Sometimes it is easy to forget how fortunate we are as LGBT South Africans. We life in a country where our constitutional rights are protected, where we can legally marry who we love and where we can adopt children; we live in a country where we have all the same rights as everybody else. And for this we should be grateful. It is sometimes easy to forget that this is not the case for all LGBT people across the world and that in some cases just being gay can get you killed. But I don’t want to dwell on negativity today.
Today I received some good news from my employer and this news just yet again made me grateful that I live in a country where I am no longer considered to be a second class citizen. Today I was told that my employer will grant me full maternity/paternity leave when our precious baby is placed with us. Being granted full paternity leave means that I will receive four months of fully paid paternity leave to make sure that our baby fully adjust and bond with us during a time that must be incredibly traumatic for any infant. This is something not all gay adoptive parents have the privilege to get and I am fully aware how lucky I am.
For those of you who have been following our adoption journey thus far will know that adoption is not for the faint of heart. It is an emotional roller-coaster leaving you quite winded and emotive at times. It feels as if you are in a perpetual state of uncertainty yet you are required to be practical, optimistic and patient. The latter is the one requirement I am struggling with the most. Being the type of person who is proactive with most things in my life (I blame my profession for this) and somewhat of a control freak (I am working on this) the fact that I can neither control nor anticipate what is about to happen, especially when it comes to timelines, sometimes drives me nuts.
We have no control over when we will get a placement. We have no control over which mother, if any, will pick us to raise her child. We have no control over other people’s conservative life views and we have no control over or opportunity to help any prospective mother look past her own biases, which maybe homophobic by nature, and accept that a gay couple can raise her child with as much love and opportunities as any other straight couple out there. In fact, we have no control over anything in the adoption process other than the few things we can control in our present childless life. We have to place our confidence in our social worker and the adoption agency. After all this is what they do and we have to trust in them and their judgment, competency and experience.
Next month we will be completing Phases II and III of the adoption process. This involves psychometric tests, separate personal interviews, joint interviews, a house visit by the social worker and a panel interview. It is quite daunting to say the least. I mean, when I underwent my Top Secret Security clearance it was less invasive than this, but I guess when it comes to a child there is no such thing as too invasive, right? It is a big deal and I wouldn’t expect anything less. After we finish these two phases, by mid November, the waiting begins. The waiting for that one phone call that will irrevocably change our lives forever.
Luckily we are already prepared (like I said, I am proactive and a control freak). The nursery has been set up and is fully furnished. Our house is baby proof and the pool is secure. We have also acquired all the basic essentials that one would need. The only things we are putting off buying are things like bottles, dummies and formula as we will only know what brands to buy about two weeks before placement. So at the moment we are on standby for 2014. Realistically I don’t think there is a chance in hell that anything will happen any sooner unless there is some kind of miracle. And we all know how rare miracles are these days - especially small ones!
When I sit back and remove myself from this experience and examine it as an outsider I often wonder if my husband and I fully appreciate how lucky we truly are. We have been together for 15 years of which we have been legally married for 7. We have a loving and stable relationship, family who love and support us, employers who don’t discriminate against us and we are about to have a family of our own. How many gay people can say that? And better yet, how many gay people yearn for this. Sometimes we forget how lucky we are but today I decided that I will remind myself of all my blessing and be grateful for them.
To follow our progress with regards to our adoption just click on #adoption to read all about it.
Till next time.