It was a great first day at the pre-adoption seminar! We spent about 5 hours there, and covered a lot of material. Today was the more "emotions" day of the seminar, focusing a lot on any grief that adoptive families might bring along with them and the concerns that crop up when they're determining whether openness in adoption is right for them. But more on that in a moment, for now I want to talk about all the other people there with us!
Our facilitator for the day was a woman from OA&FS named Katie, and she led the session for a total of 6 and a half couples. (One woman was there without her partner, who had a conflict and had attended the seminar a week before in Portland.) I was really surprised to see that there were only two straight couples - the remaining nine of us were all gay couples. Most of us were from the Seattle area, although there was one couple from Milwaukee and another from Washington DC.
It was really fantastic to meet so many other people who are going through more or less the exact same thing that we are, and to share in the whole experience with them. Going into the session, it was easy to think of them (and all the other waiting families at Open Adopt) as our competition. It's amazing how just a few hours of talking and sharing as a group can change that mindset for me. I mean, yes, it's true that birth families will pick adoptive families from a pool, and it's possible that any of these couples could be picked instead of us. But hearing all their stories (and telling our own) created a bond between us all that I really wasn't expecting. I'm already anticipating the joyful feelings we'll have when we see any of "our group" being placed with a child!
A lot of the day was spent processing feelings of grief that often come along with starting the adoption process. For straight couples, it's often very difficult because they're only choosing adoption after more "natural" methods have proven unsuccessful for them. While that was the case for some of the people there, it's definitely not true for us. (If you need me to explain, just send me an e-mail :) ) In fact, during one of the exercises, we broke into two smaller groups - ours was made up of 7 gays. So we didn't talk about grief over infertility so much as we griped about the lack of control we would have through a lot of the adoption process. After all, we effectively have to invite a stranger into our home to come and judge whether it will be fit for children - what straight couple has to do that before they get pregnant?
All in all, though, it was still useful to process a lot of the emotional baggage that everyone brought along with them. Whether it was the more traditional grief over infertility, anxiousness about the lack of control, anger at not being able to have biological children, or anything else, I think it helped us all appreciate where everyone was coming from. And I loved Liz's take on things: "After so many years of trying not to get pregnant, it's really frustrating to learn that I can't!"
Tomorrow we go back for a full day-long session. It's apparently less about the emotional aspect of adoption, and more about the gritty details of how the process will work. Should be interesting!