November is National Adoption Awareness Month, a time of reflection, advocacy, and hope. For those of us who are struggling with infertility, you may be considering alternative paths toward parenthood which may include domestic adoption. This month can also empower us with the information we seek to make that decision, whether we ultimately choose adoption to build our families or another path all together.
For the majority of our five year struggle through infertility treatment, we never even considered another route, let alone adoption, and quite frankly did not want to. It was only after our last pregnancy of twins, which we lost in the sixth week, that we finally recognized the need to heal and reevaluate our plans for building a family.
The most challenging part of investigating new paths was no longer having the guidance from the experienced and compassionate physicians and clinicians we were so accustomed to during treatment. We spent several months doing research on domestic and international adoption, surrogacy, donor egg and just about every other option we could think of. But it was in our own healing that we realized ultimately that what we wanted was to parent, and we were ok with biology not playing a role.
Entering the world of domestic adoption was intimidating. We didn’t know anyone who had gone through it and had many assumptions about what it was. Indeed, the vast amount of information that could be immediately procured by Googling “domestic adoption” was absolutely overwhelming!
In negotiating the learning curve, we realized that the ability to distinguish good information from bad is paramount to a successful and ethical adoption. Is the information reliable, relevant, independent? Can we trust the source to help us understand in an unbiased way what the process will be like and what we can expect along the way?
We also discovered that there was not a “map” to navigate the many parts that go into the process. With every adoption service provider (social workers, attorneys, and agencies) working within their own sphere, it becomes the responsibility of the would-be adoptive parents to move on to the next step; often a source of confusion and delay. Further, every adoption agency has their own philosophy, perspective, and manner in which they do business. It is not uncommon for those differences to cause anxiety and we found that asking questions was critical in selecting an adoption agency.
The birth of our son was a transformative and healing experience. It eased the pain and heartache so we could feel sheer love and joy. The lessons learned from our experience had a profound impact, shaping our desire to give back to others seeking clarity in the way we had. We also wanted to proactively connect fertility clinics with a trusted resource that would serve as a continuum of care for their valued patients. By empowering clinics with information about domestic adoption, they could also provide further support and encouragement when treatment was concluding.
Named in honor of our son, Noah Z.M. Goetz Foundation was established with the mission to help North Carolinians experiencing infertility make the dream of parenthood a reality through education about the domestic adoption process and the provision of grant funding. Through its education and grant programs, the Foundation empowers families in their decision-making process, opening up perceived barriers to moving forward with adoption.
In designing the education program, our intention was to provide families with reliable, honest, and unbiased/independent information while giving them individualized support. The program is unique because it is presented through the lens of infertility with our own story interwoven throughout to share how we reached our decision and moved forward. To address the spectrum of families’ unique places in their journeys, we offer two modules, Domestic Adoption 101, an overview of the process and its various elements, and Domestic Adoption 102, an in-depth road map of the process from beginning to end.
Easing the Cost Burden
When we got “the call” that our son had arrived, we did not know that we would spend a month away from home. What we had saved to cover expenses was quickly depleted as other unexpected costs arose. One afternoon while still away, we talked about how burdened we felt by expenses. This conversation influenced us to create the Foundation’s grant program to ease some of the burden during a challenging process.
Linking Two Worlds
Linking the world of infertility treatment and domestic adoption is paramount to the Foundation’s mission. Partnerships with fertility clinics not only allow us to be a continuum of care for patients concluding treatment, but to also provide guidance to physicians and clinicians when questions about adoption arise in the clinical setting. The partnerships allow for both patients and medical staff to access our programs through on-site training, presentations, and provision of resources. This empowers the team of patients and physician with relevant information about domestic adoption as they investigate all options in the journey to parenthood.
Since 2011, Noah Z.M. Goetz Foundation has helped educate, guide, and support over 100 families across North Carolina so they can make an empowered decision about pursuing domestic adoption following infertility. For those choosing adoption, 19 families have been built and over $15,000 in grants have been awarded. The Foundation was recently highlighted by the National Council for Adoption as a “life-changing program for children and families.” For what began as a small way to give back almost six years ago is now a thriving community. Former beneficiary families are involved as volunteers providing support for those just starting and leadership to ensure the Foundation’s future; and new families are forming lasting friendships.
Parul and Nathaniel Goetz are the co-founders of Noah Z.M. Goetz Foundation. To learn more about the Foundation, please visit: www.nzmgfoundation.org.
“What an amazing presentation last night from Parul & Nate Goetz of Noah Z.M. Goetz Foundation! Such beautiful, genuine people. They gave us an excellent overview of how to successfully navigate the domestic adoption process through the eyes of a couple who struggled with infertility. Their presentation was filled with honesty, heart, humor and extensive detail. Thank you for sharing yet another way of “Making ALL Families A Reality!”
-A Review by Carolina Conceptions of Domestic Adoption 101