Even in the best times, adopting a child can be challenging. Throw a pandemic into the mix and it seems nearly impossible.
Michael Musso and Mark Erickson are up for the challenge. They have waited a long time to become adoptive parents. It was a deal breaker for Musso on their first date.
"Take it or leave it. I want to be a dad and if you don’t, don’t waste your time," he said to his future husband.
Erickson shared the same desire to have a family. That was the plan shortly after getting married 4 years ago, until Michael was diagnosed with cancer.
"I kept telling Mark it’s not my time, it’s not my time we’re meant to be dads," said Musso.
Today he’s cancer free, now they battle another invisible disease that's slowing down the process - COVID-19.
"There are certainly some hurdles and parts of the process that are taking longer, but ultimately the adoptions are going forward which is great news," said Nicole Witt, executive director of Adoption Consultancy.
More than 110,000 adoptions take place in the U.S. every year, including international adoptions – that’s according to the National Council for Adoption. Although there’s no way to know the actual number right now, the council predicts its numbers have declined sharply due to the pandemic.
International adoption is at a complete stand still.
In February, 11Alive spoke to Ivy and Noah Cleveland. They were waiting to bring home their daughter, Ruby, from China. Months later, they still wait, unsure of when they’ll be able to hold their baby girl.
Domestic adoption has some delays, but experts said not to let the pandemic be a roadblock.
"Don’t put it on hold because of this. We don’t know how long this situation is going to last and adoptions are moving forward things are happening so don’t let this be something that stops you from pursuing that dream," said Witt.
It’s a test in patience for Musso and Erickson, who’ve already picked the name Mille Rose if they get a girl.
"With everything going on we didn’t give up," said Erickson.
Musso added, "I can’t wait to tell our child that we wanted you so bad that even in the middle of a pandemic we were waiting and working for you."