To mark National Adoption Month, five RaiseAChild families are celebrated in the weekly “Let Love Define Family®” series for Huffington Post Queer Voices. RaiseAChild’s own Bilingual Parent Advocate, Deyanira Contreras, shares her family’s story in this second of five special series installments.
For Sandra and I, most things in the last five years of our relationship have fallen into place; not necessarily when we have most wanted them, but surely when we were ready for them. Things we had not accomplished individually, were not so impossible once we had each other. We moved in together. We bought a car and a home. But it was this journey of building our family through fostering and adoption has been most special for us.
Adoption was definitely not Sandra’s first family building choice. When good friends of ours finalized the adoption of their little boy, I was inspired to attend a RaiseAChild event in December 2014. Sandra had made it clear, “I’m not changing my mind, we’re just going to see.” But in my mind, I thought, “It’s just a matter of convincing her. She wants this as much as I do!”
During the RaiseAChild Parent Information event, LGBT foster and adoptive parents shared their story, and that night, our friends spoke. Half way through the evening, I was even more adamant that this was the way I wanted to build our family. At one point I looked up and Sandra’s eyes were watery. She turned to me and whispered, “Now I realize that I have a moral obligation to give back all the good that I had experienced up to that point in my life. This is something we all should do for another human being, especially children at the most vulnerable time in their lives.”
We grabbed each other’s hand, walked up to the table of a foster and adoption agency named Penny Lane Centers. We signed right up for an orientation meeting.
How hard could it be to attend training classes and fill out paperwork? If that’s all we had to do to start our family, we would do it. It seemed simple enough.
We initially began the foster to adopt process in early 2015. There were definite moments of uncertainty along the way. The process became tedious and so frustrating that we took a break for a while. By September, we began again and received our certification in the spring of 2016. Our agency embraced us from day one through every twist and turn. Even when we were ready to reconsider our options, our agency was there to keep us motivated.
We had heard that some foster parents are placed with their children the same day they’re certified, we thought for sure we’d be one of those families. We weren’t. Over the next several months, Sandra and I received call after call about possible child placements that all turned out to be false alarms. With each call, our hearts grew. But in each case, the child was placed with other families.
Finally, one day, Sandra said to me, “If this is what you want, I’ll support you. But I don’t think I can take another disappointment.”
At that time, Sandra had enough. But today, it is more clear. Now, we understand that our hearts and minds had to build the endurance and strength needed for this journey we had embarked.
In early August, our agency called to ask if we would be interested in the placement of a two-week old baby girl who needed an immediate foster home. Sandra told me, “Tell them we are interested. But know it probably won’t happen anyway.”
That’s what I did. Down deep, I felt a responsibility to Sandra. After all, she was doing this for me. I knew I had to see this through for both of us.
As the days passed and confirming emails were exchanged, Sandra and I would look at each other in disbelief. It seemed to be actually happening this time!
On August 22nd we left the house as a couple, car seat in place, diaper bag packed, and we headed to the agency office. By 10:00 am, our world was transformed. As I signed paperwork, a tiny baby girl was placed in Sandra’s arms. Tears rolled down my face at the sight of the woman I loved holding that baby girl. Sandra supported me all along and through every decision. In many ways, I felt I had fulfilled the responsibility. Just minutes later, we were back in the car, now as a family of three.
Since that day, our lives haven’t been the same, nor would we want them to be. It is amazing to discover the capacity we have to love another human being. I watched Sandra fall in love with the baby. I felt my heart expand when our friends and family have come to meet her.
In our hearts, Sandra and I hope to provide our foster daughter with a permanent home and to continue the journey of her first experiences; we have taken on motherhood full force. We were ready to love this little girl and have experienced new emotions that are only brought to light by this journey. Unknown and uncertain in every way, but humbling and beautiful on a day to day basis. Every day she spends with Sandra and I is another opportunity to love her, to give her security and stability.
Have you thought about building a family through fostering or adoption? RaiseAChild is the nationwide leader in the recruitment and support of LGBT and all prospective parents interested in building families through fostering and adoption to meet the needs of the 415,000 children in the foster care system of the United States. RaiseAChild recruits, educates and nurtures supportive relationships equally with all prospective foster and adoptive parents while partnering with agencies to improve the process of advancing foster children to safe, loving and permanent homes. Take the Next Step to Parenthood at www.RaiseAChild.org or call us at (323) 417-1440.
If you live in Southern California, RSVP now to attend free 2016 RaiseAChild Parenting Info Sessions:
• Wednesday, Nov. 16th at 6:30 p.m. The Prado in San Diego
• Tuesday, Nov. 29th at 6:30 p.m. The Montalban Theatre in Hollywood
• Wednesday, Nov. 30th at 6:30 p.m. Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach
• Thursday, Dec. 1st at 6:30 p.m. TAG Gallery, Bergamot Station in Santa Monica
• Saturday, Dec 3rd at 11:00 a.m. Pitzer College in Claremont
• Monday, Dec 5th at 6:30 p.m. All Saints Church in Pasadena
• Tuesday, Dec 6th at 6:30 p.m. University of Redlands in Redlands