Archive for the ‘ Domestic Adoption ’ Category

Marie – A Christmas Story

Marie was almost certain that she had never been in this neighbourhood before; nonetheless, the feel of this place was comfortingly familiar.  In truth, the streets were very similar to the ones that she had played along when she was growing up.  Perhaps that was why she wasn’t feeling that twinge of vulnerability that females walking alone at night often experience.   Moreover, it was an exceptionally dark night, but one contrasted with the light emanating from the closely arranged bungalows, most decorated with the colourful arrays of Christmas lights that befit this time of year.

Marie was alone on the street.  The children that might have expected to be present there, during the few hours of winter daylight available in this northern town, were likely busy getting ready for bed.  They would be donning pajamas, pulling up plates of cookies and milk for final snacks.  Many would have become suddenly and suspiciously quiet in hopeful anticipation that their distracted parents might unwittingly extend “bed time”, perhaps by temporarily forgetting they even had children.

Marie smiled a little as she visualized these activities, occurring just beyond the warm glow of the decorated front room windows.  She walked along the alternately shoveled and snowy walks and noticed how still and close the air was this night; typical of the charged atmosphere that often cradled the quiet interlude between two storms.  The still and frozen mist hung closely around her and, for some reason, she found the mildly claustrophobic effect calming.  Perhaps the air had found harmony with her mood or maybe, like the evening itself, she had somehow become resolved to a storm that, although near, was yet to arrive.

The Christmas lights shone and twinkled silently but the sounds of her footfall on the frozen concrete, ice and snow of the sidewalk amplified in the thickened air.  Marie’s one hand rested deep in the pocket of her coat, clutching the envelope on which her destination’s address was written.  In her other hand she held a brightly coloured gift bag by its twisted paper handles.  She had journeyed close enough to begin earnestly scanning the addresses of each house as the numbers, like a countdown, began to align with the paper in her pocket.  Her heart began to race slightly ahead of her steps.

Marie was a pretty young woman in her mid-twenties.   She was taller than most of her friends with long auburn hair and vibrant blue eyes.  Men noticed her but she was seldom aware of this and, despite the attention she commanded with her good looks and easy disposition, she had engaged in only a few serious relationships.  Marie had never considered herself “lucky in love” preferring her own company and a good book to the noisy and congested confines of the clubs that her girlfriends had long ago stopped trying to pull her into.  It was hard to believe that it was only two Christmas’s ago when she had met the tall and handsome Joe in a meeting that had seemed positively serendipitous.  The two had collided while attempting to pass each other in the laundry room doorway.  The contents of their respective baskets spilled causing their clothes to intermingle indiscreetly on the floor; his items still newly warm from the dryer while her unwashed items exuded a potent combination of pheromones and soft, faint perfume.

Amongst nervous apologies, complicated by their curious but mutual inability to make direct eye contact, Marie and Joe found themselves kneeling close to one another, their clumsy and darting hands inadvertently brushing the other’s sparking a series of invisible but significant biological pyrotechnics as they tried to separate the mingled items while their nervous and frenetic movements only served to further confuse and blend their respective laundry. Marie tactically snatched up a pair of her more indulgent underwear when, at one point, she noticed his uncertain hands hover, and then hesitate, above the lacy item.  She instinctively grabbed and drew the lingerie to her chest, concealing the tiny panties in both hands while looking directly into Joe’s eyes for the first time.  She momentarily had the look of someone who, while standing guiltily in a prisoner’s dock, had suddenly blurted out some kind of confession.  Inevitably, this moment culminated into an intense and passionate relationship.

Within a few months Joe’s unfortunately heavy emotional baggage, combined with a cocktail of commitment issues, was steadily chipping away at what Marie had fervently believed was the perfect “chance-laundry-room-meeting-happily-ever-after” scenario.  Equally unfortunate was that Marie’s commitment to the relationship had become all too tangible in terms of her quietly swelling belly. Despite remaining frustratingly devoted to his own independence, thankfully, Joe was understanding and supportive when she told him about the baby.   The event had been as close to a modern day “immaculate conception” as you could get, apparently the fault of some unknown failure of their meticulously administered birth control.

She was pleased as she withdrew the envelope and confirmed the address. The house was nice.  It was bright and cheerful with an attractive array of lights framing the dormers above the garage as well as the large picture frame front window.  Lights flashed unrelentingly on a mature spruce while an illuminated outline of a reindeer was caught, stop-motion, sprinting across the snowy lawn.  Despite the welcoming nature of the property, Marie felt as though some invisible force-field stood silent guard between the edge of the recently shoveled driveway and the sidewalk. As sure as she had been about accepting the invitation, she was now desperate to re-think this.  Marie considered the implications of simply stealing up and leaving the gift on the doorstep.

