Friday, July 27, 2012

Things You Should Know About the Adoption Process

I started writing this post last week, because multiple people are asking what they should know about adoption. Adoption is incredible, but it is NOT easy. Jesus adopted us and He died on the cross for us: NOT easy (in fact, He was the only one who COULD). So please know, adoption is the most beautiful and incredible thing in the world. But it's not _______ (help me out here!) EASY!!!!

Things You Should Know About The Adoption Process:

1. Things rarely go right the first time. Or the second. Or often the third. Don't expect them too. Paperwork will get messed up, people will make mistakes, your social worker will visit more than planned. You will redo paperwork a million times and you will constantly be barraged with additional unexpected requirements.

2. You can't control anything. By this, I mean ANYTHING. I should know. I am a control FREAK. I love knowing exactly how things are supposed to go and getting them DONE. ASAP. Adoption is to me what a giant pile of colored marbles, legos, and broken crayons are to someone with OCD. I almost can't handle it. I was raised by a Marine. You do things a certain way, at a certain time, and WITHIN a certain time (as in, NOW). You get it done, you move on. Efficiency and quality, people. Not so with adoption. I'm surprised I don't have gray hair (in fact, I am surprised I have any hair at all. I should have pulled it all out by now....). Example: the first day of my homestudy, I handed EVERY. SINGLE. PAPER. that was needed to my social worker. All of it. Our homestudy wasn't finalized till almost seven month later. SEVEN. That's a whole different story with extenuating circumstances, but trust me on this, you can't control this process. Let it go now...just give it to God. Literally the only things I could control were what came off my printer (and even my printer rebeled more times than I care to admit). Every piece of paperwork depends on someone else, and those people don't always share your agenda or timeline. I have 25lb of paperwork in my house to prove it and every single piece had to be signed off on, notarized, certified, state certified, or apostilled (go look it up, I didn't know what it meant either ;)) before it could be submitted.

3. There are no timelines. You will ask your agency for some kind of timeline. Did I say ask? I meant beg. You will BEG your agency for a timeline. You will get a vague answer (it isn't all their fault...they cannot control how fast people move, or what issues may arise with your case) of something  from 2-4 years. People will ask YOU for a timeline. When will your paperwork be done/arrive in Ethiopia/be approved? When will you get a court date/embassy date/travel? When will your kid(s) be home? Here is how a typical conversation goes for me (adjusted to fit our referral now):

Kind friend: "Any news on your adoption?!?!?"
Me: "Nooooo, not really. Still waiting." (At least NOW I can say I know who my kids are!)
Friend: "Oh. Nothing? So, when will they be home?"
Me: "We don't all depends. It's pretty complicated, but basically we have no idea when they could be home. We are now waiting on a court date."
Friend looks puzzled.
Me: "Okay, so after you get a referral--get matched with your kids--you wait for a court date. Court dates are typically 8-18 weeks after referral. BUT, courts close August to October, because of the rainy season, when everything floods, and since Ethiopia is a 3rd world country, they have to close down their international courts. So right now, Ethiopia is pushing to get families to get in early for court, before the rainy season starts. So we COULD get a date anytime. Families who got referrals after us have already gotten their dates so we are next in line. So we could travel ANY time, but we could also NOT get a date and have to wait until courts open again in October. Then we would get a date for October or November and make our first trip over. IF we passed court the first time, then typically embassy is 8-18 weeks after that, but sometimes you fail court due to paperwork not being ready, or due to other reasons and then we would need to wait for another court date, where a rep would stand in for us. Then if we passed that time, we would wait for an embassy date. Then, as long as they didn't need to do a further investigation into our case and send it to Nairobi, Kenya, we would wait to clear embassy and after THAT they could be home. So basically they could be home in late September, or maybe not till next spring, depending."
Friend collapses, eyes glazed over with information overload.

4. Your life mantra will become: "Hurry up and wait." You will rush around like a maniac, filling out paperwork and demanding that others hurry and finish what they owe you (social workers will forget you, friends wriitng reference letters will procrastinate until your friendship is almost over, and government agencies will lose your paperwork) and once you have FINALLY gathered all this precious information, which was all due at a specific time, you will wait. Indefinitely. Indeterminably. Impatiently.

5. You will become bipolar. You will desperately long for people to ask about your adoption, because it is so important, and because the newness wears off quick and lots of people forget to care after the first year. You will wish SOMEONE cared enough to ask and see how you are doing. And when they do, you will dread answering and wish they had never asked and that you could brush the whole thing under the carpet because there is no news, no progress, and no way to explain the situation to a person who has not experienced adoption themselves. You can't summarize your entire process in a few sentences to help them understand why everything is always such a mess. So you respond, and they look at you like you have three heads. And if they are a truly good friend, they will ask again, but not too soon.  

