Orientation: What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been…Oh Wait, It’s Only Just Begun.
We attended our first orientation session at our foster family and adoption agency in January of 2013 and sat directly behind Mr. and Mr. Fancy Car, a flashy gay couple in skin-tight polos with their Porsche keychain on the table for all to see. Sitting behind them in order to keep tabs on their every move, I found myself wondering what their lives were like. I mean, they looked about our age but obviously had a Porsche they wanted us all to know about, so that probably meant they also had a house in the Hills – maybe a pool even. My mind continued to wander as I found myself envisioning their future children’s private school uniforms before realizing they probably lived in a better school district than we did and didn’t have to worry about those kinds of things.
Oh my god?! Should we be doing this? Should we really be here if we can’t provide for a child the way Mr. and Mr. Fancy Car can? And more importantly, when did I start worrying about school districts?!
Our instructors that evening were two social workers who we would get to know a lot better. Lovely ladies, they reminded me of Molly Shannon and Ana Gasteyer’s NPR skit on Saturday Night Live except instead of talking about salty balls, we were talking about children (sort of a big difference). They shared basic information: we would go through ten weeks of classes, a home study, CPR training and a review of any issues that might make us ineligible (for example, “if you’ve ever been convicted of poisoning a public water supply,” because, you know…)
Then it was time for us to go around the room, introduce ourselves and share how we arrived at this point in our lives. For some, fostering had been a long-held dream. For others, there were motivations stemming from infertility, biological clocks ticking, or simply the desire to start a family. For Mr. and Mr. Fancy Car, it all boiled down to the economics of fostering versus the cost of surrogacy – not that money was an issue for them or that they hadn’t already visited a surrogacy doctor (both of which they made abundantly clear).
Finally it was our turn. We shared our story of taking time, suffering loss ourselves and feeling that this decision was the next step in our journey as a couple. And just like that, our formal introduction to the world of foster-adopt was over. Our instructors recommended that anyone interested in the next series of classes sign up immediately, as they were to begin the following week.
And so there we were, with yet again another decision to make: would we carry on? Were we really going to go through with this? Or was this our out – we came, we learned, and we realized that parenting wasn’t for us? This one-night out could easily become one of those crazy stories we told our friends about later over a bottle of wine. But as I watched Mr. and Mr. Fancy Car sign up for the following week’s class and starting picturing their glamorous lives with beautiful children in the perfect house in the Hills and I started getting kind of jealous.
“We have to sign up,” I pleaded with Eric, who wasn’t yet convinced either way. “We have to,” I begged. “I mean, we can always back out – even if we start and decide we don’t want to go through with it,” I promised. “Fine,” he said, giving me permission to sign our names below the Fancy Car’s.
As we made our way out to the parking lot, I once again found myself envisioning play dates with the Fancy Cars: the four of us adults, drinking Riesling on a hot summer afternoon (in their backyard, of course) as our Mensa children played croquet. But as we arrived back at our car, I turned back one last time to check out our future friends and to my surprise noticed them getting into a Honda Accord. It was at that moment we both realized that nothing about this journey was ever going to be what it seemed.