I went to my monthly adoption support group tonight. I try to go most months when I am in town. I am generally glad I do, though it’s a mix of emotions each time. It’s helpful to meet other families in the same boat, but at the same time, it marks the passage of time, another month without a match, feeling that I am stuck and that this is not moving forward, wondering whether this will work out. The mantra is always “patience”,”hang in there”, “waiting is the hardest part.” All that may be true but still, it doesn’t make the waiting limbo feel any easier and in all honesty, hearing the mantra time and time again, just starts to wear thin. There’s always a topic for the meeting, usually some informational component on one of the many, many logistical, legal or sometimes emotional ins-and-outs of adoption. Today’s topic was all about birth fathers and the rights they have in the adoption match. Let’s just say there was a LOT to process, and a lot to start to worry about. In all the training and counseling that goes on for potential adoptive parents, there’s generally a lot of discussion around birthmothers (as there should be) but comparatively less so about birth fathers. But, they are, of course, a part of this too and the legal issues around consent are complicated and the potential complicating scenarios are many. In earlier stages of this, I used to approach these types of discussions by taking tons of notes, sucking in every last nitty gritty detail, learning as much as I can to prepare myself for the possible scenarios. I’m nothing if not a good student and researcher and that’s generally been my strategy for life—arm myself with as much information and preparation in advance, so I can’t be taken by surprise. “Be Prepared,” as the Boy Scout motto goes; an adaptive strategy that probably most Type-A achievers like me learned early in life. But, as time has passed and also hearing more and more adoption stories from adoptive and wanna-be-adoptive parents, it just became clear to me that every situation and story is so different that you can’t really prepare for all the inevitable surprises. And in fact, you can drive yourself (and probably others around you) crazy with trying to foreshadow the possibilities and prepare for every scenario. The best you can do is let go and be open (there’s that word again!) to whatever happens. Of course that doesn’t mean avoid all preparation or to just let yourself be pushed along blindly or worse yet, bulldozed. It’s interesting because when I was younger, it would have been very, very difficult for me to even consider a “let it go” strategy. I think it’s only in the last five or so years, having wrestled with some difficult life challenges, that I can see the value of letting go. I think this will also make me a better parent when my time comes. I try to now listen to the stories with openness and empathy, knowing that this story won’t be my story or my baby’s story. By sharing in this common experience with others in the group, I feel less alone and more confident that whatever the road before me, I can handle it, I am prepared and it will be so worth it!
**Incidentally, the photo is part of the mural on the Women’s Building, in the Mission, where the San Francisco support group meets. The image of mother and child seems perfectly connected to all of this. The monthly meeting has been a good excuse to come into the city and have dinner in the Mission. I’ve been making my way through the various nearby taqueria’s and burrito places. My next blog may be a food blog!