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How Our Family Came to Be

Domestic, open adoption made our family complete

by Dawn Friedman  |  4046 views  |  0 comments  |        Rate this now! 

I used to think I wanted four children, which is pretty funny when you know how overwhelmed we are with two. But before we adopted our daughter (when our son was 7 years old), we were pretty sure we'd be back to the agency again.

We started trying for another baby when my son, Noah, was just about to turn 4. Getting pregnant with him hadn't been easy although it had been quick; I had two early miscarriages before getting a pregnancy that stuck. Happily the difficult conception didn't translate to a difficult time being pregnant. Noah was born after a fairly uneventful nine months and I settled happily into motherhood.

Getting pregnant with our second baby proved harder. After 18 months of unsuccessful effort we headed to the fertility doctors to see what our options were. We tried Clomid. We tried IUI (intrauterine insemination) but decided to walk away when neither worked to solve our unexplained infertility. That's when we started thinking about adoption.

We looked at foster-to-adopt but decided it wasn't right for us for a number of reasons, most having to do with what we felt then 6-year-old Noah could handle. International adoption was way outside our budget. Then we found a local agency specializing in domestic infant adoption.

I was pretty naïve about how domestic infant adoption worked back then – my feelings about it have changed with our experience. But then it looked like the fairly easy answer to our baby dreams. Our agency placed babies younger than six months – most only days old – and there was the possibility of having some kind of contact with our child's birth family. This appealed to us because we felt our child would value his or her birth ties and the more we were able to give them, the better off we felt we'd all be.

Once we made our decision things moved fairly quickly. We completed our homestudy in the summer of '03 and Madison arrived to our family at the beginning of April '04, just three days old, weighing two pounds more than her older brother weighed at that age, and sporting a full head of hair.

Madison enlarged our family in ways we didn't expect. We are fortunate to have a fully open adoption with Jessica, her birth mom, and with some of Jessica's extended family. Because we adopted transracially (we are white and Jessica is African American), we have also been asked to stretch culturally as we explore ways to support Madison's access to the black community. My life is richer for her presence as well as for the way she arrived.

But I couldn't do it again. It turns out that two kids is our limit and I'm just glad we figured it out before we added a third to our family. That sounds more negative than I intend. I mean to say really that it turns out two is perfect. We thought we wanted a whole big brood and Madison's arrival made us realize that her spirit was the only one we were missing.

About the Author

Dawn lives and writes from her home in Columbus, OH. Her work appears in magazines including Wondertime, Utne and Brain Child; she has been blogging at This Woman's Work since 2001, and also blogs for Anti-Racist Parent and manages

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