The other day on Instagram, a friend who is adopting for the second time posted an update on their adoption process. It was truly incredible.
She laid out every step of the process. She knew the time frames for each, and exactly what to expect. She knew what paperwork she needed and exactly how it would go.
I told Stephen about this, and we laughed.
Very often, we choose to laugh instead of cry in our lives.
In April of this year, we are five years into our adoption process. While we have Oak with us now (making the process much better!) we aren’t sure how much longer it will take. We aren’t sure how many steps are left.
When we went into the meeting five years ago, they said the entire process would be complete in about eighteen months. (Again, I’m laughing now instead of crying.)
Even now, looking back on over four years of this “process” I’m not sure I could describe it to you. I couldn’t give you a date we were placed, because technically speaking we received a call in late 2018 that went like this:
Caseworker: Hi, this is _____. Do you remember me?
Stephen: Yes, I remember you.
(Unsaid by Stephen: “I’ve been waiting for your call for MONTHS! I pray for you regularly! YES, I REMEMBER YOU.)
CW: Can you send me your new passport and work permit and visa papers?
Stephen: Yes, we can email you that.
CW: He looks just like you! (And then other things not understood…)
Stephen: …Who? Who looks like me?
CW: Did you see the photo? I open the photo and he looks just like you and your wife!
CW: The little boy. You have not seen the photo?
Stephen: No. we didn’t get a photo. Did you send a photo?
CW: Oh, I need work permit and new visa.
Stephen: Did you get his file?
CW: Yes! I already sent it to the board. You send the work permit and visas.
Stephen: Yes, we will send them. Can you send the photo?
CW: Congratulations! I’m so excited! I want to tell you congratulations!
Stephen: Thank you…Yes…You say congratulations…for what? Are we…moving forward?
CW: He looks just like you! Ok, bye. Send the work permit and visa.
After this call, we sent our updated work permit and visa that afternoon. And we heard nothing–absolutely nothing–for nearly three months. We wondered every day if we should officially consider ourselves “placed”–but with what? We might be placed with a boy, but he/she is a very commonly mis-said pronoun, so we were hesitant to plan, hope, announce…
The next email we received said we had been placed. We learned his birthday and a boy was again referenced, so we thought it was more likely to be truly a boy, and perhaps we had then been placed?
Again, do we tell people this? What do we tell them: It’s a boy! (We think.) This is his birthday! (We think.) He might be ours…someday! It seemed a weak announcement.
It was another two months before we received a file and photo, when we got a name and what I would consider an actual placement.
We had him in our home within a month after that. We didn’t know that then; in fact, the day we met him–also the day before we picked him up–we were out at 9pm buying a car seat, clothes that would fit, and bedding. It turned out to be the one fast bit of this process!
We didn’t know the day we went to meet him that we’d be driving two hours to the home. Or that we’d spend the whole day with him.
The list of things we didn’t know when they were happening is so very long.
And is still true today: we’re waiting on his final paperwork. This might be contingent on another home check; it might not. We might be close; we might not.
They said six months from when we got him, and we’re at ten months next week.
We aren’t really sure what to expect even when we get the paperwork: do we go to court? Do we travel to Bangkok? Do they just send us a paper?
In the middle of this, we still have relatively no idea what’s going on.
I’m a little jealous of this friend, who has a fluent English speaker explaining every step of the way. I’m a little jealous of a culture that likes to tell you the big picture and every step of the way.
It would certainly make “giving an update” a bit easier. Or making a plan.
But it wouldn’t require me to learn trust like I have in the past five years. It wouldn’t push me each and every day to be reminded that this little boy is only ours by the grace of God. It would remind me every moment that God is in control and I most certainly am not.
I wouldn’t be learning the skill of turning tears into laughter. I wouldn’t be learning to hold everything with hands wide open.
If we’d taken any other chaotic path, we wouldn’t be holding this little boy in our arms each morning.
And with that, our process is going fine. We’re here for awhile still, and we aren’t sure when we’ll be able to visit. The questions in our future loom large and broad.
But we’re a family of three for now, and we are SO. VERY. THANKFUL.