By: Katherine Malmo
1. Talk to friends and friends of friends about their experiences.
2. Try not to get lost driving around foreign neighborhoods looking for a community center that will host the Journeys of the Love, Hope, Heart, Blessed-Child’s Dream of the Christ’s Open Adoption agency meeting.
3. Ask the social workers what programs/countries will let you adopt if you are single, over 40, in a same-sex relationship, and/or a cancer survivor.
4. Choose the agency that can answer your question.
5. Get fingerprinted, background-checked, dig up the value of your house, find pay stubs, photocopy bank statements, get friends to write references, find your dog’s vaccination records, have the pet store where you purchased your fish sign an affidavit of its health, make a list of every illness you’ve ever had, dig up the name of your third grade teacher who could verify that indeed your favorite color was lavender, make a list of your stuffed animals and their names and how well you took care of each and every one of them, and promise, that if they could talk, they would guarantee that, if given the opportunity, you’d be the bestest mother ever.
6. Ponder questions for your autobiography like, how do your parents feel about education? Resist the urge to say they hate education and schools and especially do-gooder teachers, but that they also hate puppies and kittens, rainbows and balloons. Do not say your parents are puppy-kicking balloon-poppers.
7. Invite a social worker into your home and show her that you keep your medicines locked away, your fire ladder in the baby-to-be’s room, and your floors shiny-clean.
11. Try not to punch the social worker who says you seem really anxious about this when you’re waiting to hear from a prospective birth mother.
12. Make a spreadsheet with everything an infant could possibly need –from diaper wipes and burp cloths to gliders and strollers –while you wait.
13. Decide you’re sick of waiting and start researching other options/agencies. Find the notes from friends of friends you talked to ages ago.
14. Resist the urge to get a tiny dog or a gerbil or any other small animal that you can carry in your purse. Resist. A Chihuahua is, in fact, not a baby.
15. Find an independent facilitator. Send her your homestudy.
16. Don’t let her pressure you into a situation that isn’t right for you.
17. When she yells at you, you may want to tell her she should be ashamed. You may stop talking to her.
18. Hand the phone to your spouse when she calls a week later. She’ll tell him your baby has been born.
19. Leave a bag of dog food on the back porch and, on the way to the airport, ask your parents to come get your dog.
20. When you meet your baby, she may be wrapped in a purple hand-knit blanket and have an orange bow stuck to her head with a dab of maple syrup.
21. Spend 3 weeks in a rented condo/bachelor pad.
22. You may dream that you can’t find your baby buried in your bedding and you may wake up pulling the sheets off your bed panicked. Totally normal.
23. Go ahead and check your three giant bags and a boxed-up pack-n-play on your way home. The airline will look the other way.
24. When you get home, open your doors to your friends and family. Let them love her. Take their pictures with her. Let them celebrate. They’ve been waiting too.
25. You may run into her room while she’s sleeping to be sure she’s still breathing. Also totally normal.
26. Dress her in tiny hand-knit socks and hats. Take pictures.
27. Put her in a swing. Take a picture. Watch her crawl. Take a picture. Put a ponytail in her hair. Take a picture. Put her in the snow. Put her in the water. Lean her against the dog. Take pictures, pictures, pictures.
28. Go to the courthouse and have your picture taken with the judge who finalizes the adoption.
29. Put all these pictures in a book. Read her story to her. When she’s two she may ask who the man is in the picture at the courthouse. You’ll tell her he’s the man who said you’d be her mommy forever and ever. She just might kiss him and say Thank you!
30. You may be exhausted and, probably, very grateful you didn’t punch anyone in the face, call your parents puppy-kicking balloon-poppers, or get a tiny dog or gerbil or other small animal that could fit in your purse.
Katherine Malmo is the Norwegian-American mother of an African-American three year old who loves Curious George, Mavis Staples and cookies; and the wife of an extremely likeable software engineer with a fondness for roadside furniture and a habit of whistling in his sleep. In 2005 Katherine was diagnosed with Inflammatory Breast Cancer and spent a year in treatment. These days she is cancer-free and blogs about her family, adoption, race, health and living a low-toxin life at HystericalMommyNetwork. Her book, Who in This Room, will be available in October 2011.