From the very first moment that Marie suspected she had conceived, she had sworn an oath that all of her decisions would reflect the best interests of this child.  She had resolved to have the baby, choose wonderful parents and then dutifully step aside.  Marie had convinced herself that having either no, or limited, contact with her baby was the right thing to do.  She also realized, however, that many cowardly decisions were often couched in honourable pretense.  Was it possible that her conscious decision to limit contact with this child was not as altruistic and unselfish as she had first led herself to believe?  Was the distance she had already maintained really intended for the ultimate benefit of her first born and his adoptive parents, or did it simply serve as hollow justification that allowed her to escape the many feelings that she was afraid could never be reconciled?  Marie had struggled to find balance in this admittedly difficult situation.  She had held the baby boy shortly after his birth but less than she would have liked, concerned that indulging her maternal love for him could potentially wreak havoc on them both.  She also knew that the boy’s adopted mother walked the same fine line, politely providing the requisite little notes and pictures while always remaining just a little wary about the possibility that, like some random bit of anti-matter, Marie could somehow cause her newly fulfilled domestic universe to implode.  If she walked away now, would it really be the “right” thing to do, or would she simply be succumbing to her own fears?

Marie stood a very long moment in front of the house wondering what to do when she suddenly felt a deliberate and impatient tug at her sleeve.

“What’s in there?” The little boy asked pointing directly at the gift bag with a mittened hand that matched the comically swollen proportions of his snow suit.  Marie was relieved for the distraction as she looked down at a little boy who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.  The boy was perhaps 4 or maybe 5 years old.  It was really very difficult to tell much about him given the manner in which the miniature snow suit bulged around the tiny frame and even more so because the boy’s mouth and nose were completely concealed by a plaid scarf that had been tied tightly around the back of the snowsuit’s furry-edged hood. The child’s breath had condensed and then frozen on the scarf creating a crusty icicled outline of his nose and mouth.  Marie reflected that the snow suit, including the garish scarf, which she concluded could never have been in fashion anywhere but the Scottish Highlands (and maybe not even there), bore an uncanny resemblance to winter clothing that her own mother had “packaged” her in when she had been about the same age.  “Does this stuff never go out of fashion?” she thought to herself.  It was as though one of Marie’s old winter outfits had somehow been reclaimed from a family garage sale.

All Marie could really discern of the boy was that he was about two and a half feet tall and had distinctive and compelling blue eyes.  Marie thought that his eyes were probably accentuated by the fact that, beyond the scarf, they were his only visible facial feature.  Marie couldn’t help but feel that she recognized those eyes and was struck by the idea that she might have met or, may possibly even know, someone related to the boy.

“What’s in there?  The little boy asked again, once again clumsily poking the gift bag with the distended mitten.

“Hey!”  She replied, “What are you doing out here?  You all by yourself?”

“No.  Of course not!”  The little boy giggled while at the same time rolling his expressive eyes as though to suggest that Marie had just asked the most ridiculous question in the entire universe.  Marie looked around and saw what appeared to be a snowman under construction nearby and realized that the winter darkness really belied the relatively early hour.  Still, the little boy did appear to be alone in the street with no obvious parent or playmate in sight.  And it was getting late.  Marie decided to pursue the matter of the boy’s welfare further.

“Which is your house?” She asked to which the boy answered with a wave of his arm that was made decidedly more imprecise by the bulk of the snowsuit.  Unfortunately the gesture could have applied to one of a half dozen homes that fell within the arc made by the small arm.

“What’s in there?”  The boy repeated insistently.

“It’s a gift.”  Marie responded.

“Ohhhh.”  The boy replied, his most optimistic suspicions having now been happily confirmed.

“Who’s it for?”  Marie suspected that she knew where this conversation was heading.

“It’s for a little boy.” She replied.

“Ahhhhh…”  The little boy was clearly intrigued at the possibilities.  “Is it for your brother?”

“No.”

“Who’s it for then?”  He clearly wasn’t giving up on this.  Marie sighed.

“It’s for…it’s for my S-Son.”  A lump had suddenly formed in her throat.  She had choked on the words.  She suddenly realized she had never spoken them before.

“It’s for my Son.”  She repeated more clearly.

“Is it a toy?”

“No.  It’s not a toy”

“Oh.”  The boy’s reply, accentuated with his expressive eyes, clearly indicating both disappointment and an imminent loss of any further interest in the brightly decorated bag.

“You cumin’ in?”  The boy reached up offering Marie the opportunity to take his heavily insulated hand.

“You know these people?”  Marie asked surprised.  She was certain that the young couple that she had chosen to parent her baby had been otherwise childless.

“Of course I do!” The little boy’s muffled giggle obvious beneath the icy scarf.

Before Marie had much of a chance to think about it, the little boy was leading her up the walk towards the wreathed door.  It was all a bit strange Marie thought but, accompanied by the little boy, she suddenly felt better about approaching the house.

As he stood beside her at the door he suddenly tugged on her again and locked his beautiful blue eyes on hers.  In a voice that was suddenly mature and clear beyond his years the boy said, “Thanks for not giving up.  Please, don’t give up now.  You have no idea how much you are needed and how much you are already loved.”

Marie’s mouth fell open.  “What…What did you say?”  But suddenly the door swung open and Marie was momentarily engulfed in a tsunami of warmth and light that poured out from within the house.

“Marie!”  The young woman smiled warmly while extending both her hands in a gesture of sincere welcome.

“Yes…Hello…” Was all Marie could manage, the impact of the little boy’s words still resonating.

“The little boy…”

“Yes.  Of course.  He’s right here.”  Marie could see the woman’s husband walking in from the living room with a one-year-old boy in his arms.  The little boy hugged his father while staring intently over his shoulder at Marie.

