Saturday, May 15, 2010

Revisit, revise, rewrite

Four months after our profiles went live on three different sites managed by our agency...spent a little time today rereading our profile answers and birthmother letters with an eye toward updating and refreshing them.

It was odd rewriting the sections where we previously discussed our three cats, two of whom sadly passed away in the time since we wrote our "birthmother letters" and other information. Other than that, not much else needed to change except a sentence that we hadn't written but our agency apparently inserted about watching snowflakes and building snowmen in winter, apparently to round out the seasons because we'd mentioned fall, spring, and summer. Yeah, that had to change. Not sure how we missed that one on the original review.

Other than that, there was a phrase here and there, some other minor updates, but in the grand scheme of things, we're the same people with the same interests, ideals, and beliefs that we were when we wrote these documents last winter. Time has simply moved on.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Not going it alone

During my 1-month hiatus from writing on this blog, all manner of adoption news raced across the front pages. Most focused on Torry Hansen, the Tennessee nurse who sent her 7-year old adopted son back to Russia alone with a note declaring that she could no longer cope with the child she'd brought home, along with Russia's subsequent freeze on all adoptions to U.S. families (a freeze that was since denied/lifted).

Amidst all of the blaring headlines, panicked postings, and vilification of Ms. Hansen, I was particularly struck by this column written by KJ Dell'Antonia, a mother of three, including a little girl from China. Her discussion of the challenges faced by adoptive parents and children, including the false expectation (myth?) that all will be happiness and light when adopted parents and children come together, is one that I found particularly powerful as we go through a similar process, though on a domestic basis rather than an international one.

Like me, Hansen must have thought she was prepared. She was screened, questioned, and evaluated. She would have sat through the mandatory "adoption education" session on institutionalized children featuring descriptions of sexual and other abuses, violent anger, and unpredictable procedural delays. She would have filled out forms, she would have been evaluated by social workers, and, because of Russia's strict travel requirements, she would have traveled there twice—the first time to meet the child she would adopt, and again, after a waiting period, to confirm her commitment to parenting him and to legalize their ties. But prospective adoptive parents are either incorrigible optimists (that was me) or people of deep and abiding faith, and it does not really sink in with most of them that things might end badly—might really end badly—until it is too late.

I started writing this blog, separate from my other "regular" blog, because I wanted a place to share my experience as a prospective adoptive dad. It's a perspective that I found to be rather rare in the blogosphere, at least compared to the avalanche of brilliant (and some not so much) blogs written by adoptive moms (here's where I insert a shameless plug for my wife's phenomenal blog) and birth moms.

But writing this blog and reading the others out there has also introduced me to a growing virtual community that helps me get a better understanding of what other people are going through, how they cope, how their lives have changed, and what we might expect. This is a powerful resource we need to take full advantage of if we're to move through this journey as smoothly as possible.

I wonder what Torry Hansen had in the way of support. Did she have resources to help her and her child? Perhaps they did but the difficulties eventually became just too overwhelming. I feel for Hansen as well as for the troubled son she put on a plane to Russia. I'm approaching our adoption in the "incorrigible optimist" camp but do so knowing that we have a remarkable support network of family and friends (both real and "virtual") who will be there to aid, advise, and encourage. I can't imagine trying to do this alone. Thankfully, we won't have to.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No such thing as normal

Screw it...yesterday I said I was trying to put thoughts of the adoption aside and take a Zen "if you don't look for it, it will find you" approach. I lied.

Sure, the adoption process is not front and center as it was every day as we worked to get our home study done, but it's there, it's a part of my life and I'm embracing it. I'm just tired of it taking so long, especially when we were given indications early on that the normal timing going through our chosen agency was shorter than it's been so far.

However, there's no such thing as normal and I just need to accept that. Helping me along was this great article on about the myth of developmental milestones and calendars for children. Things happen in their own time and wishing for it won't rush it, any more than you can rush a kid's teething or potty training.

Actually, does anyone know of a way to rush those milestones along? I'd really like to know before it's our turn to deal with them.

And we will be dealing with them sometime soon. I do believe that.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Marking Time

Time passes.

...twelve months since we made the decision to adopt.

...eleven months since the adoption agency representative told us that adoption placements through their agency were typically taking three months or so months since we signed the agreement to work with the agency, spurred on in part due to discounts on certain options due to a large number of birth mothers seeking adoptive families

...three and a half months since our profiles were posted.

...a month since my last entry on this blog.

...two weeks since our new adoption advocate told us that adoptions through the agency are typically taking six to eighteen months (the same advocate who told us that we could speed things up if we accepted a child whose birth mother smoked throughout the pregnancy because, really, smoking doesn't actually affect children that much).

I'm tired of looking at the calendar. I'm tired of wondering if today will be the day we get THE CALL. I'm tired of seeing families with little children, some of whom are most likely adopted, and feeling a void in my life. I'm tired of not having anything new to tell our friends, family, and co-workers when asked I'm asked the same well-meaning and caring question.

"So, how are things going with the adoption?"
"Oh, we're in waiting mode. Our profiles are up and we're just waiting to be selected."
"Well, I'll be thinking/praying/hoping/keeping my fingers crossed for you."

Lately though, things have changed. If I'm not asked for an update, I now go whole days now without thinking about the adoption process. I don't remember the last time I referred to "Plus One." I'm setting aside our hopes and dreams of bringing a child into our family because it can be too hard to have it in the front of my mind all the time. Instead I focus on trying to deal with stuff at work, finding time to deal with the gardens, figuring out just how we're going to restore our basement from THE FLOOD several weeks ago.

Instead of thinking about our aching wish for a child, I am trying to put this out of my mind. Perhaps taking a Zen approach will help. If I stop thinking and hoping and searching for our future child, the child will find us when we least expect it.

The problem is that I don't want to forget. I don't want to stop thinking about it. For many years, I was resigned to the idea that I wouldn't have children, that Jenn and I would instead be vicariously enjoying and sharing in the lives of our friends' children and of our nieces. I had comes to terms with that over time. But now, there is the prospect of something more, something that I expect will be profoundly challenging and terrifying and fulfilling.

I don't want to waste any more time.

We only have so much of it to share with those we love.