When we first started seriously looking into adoption nearly two years ago, we had no idea what we were in for. This has been an emotional roller coaster. We've learned a lot, and we've made new friends along the way, but it has not been easy. Here are some tips for anyone who is thinking about adopting:
1. The whole process is very invasive. Forget about your privacy. You have to disclose your financial records in fine detail. How much do you owe on your home? On your cars? How much do you make each year? How much money do your spend each month? What is the current balance on your credit card? Do you pay it off each month? How much is invested in your retirement accounts? How much is in your savings account? You have to provide copies of your tax returns for the last three years and letters from your employeer stating your job description and salary. . .like the IRS is not evidence enough that you can afford to pay your bills.
You also have to disclose your medical history. Previous surgeries? Do you have any medical conditions? What medications do you regularly take? How much do you weigh? How tall are you? Has anyone in your family had heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholestrol, glaucoma, COPD, cancer, etc?
I know there are very good reasons that you have to provide all that information. The agencies do not want to place a child in a home where there will not be enough money to feed them or where there will not be a healthly parent to raise them. It just seems excessive though. It also feels like you are being judged thoughout all of this too. Not wealthy enough? Not the picture of perfect health? Next please. . .at least that's what it feels like.
2. Adoption will never ever go as fast as you would like. There will be delays. You will wait for state and federal agencies to do things like background checks before you can move forward. We waited over a month for my home state to turn in our background checks. That should not have taken no more than two weeks. You will stalk the postman, wondering if he last lost your oh-so-much-needed letter from US immigration. I cried when ours finally came. It was the last thing that we needed before our dossier could be sent to Ethiopia. Things will not go like you had dreamed. You will have days when you are checking your email every 15 minutes because you are desperate to hear something from your social worker. Once you get matched with a child, you still have a lot of waiting to go through. The waiting is even worse after you have a face and a story. You will loose sleep over things that you have no control over.
3. No one cares more about your adoption more than you do. You are not the first thing that your social worker thinks about when she gets up each morning. Your adoption is not the cause of lost sleep for your agency's staff. Yes, they care about their jobs. They care about the families that they help create. However, their lives are not invested in this process like your life is. If your paperwork gets put aside, and kind of forgetten about, it won't cause them the distress that it will cause you. This happened to us. We sent our dossier off to our agency's home office in January. It sat there for a month untouched because the person who handled them was in Ethiopia. It got sent to Ethiopia a month later than it should have. If you have questions that need answering, pick up the phone and call your social worker. They squeakey wheel gets the grease.
4. Use the time that you have while you are waiting for a child to join your family to boost your relationship with your spouse. James and I don't have kids yet, and as much as we want kids, we realize that these days of just the two of us are numbered. This year has been one of our best, despite everything we have been through. This has been a really terrible year in a lot of ways, but our relationship is better. Our pastor gave a wonderful series of sermons on marriage this summer, and it gave us a lot to talk about. You can find the series here. It is entitled "You and Yours."
5. News travels slowly, very slowly from Africa. It has taken us at least a week to get our questions for the Ethiopia staff answered. Usually more like two weeks. Maybe other agencies are able to provide a faster turn around, but it has been slow for us.
We've been through a lot lately. (Read my last post if you don't know what I'm talking about.) I'm at a point now where I cannot see the finish line and I wonder if all that we have invested in adopting is worth it. All the hours of filling out paperwork. All the money. All the prayers. I hope that I will be able to say that it was worth it all one day. But that day is not on the horizion yet.