How We Got Here, Part 2


We take a year off from adoption stuff to settle back into Pittsburgh and for me to adjust to life after the tenure-track. We continue to try to get pregnant the “old fashioned way” but no success.

Looking back, that first year was really bittersweet…so amazing to be back in the ‘burgh with friends and family and not to be working constantly. But suddenly living in Pittsburgh again and not working constantly is difficult in some ways, too. I’m truly heartbroken over leaving my students behind. I miss my office and my colleagues.

One of the reasons that we moved back to Pittsburgh…watching Steelers games with the family without having a 5-hour drive afterwards!

I get an adjunct position at a local college in the Women’s Studies Dept., but I’m a bit lost without my full-time professor status. Being an adjunct feels lonely and unfulfilling in comparison to my constantly busy schedule of the previous five years. While I went into the move fully aware that I was probably kissing life as a full-time history professor goodbye, the reality is still hard to bear. Getting back into the adoption process that first year–I realize now–would’ve required a certain amount of hope and confidence that I just wasn’t capable of at the time.

In summer 2009, we attend an orientation meeting for Three Rivers Adoption Council (TRAC). It is hard to start over from the beginning–the mounds of paperwork, the classes, the home visits–but we know it is the only way to get to the other side.  We finish all of our requirements and are finally certified as foster/adoptive parents in March 2010.

We begin to scan online profiles of waiting children,  and we attend matching events. Before we know it, it is time to get re-certified and so we begin the process of security clearances, adoption classes, and home visits all over again. It is hard not to be frustrated, but we’re convinced that our child is out there waiting for us, and we just have to persevere.

Another year of sending our family profile out to social workers and receiving profiles of potential children. Along the way, we are initially matched with a little boy and a set of siblings but neither works out. We start to lose faith in the whole process; we question ourselves and our agency.

Unbelievably, another year has passed, and it is time to start re-certification again. It is now our fourth time going through adoption classes. We sit through the sessions on topics such as interracial adoption, early child development, and dealing with birth parents with a mixture of nonchalance, boredom, and sadness. It’s not that we think the material is unimportant or that we consider ourselves experts in parenting, but we just want the chance to put the theory into practice; we just want our kid.

By December 2011, everyone and their cousin is telling us to find another agency. I convince John that if nothing happens by March that we’ll move on. The idea of starting completely from scratch again makes me want to scream, but I can’t go on living with my life on hold…caught between trying to remain hopeful and wondering if it is time to give up on our dream of having children.

And then, everything changes. We get a new matching coordinator who sends our family profile to the Northwest Adoption Exchange for a nine-year-old named DJ. Within weeks, we hear back from the Oregon caseworker that they’re interested in us. We receive bits & pieces of information about DJ, including a very sweet “Wednesday’s Child” promo. He seems almost too good to be true.

The next step is the phone interview with DJ’s caseworker scheduled for Jan. 13. I’ve been through job interviews, and it’s nothing like interviewing for your kid. On the way to our agency for the conference call, I try to get John to rehearse our answers to potential questions without much success. I’ve been on the verge of panic all day…but then an unexpected calm comes over me as we drive along Bigelow Blvd. towards downtown. I’m not sure if my new-found serenity is a product of denial about what is about to happen or actual peace of mind, but I’m willing to go with it either way.

The interview itself is both nerve-wracking and surprisingly pleasant. Throughout the call, I’m searching my brain to try and remember every useful tidbit of parenting information from our years of adoption classes in order to give the best possible answers to the caseworker’s questions. We talk about our wonderful network of family and friends who have promised to support us in this endeavor. Inevitably, we relax into our familiar John-and-Margaret routine–my “straight man” to John’s goofy bravado. Thirteen and a half years of marriage and hundreds of conversations about parenting seem to be paying off; the caseworker clearly likes us and we’re really encouraged by what she tells us about DJ. After a mere sixty minutes, the interview is over. We’ve done everything that we can for the moment…now back to the waiting game.

A few weeks and several follow-up emails later, we are told that a meeting will be held on February 16th to determine who will be selected as Dominick’s adoptive family and that we’re one of the families being considered! I’m in such self-protection mode that I meet every small step forward with grim optimism. John, on the other hand, is much more hopeful. I want to be hopeful, too, but I’m still afraid, waiting for the other shoe to drop.


9 responses »

    • You’re so welcome! I plan to write in more detail about the actual adoption process as its progressed over the years once I bring our general story up-to-date. If there’s ever anything in particular that you’d like me to write about, just let me know. I wish the very best for you & your husband!

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey…. Can’t think of two people who’d make more awesome parents than you two and can’t wait to hear how all unfolds. Blessings on the journey!!!!

    • Thanks so much! We’re beyond excited–after so many years of waiting, it still feels a bit unreal. And then there’s the moments when it sinks in, and it’s amazing.

  2. I came over here from the Open Adoption Bloggers blogroll. I am interested in adoption in general, but my question is more about your move. I read that you had completed the tenure track, but I’m not clear: You left a tenured position to become an adjunct? I just left a tenure track position halfway in — I didn’t want to spend all my time working, particularly in an area that I had lost interest in.

    • Almost…I quit a tenure-track position. I was a few months from submitting my tenure portfolio when my husband and I decided to move back to Pittsburgh. Since then, I’ve found some adjunct work but nothing full-time. It was a complicated, slightly crazy decision, but if I could go back, I’d do the same thing again. I really miss full-time teaching work, but it is great to have a life again.

  3. Hi, my question is about your move and what happened with your academic career. I hope you don’t mind me asking. I just left academia halfway along the tenure track. It’s not 100% clear (the blog isn’t about academic careers, so understandable)–did you get tenure and then leave that position to be an adjunct? I can’t imagine having done all that work and achieving tenure to then give it up. If you didn’t get tenure then I’d understand.

    • Just to clarify, I think that part of what motivated our abrupt decision to move was that I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to leave my job if I stayed long enough to get tenure for the very same reason you point out. While there were a lot of things that we liked about northeastern PA and our lives there, we felt a strong pull to move back home.

    • oops I thought I had lost the previous comment so ignore this one.
      I would love to hear more about the decision, especially since you were so close to submitting your portfolio. I knew I just wasn’t up to doing what would be necessary to get tenure and I was no longer invested in my field or in the life of an academic.

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