“Oh.  He’s beautifullllll.” Marie cooed.  She was suddenly and totally distracted as she looked at her little boy.  Marie could immediately see the faces of her parents as well as many of her relatives reflected in the boy’s handsome features.

“But this boy…”  Marie looked down to see that the little boy who had almost dragged her up the walk and engaged her in such precocious conversation only moments before, was now gone.

“Where’d he go?”

The woman moved past Marie and looked out onto the empty street.  “What did he look like?”

“I couldn’t see him very well in his snowsuit.  He was about 4 years old or so.  He was playing outside…right out here.”

“Well.  I wouldn’t worry.  He’s probably visiting in the neighbourhood.  I’m sure that he’s safe at home now.”

Marie was slow to respond, her gaze now locked onto the familiar and distinctive blue eyes of her son.  An understanding of the Christmas miracle that had just occurred was welling up inside her.

“Yes.  Yes.  He’s safe at home.”

The little boy smiled at her.

JMP / EP

Small Miracles / Small Miracles: What’s in a name?

When I ventured into the world of adoptions as an entrepreneur, I agonized over what to call my new company.  Understand that I was not opening as a licensed adoption agency (although that had been my background) but instead, my company offers complementary services particularly in terms of independent adoption counselling; and assists in completing and filing court documents for step-parent, adult and private-direct adoption.  With respect to step-families, I believe in the power of legal adoption to relieve at least a portion of the angst experienced by many families formed following domestic upheaval.

 

I chose “Small Miracles” because it seemed so appropriate.  My friends, colleagues and business advisors cautioned that it did not, “…at a glance…” clearly reflect my product or services; an attribute so important in a world where so much information whizzes by us at light speed.  From my perspective, however, the name was perfect.  At its root, my business was about children, who are both small and miraculous…I loved the imagery and I was excited to attach myself to the idea. Mistakenly, I believed that the name was unique.  An Internet search and the entire corporate registration process failed to reveal a conflict. I was so pleased with my new name and corporate identity!

 

The many calls that I received inquiring about pet adoption were my first clue that something had gone terribly wrong.  These calls did, however, cause me pause (paws) to wonder if I should add a new product line as there did appear to be a persistent and determined market.

 

In retrospect, my initial search of the Internet may have been too perfunctory.  How could I have missed the other companies who had, or were still using “Small Miracles” or a similar name?  Regardless, I had one very serious, very concerning, doppelganger.   There had been an “open” adoption agency based in Engelwood, Colorado named “Small Miracles Adoption”.  Worse than the unfortunate name-sharing was the fact that this particular, now defunct, agency has drawn the very public ire of many birth-mothers who express their very personal pain and rage through numerous blog and web-page postings.  I have received many calls from birth mothers looking for assistance with a variety of complaints involving the Colorado agency.  I have attempted to help them and have put them into direct contact with the appropriate State social services agencies; I am touched by their stories.

 

I support adoption…particularly, I support OPEN adoption.  I am proud to be affiliated with Adoption By Choice (ABC) who I consider to be a particularly ethical and professional organization.

 

For now, please understand that while I love animals, I cannot help you find a pet and please do not confuse me with Small Miracles Adoption formerly of Englewood, Colorado! We are located in Edmonton, Alberta Canada.

Marie – A Christmas Story

Marie was almost certain that she had never been in this neighbourhood before; nonetheless, the feel of this place was comfortingly familiar.  In truth, the streets were very similar to the ones that she had played along when she was growing up.  Perhaps that was why she wasn’t feeling that twinge of vulnerability that females walking alone at night often experience.   Moreover, it was an exceptionally dark night, but one contrasted with the light emanating from the closely arranged bungalows, most decorated with the colourful arrays of Christmas lights that befit this time of year.

Marie was alone on the street.  The children that might have expected to be present there, during the few hours of winter daylight available in this northern town, were likely busy getting ready for bed.  They would be donning pajamas, pulling up plates of cookies and milk for final snacks.  Many would have become suddenly and suspiciously quiet in hopeful anticipation that their distracted parents might unwittingly extend “bed time”, perhaps by temporarily forgetting they even had children.

Marie smiled a little as she visualized these activities, occurring just beyond the warm glow of the decorated front room windows.  She walked along the alternately shoveled and snowy walks and noticed how still and close the air was this night; typical of the charged atmosphere that often cradled the quiet interlude between two storms.  The still and frozen mist hung closely around her and, for some reason, she found the mildly claustrophobic effect calming.  Perhaps the air had found harmony with her mood or maybe, like the evening itself, she had somehow become resolved to a storm that, although near, was yet to arrive.

The Christmas lights shone and twinkled silently but the sounds of her footfall on the frozen concrete, ice and snow of the sidewalk amplified in the thickened air.  Marie’s one hand rested deep in the pocket of her coat, clutching the envelope on which her destination’s address was written.  In her other hand she held a brightly coloured gift bag by its twisted paper handles.  She had journeyed close enough to begin earnestly scanning the addresses of each house as the numbers, like a countdown, began to align with the paper in her pocket.  Her heart began to race slightly ahead of her steps.

