The journey’s start seemed slow at first
“How did it happen so fast for you?”
It’s a fair question. At first, though, the question took me aback as I stood before the Wednesday lunch crowd at the Durham Lions Club last month.
A year ago, I recalled, I lingered after a meeting of the Durham Public Schools Board of Education, talking with Jim Key, the area superintendent for high schools. He wondered what progress Catherine and I had made in adopting a child.
“We’ve heard about some opportunities here and there,” I said. “It just hasn’t happened yet.”
The process actually started in March 2012, a year before Catherine and I married. We sat in an office overlooking downtown Raleigh, talking with attorney Parker Herring about her agency, A Child’s Hope. We signed on for a two-year contract.
But the contract was just the beginning.
After that, we had to gather photos and fill out questionnaires for a printed profile that would be distributed to potential birth mothers.
We met at home with a social worker, who peppered us with questions, looked around the house and endured enthusiastic dog slobbering.
We submitted our fingerprints to the FBI for a federal criminal background check.
We visited our family doctor to get our good health confirmed.
We took classes on infant care and CPR.
We watched as the agency announced about other couples – and even some single parents – getting chosen.
In a sense, we were “in line” behind about two dozen other couples. Maybe it would take a year, or even the full two, for us to have “our turn.”
Come November 2012, I turned my social media nerdiness to good use and created a Facebook page for our adventure, called Wes and Catherine Are Adopting.
I didn’t do much with it, at first. I put up some photos of us and I posted links about articles in the news about adoption that I found interesting.
During the winter, opportunities seemed to go dormant.
Of course, during this time, we also had a wedding to organize, which helped distract from our anxiety and frustration.
In spring 2013, after the wedding, I revisited the Facebook page. I started populating it with more photos of Catherine and me; of our life together here in Durham. It was a fairly heart-on-the-sleeve, no-hiding sort of project. The agency seemed a little nervous that we might be sharing too much about ourselves, but we had signed on for an open adoption. That meant the birth parents would get to know plenty about us and, if they wanted, could arrange visits with the child in the future.
Catherine came up with the idea for the T-shirts that we wore at April’s Great Human Race. We walked side by side from Northgate Mall, down Club Boulevard, past the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics, wearing white shirts with the Facebook page address on the back. Our shirt fronts, when seen together, read: “Wes + Catherine = Good Parents.”
To us, more than a year after the contract signing, it felt like it was taking so long.
We had just invested in an advertisement for our Facebook page in the program of the Greek Festival at our church a few days before we got that astonishing phone call that we had been chosen.
The birth parents chose us based on what they read in our profile and, in large part, on what they saw of our lives on that Facebook page.
They’re among the folks who now like the page, which we update when we can with photos of John Michael.
So how did it happen so fast for us?
Call it luck or good timing. Call it a blessing. Either way, I can’t say there’s any hard-and-fast method to speed up the process.
I can say that, no matter how quickly you adopt a child, once that call comes you lose any sense of frustration. The twinges of yearning evaporate.
If it’s your first time, as it is for me, all those old emotions are quickly replaced by panic and worry about doing right by this child.
But our pediatrician gave good advice on that front. She tells us we can have five minutes a day to worry about the job we’re doing.
The rest of the time? Just do the job.
Wes Platt can be reached at email@example.com or 919-419-6684. Follow on Twitter at @HS_WesPlatt. Connect on Facebook at facebook.com/wesplattheraldsun.