November is National Adoption Month. Below, we interview Lee Clark and Sacha Coupes about why they adopted and how it’s impacted their lives.
What made you want to adopt?
Lee: I think even when I was young it was always in me to have a little one and I think as I got older it just never really became clear how exactly that was going to happen. Then, getting married, you think it will just happen like that. When it didn’t happen “just like that”, I thought ok, I accept this. I never thought about adoption, but it was the door that opened. I graciously accepted that; I was happy with that. It was having a dream fulfilled in a way that I never expected. Now, looking back with this boy whom I adore, I see it was a chance at a relationship that I never expected to have. Unexpected blessings just show up in ways that you never anticipate.
Sacha: After dealing with the unexpected challenge of infertility, I finally came to peace with not adding to our family in the way we had planned. However, in doing some soul searching, I realized that what was most important wasn’t the nine months of pregnancy, but the shared experience of parenting a little person for eighteen-plus years. We thought we had so much to offer a child, but realized through adoption how very much a child brought into our lives.
What was the adoption process like? How long did it take?
We spent a little over one year going through the formal adoption process (taking classes on a variety of topics related to adoption and compiling lots of paperwork pertaining to us as individuals, our family, our finances, etc.), but in fits and starts spread out across the twelve months. We had other life demands that made our process somewhat longer than most and like many adoptive families, spent a great deal of time working on our “adoption profile” (the book you prepare to introduce yourselves to birth parents.) We know many families who went through the process much faster than we did and had children placed in their families sooner, however, neither of us would change a thing– had we gone through the process any faster or any slower, we would not have the son who we do!
Please tell us about your child(ren). Name? Gender? Age? Personality traits?
We are the proud parents of a loving, spirited, and inquisitive four year old boy named Alex. He is curious about the world and all its inhabitants, always trying to make sense of what he observes.
What has your experience been like as an adoptive parent?
Very quickly into the process of becoming parents, we realized how easy it is to “forget” that we are a family through adoption. By that I mean that parenting through adoption is very much like parenting in general, with all of the attendant joys and challenges. We wove early into our conversations with our son how we came to be a family, so the topic of adoption– specifically his adoption– comes up fairly regularly. Apart from that, our experience of parenting our son doesn’t necessarily revolve around adoption. We are blessed to have The Cradle around as a resource and a network to connect with other adoptive kids and families. We suspect it will become increasingly important to Alex as he gets older to know other adoptive kids.
Are you familiar with the Our Children campaign? If so, what are the benefits of the campaign?
We are very familiar with the Our Children series and are thrilled to know that The Cradle is providing a forum for necessary conversations pertaining to the raising of black boys and girls. The benefits to all parents raising black boys and girls include developing a new or even deeper awareness of the blind spots we may have concerning the challenges black boys and girls face in the wider world. Especially for non-black adoptive parents, the program can help them to engage with their children at a formative point in their development and equip parents to be the best advocates for their children that they can be.
As Black adoptive parents, do you feel other Black families should consider adoption? Why or why not?
Absolutely! If you have a desire to parent and believe that you have something to share with a child, by all means, get to it! We have a disproportionate number of black families applying to adopt black children and it would be great to give birth families that option.
What advice would you give to families looking to adopt, particularly Black families?
Sometimes we allow stories or stereotypes about adoption (especially about birth parents) to shape our decisions. You can take the first step in dispelling any myths about adoption by picking up the phone or going to an informational meeting to learn more about the process and, more importantly, meet families whose lives have been touched by adoption. If you are already looking to do it, all that remains is finding a partner agency with whom to work. My advice is to do your homework and look around. You will find some agencies are a better fit for you in terms of policies, processes and mission. Of course, we would strongly recommend The Cradle, but we’re pretty biased!