Mental Illness and the Adoption Process

Today R2M brings you a story that takes a look into the world of adoption and the world of mental illness. I am so proud of Amy for being so open about her adoption journey. Amy, your honesty is refreshing and the strength you exude (especially during your husbands arthritis) is a great example of selfless love. I wish you all the best and pray that one day you will write again… with an update on a fully furnished green nursery. – Traci

A message from Amy:

“Today my Husband, John, is a functioning and helpful spouse who asks me about paint colors for walls and who is helping me decide on laminate vs. hardwood flooring. “Nesting”, as defined by expectant parents, was not in his vocabulary four years ago back then he was looking for the latest Lego set. Legos, usually reserved for eight year olds, now served as a pacifier for a thirty-something that was suffering from mental illness brought on by an early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis. Although the arthritis runs in the family it skipped a generation and hit my husband hard and unexpectedly. This form of arthritis has a trigger brought on by stress or other events. His was brought on by a happy event, his brother’s wedding, and was met by disbelief and anxiety for everyone in our lives.

Quickly after being diagnosed, which took some time to identify, he started taking immunosuppressive prescriptions. These drugs helped but caused my husband to be susceptible to getting sick from his coworkers. The cube farm was not the place to be in his condition and it seemed that he would get sinus infections frequently. He developed an anxiety disorder around people and public spaces. In restaurants and grocery stores he would want me to walk in front of him to protect his back and we would sit in corner tables with as little people around us as possible. He tried every drug cocktail imaginable and John was going to talk therapy every week to discuss the previous week’s events which usually included an anxiety attack. We finally found a treatment that worked and he has been much better and he is back to being the big teddy bear I married, with few residual effects.

How does this relate to the adoption process you ask? Early on we decided on a closed adoption with an expanded ethnicity range. What I didn’t know was that during the application process your life becomes an open book for agencies. The agency will ask about your mental state and that of your spouse. Usually they ask if you’ve been institutionalized involuntarily or voluntarily. They wanted to know current medications and treatment history for anxiety or depression or anything else. Some agencies will require your doctor(s) to complete a separate form, which your doctor will charge you to complete. It won’t matter that you or your spouse have been in good health for more than two years. It won’t matter that the doctor’s note, signed four months ago, says he thought it was a great idea to adopt. Our therapists and doctors have all been super supportive.

What makes good parents? Healthy habits, normal ethical morals, and 10% BMI index? There are a few agencies out there who are very good at screening potential parents and likewise birth mothers. We found an agency that didn’t even want to talk to us until a home study was done (usually reserved for the beginning stages of the process). I guess they didn’t want any of its adoptive parents to have any issues. Watch out if you have migraines or take blood pressure medicine, oh boy! I’m joking now but at the time we felt discriminated against as potential parents. I started thinking about the birth mothers and agency counselors and I came to the realization that even though it’s wrong, the agencies are justified somehow in protecting the children in the long run.

PRAYING AND STAYING POSITIVE! Moving forward, what are we going to do? What we are going to do is get what I consider the “Pre-approval”. Much like getting pre-approved for a mortgage, we decided to do the home study first. It didn’t make sense to us to pay out the Phase 1 “Marketing” monies ahead of the home study. Phase 1 can range from $12,000 to $20,000 depending on which private agency you hire. That money is gone during Phase 1 and the home study is typically done where adoptive parents may get rejected when the home study comes back not approved. So here we are in the present day. John and I are praying and staying positive and our support network is amazing! We are “nesting” in the hopes to satisfy the home study inspectors. We are preparing the house, cleaning the gutters, preparing for the interviews, and looking at flooring samples. In the meantime, we are painting the office a nice neutral shade of green in the hopes that one day we will hear the faint snoring of a sleeping baby in the crib. I can almost hear the melody of a music box playing in the background.

With guarded enthusiasm,

God Bless.”


 

If you would like to share your story please click here. You can follow us on Twitter @Traci_R2M or like us on Facebook.

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