Marie was a pretty young woman in her mid-twenties.   She was taller than most of her friends with long auburn hair and vibrant blue eyes.  Men noticed her but she was seldom aware of this and, despite the attention she commanded with her good looks and easy disposition, she had engaged in only a few serious relationships.  Marie had never considered herself “lucky in love” preferring her own company and a good book to the noisy and congested confines of the clubs that her girlfriends had long ago stopped trying to pull her into.  It was hard to believe that it was only two Christmas’s ago when she had met the tall and handsome Joe in a meeting that had seemed positively serendipitous.  The two had collided while attempting to pass each other in the laundry room doorway.  The contents of their respective baskets spilled causing their clothes to intermingle indiscreetly on the floor; his items still newly warm from the dryer while her unwashed items exuded a potent combination of pheromones and soft, faint perfume.

Amongst nervous apologies, complicated by their curious but mutual inability to make direct eye contact, Marie and Joe found themselves kneeling close to one another, their clumsy and darting hands inadvertently brushing the other’s sparking a series of invisible but significant biological pyrotechnics as they tried to separate the mingled items while their nervous and frenetic movements only served to further confuse and blend their respective laundry. Marie tactically snatched up a pair of her more indulgent underwear when, at one point, she noticed his uncertain hands hover, and then hesitate, above the lacy item.  She instinctively grabbed and drew the lingerie to her chest, concealing the tiny panties in both hands while looking directly into Joe’s eyes for the first time.  She momentarily had the look of someone who, while standing guiltily in a prisoner’s dock, had suddenly blurted out some kind of confession.  Inevitably, this moment culminated into an intense and passionate relationship.

Within a few months Joe’s unfortunately heavy emotional baggage, combined with a cocktail of commitment issues, was steadily chipping away at what Marie had fervently believed was the perfect “chance-laundry-room-meeting-happily-ever-after” scenario.  Equally unfortunate was that Marie’s commitment to the relationship had become all too tangible in terms of her quietly swelling belly. Despite remaining frustratingly devoted to his own independence, thankfully, Joe was understanding and supportive when she told him about the baby.   The event had been as close to a modern day “immaculate conception” as you could get, apparently the fault of some unknown failure of their meticulously administered birth control.

She was pleased as she withdrew the envelope and confirmed the address. The house was nice.  It was bright and cheerful with an attractive array of lights framing the dormers above the garage as well as the large picture frame front window.  Lights flashed unrelentingly on a mature spruce while an illuminated outline of a reindeer was caught, stop-motion, sprinting across the snowy lawn.  Despite the welcoming nature of the property, Marie felt as though some invisible force-field stood silent guard between the edge of the recently shoveled driveway and the sidewalk. As sure as she had been about accepting the invitation, she was now desperate to re-think this.  Marie considered the implications of simply stealing up and leaving the gift on the doorstep.

From the very first moment that Marie suspected she had conceived, she had sworn an oath that all of her decisions would reflect the best interests of this child.  She had resolved to have the baby, choose wonderful parents and then dutifully step aside.  Marie had convinced herself that having either no, or limited, contact with her baby was the right thing to do.  She also realized, however, that many cowardly decisions were often couched in honourable pretense.  Was it possible that her conscious decision to limit contact with this child was not as altruistic and unselfish as she had first led herself to believe?  Was the distance she had already maintained really intended for the ultimate benefit of her first born and his adoptive parents, or did it simply serve as hollow justification that allowed her to escape the many feelings that she was afraid could never be reconciled?  Marie had struggled to find balance in this admittedly difficult situation.  She had held the baby boy shortly after his birth but less than she would have liked, concerned that indulging her maternal love for him could potentially wreak havoc on them both.  She also knew that the boy’s adopted mother walked the same fine line, politely providing the requisite little notes and pictures while always remaining just a little wary about the possibility that, like some random bit of anti-matter, Marie could somehow cause her newly fulfilled domestic universe to implode.  If she walked away now, would it really be the “right” thing to do, or would she simply be succumbing to her own fears?

Marie stood a very long moment in front of the house wondering what to do when she suddenly felt a deliberate and impatient tug at her sleeve.

“What’s in there?” The little boy asked pointing directly at the gift bag with a mittened hand that matched the comically swollen proportions of his snow suit.  Marie was relieved for the distraction as she looked down at a little boy who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.  The boy was perhaps 4 or maybe 5 years old.  It was really very difficult to tell much about him given the manner in which the miniature snow suit bulged around the tiny frame and even more so because the boy’s mouth and nose were completely concealed by a plaid scarf that had been tied tightly around the back of the snowsuit’s furry-edged hood. The child’s breath had condensed and then frozen on the scarf creating a crusty icicled outline of his nose and mouth.  Marie reflected that the snow suit, including the garish scarf, which she concluded could never have been in fashion anywhere but the Scottish Highlands (and maybe not even there), bore an uncanny resemblance to winter clothing that her own mother had “packaged” her in when she had been about the same age.  “Does this stuff never go out of fashion?” she thought to herself.  It was as though one of Marie’s old winter outfits had somehow been reclaimed from a family garage sale.

All Marie could really discern of the boy was that he was about two and a half feet tall and had distinctive and compelling blue eyes.  Marie thought that his eyes were probably accentuated by the fact that, beyond the scarf, they were his only visible facial feature.  Marie couldn’t help but feel that she recognized those eyes and was struck by the idea that she might have met or, may possibly even know, someone related to the boy.

“What’s in there?  The little boy asked again, once again clumsily poking the gift bag with the distended mitten.

