MIKE and Susan are a professional couple with a big decision to make: should they take the adoption path?
They have tried for children naturally and through various courses of IVF. Susan cried when this path was finally abandoned, and began to think immediately of adoption. Mike, though, had other things on his mind. He was experiencing depression, and adoption became a subject that they found hard to talk about.
Susan knew that it was something they both had to want. He knew he did not feel the same as Susan, but was aware of how much she wanted it. It became the elephant in the room, and so the months went by.
In the end, they asked me to sit with them so that they could talk about it. They believed that a third party would help to create a safe and focused place in which to discuss the matter and speak honestly. They had been to information evenings on the subject, and spoken to other couples who had adopted children. Now, they had only to sign a form, and the process would start.
A social worker would be assigned to them, and they would be questioned about all aspects of their life: emotional, financial, religious, and relational. This process might last for between six months and a year. If they came through that, they would be recommended, and the process of matching them with a child or children — two siblings are quite common — would begin.
They knew the likelihood would be a child aged four to eight, who had emotional issues of some sort. It is rare that babies are available for adoption in this country.
A very honest conversation emerged over our couple of hours together. Mike admitted that he did not have the energy for it that Susan had. But he did not mind giving up his job to become the primary carer — they had agreed that. Susan said that if Mike had been willing, she would have started this process more than a year ago. In their late 30s, both now felt that time was ticking away.
As we spoke, a picture emerged of them standing in front of a doorway, holding hands. There was a choice. Either they could push the door open and walk through it together, or they could turn around, walk away, and share another future. It was the moment of truth. Susan knew that she would weep all over again if they did walk away — her last chance of a child gone. Mike felt neither strongly for, nor against. So what would have to happen to make him say “Yes”?
It was painful and unfair on so many levels. Parents who can conceive naturally are never asked if they are worthy parents; it is not an issue. But, if you want to adopt, every aspect of your life is picked over. You have to prove your worthiness.
But then life is not fair, although it can be beautiful.