My little Hooper’s story is one I love to tell because it combines a few of my favorite topics: foster care, adoption, Hooper, and happy endings. I thought since it so efficiently combines these fascinating things, it certainly deserves it’s own little section. And lots of adorable, chewy faced pictures for which Hooper is famous, you know… like THIS ONE!
And THIS ONE!!
Pause for Love Attack.
And we’re back.
So The Dad and I had decided on fost-adoption. The how and why of that decision can be found here.
We got our foster care certification for “one boy, ages 0-2, open to any ethnicity and some barriers, low legal risk” in 2008 and then we hurried up and waited. Every other Friday, I would bring the girls to the agency office for a profile viewing. This included “shopping” through binders of profiles with available children. Profiles within our age range were extremely rare if not non-existant. Why? Because when a healthy child under two becomes free for adoption or at least low risk, it is generally a phone call or two away from placement- he gets gobbled right up. He never even makes it into a profile.
So, the binders I was shopping through were overflowing with profiles of older children and teenagers, or young children with extreme medical needs. I’m not sure which hurt my heart more to read through.
Profiles of teenagers are terribly sad because they are involved in the creation of their own profiles. It includes a photo, a short bio and what they are looking for in their forever family. It was like a sales pitch, a cry for help “please pick me, please pick me. I’m the one you want, see? I’m good at these things and love to clean house and go to church.” That was when we committed to saving a special place in our family for an older teenager- someday. Jorge was only three, and we knew it would be the easiest and best for all if we respected the birth order.
So, every now and then, we would “apply” (submit our homestudy) for a child who we thought might be a good fit. Every single one of those children had a long and hard road ahead. And every single time, we weren’t chosen.
About four months of that went by, and we were growing restless. We thought maybe we should “just adopt the next one and try to conceive this time”. So a month of… THAT went on. So ridiculous that I must insert another chewy face now to avoid really thinking about it.
The next month, In April of 2009, I got a phone call from our social worker. I answered out of breath because I was doing an aerobics video with Satchel and Jorge. Funny, the details we remember.
“Are you sitting down?”
“A baby boy has become available.”
Now, in my mind, this meant one of a few things. Either a baby had entered foster care as a low legal risk and we were being considered for concurrent planning, or she was encouraging us to submit a homestudy or attend a meeting regarding this child- something along those lines. Nope.
“So, are we submitting our homestudy?”
“No. If you say yes, you pick him up tomorrow. He is one day old.”
Tears, pacing, laughing, jumping, etc.
I called the Dad at work and said, “We’re getting our boy.”
The next twelve hours are kind of hazy, but I was taking an ASL final that night. There was so much uncertainty. Tiny, precious morsels of information about my son trickled in by phone,throughout the evening. When I was finished in class, I signed with trembling hands that I was adopting a baby and picking him up the next morning. I needed to leave and… I don’t know what- cry and laugh and shop and wash tiny clothing.
The whole class clapped (which actually was everyone waving their hands in silence- the ASL version of applause). I left and called in the mom troops. They all had girls. Hooper was going to have a lot of pink things for a while. I went shopping for some essentials that night, and could hardly contain myself. I felt like I was about to go into labor after being pregnant for three hours. Every few minutes, I called The Dad to say for the millionth time, “Can you believe it?! I know, me neither, ok bye.”
Nine hours of jumping up and down and many futile attempts at sleep later:
We signed two pieces of paper. Walked into the NICU, and they handed us a baby. Then we left.
That was it.
So, let me tell you something in no uncertain terms. To those who are considering adoption and concerned or unsure about loving, bonding and or connecting with an adopted child: Meeting Hooper for the first time was EXACTLY the same as meeting my biological children on the days they were born. The fierce love was immediate and full-blown. He was mine and I was all he had.
Word spread quickly about our situation among the fost-adoption community of parent hopefuls and social workers. Hooper was a Safe Surrender baby. This like a unicorn in the world of fost-adoption because it never happens. The thing about an anonymous Safe Surrender is that there is no risk. Once a two week waiting period passes, the mother can no longer change her mind and there are no rights. The baby is a ward of the county and free for adoption. In our case, it meant that while Hooper would be in foster status for at least six months (meaning foster home guidelines, documentation, lawyers, CPS visits, social worker meetings, MediCal services, etc), there was not really anything that would get in the way of our adoption.
The time just had to pass.
And it did.
After spending a year preparing ourselves for broken hearts, sick babies, disabilities, the challenges of an interracial adoption, and all kind of other question marks, on December 20, 2009, we adopted our perfectly average healthy, little white baby.
Aaaaaand, chewy face happy ending.