If I was naming these segments something more interesting, I would call this one “Cruising Through Pregnancy: Figuratively and Literally.” Clever. Anyway, I’ve split this one into Part 1 and Part 2 because it ended up being really long. Lord knows I’ve got a lot to say.
Once you’ve worked on cruise ships, going on a cruise isn’t the coolest thing ever, but I was still super excited for the ten-day cruise my boyfriend had booked on his ship at the end of June. It would be the first time we had seen each other in over five months, and the first time we would be together in person since we had started dating. Don’t feel too bad for us – we rocked at long distance. Like, I’ve never believed that long distance could work before, but we made it work really well.
Anyway, with the appearance of a noticeable bump and the realization that I was heading towards my third trimester, I finally decided I had to do something about this baby. The question was, where should I start? My sister had heard good things about a faith-centered adoption agency in the city, and since I knew for sure that I wanted to work with a well-established agency rather than through less professional methods of adoption, I made an appointment there. That turned out to be a fabulous decision – the agency was wonderful to work with, always putting me and my preferences first. During our initial interview, the first question they asked me was whether I wanted to raise my child and if there was anything they could do to make that possible for me. Once I assured them that I was capable of raising my baby, but wanted a more stable life for it than I could give right then, they began the process of helping me find a family I would love.
The first step (well, after filling out a bunch of paperwork, medical histories, etc.) was to read the “black-and-whites” as they call them. These forms include a letter from the couple to the birth mom, detailed information about each member of the family (everything from their name to their favorite ice cream), and a Q&A section that asks about fundamental parenting areas like discipline, education, religion, and more. They matched me with about ten of these based on a few preferences of mine and of the parents (like how many visits we wanted each year), and I curled up in bed that night with the full intention of reading through each one.
I had marked on my preferences that I wanted to give my child to a couple who had no children and was unable to have any children. I guess I just liked the idea of providing someone with their first child. However, my agent gave me several forms for couples who already had one or more kids, either of their own or through a previous adoption. I set these aside and started with the currently childless couples, using a pen and a highlighter to mark things I liked or found important and write questions along the sides. I was tearing down each profile, being very nit-picky, constantly changing their order as I read a new one and moved it into line with the others. As it turned out, reading so much information was kind of exhausting. It was also very difficult to remember who was who and what detail went with each one.
I ploughed ahead though, determined to give them all a fair shot. Having finished the couples without children, I moved on to those who already had kids. Oddly enough, there was an immediate change in the style of the profiles, and I found myself connecting with far more of the families just by reading about them. I’m still not really able to say what it was that made me like the families with children more, but it might have had to do with the parenting experience they had and how that came through in their answers. There was one couple that stood out to me far above the rest, not because they were “better” than anyone else, but simply because I connected with them more. The humorous, laid-back writing style throughout the profile, their emphasis on the importance of education, their discipline preferences, the books and music they liked, the amount of time they had been together… all of it came together to be just right for me. They already had a four-year-old son from a previous adoption, and although it hadn’t been my original intention, I found myself counting that among the reasons that they worked for me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I preferred parents with previous experience, not just in parenting, but also in the workings of an adoption.
I set that couple’s profile on the top of my stack, then chose two others that I liked as well, just in case my first choice was not available for some reason. My agent had asked that I pick only three at most from the profiles, but she told me if I was unable to find one that I liked, they would provide me with more options – even if it meant going out of state or partnering with another adoption agency. Add that to the list of things I loved about my agency – at every turn, they made my complete satisfaction and comfort a top priority.
Before I returned to the agency with my choices though, I had a cruise to take and a boyfriend to see! Little did I know that disaster awaited me in that arena…