“Hey!”  She replied, “What are you doing out here?  You all by yourself?”

“No.  Of course not!”  The little boy giggled while at the same time rolling his expressive eyes as though to suggest that Marie had just asked the most ridiculous question in the entire universe.  Marie looked around and saw what appeared to be a snowman under construction nearby and realized that the winter darkness really belied the relatively early hour.  Still, the little boy did appear to be alone in the street with no obvious parent or playmate in sight.  And it was getting late.  Marie decided to pursue the matter of the boy’s welfare further.

“Which is your house?” She asked to which the boy answered with a wave of his arm that was made decidedly more imprecise by the bulk of the snowsuit.  Unfortunately the gesture could have applied to one of a half dozen homes that fell within the arc made by the small arm.

“What’s in there?”  The boy repeated insistently.

“It’s a gift.”  Marie responded.

“Ohhhh.”  The boy replied, his most optimistic suspicions having now been happily confirmed.

“Who’s it for?”  Marie suspected that she knew where this conversation was heading.

“It’s for a little boy.” She replied.

“Ahhhhh…”  The little boy was clearly intrigued at the possibilities.  “Is it for your brother?”

“No.”

“Who’s it for then?”  He clearly wasn’t giving up on this.  Marie sighed.

“It’s for…it’s for my S-Son.”  A lump had suddenly formed in her throat.  She had choked on the words.  She suddenly realized she had never spoken them before.

“It’s for my Son.”  She repeated more clearly.

“Is it a toy?”

“No.  It’s not a toy”

“Oh.”  The boy’s reply, accentuated with his expressive eyes, clearly indicating both disappointment and an imminent loss of any further interest in the brightly decorated bag.

“You cumin’ in?”  The boy reached up offering Marie the opportunity to take his heavily insulated hand.

“You know these people?”  Marie asked surprised.  She was certain that the young couple that she had chosen to parent her baby had been otherwise childless.

“Of course I do!” The little boy’s muffled giggle obvious beneath the icy scarf.

Before Marie had much of a chance to think about it, the little boy was leading her up the walk towards the wreathed door.  It was all a bit strange Marie thought but, accompanied by the little boy, she suddenly felt better about approaching the house.

As he stood beside her at the door he suddenly tugged on her again and locked his beautiful blue eyes on hers.  In a voice that was suddenly mature and clear beyond his years the boy said, “Thanks for not giving up.  Please, don’t give up now.  You have no idea how much you are needed and how much you are already loved.”

Marie’s mouth fell open.  “What…What did you say?”  But suddenly the door swung open and Marie was momentarily engulfed in a tsunami of warmth and light that poured out from within the house.

“Marie!”  The young woman smiled warmly while extending both her hands in a gesture of sincere welcome.

“Yes…Hello…” Was all Marie could manage, the impact of the little boy’s words still resonating.

“The little boy…”

“Yes.  Of course.  He’s right here.”  Marie could see the woman’s husband walking in from the living room with a one-year-old boy in his arms.  The little boy hugged his father while staring intently over his shoulder at Marie.

“Oh.  He’s beautifullllll.” Marie cooed.  She was suddenly and totally distracted as she looked at her little boy.  Marie could immediately see the faces of her parents as well as many of her relatives reflected in the boy’s handsome features.

“But this boy…”  Marie looked down to see that the little boy who had almost dragged her up the walk and engaged her in such precocious conversation only moments before, was now gone.

“Where’d he go?”

The woman moved past Marie and looked out onto the empty street.  “What did he look like?”

“I couldn’t see him very well in his snowsuit.  He was about 4 years old or so.  He was playing outside…right out here.”

“Well.  I wouldn’t worry.  He’s probably visiting in the neighbourhood.  I’m sure that he’s safe at home now.”

Marie was slow to respond, her gaze now locked onto the familiar and distinctive blue eyes of her son.  An understanding of the Christmas miracle that had just occurred was welling up inside her.

“Yes.  Yes.  He’s safe at home.”

The little boy smiled at her.

JMP / EP

2011 Adoption Stats Coming Soon!

I can hardly believe it has been so long that I have posted anything interesting or intelligent!

I am presently working on the recent adoption statistics for the Province of Alberta and will post them very soon.

If you are interested in reading something specific, let me  know and I will try to accommodate you!

 

A Christmas Journey

Although Marie was sure she had never been here before, the streets, nonetheless, were comfortingly familiar.  In truth, they were not much different from the ones that Marie had known during her own childhood.  Except it was night time now and predictably there were no children about.  Most would be pulling on pajamas, pulling up a plate of cookies and milk for a final snack, or would have become suddenly and suspiciously quiet in hopeful anticipation that their distracted parents might unwittingly extend “bed time” perhaps by temporarily forgetting they even had children.

Marie visualized these activities, occurring just beyond the warm glow of the decorated front room windows, as she walked along the alternately shoveled and snowy walks.  She noticed how still and close the evening air was tonight; typical of the charged atmosphere that often cradled the quiet interlude between two storms.  The still and frozen mist hung closely around her and, for some reason, she found the mildly claustrophobic effect calming.  Perhaps the air had found harmony with her mood or maybe, like the evening itself, she had somehow become resolved to a storm that, although near, was yet to arrive.

