November has been National Adoption Month. I have written a few posts this month pertaining to the topic: Adoption – An Outside View, My Adoption – A Fairytale, and Caring for Orphans. I was even made “the feature repost” on a site written by woman in a couple waiting to adopt. The first post happened to be written on November 1, and I had no idea that it was Nation Adoption Month. However, once I was aware of it, adoption, foster care, and orphan care were prominently on my mind throughout the month. I thought it would be fitting to end the month with a relevant post about adoption as well.
The focus of conversations about adoption is so often on the end result – the adoption itself, a joyous occasion when everyone’s lives are forever changed. However, as the author of the post that featured my post as her post states in a recent post titled “Silence,” there are hard parts to adoption as well. As I have thought about writing this post over the past few days, three words kept coming to mind: wanting, waiting, and losing.
The beginning of the adoption process for couples and families often stems from a want – a desire to add a child or an additional child to the family and/or a desire to reach out to a child in need. The desire to bring a child or another child into the family stems from a variety of things. A dream begins. Adoption. The seed is planted; the want is there.
Some couples find out that they cannot have biological children for some reason. They have gone through all of the conventional ways of “having” children, and those ways have not worked. This process is long and difficult and has several blog posts that could come from it. I did not walk this road, and I feel very unprepared to discuss it. It is a private and difficult road that many do not share with others for so many reasons. It has been wrought with financial and emotional investment along with heartache and loss. Once the grieving has passed about a dream that was, a new dream begins. Adoption. The seed is planted; the want is there.
Other couples have had children already and see a need in the world to which they can respond. They feel called to this and promote it with others. They read books, research, and pray. They see that their nest is full, but it could be fuller. Their homes are not always large, but they will make do with what they have and all will be cared for within its walls. These families, as well as the families mentioned in the previous paragraph, will research all of their options: foster care, domestic adoptions, foreign adoptions. They may not have gone through the same struggles as those mentioned in the previous paragraph, but once they begin the process, these families are just as set on the dream. Adoption. The seed is planted; the want is there.
Wanting to adopt leads to action – lots of it. There are classes to attend. There is paperwork to complete. Social workers come to visit the home. Trainings and support groups are added to the calendar. Whether foster care, domestic adoption, or foreign adoption, there is a lot of work. It is amazing to me that this much preparation goes into adoption while there really is no preparation for having a baby “the usual way.” Kids fooling around as young as 11 “end up” with a pregnancy. Can you imagine? It’s true, though. In that case, no one has to attend 40 hours of preparatory meetings, no one has to have a social worker say that a home is fit for children, and no one has to go through a background check, have their fingerprints taken, or prove that financially they can provide. It just happens. Anyway – sorry to rant.
Once all of that action is over, though, a period of waiting sets in. For some, this period is brief. If the couple has chosen to do typical foster care, the wait is seldom long as the need is great. There are loads of other issues in foster care that this blog post will not address; however, children will be in your care quickly if traditional, temporary, foster care is your road. They may not stay long, but another round of those needing care will arrive soon after they leave.
For those choosing foster to adopt, domestic adoption, or foreign adoption, the waiting period is unpredictable. I have known couples who have been in process for three to seven years. This seems like an awful lot of waiting to me. I can hardly wait for Friday to arrive this week….seven years seems like a long time from now. This period of waiting is hard no matter how short it is. Once a couple or family has made the decision to open their home, the home is ready and waiting for that child or children. Waiting seems like such a waste of time! The need is great, the children are many, and this home is waiting for a child. What could the good be in waiting? And yet, the wait goes on. Days. Weeks. Months. Years.
This is a hard side of adoption.
If waiting is hard, losing is even harder. If wanting a child – for whatever the reason – leads a couple or family into the act of pursuing adoption and if waiting is hard, then losing is crushing. As an outsider looking inward, my heart breaks – but only as an outsider. I have experience pain and loss in my lifetime, but I have not had my hopes set on a baby girl whose due date I know and wait for. I cannot even imagine how crushing this is to a couple or family. I can only imagine that it must be as hard as experiencing a miscarriage or the death of child. But there is something different about this loss. This loss takes on a different face – and sometimes no face at all – than other losses. In the case of domestic adoptions where, like in the blog post titled “Silence,” all of the prep work is done but the birth mother disappears or perhaps changes her mind, the baby may not have been in the home. The dream is lost. The couple has to grieve. The process has to start over. Loss in the adoption world seems to take on many faces – all of them are painful, all of them are complicated. And, while the rest of us put on our sympathy faces and then move on with our lives, the couple or family has to start over, re-evaluate the dream, and consider how to proceed. If this cycle repeats itself several times, the couple begins to question and wonder what this is all about.
This is a hard side of adoption.
As only an outsider looking inward on the lives of many with this dream, I marvel at the strength that they have, the commitment to changing the lives of children that they have, and the ability to see tomorrow as a new day. They are in this dream because of these qualities. The adoption process is difficult, and adopting children is difficult. And the reward is great. Changing the life of a child in need is an amazing quest.
As I said thirty days ago, adoption and foster care may not be for everyone, but we are all called to minister to the orphans. Instead of looking inward at those who choose to adopt and clucking our tongues when they have to wait for years, how can we support them (monetarily, physically, and emotionally) as they wait? And then, once the children are in their care, how can we continue to support them?