As my friends from college will attest, I’ve always wanted to be a parent, and I’ve been unwilling to make that contingent on having a partner. I know it’s probably over-controlling to see things in this way, but I know that I’m more interested in the job of father than any other ambition, and to hang that on the slim possibility of romantic love isn’t something I can accept. The question became: when? When is it alright to essentially close the door to romantic possibility and accept single parenthood? I have friends in their forties who are still debating if they can close that door to open the door to parenthood. They may never do it, and that may be the right choice for them, but I know that delaying and delaying could leave me with nothing, and I can’t accept that.
During the summer of 2009, at the end of a failed relationship, and embarking on the huge task of running a national convention, I decided to try to table these thoughts for a year and see if anything had changed by the time I had this conventionbaby. But I really couldn’t. I kept thinking about, fantasizing about, longing for parenthood. So after the fall Hagim of 2010, I started actively looking for an agency. One of my colleagues had adopted the previous year, so I asked her advice, but she hated her agency, so to the internet I went. In Cambridge, other than DCFS, there was only one adoption professional listed: Dr. Laura Nemeyer of Adoption Resource Associates.
I scheduled a meeting and laid it all out on the table: young, single, frum-leaning Jew, extremely queer, living in a communal house. Basically everything I thought would disqualify me in the eyes of an agency or a birthmother, that made me different from the typical adoptive parent profile. I’m a pro at trying to provoke people into rejecting me. But she was open, and loving, and supportive, and thought that this would be awesome and more than possible. I also sounded out her practice: did they have any of the racist markers I’ve been told to look out for in the adoption world? Not only did ARA not charge less for black babies (God, the free market is so abhorrent…), but they facilitated Haitian kinship adoptions. Although not strictly relevant for me, through working in a town with a large Haitian population I’d come to know and care about the exploitation of the nation, particularly though “humanitarian” efforts, so seeing that they did the truly ethical thing, of placing actually orphaned (rather than stolen) children with family members to preserve their ethnic, cultural, and religious selves, not just their physical bodies, made me like these people right away.
Laura, after decades in the business, was starting up a new agency in Maine: Acadia Adoption Center. Look at that url: Birth Mother’s Journey. Birth mothers are traditionally so disempowered in the adoption process. They are neither the all-powerful consumer (the adoptive parents), nor the extremely valuable product (the adopted child), but are the worker and the production line, the parts of the system that are routinely exploited even when you aren’t talking about something as fraught as adoption. I wanted my adoption to be as birthmother centric as possible, making space for this woman (and the future child, eventually) to have agency in a situation that often denies it to her. This isn’t easy for me (remember what I said above about being controlling?), but it is the right thing, and doing it has been incredible so far.
Throughout this process, I’m putting the most important thing in the world to me in the hands of others, often others I don’t know. The journey of my adulthood, in adoption, my living situation, my work, my love life, is in learning to trust, to rely on others, and to anticipate outcomes, but not be wedded to them. It’s not an easy row to hoe, and I’m certainly not there yet.