The Christmas lights that adorned the neighbourhood shone and twinkled silently but the sounds of her footfall on the frozen concrete, ice and snow of the sidewalk amplified in the thickened air.  Marie’s one hand rested deep in the pocket of her coat, clutching the envelope on which her destination’s address was written.  In her other hand she held a brightly coloured gift bag by its twisted paper handles.  She had journeyed close enough now to begin earnestly scanning the addresses of each house as the numbers, like a countdown, began to align with the paper in her pocket.  Her heart began to race slightly ahead of her steps.

Marie was a pretty young woman in her mid-twenties.   She was taller than most of her friends with long auburn hair and vibrant blue eyes.  Men noticed her but she was seldom aware of this and, despite the attention she commanded with her good looks and easy disposition, she had engaged in only a few serious relationships.  Marie had never considered herself “lucky in love” preferring her own company and a good book to the noisy and congested confines of the clubs that her girlfriends had long ago stopped trying to pull her into.  It was hard to believe that it was only two Christmas’s ago when she had met the tall and handsome Joe in a meeting that had seemed positively serendipitous.  The two had collided while attempting to pass each other in the laundry room doorway.  The contents of their respective baskets had spilled and their clothes intermingled indiscreetly on the floor; his still newly warm from the dryer while her unwashed items exuded a potent combination of pheromones and soft, faint perfume.

Amongst nervous apologies, complicated by their curious but mutual inability to make direct eye contact, Marie and Joe found themselves kneeling close to one another, their clumsy and darting hands inadvertently brushing the other’s sparking a series of invisible but significant biological pyrotechnics as they tried to separate the intermingled items while their nervous and frenetic movements only served to further confuse and blend their respective laundry. Marie tactically snatched up a pair of her more indulgent underwear when, at one point, she noticed his uncertain hands hover, and then hesitate, above the lacy item.  She instinctively grabbed and drew the lingerie to her chest, concealing the tiny panties in both hands while looking directly into Joe’s eyes for the first time.  She momentarily had the look of someone who, while standing guiltily in a prisoner’s dock, had suddenly blurted out some kind of confession.  Inevitably, this moment culminated into an intense and passionate relationship.

Within a few months Joe’s unfortunately heavy emotional baggage, combined with a cocktail of commitment issues, was steadily chipping away at what Marie had fervently believed was the perfect “chance-laundry-room-meeting-happily-ever-after” scenario.  Equally unfortunate was that Marie’s commitment to the relationship had become tangible. Despite remaining frustratingly devoted to his own independence, thankfully, Joe was understanding and supportive when she told him about the baby.   The event had been as close to a modern day “immaculate conception” as you could get with some unknown failure of their meticulously administered birth control apparently to blame.

She was pleased as she withdrew the envelope and confirmed the address. The house was nice.  It was bright and cheerful with an attractive array of lights framing the dormers above the garage as well as the large picture frame front window.  Lights flashed unrelentingly on a mature spruce while an illuminated outline of a reindeer was caught, stop-motion, sprinting across the snowy lawn.  Despite the welcoming nature of the property, Marie felt as though some invisible force-field stood silent guard between the edge of the recently shoveled driveway and the sidewalk. As sure as she had been about accepting the invitation, she was now desperate to re-think this.  Marie considered the implications of simply stealing up and leaving the gift on the doorstep.

From the very first moment that Marie suspected she had conceived, she had sworn an oath committing that all of her decisions would reflect the best interests of this child.  She had resolved to have the baby, choose wonderful parents and then dutifully step aside.  Marie had convinced herself that having either no, or limited, contact with her baby was the right thing to do.  She also realized, however, that many cowardly decisions were often couched in honourable pretense.  Was it possible that her conscious decision to restrict contact with this child was not as altruistic and unselfish as she had first led herself to believe?  Was the distance she had already maintained really intended for the ultimate benefit of her first born and his adoptive parents, or did it simply serve as hollow justification that allowed her to escape the many feelings that she was afraid would never be reconciled?  Marie had struggled to find balance in this admittedly difficult situation.  She had held the baby boy shortly after his birth but less than she would have liked, concerned that indulging her maternal love for him could potentially wreak havoc on them both.  She also knew that the boy’s adopted mother walked the same fine line, politely providing the requisite little notes and pictures while always remaining just a little wary about the possibility that, like some random bit of anti-matter, Marie could somehow cause her newly fulfilled domestic universe to implode.  If she walked away now, would it really be the “right” thing to do, or would she simply be succumbing to her own fears?

Marie stood a very long moment in front of the house wondering what to do when she suddenly felt a deliberate and impatient tug at her sleeve.

“What’s in there?” The little boy asked pointing directly at the gift bag with a mittened hand that matched the comically swollen proportions of his snow suit.  Marie was relieved for the distraction as she looked down at a little boy who had seemingly appeared out of nowhere.  The boy was perhaps 4 or maybe 5 years old.  It was really very difficult to tell much about him given the manner in which the miniature snow suit bulged around the tiny frame and even more so because the boy’s mouth and nose were completely concealed by a plaid scarf that had been tied tightly around the back of the snowsuit’s furry-edged hood. The child’s breath had condensed and then frozen on the scarf creating a crusty icicled outline of his nose and mouth.  Marie reflected that the snow suit, including the garish scarf, which she concluded could never have been in fashion anywhere but the Scottish Highlands (and maybe not even there), bore an uncanny resemblance to winter clothing that she recalled her mother “packaging” her in when she had been about the same age.  “Does this stuff never go out of fashion?” she thought to herself.  It was as though one of Marie’s old winter outfits had somehow been reclaimed from one of her own family’s garage sales.

