Our queer family ditched fertility treatments to foster-to-adopt

Guest post by Megan
By: Purple Sherbet PhotographyCC BY 2.0

We are a queer family of two (for now). My husband is transgender and I identify as queer. Obviously, any baby-making to be had would needed some outside help. We’ve been together for ten years, and I’ve been baby-crazy for all ten of them. Together, we worked to get the career and financial stability we wanted before adding to our family. I’m a teacher, so this meant getting a continuing contract, going back to school for my Master’s degree, and pursuing my National Board certification before we felt comfortable bringing a child into our lives.

It’s felt like my only purpose in the past seven years was to get ready for a baby. We had a time-line and a checklist and I was making it happen. December rolled around and we realized that it was time. Babydom loomed in front of us. I became obsessed, reading fertility boards, spending hours researching the pros and cons of different fertility treatments, making Excel spreadsheets of how much each would cost and how many treatments we could afford to undergo before we ran out of money for it (should I mention I’m a math teacher, by the way?). It consumed my life.

My poor husband is so laid back — he never cared where a kid came from or how we got them as long as someday they could go to Space Camp together (truly, his obsession with taking our future child[ren] to space camp is endearing, but puzzling –- I’ll never forget the look he gave me when NASA’s funding was cut. “How will our kid ever want to go to Space Camp with me if they can’t be an astronaut?!” He was, and is, very concerned with the whole situation).

So, after all the research, and after my husband had to endure long conversations debating the pros and cons of each method, we tried artificial insemination three times; once at home, and twice at a doctor’s with the aid of fertility drugs. There was the typical roller-coaster of hormones and emotions, each resulting with a negative pregnancy test.

In the scheme of things, three fertility treatments are nothing — not even a drop in the bucket. I had no known fertility problems, and we procured sperm from reputable sperm banks, so there was no medical reason to quit trying. However, something felt off about the whole process. Trust me, I tried to qualify and quantify what felt “off.” It drove my investigative/math teacher/overanalyzing brain crazy not being able to put my finger on what felt wrong about the situation. And then, almost in passing, my husband said something that resonated with me. He commented that, “I wish someone had removed me from my home, and had been a parent to me.” Holy crap, was that a punch in the gut. He came from an abusive and neglectful family and, without getting into too much detail, if someone had known the extent of the abuse occurring in the household, he would have been in foster care for quite some time.

Upon hearing that, my mind immediately flashed back to a conversation we had, years ago, when we considered adoption through the foster care system. At the time I had dismissed it, but now it clicked, and we both knew that fertility treatments weren’t the path we were supposed to be on. A flurry of new research commenced, this time from both of us, about the foster–to–adopt process. Questions arose: Should we go through an agency? Should we go directly through the state? What age children were we willing to take? How many children? Would we consider siblings? What type of legal risk were we willing to assume? What type of special needs children were we willing to parent? (Side note -– nothing makes you feel more inadequate than deciding your parenting limitations). Did we care what ethnicity the child was? How about the sex? Gender? The list goes on…

We are still entrenched in the foster–to–adopt process. We’ve filled out the reams of paperwork required, taken hours upon hours of training classes, scheduled our home study with the licensor, and come to grips with the very real fact that our heart will be broken at least once (and statistically three times) during this process. I had a brief flicker of doubt when I came to the realization that I will have to function as a foster mom who will be available to adopt, rather than the other way around. Reunification with the birth parents will be my primary goal, and adoption will be secondary to that goal. I can’t honestly say I’m 100% excited about that, but I recognize it’s best for the kids, and that’s why I’m committed to make it work.

Beyond that, it’s driving me crazy not knowing when our foster parent licensing will be complete, when we will get a placement, how long that placement will stay, when an adoption will be finalized, and what our family will look like when this whole process comes to an end. Statistically, I can tell you the answers to all these questions, but life doesn’t necessarily follow statistics.

Nonetheless (despite all the uncertainties) we remain committed to this process, and know that while we’re waiting to find a child to be a part of our “forever family,” we’re going to be a kick-ass foster family for those who need us.

Comments on Our queer family ditched fertility treatments to foster-to-adopt

  1. What big hearts you both have to open your home and hope to just be good parents for a child who needs them… whether it’s for years or forever.
    Wonderful.

  2. YAY!!! I love this post! My husband and I had similar “off” feelings about fertility treatments and ended up doing domestic infant adoption. I hope we hear from you again after/during the placement and adoption process. What an amazing journey you are on!

  3. Good luck! My (now ex-) partner and I foster-to-adopted our son, and it was the best outcome we ever could have hoped for!

    The actual process was really horrible, though, and made us shy away from doing it multiple times as we had originally intended. The process of getting licensed took us about 8 months, and most of our caseworkers turned out to be homophobic and/or religious zealots that counseled us to go to church to help our son overcome our lesbian parenting. We even had one caseworker who would file a claim against our license *every* time we complained about her lack of support/accountability/working with and/or for us; our license was investigated 5 times because she claimed all sorts of bogus things about us when all we wanted was a call returned or an email answered (we’ve since filed a report against her with our state’s ombudsman). It’s also very difficult (at least in my experience) working with schools & hospitals when you wind up with partial or no records from pre-placement.

