Manuel and Michael have been together for 11 years and have had their adoption profile online since last year. The fact that they’re a same-sex couple makes no difference to them. They know their love for their future child and their future child’s birth family will be as strong and as deep as any love can be.
But as a LGBT family, they also know they face unique challenges that other hopeful adoptive families never have to think about. Recently I caught up to the couple from our adoption profiles page and asked them about those challenges and how they’re dealing with them, and about what they’re doing to get matched with prospective birthparents.
What was it about open adoption that initially appealed to you?
We were scared at first because we didn’t know much about open adoption. Our adoption agency offered two weekend intensives where all of our questions were answered. What was originally concerning at first about open adoption ended up being one of the most beautiful and touching gifts that you could ever give a child, which is that the child knows where he/she came from, that they can see the picture of their birthparents in their room, that they know why they look the way they do, that all of this was done out of love for him/her and that the child gets not only my family and my spouse’s family, but their birthparents’ families as well! It’s an amazing resource to the child in numerous ways.
How different has the process been from what you originally imagined it to be?
We worked together in getting all our paperwork done and it was a long process but an enjoyable one. It placed us in the “family-building mode” where there was so much excitement at growing our family. We were ecstatic when we went “live” and became searchable on the internet on 11/07/12. We knew we were finally out there and could at least be searched for and found when the time is right by birthparents who will one day choose us.
Has it been easier or harder than you thought it would be?
It is a great feeling to be searchable. We do so much research everyday on baby formulas, baby food, effective ways on parenting, baby-proofing the house, providing a safe environment for the child to grow up in, terminology to use with an adopted child, activities to do with our child, etc. Our very first birthmom contact was really exciting and as the emails progressed, she even told us that she “could see her child growing up amongst our family.” Well, it turned out she did not work with the adoption agency but directly with her for a lump sum that could be deposited in her bank account. It was disheartening to learn that it was a scam. But our hearts are very open and we continue waiting for the day when the timing is right for everyone. Sharing our experiences and journey on our Facebook page has also been a wonderful resource to stay connected with all of our supporters.
What specific barriers have you faced as LGBT hopeful adoptive parents?
Mostly everyone has been really supportive, loving and wonderful! We have also received feedback both directly and indirectly regarding individuals that do not believe in adoption and have gone on our Facebook page and made comments that we should never separate a family lineage. We always thanked them for their feedback and also shared that when consenting adults make this decision for the best interest of the child, that the adoption truly can be successful and function for everyone involved since there are no secrets.
How much information and preparation did you get about LGBT issues in your adoption training and education classes?
We received a lot, including transracial adoption classes. Manuel had the opportunity to care for his youngest sister when he was 11 and she was just born for two years when his mother was ill. He has a natural paternal instinct when it comes to children. Michael is a clinical psychologist and works very well with all levels and kids. We have learned about terminology, effective parenting, discussions about ways to help a child cope with issues in school about having two dads or as we put it, having two parents just like mostly everyone else. We also feel that it is tremendously important to raise our child with experiences in their cultural background and exposure to their heritage as much as possible and to have our child know that he/she is loved every day!
What tips or advice did your agency give you about finding a match as LGBT prospective adoptive parents?
They were very helpful in walking us through the entire process and being able to document what we wanted out of an open adoption. We know that we want the birthparents, should they choose so, to be involved in our child’s life. We want to honor them always and include them in our family. Most importantly, we learned about transparency and open communication with our child. The agency helped us with our wonderful website and we love it!
What have you learned about connecting with prospective birthparents from talking to and reading about other LGBT adoptive parents?
We have felt so many feelings throughout this process. However, none can compare to what birthparents feel and go through whenever they decide on adoption. It is not just about us and our experience but theirs as well. That has opened up our eyes and hearts and our goal is to be a support for her and for him. We realized there are two individuals involved that we want to support, get to know and be there for them should they choose us. We are fully committed to only accepting a match when both the birthmother and birthfather have fully consented and given their blessing in doing so. We may be a same-sex couple, however, we have so much love, nurture, care, attention and life experiences to share with our child that it emulates what both of our parents gave us!
Overall, do you think the adoption community is LGBT-friendly and if not, what can it do to improve its attitude and approach?
Only certain adoption agencies are LGBT-friendly and those are the ones that we have pursued. There are many agencies that are based on religious ground that have told us we “are not a traditional client” or other terminology to inform us we did not fit their typical demographic as well as informing us they place in traditional homes with traditional values. This closed mindset is a part of our everyday reality of life and world and it does exist in today’s society. However, America has made much progress in the last decade and many more people are embracing same-sex adoption and truly seeing that as a family unit. For that we give thanks and can’t wait to be an example to our own community as our own “family unit” when we have our future little one! We would love to have two children someday soon.
What do you think of Manuel and Michael’s story? What challenges do you think LGBT families face in adoption? Please leave your comments in the space below.
Are you a LGBT adoptive or hopeful adoptive family? Do you have an open adoption story?
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