Family / Family-building

The Adoption Process

I met Dawn and Holly through a friend from grad school.  After talking to them a little bit— I asked if it would be an imposition to interview them for VillageQ about the path their lives had taken, one that has led them to trying to adopt a child. Knowing nothing about the adoption process, I was fascinated. Hope you are, too. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

Dawn: We are Holly and Dawn from Phoenix, Arizona. We are both from the Midwest. I grew up playing ball and helping out on the family farm. Holly is from the suburbs of St. Louis and spent her summers at the lake with her family. She loves Saturday Night Live, drumming and cooking. I enjoy being active. I love to take our dogs, Joey and Olive, for walks and loves to play “hide and seek” with them. We enjoy riding our beach cruisers to Sunday Brunch, playing “Chopped” for dinner and making each other laugh.

We’re at the point that we’re stable in our careers, our relationship, and life in general. Holly manages a funeral home, and I am a counselor. We’re ready to experience being parents, with all the highs, lows, dirty diapers and scraped knees.

HollyDawnPhoto

Photo Credit: Holly (left) and Dawn (right)

How did you and Holly meet?

Dawn: Well, we almost didn’t meet! Holly and some friends had plans to go out for a few drinks on a Friday night. I was going to enjoy a nice, quiet evening at home. At the last minute a friend convinced me to join her for a few drinks. My first glimpse of Holly was of curly blonde hair and a big smile.

Holly: And my first image of Dawn is how darn cute she was and how I immediately felt comfortable, really like I was finally home.

Dawn: Had I not changed my mind and went out, who knows when our paths would have crossed? Our first date was to an ice carving festival and it was so cold we decided to move to Arizona!! We’ve been together since 2007 and got married in California in 2013.

That is sweet. As we all know, these days, there are tons of ways to create your family. Why did you and Dawn choose adoption?

Holly: Well, I think it might have actually chosen us. One of the misconceptions with lesbians is that “you’re two women, just have a baby!” when it’s really not that easy! We each tried to conceive through IVF with no success.

Dawn: I have an adopted niece, and it just felt like the right way to grow our family.

Can you tell me a little bit about the process? Do they vet you? Was it a bureaucratic nightmare?

Dawn: Thanks to the power of the internet we were able to research several agencies from across the US. We live in Arizona. Most of the local agencies were not gay friendly, so we really had to expand our search. We settled on Independent Adoption Center (IAC) largely due to their LGBTQ friendly attitude. They also only do open adoptions, which as we learned more about the process, became really important to us.

Once we chose IAC we attended a two day orientation to their agency where we were able to meet a birth mother as well as adoptive parents. They shared their stories which really helped us feel comfortable with the process. We felt like they really understood the uniqueness of LGBTQ families and made use feel at home. Ironically, there was a gay couple there from the Phoenix area that actually used the same social worker to complete the home study as we did. At the time, gay marriage wasn’t legal in AZ so we had to fill out two sets of paperwork and essentially qualify as two individual people, which cost us extra. Even now, with gay marriage legal in AZ, the adoption laws haven’t caught up with the marriage law, so we may not be able to adopt our child together.

Our child could be born in any state, so it’s hard to know exactly how to prepare. Some states allow same sex parental adoption. Some don’t. In some states, we’ll be able to come home from the hospital with our baby. In others we are required to stay in that state for up to a month. So a lot of this process and our journey is still unfolding.

You mentioned the term “open adoption” how is that different from other types of adoption? 

Dawn: In an open adoption, the birth parents and the adoptive parents meet and get to know each other. Actually, the birth parents always pick the adoptive parents through online bios and subsequent meetings. The birth parents are involved in the child’s life throughout the years as opposed to the adoption being a “family secret.” This type of adoption benefits everyone; the birth parents, the adoptive parents and most importantly the child. The child is able to form a relationship with the birth parents and be able to know that he/she was placed for adoption out of love. The birth parents become part of an extended family that is there to love and support the child. This is helpful emotionally and in everyday situations such as medical history and to answer questions like “why do I have curly hair.”

I’ve seen the website you mentioned. It has some really cute pictures of you guys, the extended family, and pets. I can barely pick which photos to post on Facebook. What do you think about when choosing photos for an adoption page?

Holly: We really focused on pictures that represented who we are in every day life. We want the birth mother to choose us based on who we really are day in and day out. We wanted to convey who we are as a couple, a family with two dogs and the importance of friends and family in our lives.

Thanks for sharing this process with us and good luck! If you could give some advice to other people considering adoption, what would it be?

Holly: There are so many great adoption resources out there, from international, domestic and the social service system; as well as open and closed. Consider each one with an open mind and what will really fit your family long term.

Dawn: I agree that open adoption works best for us— but each person needs to make their own informed decision. I work in social services, and I wanted my professional life and personal life to have some distance. Also, I have a niece who is adopted so the open adoption option seemed very familiar and the right thing for us. My niece is excited about sharing her experience with her new cousin.

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3 Comments

  1. Deborah Goldstein says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your story, Dawn & Holly. Hope to hear great news soon. Good luck!!

  2. Congrats on the adoption of your son!!!

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