    So, yeah, not the best “system” out there, but definitely has great potential when considering all of the benefits to kids that would have otherwise been left in neglectful and abusive “homes.”

    And I know that’s maybe not the best/most positive comment that you’ll get, it’s realistic…the outcome is AMAZING, but be prepared for a difficult journey. Good luck!!

    • Thanks for your comment. We’ve heard a lot of horror stories, and I don’t know that we would have gone through the state (versus a private agency) if we didn’t already have a trans friend that went through the process. So far, our licensor has been pretty great about the queer issues, but the process has definately been long. What state did you foster/adopt through? Did you use a private agency, or go through the state?

      • We’re in Washington, and we went through the state in an effort to save money. Not sure it would have been much different going through an agency (though originally we did try to use one that even catered to queer families, but our phone calls and emails were not returned).

        • My mom used to work for a private agency in Washington… she only did so for a year, though, because she found it so heartbreaking. :/

  4. Best of luck to you with your fostering and potential adopting. I’m inspired by your courage, strength and selflessness. When I hear about children with parents that abuse and neglect them, it’s infuriating knowing there are many, MANY great potential parents like you in the world aching to have and care for a child. Stay strong! Much love and positivity to you and your family.

  5. So happy to see more foster/adopt stories on OffBeat Mama! It’s great to hear a little bit about your journey, as my partner and I will start our family through foster/adopt (hopefully this year). I hope it all comes together for you soon, and can’t wait for an update on how it goes!

  6. Thanks for all your wonderful comments everyone! Since submitting this, we’ve had our home visit and are just waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for our homestudy to be written up and approved before taking placements. We are beyond excited!

  7. Yes, please — more adoption and fostering posts! My partner and I are also planning on one or both as part of our family-building. The SF Bay Area has a lots of helpful resources for families that look like ours. (familybuilders.org is just one)

  8. Bravo to you and best of luck on your journey!

    We are a CA fost-adopt family who finalized in 2010. We used an agency but handled most of the state worker contact directly (with guidance from the agency worker). Every state is different and we are in a large area where social workers are spread particularly thin, but my best advice to you as you go through the system is to talk to anyone who will listen and listen to anyone who will talk – and stay calm and diplomatic in front of the workers and the court. We came in contact with several state workers who were surprised when they heard we were willing to adopt (when we thought it was public knowledge). I learned with each new worker to politely mention that we respected the system and reunification but were also willing to adopt so that there was no confusion. In turn, it also seemed several workers we spoke with each held a different piece of the puzzle of the story of our child’s background. We found out about many biological family members along the way that we did not know about up front. Ultimately, you are the center of information for the path your child is on from the moment they are placed with you. Take copious notes and advocate for your kid(s).

    Stay strong, breathe, and remember that your child is out there, just waiting for you to find them. I can’t wait to read a follow up!

    • Thanks so much for your advise! I love hearing other people’s stories because it helps me understand what I could be facing (everyone seems to have such a different experience). Congrats on your adoption!

  9. I’m a queer foster-to-adopt momma in Seattle (in the process of an adoption right now – greatest kid ever). One of our foster kiddos is now with her great aunt & uncle – not a move the state recommended (or that we thought would be best for the child), but there was drama, and well, what you’ve heard is correct – it’s not a pretty system. I applaude your wisdom that this process is not about you getting a child…. it’s about children who need homes…. if they happen to need a permanent landing spot, they will be lucky to have found you! I watch many couples at our private agency who seem to have this all backwards… they want a baby / child to call them mom or dad…to be a pretty picture of some traditional family model. Frankly, it just breaks my heart. Fosterting-to-adopt is not about us – it’s 100% about each child. It takes a crazy amount of patience and understanding to open your doors to these kids… They will have families (sometimes large families) that will have very different cultures from you – I recommend you honor and respect and include (if safe for everyone) these new family members. I’m pretty sure our current adoption is going through so smoothly b/c we are open and the family (bio-parents included) knows they can still be in their kid’s life. It sounds like you are on board for – and will rise up to – each step of this unpredictable process… Yes, it can be scary and heartbreaking, but it’s TOTALLY WORTH IT!!! Also, the waiting game can be tough, I recommend that you don’t put your life on hold – do the projects and traveling you want to do (just get trip insurance). Rock on!

    • Thanks so much for sharing your story and advise-and congrats on your upcoming adoption! I can’t wait to be where you are!

  10. We had our final home visit today… just a couple more pieces of paperwork until we are hopefully approved… I am terrified that we wont be. I’ve been having nightmares of ways that we could lose approval.
    Good luck and I hope you find your child soon!

