My Improbable Life Change Moment

Most stories have beginnings and endings. Some are good and some are bad.  This story, my story, took a long time to begin.  My life was simple, stable and with nothing exciting happening until the winter of 1976. 

I was 34 years old, single, and never married, even though I had had some offers, nothing ever came of them.  I loved my two nephews, Allen and Steve and spent a lot of time with them.  Because I enjoyed being with children, I wanted one of my own, but my upbringing and my own sense of right and wrong, kept me from finding a “sperm donor” and having a baby out  of wedlock.

 One cold winter’s day in January 1976, I was flipping channels on the TV and found myself watching the PBS station.  The program was on new books and the authors.  I’m an avid reader so I thought this would be an interesting program to watch.  Little did I know what this one TV program would do to my life? 

The author was Marjorie Margolies and the book was “They Came to Stay.”  Ms. Margolies wrote this book about how she, as a single parent, adopted two little girls from Korea and Vietnam.  She described how she was approved for adoption and her trips to Korea and Vietnam to get her daughters. 

Talk about exciting!  I rushed out and bought a copy of the book.  I’ve read and re-read this book many times over the years and I feel I have a real connection with Ms. Margolies. (The book is still available on Amazon for $809.67 – yep that’s right in paperback! It’s also available for $36 – $40 used.)

 After reading “They Came to Stay,” I went looking for more books on adoptions.  There were many, but very few had anything to say about single adoptive parents.  This was such a strange, new phenomenon, no one seemed quite sure how to discuss it.  At that time, adoptions were mostly infant adoptions with a few foster care and international adoptions, all done by married couples.

It took me until March to get up enough courage to call an adoption agency.  The receptionist that answered my phone call said they had never done a single parent adoption, but she’d have their social worker call me back.  Talk about being nervous and worried I wouldn’t get the chance, I was a complete basket case by the time the social worker called me back.

Children’s Service Society of Utah

Wilma, the social worker, returned my call a couple of days later.  She was warm and friendly and put me at ease.  She said the agency had never had a single adoptive parent client, but they were open to a first one.  I wanted desperately to be that first one.

My first meeting with Wilma was the next week.  We visited for about two hours while she explained the process of getting approved for adoption.  It sounded complicated, but doable and I wanted it done yesterday.  Did I say I’m the impatient type?  Of course I am, isn’t everyone?  Little did I realize how much patience is required to adopt.  The home study alone took three months.

At that time, the home study consisted of writing an autobiography, two or three home visits, background criminal investigations, copies of all legal documents and three letters of reference. Because I didn’t have a spouse, Wilma thought it would be a good idea to meet my parents and my sister, Myra and her husband, Herman since they would be my support system.

Everything came together and I was approved to adopt a child between the ages of five and ten.  Of course we were looking at uncharted territory, so it took us awhile to figure out where to locate a child. 

I found myself checking with agencies all over America. I finally came across a couple of agencies that had picture books of available children.  Wilma requested them and we began checking out children that I felt I could raise.

Then, what I consider a tragedy happened.  After working with Wilma for over a year, she accepted a new position and left the agency.  Oh Lord, now what would I do? 

A new social worker came in, re-did my home study and told me flat out, the only child she would place with me would be a special needs child, one with a severe handicap.  I knew that wouldn’t be good for me; I was a secretary and had to work days.

That social worker lasted about six months.  I hoped the next one would be better and she was somewhat better as she was a single person herself.  She didn’t like my second home study all that much and decided it needed to be updated. 

This new social worker made a home visit and met my mother and father at the same time.  My nephew, Steve popped in and put his arm around me and told the social worker I would make a great mom for a child needing a home. 

When she was leaving, the social worker told me how impressed she was by the love my nephew had shown for me and that she wished she had that kind of relationship with her nephews. I wondered whose fault it was hers or the kids.

Two years went by without even one child being referred to me.  I felt things could not get any worse until March 23, 1978, when I caught my right ankle in some boxes at my office and received a spiral break.  I spent a week in the hospital and the next four months in a cast.  Because of the severity of the break, I couldn’t put my weight on my foot for over nine months. I managed to get around on crutches and my mother drove me to and from work every day.

All the while that I was dealing with my ankle, I decided to transfer agencies and look at doing foster care while I waited for my own child to arrive.  My new social worker, Laura, did not impress me; I think if she could have denied my application, she would have.  Since I had three approved home studies by the private agency, she would have had to prove there was something really bad about me and she knew that would be almost impossible to prove.

With the completion of this home study I became the first single parent approved for adoption and foster care by the State of Utah. There were a couple of other single adoptive parents in Utah that had adopted internationally, so I can’t claim being first for that type of adoption.

I spent the next few months looking at children in the waiting children books.  Each child I asked Laura to check on wasn’t available or as I suspected, never was called about.  Once I was able to walk again, I began checking out international agencies that were placing children with single adoptive parents.

I was looking for a child that could be escorted to the United States, mainly because I’m afraid of flying. I found out that International Mission of Hope (IMH) in India was placing children all over the United States with single parents.  The children ranged from newborn to 12 years of age.  The costs were reasonable and my parents agreed to help me pay them.

International adoptions have their own set of crazy paperwork to complete. At the time it wasn’t too complicated, it just took forever to get all the original and/or certified documents, the home study updated (one more time), fingerprints and once that was all done, I waited in the Immigration Office for almost five hours to meet with an official of the government to show him what I had and get the approval for the adoption.

All the while I’m doing the international paperwork, I’m taking the required classes to become a foster parent.  There were something like four or six weeks of classes.  Once these were completed I could become a foster parent.  I was excited looking to help a child in need of a home.

 I have had many firsts in my adoption adventures and that includes writing this blog. It’s been quite a ride. To see what happens next, read the next installment of “My Adoption Story.”

To see more of my story, please like my page and join my email list.

See ya soon, Ann

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