It’s been a relatively straightforward case. As they prepare for the judge’s blessing, Nicholas reflected on the couple’s journey toward parenthood.
The Gay Adoption Process
One issue they have not had to deal with is a change of mind by the birth mother, or objections from her relatives. Sometimes – despite previous promises – the birth mother decides she wants to keep the baby. Occasionally, her relatives may invoke their legal right to raise her child.
That did not happen – the birth mother had no contact with J for 17 months - so Nicholas and Paul just had to wait. New Jersey law mandates a six-month period of care, during which potential adoptive parents care for their child, before legal adoption can be formalized.
There have been regular court hearings. The couple receives notification of each one. All are optional, except a mediation session.
Nicholas and Paul have attended some of them, individually and together. At one, they told the judge how much J means to them. They brought photographs, as further evidence of their lives as a family.
The Emotional Side of the Adoption Process
Nicholas said that he and his husband have worked hard to maintain an even keel. “You know in your heart what you want to happen,” he notes. “But this is all about legality, not emotion. It’s not about you. The judge has to implement the law.” Nicholas admits to “a few bad days,” as when a hearing date gets postponed.
With the adoption not yet finalized, Nicholas sometimes feels a twinge of concern. “I’ll be in a grocery store and see parents with their kids,” he says. “I realize that’s not yet the legal case for us.” At such times he reminds himself to keep giving J love, and understand “this is a process. It’s not a personal judgment about us.”
He knows too that the case worker and J’s legal guardian are both on the couple’s side. He adds, “We chose this route – the emotional one – over the financial route” of surrogacy, an alternative that can come with a high price tag.
Friends sometimes ask how the process is going. Nicholas and Paul try not to talk much about it. They do share details with a select group of people they can be “totally honest with.” The group includes relatives and close friends with whom the couple “unloads every detail on.”
Who Should I Tell About My Adoption Journey?
But, Nicholas explains, “there is no need to be open with everyone.” For example, although the director and assistant director of J’s daycare center know they are going through the adoption process, the teachers do not. “To them, he’s just our kid,” Nicholas says. “There’s a negative stigma to some people that someone was adopted via foster care. Everyone doesn’t need to know everything.”
He advises potential adoptive parents to “be true to yourself. Take only what you can handle. Have faith in the case worker and your child’s legal guardian.”
And, of course: “Be patient.”
Next Up: The Gay Adoption Process Continues
Learn what’s ahead for Nicholas and Paul. Will they grow their family from three to four? Read more in Part 3 of this series.
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Dan Woog is a writer, educator and LGBT activist. He has written 17 books. Subjects include LGBT issues in gay education and the workplace, gay male athletes, and the importance of straight allies. He is also a co-founder of OutSpoken, Fairfield County’s support group for LGBT youth.