November 21st, 2009, we attended a Q & A adoption meeting. A darling set of parents, with a twice-as-darling daughter from China, sat with us and a few other couples in the community room of a little church. They showed us a video, talked about the agency they represented, and spent about 10 minutes covering each country with an open adoption program. We left, saying “seems pretty cool.” A few weeks later, we were plopping our initial paperwork in the mail with a non-refundable $100 deposit.
We always wanted to adopt, but honestly, we hadn’t put a lot of intense thought into it. It just seemed right, we simply both agreed it would be a great way to grow the family we wanted. We knew there were all sorts of challenges that came with adoption, but we didn’t really know what they were. No risk, no reward, right?
Never in a million, trillion years did I think I’d find myself, almost exactly 2 years later, on my knees on my kitchen floor, crying “Thank you… Thank you… Thank you…” after four months of pure uncertainty that my baby girl would ever come home.
As covered in my last post, on Oct. 11th, our case was deemed “not clearly approvable,” and forwarded to Nairobi, Kenya’s Central Immigration Office (CIS) for further review. When we found out that CIS was instead coming to Ethiopia to address the problem in country, there was a glimmer of hope. 11/7 – 11/18 was the slated length of their stay, and they committed to reviewing all of the cases that had been flagged for Kenya.
I went to Baltimore on the weekend of 11/5, to be with 4 other adoptive mamas stuck in the same mess. Out at lunch, only having met each other in person the hour before, you’d have thought we’d been friends for 10 years. We dissected and analyzed and ruminated over our cases and our predicament. We flip-flopped between hope and fear and back again. It was so amazing to be able to talk so freely about something so complicated, because all 5 of us knew exactly how each other felt, without having to explain one word of the story. I sat there, rather impressed that I’d just put myself on a plane to spend the weekend with strangers. I don’t do that! But then it hit me: No, I don’t do that. But Acacia’s Mom does.
It was a really powerful realization. I sat in the airport waiting for my departure flight back to NH on Sunday eve, and I wrote the kid a letter to give to her when she’s ready to hear her story. It was the first time I’d really let her back into my heart since I left her, versus trying to block her out of it because it hurt too much to be so far away. Then, it occurred to me that this, that all of this, was preparing me for what I’d naively set myself up for two years ago. If this had been easy, my perception of adoption would remain inaccurate, and I probably would have floundered when it came time to step up to the challenge of being an adoptive parent. Instead, I’ve had to reach deep to get through feelings of loss and grief; the very things I will have to help Acacia get through in the future.
News from USCIS has been filtering in this last week and a half. I’ve cheered for the families who cleared, and cried for the families who got unfavorable news regarding the need for more lengthy investigation. Each day that passed without news of my own wore me down a little more. Yesterday, the new friend I stayed with in Baltimore received the dreaded, not-so-good email. As soon as I got that word, I fled work, devastated for her, and knowing I couldn’t just sit at my desk and await the formidable email myself. I knew it was coming; we’d had a hunch that our cases were grouped together.
So when it came, not 20 minutes after I’d reached home, I called Patrick before opening it. (His email is blocked at work, thus I was appointed messenger.) It was a password protected PDF, and though it was only 5 characters, I managed to mess it up twice. Poor Patrick just sat there on the other end of the line, shouting “What is it, what is it??!!”
There is nothing like opening an email that changes the course of your life. When I saw the clearance, it knocked the wind out of me. A four month question had just been answered.
There’s so much more I could say, but I haven’t slept in a week. 🙂 Regardless, I HAD to write something tonight, because I know how many of you have been admittedly stalking my facebook page (which means there’s plenty of you that I don’t know about!) This has been hard for those of you who care about us, too. We recognize that, and are so, so thankful to be able to give you the good news I believe we’ve ALL been waiting for. Followers, your investment in our lives is clear, and held dear.
We plan to leave the day after Thanksgiving, and will come back the first weekend in December. I will post official travel dates when the flight is booked.
In closing, the picture at the top of this post seemed a little silly at the time, but in essence, that’s me holding up my positive pregnancy test. Two years later, I am being rewarded for the risk I hardly even knew I was taking.
Oh, and Happy National Adoption Month. 🙂 May you be encouraged, not discouraged, by our story, should you ever find adoption to call to you. I can assure you, it’s the most meaningful choice I will ever make.