I need to make a disclaimer…this post has been influenced by chardonnay and stress.
I had a meltdown this afternoon. Walking through the produce aisle the reality of the last few months came crashing down on me like a wall of bricks. I don’t mean the reality of trying to understand life after my parents’ death. I mean the reality of diving head long into the adoption process.
For months The Mistah and I have been quietly filling out forms, scheduling inspections, and writing checks, all in the hopes of adopting a child. Now that we are a single form away from being able to submit our application, and a check that equals our monthly mortgage payment, to our adoption agency, the stress of what lays before us is starting to sink in.
In case you’ve never met me in real life, by my own admission I am a worrier. And a planner. And an obsesser. Which means that I tend to get fixated not on the big picture but on the smaller pieces that make up the big picture. This is one reason why The Mistah and I work so well together…he looks at things with a macro perspective while I look at all the little details. Between the two of us, there is balance. But left to my own devices, I’m a hot freaking mess of worry. Which gets me back to the produce aisle.
I was looking for garlic and apples and lemons, but all I could see was dollar signs. And please forgive me for sounding dramatic, but until you’ve been in this place, you may never understand it. Adoption does not come cheap. There are fees. And expenses. And fees on the expenses. It’s not like buying a car. You can’t get a cheaper interest rate from your credit union and they’re aren’t any 0% interest offers. Not only do you pay, but you pay a premium for not being able to do what a majority of the rest of the population takes for granted…having a child.
There are grant programs but they require you to be affiliated with an organized religion and/or to demonstrate financial need. I haven’t gone to church since I was 12…and the last time I checked The Universe was not a recognized congregation. And through hard work, and the help of The Mistah, we have paid off all of our debt with the exception of our mortgage. So on paper, we are not financially needy. But if you look closer, what we have in savings just about equals what an adoption would cost. So if we were to empty our savings account in the name of adoption, it would leave us one paycheck away from financial peril. And for once, I am not speaking grandiosely. Adoption costs would leave us with no savings. No safety net. Nothing to fall back on in the event of a job loss in an uncertain economy. Mortgage refinancing isn’t an option since we owe more on paper than our house is worth. So because we do our best to act responsibly and not carry consumer debt, but don’t have an excess of liquid assets available, we don’t qualify for grants to offset adoption expenses. How the hell does that make sense?
Is it really better to spend every penny we have to adopt a child and then be left without any resources to weather a job loss or an unexpected major expense? Is that the responsible choice?
So there’s the cost. But the adoption process also requires you to open yourself up to the scrutiny of others. References, tax returns, autobiographies. It’s not for the self conscious. Because let me tell you, no freaking stone goes unturned in this process. In the simplest of terms, the application process is where someone else says whether or not you are a good candidate to be a parent.
Excuse me? If third party approval were a requirement for being able to give birth, the world would not be in the middle of a population boom. Forget about the fact that a third party has to give you approval in order to move ahead in the process. The standard of care that a potential adoptive parent has to meet is ridiculous. For instance, we failed our health department inspection. No because our house was unsanitary but because we didn’t have thermometers in our refrigerator and because our hot water heater was set too high. We also failed our fire department inspection. Not because our house is a death trap but because we didn’t have enough clearance around our gas meter, the lock on our 3o year old storm door was not up to current code, and because the fire extinguishers in our house weren’t the right ones. Who the hell comes to a pregnant couple’s home and looks at these things? If I were to give birth to a child, nobody would scrutinize our home or our ability parent. They would simply send me home with an infant, without regard to the conditions that child was being subjected to.
At this moment, I don’t doubt our ability to successfully raise a child. I have always known that The Mistah would make a fantastic parent. And with the death of both of my parents, oddly enough, I have somehow been freed from the assumptions that I had always made about my ability to unconditionally love a child. And yet, there are so many obstacles in our way.
No amount of bake sales or etsy shops can bridge the financial gap that we face. And selling off the few liquid assets that we have won’t make me stop worrying about our financial ability to meet this challenge. So what’s left? Other than petitioning to The Universe, I don’t know.
So I will say it here to The Universe, as I say it in my heart…we would give a child love and stability. We may not be perfect parents but we would actively parent our child and do our best to see that our child has a loving heart, a strong sense of self, compassion for others, and a joyful and generous spirit.
Does the thought of bringing a child into our world scare the bejeesus out of me? Hell yes. But shouldn’t it? This. Is. Freaking. Huge.
Ok, so now that I’ve had this meltdown, I need some comforting. And Jen’s Chewy Graham Cookies are just the thing to make to think about warm, chewy happiness instead of our second date with the Fire Inspector next week. Tell me, which would you rather focus on…buttery, spicy cookies or Baltimore City Fire Code?
Chewy Graham Cookies
Adapted from My Kitchen Addiction
- 1 1/2 sticks softened butter
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 egg
- 1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup white whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup cardamom sugar
Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line two sheet pans with parchment paper.
In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, honey, baking powder, baking soda, salt, vanilla, and cinnamon. Add the egg and beat until incorporated into the creamed mixture.
In a second bowl, whisk together the flours. Add the flour to the creamed mixture on low speed and mix until just combined.
Place the cardamom sugar into a small bowl. Use a small ice cream scoop to portion out the dough in 1 tablespoon servings. Roll the dough into a ball, roll in the cardamom sugar, and place on the prepared sheet pans.
Bake for 9 to 10 minutes until the cookies are lightly browned and just set. Cool in the pan for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.