Tell us a bit about yourself!
Hi, I’m Tami! I am from Northern California, born and raised in the Bay Area and now call Sacramento home. I’m a 41-year-old elementary school teacher on parental leave, blogger, and a part-time restorative yoga teacher who tries to get people to lighten the hell up already.
For fun, I like to hang out on Twitter, play Words With Friends, read library books, practice yoga (mostly lying over a bolster) and sit on my front porch with my friends.
Now that Ruby is in our life, making her laugh is high on the list as well.
What led to your decision to adopt a baby?
To be honest, I never had the biological urge to give birth. Not that I didn’t try for a while, but when it didn’t work easily, I knew adoption was the best choice for our family. In my heart, I knew it was the first choice, but the money part scared me.
We are both teachers and world travelers and know there are lots of kids who need families in the world, but international adoption is expensive.
Your little Ruby is from Taiwan. Can you tell us about your choice to adopt from Taiwan?
We chose to adopt abroad because of the legal finality. In California, there is a waiting period where the birth parents can change their minds. Don’t get me wrong, it is totally their right to parent their child, but that possibility of losing a baby just wouldn’t work for my delicate heart.
We decided to adopt from Asia because we’d spent time traveling in that part of the world and look forward to someday returning so our daughter can learn about her homeland.
Can you tell us about the application process to get approved to adopt?
The application process felt like applying to a really personal graduate school while applying for financial aid at the same time – manageable if you’re organized and stressful because you want to get it finished as soon as possible. There were essays to write, financial documents to prepare, getting for letters of recommendation, meeting with social workers, filling out reams of documents, making child care plans, finding guardians etc.
We signed our agreement September 11, 2008 and picked up Ruby October 3, 2011 – just over 3 years.
What surprised you most about the adoption process?
The tears surprised me most. I cried a lot during the process. A lot of grief, old stories, paperwork mess ups, and the vulnerability of not feeling like I was even remotely in control of the process.
The best surprise is how much love we’ve gotten. People from all over the world are rooting for our little family. It’s remarkable.
Have you ever had any major concerns or doubts during the process?
I love this question. First let me say, I am a worrier and doubter by nature. Second, adoption is not a sure thing. And last, you are dealing with your heart, your family, your future and lots of things can go wrong at any point.
The first year I felt virtuous about how patient I was being since patient and easy breezy aren’t the first things that come to mind when people meet me.
Then we got the bad news that someone effed up our file and that we’d be delayed up to a year because of it. I pretty much lost my faith in humanity.
Fast forward through that year and we get news that our original program (Thailand) had slowed down and we’d have to wait another 2-3 years and I lost it (my faith, my mind) again. Our agency suggested we start over to a more stable/predictable program and we were matched with Ruby.
Maybe this was the Universe’s way of saying she is The One.
She sure feels like The One.
How did the people in your life react when you told them you’d chosen to adopt?
People couldn’t have been more thrilled. They wanted us to be parents and now we are. Not surprisingly, everyone loves Ruby to pieces.
How did you prepare for Ruby’s arrival?
One of the first things I did was I became a yoga teacher. I knew once she was here, I wouldn’t have the time to do a program and I can honestly say it was the single best thing I did.
Because I learned how to be (more) okay with the process, more patient, how to let things go, how to not strive for perfection and how to relax a bit. In other words, I learned how to be a better parent (teacher, human being).
We also took classes through our agency, read loads of adoption books (Adoption is A Family Affair was by far my favorite), pored over copies of Adoptive Families magazine, applied for adoption grants we didn’t get and made connections with other adoptive families.
The month before she got home we tore out walls in our house, put in a new floor in her room and got new stairs. Nesting I think is what that is called.
Do you think you’ll adopt more children after Ruby?
Probably not. We feel lucky we have the kid we do. We’re old (40s) and can’t imagine going through the process again.
What advice would you give to someone else who’s considering adopting?
Start now! International adoption takes a long time. Talk to people who have been through it before and get recommendations for
agencies/programs. Depending on your age, marital status, sexual orientation and religion you may not qualify to adopt in some programs.
We stayed away from the internet, for the most part, speculating on what is happening in the world of adoption would have made me crazy. I have connected with some families through their blogs – after they were united with their child – and those stories gave me hope it really could work.
Don’t let the cost scare you away, there are some pretty creative ways to finance building your family through adoption.
Thanks so much, Tami! Have any of you adopted or considered adoption?
My sister is adopted from Korea and I vividly remember picking her up at the airport!
photo by tami // cc