From a Dad's Point of View
My wife Natalie and I have been fortunate to adopt two children from Rapid City with the support of All About U, and our experiences with All About U couldn't have been better. Coleen, Jennie, Cindy and team have consistently been attentive, transparent and collaborative - they have a unique ability to care simultaneously for birthmothers, the babies they are carrying and the adoptive parents in a respectful and loving manner. How fortunate we are to be part of the AAU family and to have our children Savannah (2) and Luke (2 months)!
I've found that in adoption, there is a special connection between the birthmother and adoptive mother, but adoption also brings some unique experiences for adoptive dads like me. Below are my thoughts on 3 questions I receive frequently about an adoptive dad's experience in adoption
1. What surprised you most about adoption?
Expect the unexpected. Yes, AAU and many others that had been through adoption told us this, but the twists and turns make it one of life's more roller coaster-esque experiences. If you're planning to adopt, you'll likely experience at least a few of the following: a placement that takes much faster than the average, a placement that takes much longer than the average, unforeseen costs, a difficult discussion about "could we parent a child with ___ condition?", a connection with a person of a different race/ethnicity ... and this doesn't even include the "unexpectedness" of parenthood such as "how exactly do I put on a diaper?". For planners like me, all of the unexpectedness was challenging, but when you learn to embrace it, you're able to grow as a person and a parent in great ways.
2. Is it strange being the dad to a child that isn't biologically "yours"?
At first, yes kind of. For the first 2 months of having my daughter, it felt a bit like I was babysitting someone else's child and was difficult to connect with her (an experience I am guessing that is familiar to biological parents who also have to care for babies that can't talk, can't play, and can barely even smile!). But as time went on, the hand-bats turned into hand-holds, the coos turned into "Dada" and the connection strengthened. My 2 year old now (and has clearly for the past ~1.5 years or so) unabashedly relies upon me as protector, supporter, "dad". And yes, she has her own interests and personality that makes me wonder where those traits originated within her biological family tree, but we also share many interests like music that make me feel like we have a regular ol' dad-daughter bond. In short, my children don't look like me but I truly see them as "mine"
3. How can I support my wife in the adoption experience?
Pregnancy can bring many challenges, but one of it's benefits is that it provides 9 months of physical and emotional prep for what's to come. Not quite the case with adoption - there's a few logistical calls and emails around the placement (which itself could be a few months away, or a few years...) and then suddenly, bam, here's the baby! I've found it's important to support my wife to "nest" before placement as a way to prep for the baby - help pick out books about adoption we can read to the children, talk about concerns and feelings about what's to come, arrange the nursery, you name it. And create space for the birthmother and adoptive mother to connect - it can be good for both parties to properly embrace this experience
To read Tim and Natalies Adoption Story with Savannah, click here.