving family, and to have to admit that you simply aren’t prepared for that responsibility, both in parenting skills that we have not yet built and in emotional strength and durability.

When I was in high school, our parents were friends with a family who was heavily involved with the foster care system. The father in the family was someone who was always willing to help where he could – whether that meant lending a tool, providing an extra set of hands for a weekend chore, or driving an hour in the rain down from Marysville to help his friend’s teenage son get his car up and running when he left the lights on in the IKEA parking lot. My parents have had a lot of friends like that (and are people like that themselves), and as I grow older, I’m trying to look more for opportunities where I can be a friend and a source of help to others. With this family in particular, I’ve always been especially impressed by their willingness to bring children into their homes and to provide them with love – even if the children stayed with them for only a few months, I know that the children’s lives were measurably improved by that stay.

Betsy and I have talked a lot about participating in the foster program, and trying to do our best to help children with “special needs”. And if the child that we end up adopting through the “healthy” program ends up having special needs, we will do everything in our power to help them grow up strong and happy, and I know our families will provide us with the support we need to get through those obstacles. But we’re simply not ready to volunteer for the more difficult path today.

Domestic or International?

The other packet WACAP gave us included pictures of several children from each of the countries they worked with. As I flipped through the packet, trying to “feel” which country was right for us, I kept on returning to the Kazakhstan page. I tried to figure out what it was about that country that was intriguing to me – I had little to no knowledge of the culture or the people, and I had never felt particularly drawn to them before. In contrast, I’ve had a lot of “touch points” with some of the other countries – a cousin born in Korea, a burgeoning interest in Ethiopian jazz, love for the food from Vietnam, Thailand, India… admittedly, not a huge interest or knowledge about these diverse cultures, but it was still far more than I knew about Kazakhstan.

Until I realized that I kept on returning to that page because the baby was white.

It was a stunning realization – I’ve never been concerned about race among my friends or coworkers, I have non-caucasian cousins who I never think of as anything but as part of my family, I have great respect and interest in other cultures… but I couldn’t deny the fact that when I looked at pictures of babies, my “father instinct” kicked in way harder with babies who looked like me. I returned to the pictures of the other children, and tried to force myself to imagine holding them, playing catch with them in the backyard, teaching them to ride a bike, but it just didn’t feel as natural as with the caucasian child.
I left the meeting more confused about my stance on International adoption than when I had gone to the meeting. Was race important to me, and I wasn’t aware of it previously? Was I overreacting? If I went ahead with a non-caucasian adoption, would I subconsciously regret it later on?

Over the next couple of weeks, I continued to think about it, and to “try on” the images of different races of children in our house. As I worked through this mentally, I realized that my reaction actually wasn’t about the race of the child in the picture at all. What I was reacting to was the first realization that the child we would be raising was not going to share our genes.

Up to that point, I don’t think I had really worked through that part of my own grief. For myself, I was never going to carry a child, and seeing Betsy pregnant would have been neat, but it wasn’t what I was looking forward to. What I wanted was a child of my own, and I had convinced myself that the method of bringing the child home wasn’t important to me. But when I was confronted with a picture of a child that obviously would not share my genes, that part of my loss became more real.

Once I finally gave myself time to “own” this loss, to deal with it and to start to move on, I realized that race was not a consideration for me. There are definitely some people from the outside who may have an issue with a mixed-race family, but I decided that that was something I was willing to work with. However, in the time that it took me to come to grips with this and to understand my initial reaction to race, Betsy and I had made other decisions that answered this question for us. Those decisions will be the topic of my next post.

After reading a number of books, we had a pretty good understanding of the questions we’d need to answer over the coming months. The main questions are:

  1. Agency or Private?
  2. Infant or Child?
  3. “Healthy” or “Special Needs”?
  4. Domestic or International?
  5. Traditional or Open?

Knowing the questions was definitely a step in the right direction – but after all our reading, we weren’t really any closer on knowing the answers. We needed to talk to people and get some insight that way.

One of the books we read included a list of reputable adoption agencies in Washington, and we checked out their sites. One of them, WACAP, held informational meetings on a regular basis, and we decided to drop in on the next meeting. WACAP works primarily with international adoptions, but also places a fair number of domestic special needs children and has an African-American child program as well, so they felt like a good resource to get some information on a number of different adoption paths.

The drive over to the meeting was nerve wracking – we had been reading the books and talking about it a little bit with each other, but this was the first time we were taking any sort of action, and the people we were going to meet that night would be the first people to know that we were looking into adoption.

I think if either Betsy or I were going to the meeting by ourselves, we probably would have turned around. I know I would have, at least. If I were a cartoon character, with the angel and devil sitting on my shoulders whispering advice, my angel would have hiking shoes, a book of maps and a ready smile, and my devil would…, well, he probably wouldn’t even be on my shoulder, as that would require leaving the safety of the couch. He’d be at home, watching TV and eating popcorn, and if he felt like it, he might give me a call to try bring me back to the couch to sit next to him.

Approaching the building, the nervousness and fear of leaving my comfort zone was kicking in heavily. I wanted to adopt, but… not if it involved talking to people! Or going to meetings! Can’t we just sign up on a website somewhere, and have a child shipped to us? Does Amazon have a child adoption center yet? When we walked to the front door of the WACAP office, and saw that it was locked and the lights turned off, a load instantly came off my shoulders and I was ready to jump back in the car and go back home. “We gave it a good try, but the doors were locked – what else could we do? Guess we’ll just head back home and play Guitar Hero.”

As we started to walk back towards the car, the angel voice kicked in and I realized that we really needed to give it a little more of a try than just jiggling the door handle on the front door and driving away rapidly. We started to circle the building, walking around the back, and sure enough, we found signs pointing us to a backdoor entrance and the site for the meeting. The door was wide open, and we could hear a few voices chatting inside. We walked in, and saw exactly what I had been fearing… smiling people who were happy to see us and holding informational brochures, a couple with their adopted child ready to provide information about their experiences, and a warm, comforting environment hosted by people who truly cared about our needs for information and guidance.

I was terrified.

(The rest of the meeting in the next post!)