We made our second appointment with the adoption agency and we handed in all the forms and our portfolio. We met the other social workers who deal with the biological moms. They looked over our info and asked us a few questions. This group of social workers look after all the pregnant ladies that come in and want to give up their babies. They build a relationship with these ladies and counsel them throughout their pregnancy. They often end up being in the delivery room too and acting as birthing partners. They really get to know these moms and what they are about and what their expectations are for their unborn children. On the other side, our social worker was getting to know us and what our hopes, dreams and expectations were. The 2 teams meet regularly to chat and swap information and this is how matches are made. They meet each others clients too so that they can get a really good idea of all the adoptive and biological parents on their books.
The adoption process can be long and hard. The forms that we took home were very comprehensive. There were many different sections and all aspects of our lives were covered. Medical, financial, emotional, sexual, family, education, religion and more. There are no right or wrong answers and the agency was not looking to judge us. They just wanted to be sure that they understood us and that they matched us up with the correct baby. In fact the section of the form dealing with the child that we wanted was really comprehensive. Down to our preference of hair colour, eye colour, family medical history etc. The forms asked us whether we would be prepared to accept a baby with an illness (and it listed pages of illnesses), a baby from an addict mother, a baby as a result of rape, a baby as a result of incest, an HIV positive baby etc.
Again, none of these questions were aimed at making judgments, only at making a correct match. On the other side, when biological mums arrive to discuss giving up their babies for adoption, they are asked what type of family they envisage raising their child. For some of these women, the most important thing is that the child is raised in a religious family, a sporty family, a very close family, a rich family etc. They each have their own idea of what they want and the social workers attempt to fulfill this wish.
Once all the application forms were completed and we’d had copies of our ID books done, it was time to start on the portfolio. This is a book about us. We bought a scrapbook and we each wrote a letter to a biological mom. We pasted in photos of ourselves, our pets, our families, our friends and our home. We wrote little pieces about ourselves, our lives, our likes, our interests etc. We enclosed some letters from friends wishing us well and telling what great parents we would be.
Our portfolio was beautiful. It was therapeutic too. I recommend that all families do a portfolio at some time in their lives – even if they are not planning to adopt. We had such fun reflecting on ourselves and our lives and the end result is a lovely book about us that I still look back on today and add to so that my son can have it one day.
She gave us an enormous stack of forms and advised us to go home, read through them and then decide if we wanted to go ahead. If we did, we would need to complete the forms and submit them together with certain letters and a portfolio.
Have a great day everyone. I look forward to hearing from you.
1) The initial meeting with the social worker which is a very informal Q & A session.
2) Take home a very fat folder of forms and complete them in your own time.
3) Return that folder together with a portfolio to the adoption agency.
4) Meet with all the social workers so they know who you are.
5) Receive a home visit from a social worker.
By this time, I had made a new friend. My new friend, N had an adopted son. I told her about my difficulties. She brought up the topic of adoption.
My husband & I had actually discussed adoption a year or so earlier and when we looked into it, briefly, we were disappointed. There seemed to be very little information available on the internet about adoption in South Africa. There was lots of information about international adoptions. We were a bit naive and assumed that adopting within our own race was firstly possible and secondly, the obvious choice to make. We were turned away at every enquiry. We were told that in South Africa, there are no white babies available for adoption. Some agencies told us that there was a 10 year waiting list while others told us that their waiting list was so long that they were not accepting any more applications. We gave up and continued with fertility treatments.
It was becoming increasingly difficult to spend time with my closest friends. They had all started to have babies and I seemed to be surrounded by glowing mums and dads who wanted to tell me every detail about their precious bundle. Book club was the worst! It seemed like each month there was yet another announcement of a pregnancy. By the time most of the members had had one baby, the first lady was on her 2nd pregnancy and the cycle started all over again! I thought I would scream. The conversation turned less and less to books and more and more to baby or pregnancy-related things. Sometimes I smiled and nodded and could pretend I was having a good time. Sometimes I went to the bathroom and cried or screamed into the soft, fluffy towels. Numerous times, I went home in tears and told my husband that I was going to resign from book club. Why didn’t I? Each month I thought it would get better. I couldn’t think of a good enough reason to resign without telling the truth. I needed to keep up my social life because if I stopped book club, next would be supper club, dinner parties and then braais at friends’ houses. I had already made excuses for 3 or 4 baby showers and kids’ birthday parties and I started to imagine myself as a total recluse with no friends at all. Sometimes that idea sounded so tempting but on some level I knew that it would not be good and it certainly wouldn’t get me a baby.