6. You will cry at the drop of a hat. My poor grandfather is a saint. We have a phone date every Tuesday night and he and my Grammy used to ask me every week about the adoption. About a year and a half in, they must have realized (even though I tried to hide it) how much it hurt to talk about it every week and never have anything new to say. So they stopped asking. About two months ago, my grandpa mentioned it for the first time in a YEAR. He said, "Sweetie, any news on the adoption? I know you don't want to talk about it too much....I know it makes you cry, but I don't want you to think I don't care. I'm afraid that asking about it hurts you and makes you cry and I am afraid NOT asking about it hurts you too! So I will just ask and you can answer and then we can talk about something else right away, but I wanted you to know I care." The man is an angel. And he's totally right. That's why I say adoption makes you bipolar. You want people to ask and to care, and at the same time, it hurts. But it hurts when people don't ask too. So go ahead and ask, just be understanding when the person starts crying, and don't stare at them like they have lost their minds to go through this process when they tell you, "I don't know" to EVERY question you ask them.

7. You will fall desperately in love with someone (or multiple someones! :)) that you have never met, or even seen. You will stay up late, get up early, work extra hours every possible second, scrimp like Scrooge (cereal, pasta, apples, repeat), and fundraise until people are afraid to open your emails. You will dream of your precious child and thinking about them every waking hour and the thought of them will push you through the whole process, however long it takes. And then when you DO finally see that precious face(s), your heart will explode into a million pieces and every fiber of your being will love that child. (You will then grow shaggy brown fur, giant claws and teeth and stand eight feet high. That's right, when you look in the mirror, you will see a mama grizzly bear).

8. You will be changed forever. You will wonder how you lived before you COULD live before adoption. After seeing the need, having your children experience it firsthand, and being completely broken inside, you will cry for orphans all over the world on a daily basis. What is the Christian church DOING?????? What was I doing????? It is our responsibility to care for the needy, specifically the widows and the orphans. How could I have been so selfish before, thinking only of myself, my needs, my wants, when children are DYING all over the world? I can help. YOU can help. Adopt. Help someone else who is adopting. Sponsor a child. Buy donations. It's not hard, it's not asking too much, and it is your responsibility. Do SOMETHING!!!!!! As I was walking through Wal*Mart the other day, I saw a bottle of nail polish and thought, "I like that color, I think I'll get it; I deserve a treat." My next thought was, "No you don't! And a bottle of nail polish and a bottle of Ibuprofen cost about the same. I could send the Ibuprofen in the donation bin." Bye-bye sparkly lilac-purple.

9. You will want to go back and adopt more kids before you are through with your first adoption. And you will start saving for it. Every minute of pain, every struggle, all the frustrations and challenges will fade and you will be planning how to go back and adopt again. You won't be able to help it. Those kids steal your heart, and not just the one(s) you are adopting. Part of your heart will be left with the country or place they come from. (Did I mention we are going to adopt again?)

10. You will meet the most amazing people and make incredible friends. These people will be crying with you, laughing with you, angry with you.....they will just BE with you, no matter what. They are always there to lean on, and to call or text, no matter what the time. The adoption community is one of the most amazing groups I have ever had the privilege of being a part of, and I wouldn't have made it this far without them. Just to name a few people who I CONSTANTLY talk to (multiple times a day): Brandy, Christina, Tracy, Amy, Lindsey, Carrie, Jamie, Kaylen, Paige....thank you ladies, for being a support system of titanium caliber. There are at hundreds of others I have met, and naming them all would be impossible, but they are all incredible people and I am so thankful for them!!!

Adoption is hard. Adoption is amazing. Are you being called?


  1. Chills. Wow - you are just awesome. And I love you. And I love every.single.sentence you wrote above. Except for the adopting again thing - I think I would have to choose between adoption or marriage and hey! sponsoring kids sure is a good thing!! Besides, I already have the gray hair, not risking it all falling out on a round #2!!!

    1. I. LOVE. YOU. Like, so much!!!!! HAHAH okay, yes, best to keep Tony haha ;) I will have you be my support system when I go through again and that will be like we both went through it haha! :) Give Liv a hug for me <3

  2. YAY!! SO happy to be included in that group of friends. I honestly think I would have gone completely insane if I hadn't had you these past few months. I am so thankful that I have had the honor of meeting yours BEAUTIFUL children. I couldn't love those kids more if they were my own family. I can not wait to meet you in person and see the four of you together. :)

    I think our family is the textbook example of #1. Love the conversation in #3. Had that conversation daily and it is closely related to #5. I laughed out loud at #7 and people being afraid to open your emails. I've thought that about myself more than a few times. #8 a hundred times over. Couldn't agree more. #9, yes I lay awake at night thinking about next time. Crying about next time. What will we do NEXT TIME? And #10... oh the friends we have made! The best, highest quality friends I've ever had. Where would we be without them? Without YOU?! We love you dearly!

    1. BRANDYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!! I seriously asked Abe if you and Logan were like those secret angels who walk around on earth and do good things pretending to be people. So lucky to call you my friend and sister. I. AM. DYING. TO. GET. TOGETHER. All eight of us!!! <3 LOVE YOU SO MUCH!!!!!

      PS I would have lost my mind without you too. And still might. Think I will go text you now haha! ;) LOVE YA!