  11. My FH and I are also planning on fostering and adopting. We are scared. I hope that you are successful so that it aids in the chances of others statistically being successful.

  12. I so admire what you are doing. Some kids that come to you may go back to a horrible situation, but the influence that you have on them from just the time they are with you can last a life time. My dad was sent back and forth between his parents and foster homes, and a lot of the foster homes were awful too, but one home that he had for about a year changed his life, and allowed him to become a much different person.

  13. I’m a prosecuting attorney that represents children services and I am always heartened to read about/see families willing to go through this process. There are so many children who need a safe home and as difficult as the foster to adopt process can be, it is so essential and so necessary and so wonderful to be able to send the children we have not been able to reunify with their families to a wonderful foster to adopt situation. Once parental rights are terminated if the children are in a foster to adopt situation it is a much easier process for the kids than just a foster situation in which they have to find and adjust to yet another home. I would love to read a follow up to this. If anyone is interested in fostering to adopt or just adoption, http://www.adoptuskids.org/ is a national photolisting and your local county children services can start the foster to adopt process with you.

  14. I’m a single lesbian mom who did foster-adoption. We finalized my son’s adoption last spring – I worked directly w the state, no agency, and had an overall really good experience. Some of the things I learned along the way: Don’t be afraid to be a strong advocate for a child – and during the licensing process, for yourself. When my son was hospitalized, his DYFS nurse was really unhelpful and I had to push and persuade and lie on a gurney in the ER with a screaming child in my lap and burn out my cellphone battery calling people and enlist the hospital staff’s help to make sure my son got what he needed. I was always polite, but you have to persevere.
    Learn to live in the chaos and disorganization of unreturned phone calls and lost paperwork that can come with working with a big bureaucracy. So hard for me – but so necessary! And it built up my patience for parenting, believe me!

    Talk to everyone you can, and keep talking to them. I asked tons of people for advice, tips, stories, and learned so much. I think I learned more about the process in a random 45-minute call with the intake coordinator than in all my classes.

    Good luck to you and your family! I look forward to an update.

  15. Thanks so much for this. I am a queer woman with a trans partner as well, and while we’re currently trying to get me pregnant, it’s been a difficult road. It helps to hear about folks like us taking other paths to expand their families. Best of luck to you.

    • As a fellow Emily with a transgender husband who will be starting to try for a baby it’s always nice to hear of other people who are going down the same road. Good luck to everyone who’s trying to create their family!

  16. I am a single genderqueer 43-year-old who just went through my first cycle trying to get pregnant at a fertility clinic and I’m so appreciative that you shared your story. It’s relieving to know others are out there sorting through options that make the most sense for them. I am very open to foster care and adoption and plan to try insemination 3 times. I figured as long as I was still ovulating that I might as well try. I’m struggling with the politics of foster care and adoption and it is helpful to hear your husband’s perspective. I wish you both the best; it sounds like you will be providing a wonderful home for some children very soon.

  17. I used to work with an organization that advocates for foster children, and I am really glad to hear your story. It seems like you and your partner are ready to open your hearts and home, and you are also realistic about the potential for heartache. The foster care system is stunningly imperfect and it can be exceedingly frustrating for foster/adopt parents. But I have seen many happy endings (both reunification and adoption). I am truly glad to see you say you will support reunification as a primary goal–having that approach will make you better foster parents and ultimately better adoptive parents!! Also, I encourage you to advocate strongly for the children in your care. Their needs are often not met well by the system. Good luck!

  18. You are amazing. I will cross my fingers that space camp works out for your husband and kids-to-be.

  19. Best of luck and love to you as you continue on this process. My partner and I have been trying to foster/adopt for a couple of years now. It has been a very difficult process but we are not giving up. Our hearts continue to hold on to our dream of fostering to adopt. However, after 2.5 years, we decided to give fertility treatments a try as well. We are hoping a door will open for us this year :).

  20. One of my very good friends has four kids, two sets of siblings that they foster-to-adopted. The boys were their first placement ever, and they ended up being able to adopt very quickly. The had a few more kids come through their home before they got a pair of sisters that they are in the final adoptions stages. Her biggest advice to anyone who wants to foster: be open to sibling groups. They are often harder to place and adopt, so if that is your ultimate goal, it might (accourding to her) speed up the process.

  21. Hi, I’m a former foster kid who was adopted at 13. It was amazing. I still have a relationship with my bio-mom and sister with minimal conflict. I would def NOT be where I am today if it weren’t for my ‘forever family’. I now hold my BSW and work as a social worker with the province.
    Good luck to you!

  22. I just chanced upon this post and wanted to wish you both the best of luck in expanding your family! A friend of mine and her wife have been on the roller coaster ride of trying to expand their family, and have had a successful foster-to-adoption with a beautiful little girl, and are on that road again. It was a bit tough at times as they went through it, especially with the waiting for the final adoption papers to be signed, but they made it through. So hang in there and I hope that very soon you’ll have a little one to love and chase around!

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