Jane and I have something in common – we both walked the adoption journey with the same wonderful adoption agency, Wandisa. I met Jane and her family at a big family picnic arranged by Wandisa and we got to chat a little bit in between the distraction of toddler tears when countless big orange helium balloons flew up to the clouds and general kid chaos. Thank you for sharing your story, Jane.
Tell us a bit about your family.
My husband, Adrian and I have been married for 2 years now, together for 5 years. We live in Cape Town. Adrian has lived in Cape Town his whole life, I was born in SA but grew up in the USA (in Denver Colorado) and moved back to SA when I was 21. Finally, after a very long but worthwhile wait, we were blessed with our son, Noah, in July of last year. And when I say blessed, I really mean it! He is the most chilled out, happy little soul who is always smiling, barely ever cries and he has slept through the night since the day he came home.
He’s a total daddy’s boy – ‘the two best friends that anyone could have’. I can’t believe it’s only been 6 months. I can’t imagine life without him.
Did you always know that you wanted to adopt?
Yes, I have always wanted to adopt. Can’t say why, just some gut feeling that it was what I was meant to do. I never questioned it or tried to rationalize it – just accepted it. Luckily for me, I married a truly amazing man who was totally on board with the idea of adopting from the very first time we discussed it.
Did you use an agency or did you adopt through Child Welfare? What would you recommend?
We chose to work through an agency and did a lot of research before deciding that we would partner with Wandisa on our adoption journey. That’s the key thing: find someone/a team that you want to PARTNER with, whether it’s an agency or Child Welfare. You are about to embark on a life changing experience, so make sure you trust the people you are working with and are 100% confident that they are as invested in the journey, and the outcome, as much as you are.
What was the hardest part of the process?
It was a very emotional journey at times – the initial ‘admin’ of induction sessions and paperwork goes quickly and easily, and then you start getting into the deeper, more meaningful stuff. My husband and I had agreed that the only way to do it was to be 100% open and honest about our lives and our childhoods, family dynamics etc. which meant that the individual sessions and couple sessions with the social workers and psychologist got very personal. There were often tears as old wounds were opened and feelings were explored but we learned a lot about ourselves and each other, and in the end the process bought us much closer together.
Then there is the waiting…waiting for that call that is going to change your life forever. Murphy’s Law, as soon as we decided to stop putting our lives on hold by waiting for that call, it came! We had literally just booked a weekend away and I had agreed to do an overseas trip for work, all of which had to be cancelled.
Both our families were very supportive of our decision to adopt and were there for us to lean on through the whole process, which helped a lot.
What was your first night together as a family like?
Our first night went surprisingly smoothly. We got a full run down from Noah’s foster parents about his routine, and we followed those instructions 100%! We were so nervous about Noah being in an unknown environment etc. but he was super chilled.
We were awake the whole night, because every time we heard the slightest noise on the baby monitor, we were up and checking on him, but he was out for the count and didn’t wake up until after 7am the next morning.
What is your funniest adoption-related family story?
For some reason, Adrian gets asked more questions than me – one day when we were out shopping, and I had popped into another store, Adrian was first asked by the lady behind the checkout counter if Noah was his son, so he replied ‘yes’. Then after a pause, she asked him if his wife was African, to which he replied no, that Noah was adopted. She seem satisfied with that answer 😉 Most people are just curious…
Do you celebrate ‘adoption day’ with any traditions?
We haven’t yet had the first anniversary of our adoption day. It’s on the 15th July, but yes, we will be celebrating. Whether it’s something we continue to do, only time will tell, but I hope we do! I think it’s important for Noah to know how grateful we are that he’s our son, and having a special day to celebrate it will be meaningful for all of us.
Advice for the screening process?
Be 100% open and honest with yourselves as well as the people you are working with for the adoption. It’s not about impressing anyone, it’s about being the best possible parent you can be and the more honest you are, the better the chance you have of doing that. Take it as an opportunity to learn more about yourself and to grow as a person, a couple and as a parent.
The screening process may be a breeze for some people and hard for others but that doesn’t matter because it’s all about the outcome.
How can friends and family best support those adopting?
Just be on aboard and be there to lean on. The more involved they want to be the nicer it is. Adrian’s sister even came with us to court the day we got Noah, which was so awesome.
Top tip for doing life as a rainbow nation family?
Embrace it! You are a trail blazer, and hopefully we start seeing more and more rainbow nation families! Ninety percent of the attention we get has been positive, with people mostly being curious. For the other ten per cent, that react negatively, it’s their problem. Hopefully a seed is planted…
‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world.’ – Mahatma Gandhi