I first met Krystal and Ben Goodman last December at a local Panera to talk about the adoption process. An interfaith couple, married for nine years, they had advanced their careers and become homeowners. It was instantly clear to me they were ready to get going on another big dream—becoming parents.

Krystal, a registered nurse, explained: “We felt as though one huge piece was missing from our lives, and that was a child. We wanted to share the tremendous amount of love we have as a couple and that we get from family and friends.”

Choosing adoption was something they arrived at knowing they could provide a loving and stable home, regardless of how they became parents. For Ben, it was very personal; his father and his father’s twin sister were adopted as infants by his grandparents. “As a child, I remember seeing and experiencing the undying love my grandparents had not only for my father and aunt, but also their families,” Ben explained. “This really showed me that family doesn’t always mean a blood connection, but means a lot more.”

Following our meeting, Krystal and Ben spent the next months going through a home study, reading anything on adoption and attending the Waiting Parents Group facilitated by Adoption Choices. The monthly two-hour group was initially designed to help people gain an understanding of, and flexibility with, many issues in adoption. The session topics cover open adoption, transracial adoption, birth-parent issues and perspectives, adoptive parents panels and the impact of prenatal drug exposure. The group also qualifies as the 10 hours of adoption education required by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts before an adoption is finalized.

The Waiting Parents Group formed in 1992 by Raquel Woodard, LICSW, and Dale Eldridge, LICSW, with the original purpose of covering issues that affect the adoption triad (birth parents, adoptive parents and adoptees). It also became a great way for participants to meet other prospective adoptive parents.

Raquel, whose career spans nearly five decades, reflected on the start of the group: “Dale and I felt very strongly that people becoming adoptive parents needed as much support as we could provide throughout their process. We also knew it would enable all these children to grow up knowing other adopted children, which would help normalize their experience.”

Raquel and Dale delighted in the strong friendships that developed among each cohort. These supportive connections often start early on, as for many the wait is the most challenging part.

“We felt prepared to manage the challenges of becoming parents, but we were not prepared for the good and bad days we spent waiting,” Krystal noted. “Having others to share it with, who get it and understand what you are going through, was incredibly valuable.”

Krystal and Ben learned about issues that helped them to be open and flexible with their child preferences, which in return shortened their wait time. They developed a range of friendships that also extended to previous participants of the Waiting Parent Group who are now parenting toddlers. They stay connected by gathering at cafes, homes and parks regularly to exchange clothing, advice and be continuous supports in each other’s lives. “For us, I see the group as friendships for a lifetime,” said Krystal. “We share a common bond centered on our children.”

In July, Krystal and Ben flew to Florida to meet their son. At 3 months, Michael is a healthy, adorable baby with a contagious smile. On Nov. 8, during National Adoption Month, less than a year from when they started their adoption journey, Krystal and Ben will finalize Michael’s adoption in the presence of friends, family and the staff of Adoption Choices/Jewish Family Service of Metrowest.

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Krystal holding Michael’s feet (Courtesy photo)

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