We've been on the wait list about 6.5 months for a girl somewhere between the ages of 0 and 30 months from Ethiopia. If things go as expected we should get a referral (where we are matched with the specific child we'll adopt) some time in the next couple of months. But before that happens, there are some things I'd like to say, both for my own benefit (to get it on paper, so to speak,) but also for everyone reading who has so faithfully supported our journey.
Over the last few years, but more intensely in the last few months, we have immersed ourselves in the adoption community. We have attended an adoption group at a church, and have created an adoption support group at our own church because there wasn't one and we felt there should be. We've read books that reflect a variety of points of view -- adoptive parents, specialists in child psychology/therapy, adult adoptees, and orphan advocates. We've attended conferences and done hours and hours of video training. And we've been blessed to get to know other parents who have adopted, to watch their kids play alongside ours, and to visit with them over coffee asking the hard questions and getting real answers. I have volunteered as a court appointed Child Advocate for kids in my city's CPS system for the past 8 years, learning their stories, visiting them at their foster or relative homes, meeting their parents, following up on every aspect of their case, and testifying in court on their behalf, until they are guided into a safe, loving home either back with reformed biological parents or with adoptive parents.
But still, there is so much more for us to learn about adoption. It is a world filled with great joy. I know I've shared about how much I love an adoption story -- a family's journey to a child, the new life for that child when they are adopted into a loving family, and God's obvious hand in it all. But it is also a world of great sadness, grief, and loss.
I can tell you during my work as a Child Advocate most of my cases have been reunification, where the kids have gone back home (after we've done a lot of hard work to get the parents ready to have them back), but there have been nights on nearly every case, where I wasn't sure what the outcome was going to be for the kids and I grieved for them over the potential loss of their biological parents. It is a very sad thing when that happens, and the loss is something that child will live with for the rest of their life.
So every happy adoption story has another side, the child's loss of their first family and whatever reasons caused that to happen.
That story is very personal, and I think people outside the world of adoption sometimes don't get that. I've heard adoptive parents tell of being casually asked by both friends and strangers, "So, what happened to his real parents?"
I am so thankful I happened upon this blog post from My Fascinating Life; she adopted twins from Ethiopia a year ago and shares why she made her decision to keep her children's information private. This post is a must read for all perspective adoptive parents and for anyone who has a friend or loved one that is adopting/has adopted!
And, so I want to say before we get our referral, that my husband and I have talked about it and right now we're saying we don't plan to share specifics about how/why our child came to be available for adoption. And that includes close family members, even the 3 children we already have! We will share age-appropriate information with the child we adopt as she grows up and then we will allow her to share with others what she is comfortable telling.
This is tough, because we want to be open to talking about our adoption, we covet support, and don't want to disappoint people who are not trying to pry but just interested. But as mentioned in that blog post, if you tell anyone then you are putting pressure on them to keep your secret when people ask them. And yes, I can imagine scenarios where one of our older children is asked by a child at school what happened to their sister's first parents. And she may someday be at the same school as them and even though by then she will know the answer to that question, it could be very painful for her to hear other kids at school talking about it or teasing her about it. Being a transracially adopted child is hard enough without adding that element.
So before she is even officially our child, when we get the referral paperwork, as her future parents, we are going to choose to protect information about her history.
I'm thankful to be able to get this out there now, before we know her story, just because it ends all speculation that we decided to keeps things private because of some aspect of her specific situation.
But, in all seriousness, feel free to ask us questions, there are so many aspects of this adoption story we'd love to share, just don't be offended if we don't answer every question!
Find more Thankful Thursday here.