“Like many women today, I worked hard building my career. I started off as an Art Director at Def Jam Records and later worked tirelessly building the Quixote and Smashbox Studio brands, where after 8 years, I was promoted to Vice President. As an Executive, I loved what I did. Before I realized it though, I was 35 years old without a family plan. I had always wanted to be a mother, but at the same time my career was thriving.
At 42, I was more than ready for a family, but from my outlook, I was years away from a natural childbirth. It seemed then that adoption was my only option! On a whim, I went online and found the Southern California Foster Family Adoption Agency, which is now known as Extraordinary Families. As things went, their orientation was the next night, so I signed up and dragged my mother along.
The orientation was as thorough as can be. It offered me information about the child welfare system, requirements in the process, and what to expect along the way. It also explained that the creation of a forever family (a foster family who becomes an adoptive one) can be a rollercoaster ride and can sometimes take years.
It was at this point my mother warned me of the potential heartbreak that lay ahead. She wanted me to fulfill my dream of having a child, but was scared he would one day be taken away and reunited with his birth parents; she wanted to protect me from having my heart broken. I was not deterred and took the 7-week course anyway.
The course was 21 hours of training led by three Extraordinary Family social workers. We met for seven weeks on Thursday nights. The classes focused on why children enter the system, common feelings they have of being separated from their families; and how foster/adopt parents can ease their pain and build their comfort level again. I learned that even though children go into foster care because they were abused and/or neglected, they still love their parents and those connections are important.
Each training class was not only informative, but inclusive. There were same sex couples, straight couples, a transgender, older couples, another single lady, and me. Initially, I felt I stuck out like a sore thumb, but soon realized that everyone there felt the same degree of vulnerability. We all wanted a kid and the details as to why didn’t matter. We were all one tribe.
Whether we wanted to foster or adopt, we all had to become dual certified to proceed, which included: obtaining CPR and First Aid certifications; getting Live Scanned, having your home inspected for child safety, and finally a social worker conducts a home-study. The home study happens over the course of three intense one-on-one sessions wherein you both find out a lot about what you’re looking for, what you’re prepared to take on, and what you’re willing to agree to.
My social worker warned me that my mind would change countless times deciding what I’d want and what I’d eventually end up with. In the end, my mind was set on adopting a 2 year-old boy. It was more a practical decision since my mother has owned and operated a local Montessori school for the last 40 years and the point of entry there is 2 years old. A boy would provide a legacy for my father, who had 5 granddaughters and no one to carry on the family name. I was naïve thinking I could adopt one day, place him in school, and get back to work the next day.
Days and weeks passed while I received many calls from the agency, offering me girls. I considered each case carefully, but in the end, though, I decided to hold out for a toddler boy.
Then I had an unforgettable conversation with a co-worker friend over lunch wherein he romanticized the bonding period between parents and newborns. That threw me off my practical course and allowed me to see what I would be missing if I did not open my mind and heart to an infant. That same day at 5 p.m., September 11th, fate confirmed that a baby was waiting for me. The agency sent me a text about a 4 ½-month-old baby boy. This felt 100% right and I replied “YES!” in all caps. By 7:30 p.m., Baby A came home and we began our lives together as a forever family.
Our adoption case was as close to a “good one” as you can get, which strengthens my belief we were meant to be. My son’s birth mother signed away her parental rights at the hospital, which made things easier. I had a short wait until the reunification rights court hearing, and then I was in the clear to adopt. I was also fortunate enough to have worked with Extraordinary Families who visited us weekly until our adoption papers were signed, a stark contrast to the two brief visits the LA County social worker made.
As a single, adoptive parent, I was naïve. I didn’t realize the biases we would face when I didn’t come to the table with a partner or because I’m not the same race as my son. I imagine they are some of the same my mother faced, as a blonde haired, blue eyed German immigrant mother, to three first generation Filipino/German American girls, in the 1970’s. I never expected to face the same prejudices, based on my son’s race, in the year 2017!
I was also naive about how hard parenting would be. It’s not like managing employees or running a company. My son is the first situation I cannot fix in a meeting and I am consistently confused by the intrinsically boy things he does.
He often asks about his birth story and I tell him what I can. I respect the job his biological mother did, bringing him into the world and realizing her shortcomings when she did. And I know she’s counting on me to give him everything she couldn’t. And so now my life is different. I work as a freelance consultant, allowing me the time and energy to be the best mom I can for him.”