All Marie could really discern of the boy was that he was about two and a half feet tall and had distinctive and beautiful blue eyes.  Marie thought that his eyes were probably accentuated by the fact that, beyond the scarf, they were his only visible facial feature.  Marie couldn’t help but feel that she recognized those eyes and was struck by the idea that she might have met or, may possibly even know, someone related to the boy.

“What’s in there?  The little boy asked again, once again clumsily poking the gift bag with the distended mitten.

“Hey!”  She replied, “What are you doing out here?  Are you all by yourself?”

“No.  Of course not!”  The little boy giggled while at the same time rolling his expressive eyes as though to suggest that Marie had just asked the most ridiculous question in the entire universe.  Marie looked around and saw what appeared to be a snowman under construction nearby and realized that the winter darkness really belied the relatively early hour.  Still, the little boy did appear to be alone in the street with no obvious parent or playmate in sight.  And it was getting late.  Marie decided to pursue the matter of the boy’s welfare further.

“Which one is your house?” She asked to which the boy answered with a wave of his arm that was made decidedly more imprecise by the bulk of the snowsuit.  Unfortunately the gesture could have applied to one of a half dozen homes that fell within the arc made by the small arm.

“What’s in there?”  The boy repeated insistently.

“It’s a gift.”  Marie responded.

“Ohhhh.”  The boy replied, his most optimistic suspicions having been duly confirmed.

“Who’s it for?”  Marie suspected that she knew where this conversation was heading.

“It’s for a little boy.” She replied.

“Ahhhhh…”  The little boy was clearly intrigued.  “Is it for your brother?”

“No.”

“Who’s it for then?”  He clearly wasn’t giving up on this.  Marie sighed.

“It’s for…it’s for my S-Son.”  A lump had suddenly formed in her throat.  She had choked on the words.  She suddenly realized she had never spoken them before.

“It’s for my Son.”  She repeated more clearly.

“Is it a toy?”

“No.  It’s not a toy”

“Oh.”  The boy’s reply and his expressive eyes clearly indicated disappointment and imminent loss of any further interest in the brightly decorated bag.

“You cumin’ in?”  The boy reached up offering Marie the opportunity to take his heavily insulated hand.

“You know these people?”  Marie asked surprised.  She was certain that the young couple that she had chosen to parent her baby had been otherwise childless.

“Of course I do!” The little boy’s muffled giggle obvious beneath the icy scarf.

Before Marie had much of a chance to think about it, the little boy was leading her up the walk towards the wreathed door.  It was all a bit strange Marie thought but, accompanied by the little boy, she suddenly felt better about approaching the house.

As he stood beside her at the door he suddenly tugged on her again and locked his beautiful blue eyes on hers.  In a voice that was suddenly mature and clear beyond his years the boy said, “Thanks for not giving up.  Don’t give up now.  You have no idea how much you are needed and how much you are already loved.”

Marie’s mouth fell open.  “What…What did you say?”  But suddenly the door swung open and Marie was momentarily engulfed in a tsunami of warmth and light that poured out from within the house.

“Marie!”  The young woman smiled warmly while extending both her hands in a gesture of sincere welcome.

“Yes Hello…” Was all Marie could manage, the impact of the little boy’s words still resonating.

“The little boy…”

“Yes.  Of course.  He’s right here.”  Marie could see the woman’s husband walking in from the living room with a one year old boy in his arms.  The little boy hugged his father while staring intently over his shoulder at Marie.

“Oh.  He’s beautifullllll.” Marie cooed.  She was suddenly and totally distracted as her eyes locked onto her little boy.  Marie could immediately discern the faces of her parents as well as many of her relatives reflected in the boy’s handsome features.

“But this boy…”  Marie looked down to see that the little boy who had almost dragged her up the walk and engaged her in such precocious conversation only moments before, was now gone.

“Where’d he go?”

The woman moved past Marie and looked out onto the empty street.  “What did he look like?”

“I couldn’t see him very well in his snowsuit.  He was about 4 years old or so.  He was playing outside…right out here.”

“Well.  I wouldn’t worry.  He’s probably visiting in the neighbourhood.  I’m sure that he’s safe at home now.”

Marie was slow to respond, her gaze now locked onto the familiar and distinctive blue eyes of her son.  An understanding of the Christmas miracle that had just occurred was welling up inside her.

“Yes.  Yes.  He’s safe at home.”

The little boy smiled at her.

So You’ve Decided to Adopt, Now What?

You’ve decided to adopt, now what?

Adoption represents an incredible and exciting journey for people intent on creating or building a family. People choose adoption for many reasons. If you have decided that adoption is the right choice for you, this decision inevitably raises many questions and concerns.  There is much you will need to know about adoption.

In Alberta, there are several ways to gather the information that you need: you can contact private companies that specialize in personalized adoption consulting and educational seminars; Small Miracles Adoption is one such company. You can also contact one of several adoption agencies active in Alberta (Adoption By Choice, Adoption Options, Christian Adoption Services, Church of Latter Day Saints) or Alberta Children & Youth Services.

