There comes a stage in the adoption process when you feel like you are walking in a redundant circle. It's the child matching or child selection stage. And that is where we are.
For the last 10 weeks we have been scouring the adoption exchange sites all over the US including our first priority on the easy access and best feedback and adoptuskids.org and many other different state adoption exchange sites. It's been feeling like a failed attempt at craigslis.t. Again and again you look at a myriad of children's photos and ages and clean biographies and you send out 'inquiries.' For about 85% we have been getting a standard 'you have not been selected for this child(ren).' That could be from the states not used to working with the military to the agencies finding another family or the agency or state preferring to keep the child in the same city/county/state that they currently reside. The majority of the the other 15% have been sad and tragic situations that if we were in a different situation in life we would snatch them up in a heartbeat. Which isn't the same as finding that one kid or pair of kids that scream This One. This One has issues we could work with. This One could be a really good fit. With This One we could give him/her the best environment to be able to work through their issues of neglect, abuse, Reactive Attachment Disorder, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, ADD, PTSD.
It's a lengthy process. Even with knowing that we may have to troll hundreds of inquiries before we get what could be a good match that doesn't help at times. Can you imagine being a married couple and being told you will have to have sex hundreds of times before you may have a chance to get pregnant? (From a girl who's been trying to get pregnant for 13 years I do know how it feels.)
Last night, for example, we got to experience the stage after the home study review. It's the stage where the agency actually thinks we could be the right family and we get to talk to them. It was only our third actual phone conversation with our agency about a possible match, after applying for nearly 100 children or sibling sets. It's difficult. We got to hear his life story of the past nine years along with his parental and sibling situations. He was the first out of the three that actually looked like someone we could help and meet his needs without feeling like we are screwing him up further. I have doubts like any new parents. Doubts about bringing the wrong child into the house and failing them completely. The other two, for example, had horrific stories of abuse, neglect and anger management. They were two of many that I would love to save, but we have to remember that we can't save them all and we really have do what's best when it comes down to saving them.
Yesterday was a good example of intimacy. We got a candid picture from birth through January of a very possible match. We have been selected as one of the two couples the state feels could be a great match. This state, Kentucky, only contacts families after they have reviewed all the homestudies and pick who they think are potential adoptive parents. It was incredible to think about it. It's exciting to think about. Yet, we have to temper it down. We can't let ourselves move to the next stage of excitement and prep until we know that we are the only matching parents. If we get our hopes set and the other family is the go-to family than we have to start all over again. After the phone call I didn't want to spread the news. I didn't want to hype everyone up and then have to burst their bubble if we have a child-matching-miscarriage. I don't put the details on FB for that same reason. It feels very private. I almost don't even want to tell the mother-in-law or family until we know more and can be more certain. They will all make great aunts, uncles, sibs, cousins and grandparents. None of that is a debate. It's the fact that we are building our family. It's the equivalent of a pregnant couple just wanting to delve into what their dynamic family household could be, without someone else trying to shape it or make decisions for them. You don't want other peoples opinions of what your child will think/feel/be like. You, as their new parents and as a new parent in general, want to figure it out on your own. Regardless of all the unsolicited help all future parents get, they all have to figure it out as they go.
It's a very intimate situation. We have opened up and shared with our family and friends that we are going through the process. We have heard and appreciated all the platitudes and blessings and love. We feel blessed to have such a great support system. That being said, at times I don't want to share. I don't want to repeat our current status for the upteempth time. The reality is most people mean well but only hear about 10% of the details and forget in an instance. They are so eager for us to be able to bring a child home RIGHT NOW and can't really understand that it doesn't work quite that way. It's hard to remind them that even though our approved homestudy may look brilliant and they think we would make wonderful parents doesn't mean the caseworkers want to place these kids in no-children households with virtually no experience working with traumatized children.It can seem very unfair and yet necessary when you look down to.
So that is where we are. The picking, picking, picking stage. The wait-and-see stage. Almost like the almost pregnant stage of waiting to see that Yes! The Line Is Blue! stage. Almost at the looking at plane tickets and finishing decorating the room and having a family-shower stage. So close and yet not quite there.
For those of you sharing in this adventure I leave you with this brilliant article a friend sent me on FB. It pretty much sums up a lot of our mindset as to how we have to shift our thinking in the future as we look at healthy boundaries, simple household changes (like hiding the liquor), chore charts and structure. Supporting Families: After the Airport by Jen Hatmaker. Her article beautifully described how to help out the new families like us. How to be supportive and understand that sometimes we have to isolate to protect and adapt to our new family.
After reading the excerpt from the FB article I couldn't have said it better myself:
Here’s one last thing: As you watch us struggle and celebrate and cry and flail, we also want you to know that adoption is beautiful, and a thousand times we’ve looked at each other and said, “What if we would’ve said no?” God invited us into something monumental and lovely, and we would’ve missed endless moments of glory had we walked away. We need you during these difficult months of waiting and transitioning, but we also hope you see that we serve a faithful God who heals and actually sets the lonely in families, just like He said He would. And even through the tears and tantrums (ours), we look at our children and marvel that God counted us worthy to raise them. We are humbled. We’ve been gifted with a very holy task, and when you help us rise to the occasion, you have an inheritance in their story; your name will be counted in their legacy.