Laura J. - Rocky River, OH - 2020
My Adoption Journey
This September, Joshua and I celebrated our 5th "Adopt-a-versary." I made the decision in late fall 2013 to pursue adoption as a single person. Two years later I became a mom. Best decision ever. No doubt in my mind.
The adoption process itself was quite a roller coaster. My winding path of paperwork, up and down emotions, paperwork, research and more paperwork was chronicled on my Blog: https://happilybusy.wordpress.com/2015/02/
But to give you a few highlights:
You fall in love with your child way before that person is in your arms. I was never so laser focused on caring for a human being whose welfare was out of my control. (Josh lived abroad in an orphanage until the day I met him.)
In January 2015 my adoption agency presented me Joshua's file. It was REALLY helpful to know his diagnosis of ichthyosis right from the beginning, so I could start to research and anticipate my child's needs. It gave me time to meet others who understood this rare disorder and to make adjustments to my home. (Ahem: central A/C, why did I wait so long?)
Social media was my saving grace during the highly emotional adoption journey. I discovered communities of people who had “been there, done that." This included other families pursuing adoption from the same country, even the same orphanage. Meeting other ichthyosis families through FIRST's Facebook communities helped me understand what my child was experiencing and how to help him navigate his unique medical needs. FIRST even has a special page for adoptive parents. Talk about meeting people who had “been there, done that." I continue to learn from all these people today. And our family is so grateful for them.
During the eight-month wait from match to adoption day, I learned photos and videos of your "child to be" are priceless, but don't expect them to come often (if at all). When they did arrive it felt like I had won the lottery. One of the best pieces of advice I learned during my wait was "the best camera is the one you always have with you." That would be my cell phone of course. With the few photos and videos sent, I became pretty proficient with iMovie (an app pre-loaded on iPhones).
Now a few words of caution: Adoption is way more errands, checks, rechecks and paper chasing than you can imagine. Thankfully the amount is starting to recede in my memory. There are visits from social workers, fire escape plans, proof you are who you say you are - and not wanted by any local or national authority. I needed to collect recommendations from friends, proof of employment, accounting of personal assets, and so much more it's not worth listing. Point is: adoptive parents go through way more vetting than biological parents. So while I can't claim to be a perfect parent, somehow all the paperwork lined up to become one. If the adoption process appeals to you, get your office supplies and personal organization system in order now.
Also, set up your doctor and specialist (dermatology) appointments in advance. Our health care team could not officially "book" the appointment until I was legal guardian, but I kept them in the loop and therefore as soon as we got home, we quickly got our appointments. Researching your medical team in advance is critical. Ask for referrals from FIRST if you don't already have a connection.
If you have room in your heart for adoption, I can tell you it's an amazing journey. And if someday we meet (if we haven't already!), I would love to introduce you to my son, who continues to delight and amaze me every day.
What's Your Story? We'd Love to Hear It!
This information is provided as a service to patients and parents of patients who have ichthyosis. It is not intended to supplement appropriate medical care, but instead to complement that care with guidance in practical issues facing patients and parents. Neither FIRST, its Board of Directors, Medical & Scientific Advisory Board, Board of Medical Editors, nor Foundation staff and officials endorse any treatments or products reported here. All issues pertaining to the care of patients with ichthyosis should be discussed with a dermatologist experienced in the treatment of their skin disorder.