Path to Acacia came to mean a lot of things over the past two years.
Most literally, it was what we dubbed the span of time that it took to have our second daughter, Acacia, join our family. That path wound us through:
I always knew inside of me that I wanted to adopt. Patrick did too. But what did that feeling inside of us look like on the outside? Were we ready to go from being a family of three to a family of four? Were we okay with the uncertainty of the adoption process?
Conspicu-what? We decided to adopt internationally, and eventually narrowed it down to the Ethiopia program. When Acacia joined our family, we’d be a conspicuous family. We’d be the story everyone tried to figure out while exchanging passing glances on the street. We were fine with the prospect of this racial and cultural make-up. But, were we okay with how we’d be scrutinized, be it positive or negative, on a constant basis?
Our path to Acacia was most certainly one giant paper trail. Everything had to be official. Notarized. Signed, sealed and delivered to just the right person at just the right time. It took, like, a year to get it all in order.
We only waited 5.5 months between paperwork completion and the day we first saw Acacia’s face. Then it took another 5 months to actually be cleared to bring her home.
In the middle of the process, Ethiopia upped the required trips from one to TWO. In the matter of a few months, we flew to Africa and back twice. Financially, it was a bad thing. Regarding enrichment, it was awesome.
There was just nothing like meeting Acacia for the first time. She was 11 months old, and perfect, and ours. Our first trip was for the sole purpose of meeting her, then standing in court and confirming that we met her and wanted her. Then we had to go home and wait for all sorts of government approval (mostly from OUR government). It was heart-wrenching and sickening and awful. Think of giving birth and then being told you can’t see your baby for an indefinite period of time. Then, think of those expected 6-8 weeks of waiting to turn into 4 months. This was the darkest stretch of the Path to Acacia. All the details can be found within the archives of this blog.
Misery loves company, and in our case, misery couldn’t have survived without company. There were a whole slew of AP’s (Adoptive Parents) who were in the same, sorry wait as we were. We all leaned on each other extensively, and I learned that just one common thread is all it takes to solidify a lifetime friendship. I even traveled to Baltimore to meet 4 of these wonderful mamas. In tough times, it is so important to feel understood. These ladies kept me going.
The name “Path to Acacia” was coined when I needed something catchy to call my fundraising efforts. I made oodles of flowered barrettes to sell in support of our 25K adoption. I made about 800.00 in profits from pedaling petals. We also held a fundraising event at a local bar, and had a very successful raffle that doubled those profits.
Like any new addition to a family, there’s always an adjustment period. Bringing Acacia home was the best thing ever, as well as the most overwhelming thing ever. Who was this little person for whom we were suddenly responsible? It took some time to get to know each other.
Attachment is one of the adoption world’s biggest buzz words. It’s crucial to a successful parent-child relationship. In adoption, it can be a common struggle. Lucky for me, Acacia attached to me in about 5 seconds. She was desperate for a constant mother in her life, vs. the steady stream of ever-changing nannies that cared for her. She let me fill that role quite willingly. I didn’t fully attach to Acacia for a few months. Even today, we are still working on our connection. For what it took to bring us together, it’s gone about as well as we could have hoped.
Putting two children in daycare while we both worked full time jobs just didn’t make much sense. Our routine required some changes: some unavoidable, some by choice.
Finally! We’re at a point on the path where we can actually stop and enjoy everything the journey has taught us thus far. There are no more uncertainties. At least, not any more that what one faces in everyday life. Parenting has its ups and downs, that’s for sure. But we’re not only in it for the ups.
We reached the end of the formal Path to Acacia, but now, we walk the road with her. Metaphorically speaking, the adventure has only just begun!