Training Week 1 & Deal Breakers
I got to tell you, I was so excited to start our Professional Parenting class and certification this week. I was also terrified that it may, in some way, scare my husband or way from our adoption journey. I wasn't sure what to expect going into it and thankfully, it is turning out better than I had imagined. Not only is this a course with standard course materials, but it's also a support network. We are meeting other families that are beginning their adoption journey as well. We all have different backgrounds and perspectives, so the discussions are enlightening. I wasn't expecting to be "observed" by the caseworkers leading the course, but it makes sense because these ladies are the ones that will be working with us to complete our homestudy. This provides them an opportunity to get to know us, and us them, before diving into the nitty-gritty of our lives.
The majority of our first-class covered the basics and terminology associated with the foster care system and the different phases our children move through before they become free and clear for adoption. Honestly, it was pretty dry. The yawns across the room were contagious. We all managed to suffer through it and I do think it was important to understand just how much and how many people are involved in this process. However many people you think are working are your child's case, multiply it by double. Once that was explained, we were all handed bright green index cards. We were told not to peak at the other side, and that we were going to begin a discussion about "deal breakers".
In this context, deal breakers are behaviors, backgrounds, or characteristics that are seen in many of these children. As part of the matching process, families are supposed to come up with a list of deal breakers - things they are either unwilling or incapable of dealing with. We went around the room reading strange, shocking, and often times, heartbreaking characteristics of some of the future children we would be bringing into our families. The varied from being a different race, LGBTQ, drugs, and even hoarding urine/feces. Once a card was read, we were encouraged to discuss and determine whether or not that was something we were prepared to face. There is no wrong answer and this was meant as a way of looking at something from a different perspective and really becoming more introspective. Is this something that my family and I can handle?
For my husband and I, we knew from the beginning, any signs of violence or destruction of property is an automatic deal-breaker because it poses a safety risk to the other children in our home. But what about the dozens of others on the list? Are we willing to accept a child that has a learning delay? A child that is LGBTQ? Or maybe a child that has experimented with drugs? While I think it is important for us to recognize where our strengths are, the picking-and-choosing of preferred and unpreferred attributes really started weighing on me.
We were all there, in this room, for one thing - to become parents. You can become a parent by biology, marriage, or by adoption (I'm sure there is additional ways as well). Specifically, when you decide to become a parent by biology, you have no say. You aren't allowed "deal breakers". When you decide to become a parent you are in it for the long haul. And guess what? Your child may end up developing a learning delay, become sick or disabled, or display less than ideal behaviors. Do we want that for our children? No, of course not. But no one care. You better buck up and figure out how to accept your child and help them to the best of your ability.
I think as we continue our adoption journey, and for others thinking about it, we need to keep an open mind and an open heart. By going down this deal breaker checklist, and building your idea of a perfect child, you may be missing out on the child that you need most.
© 2019 Nikki Kinard