Deciding whether private or government adoption is the best route for your family is an important first step. If you prefer to adopt an infant, private adoption may be the best choice. If you would like a child or sibling-group that is older, or a child with special needs, then government or international adoption may be the way to proceed.

Is International Adoption The “Right” Choice for Me?

If you haven’t previously considered international adoption, perhaps now is the time to explore this alternative. Adopting a child from a country other than Canada can be spiritually and emotionally rewarding but it can also come with challenges.  Choosing which country, and deciding on the age of a child desired, can be difficult. Infant adoption is not common in most international adoption. Usually the youngest adoptable children from developing countries are toddlers, with a majority of the children between 3 -12 years of age.  You must consider that international adoption represents much more than simply “rescuing” a child from a poverty-stricken country.  International agreements and conventions are in place to ensure that children do not become commodities and that adoption occurs to ensure that the needs of the child are considered before those of the adopting families.  The implication of removing children from their original birthplaces, regardless of their economic circumstances, is not a small matter.

Families considering international adoption need to reflect on their readiness and willingness to participate in inter-racial and/or inter-cultural families and how to deal with the potential of racism and discrimination. Once you have decided that international adoption is the right choice for your circumstances, you will need to hire an adoption agency to help you prepare your application.  This includes attending an international adoption seminar; having a home assessment report completed; a dossier prepared, and many other documents that may need to be completed and potentially translated. You will also need to hire a coordinator to assist in the preparation of your dossier and to assist with travel arrangements for the country of origin.  There are no coordinators in Alberta, but services are available in British Columbia, Manitoba, and Ontario. In international adoption, the adoptive parents are responsible for costs associated to: adoption education training and home assessment reports, preparation of supporting documents and notarization, authentication and verification of signatures, translation, courier fees, immigration fees, child’s medical, agency fees in the child’s country, travel and accommodations, adoption finalization, legal fees and post placement reports. The average length of time associated with an international adoption is twenty-four months with an average cost in the range of $31, 000.

Perhaps You Have Considered Local Private Adoption

Alberta has two types of private domestic adoption: private agency adoption or private direct placement adoption. You can employ the services of a private adoption agency or Alberta Children & Youth Services (government). You may also be fortunate enough to connect with someone who is pregnant and chooses you to adopt their child (private direct). The Alberta Child, Youth & Family Enhancement Act and Regulations outlines the legal steps for adoption and for obtaining an adoption order, which can only be granted by a Judge of the Court of Queen’s Bench. The Act and Regulations can be ordered through Alberta Queen’s Printer.

Domestic adoption can be just as daunting as adopting internationally, but it is not as costly. In Alberta, only a licensed adoption agency can facilitate an adoption. So, your first task is deciding which agency to employ. After completing the application you must attend the pre-adoption seminar, pay the required fees and complete the necessary documents. Once the agency has approved your application, a social worker will be assigned to meet with you and complete a home assessment report. When your home assessment is approved by the agency, your names will be placed on a waiting parents list. When you are chosen or otherwise matched with birthparents, a meeting will be arranged. When the child arrives, and after the necessary documents are signed (guardian’s consent to the adoption), you are usually able to take the baby home from the hospital. In Alberta, there is a mandatory ten-day revocation period. This means that the birthparents have ten days to revoke their consent. This occurs in approximately 5% of the cases. After the ten days have passed, the adoption agency will begin preparing the adoption application for approval by the Court. A social worker will visit with you and complete a post-placement report, which will be filed with your adoption application. It can take the Courts several months to finalize an adoption. When the adoption is granted, you will receive a certified copy by mail. A family can be placed with a child through domestic adoption as quickly as within a few months of their application or it can take several years. The average cost of a domestic adoption is $11, 000.

If the birthparent decides on a family that they have already met, and subsequently places the child or children with this family, this is referred to as a private direct placement. A “Consent to a Guardian” for adoption document must be completed by a lawyer. The next step involves the adoptive family contacting a representative, like Small Miracles Adoption, to assist in the legal requirements and in the filing of the adoption in order for the adoption to be granted in the Court of Queen’s Bench. (Some lawyers and adoption agencies also provide these services).

Is There Anything Else That I Need to Consider?

Adopting a child is an amazing way to build or augment a family but the adoption process can also take a toll on couples, so please join a support group and meet families who are also adopting or who have adopted previously. Adoption laws also change, especially with respect to international adoptions, so please stay informed and stay connected.  Learn about open adoption; most adoptions are now considered to be open.

Remember that adoption is about creating and building families; it is for the love of the children. “Adoption is the ultimate expression of a committed heart” (Small Miracles Adoption).

October 30 in Edmonton

Small Miracles Adoption is proud to announce our next adoption seminar on October 30, 2010 in Edmonton.

This is a small group seminar that provides information on domestic and international adoption.

The purpose is to provide information to people considering adoption as a means to building or expanding their family so that they can make an informed decision as to whether adoption is right for them and their family. Adoption is not for everyone so be informed!

Topics discussed include fears and concerns, myths of adoption, types of adoption, legalities and statistics. We are expecting guest speakers, a family who has adopted and a person who placed a child for adoption, to be present for questions.

Registration is required for this event. Registration closes at 4pm on October 26.  Contact us or visit our website for details and registration.