What It’s Really Like Adopting Internationally As An LGBTQ+ Couple

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“My wife and I have celebrated many achievements and faced many challenges in our relationship. We have always been like one, from the moment we met in line for cake at a birthday party when we were only eight years old, to when we were sharing classes and driving lessons in high school. Now that we are married we are preparing to grow our family.

The choice to adopt came easily to us. When we were newlyweds, we both immediately agreed to adopt. For me, I always wanted to share my love with someone that was here and, for whatever reason, was waiting for that love.

Being the child of a single mother and a younger sibling with a notable age gap, I often felt lonely and forgotten. I’ve always hoped to give the exact opposite experience to my own child.

My wife, AlanaRae, however, saw adoption in a very different light. Being the daughter and niece of adoptees, she saw the love that could be built by a family that chooses to be together and the depths that those relationships can reach.

We were both clearly too young at the beginning of our marriage and didn’t know the long journey ahead of us at that time. And so, our original attempts to grow our family were unsuccessful. Looking back, it was definitely right for us.

Still, at the time it was a painful slap in the face that had us questioning our capabilities as potential parents, how we were perceived as a couple, and our individual contributions to our relationship.

However, the great saying remains true, marry your best friend. We made it through those early years and after enjoying some quality time together, we decided to revisit the idea of growing our family. This time we chose to try IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and it took a far more emotional toll.

For me, the IUI process was incredibly disheartening, as I faced infertility and the pressing responsibility to be a mother. During that time, I felt worthless and betrayed by my own body.

The process in and of itself was taxing, with constant appointments that centered around the clinic’s schedule and the nearly unpredictable schedule of my irregular cycles. Not to mention the incredibly invasive nature of the procedure itself and the staggering price of each and every visit.

After months of that emotionally, physically, and financially draining experience, we decided it was too unpredictable for us and we stopped the IUIs.

Choosing International Adoption

We turned back to our original plan, adoption. The choice to adopt internationally was not the easiest. We had a lot to consider.

First, we lived in a state that doesn’t have high adoption rates, and we are an interracial, same-sex couple. As much as we’d wish this wasn’t a factor, we discovered it was one of our biggest obstacles.

We knew adoption in general was going to be another expensive feat, and international adoption was even more so. It seemed to be a more difficult path with more requirements and longer wait times, but we talked about it for months and were determined to grow our family, and raise a child together, as we had always hoped to.

The journey to find an agency that accepts LGBTQ+ parents was difficult but worth it. Then, finding a country that was also accepting was a small challenge, but we stayed vigilant and supportive of each other.

Just like before, we made it through. We ended up choosing one of the most LGBTQ-friendly countries in the world, South Africa.

lgbtq+ couple sits with their dog holding sign announcing they are adopting
Courtesy of AlanaRae Garcia

Despite the wonderful agency and the loving nature of South Africa, international adoption is another process that proved to have massive impacts. We expected the long waiting periods and strict requirements, but actually being in it, we felt like our lives were being picked apart.

At times we felt judged and even a bit exposed. We struggled with feeling like we were submitting the same information over and over again and dealing with the very inflexible hours and availability of our local government agencies. The slightest error would bring the entire process to a screeching halt.

Every time we submitted a form or document we did so with a pit in our stomachs and the worry we missed something or misspelled something or included something that wasn’t required (yet) and we would have to do it all over again. It was exhausting.

adoptive mom holding folder with adoption paperwork inside
Courtesy of AlanaRae Garcia

I finally took the time to really consider, what if my own child had been hypothetically put up for adoption? What lengths would I want the people responsible for them to take, to make sure my little one would be safe, happy, healthy, and nurtured?

It made the whole process more bearable, and when I opened the link my wife sent me and saw that beautiful, waiting little girl’s face smiling back, I knew what it was all for. I knew we had been on a journey to find her and every obstacle we had already faced and had yet to face was worth it.

Once we reached out about her and learned of the unique and special needs she has, we were given more information about her. We knew we were in the right place and we found our daughter.

flower pot with it's a girl balloon
Courtesy of AlanaRae Garcia

Waiting For Our Daughter’s Arrival

These final stages are some of the most tormenting, knowing whose smiling face I’m longing to see, having heard her beautiful voice with her sweet accent, and learning her unique story. I so badly want to drop to my knees and scoop her up into my arms.

We are in the final stretch with only a few milestones to reach and an uncertain amount of time left ahead, though we are hoping to travel in the spring to bring our little girl home. Right now, the distance of the ocean and then some between us seems like a daunting feat.

I often have to click on that link and remind myself why, after these long years, and sleepless nights we are still in this process and still patiently waiting.

We know life ahead is going to be very different with a whole new dynamic. We’re trying to prepare for the difference by making some of the changes now, like getting on a schedule and planning out our meals instead of just getting delivery.

We’ve put together the childhood room of our dreams, built relationships, and found wonderful resources we never even thought to look for before. We’ve enjoyed our life as a couple and we are excitedly anticipating being a family.”

LGBTQ+ prospective adoptive parents in matching pajamas holding up a pair for their daughter
Courtesy of AlanaRae Garcia

This article was submitted to Love What Matters by AlanaRae Garcia of New Mexico. You can follow them on Instagram. Join the Love What Matters family and subscribe to our newsletter.

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‘I love you,’ June said to Ivy before anything else. All our struggles were worth it.’: Mom shares beautiful international adoption story

‘You’re going to ruin your life. A child needs a mother AND father. What man would want a single mom?’ I didn’t listen.’: Single mom shares international adoption of ‘perfect mini me’

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