People often ask "how was the adoption process"? For us, our adoption processes have been very different, but there were some prevailing things that we have experienced with both.
Hopefulness: Our first meeting with an adoption agency was incredibly exciting. It was our first step out into the wide world of adoption and the biggest thing I felt at that time was hopefullness and being a bit overwhelmed. It was hard to figure out which path was *right* for our family. As a person who is obsessed with doing things *right* or *wrong*, it took me a while to understand that becoming a family wasn't something you achieved by making a series of perfect decisions. We had many long conversations about race, culture and how we envisioned adoption would be incorporated into the thread of our family.
Determination: The home study phase was filled with determination and industriousness.There was the hunting and gathering of lots of necessary paperwork to complete the study. What an immense feeling of satisfaction as we slowly checked off things on that list! There were also many more deep conversations about how we saw our future as an adoptive family, and those nerve-wracking home study visits!! We were so terrified that our social worker would see some flaw that would eliminate us from the program. When I look back at this time I see that we just kept our noses to the grindstone and slowly moved through it.
Impatience: After the flurry of the home study process, this next phase is really slow and probably one of the hardest parts. We were ready for something to happen. Anything! We waited for our home study to be sent to Korea, then for a referral. Lots of waiting.
Helplessness: As the wait continues, I spent months feeling helpless. Everything about this process is out of your control.
Complete joy: Is there anything as wonderful as seeing the face of your child for the first time? The awe and amazement you feel to gaze upon their perfect features? We rode the high of our referral for weeks. There is a new flurry of activity that keeps you busy---accepting the referral, telling family, beginning to make preparations.
Impatience and helplessness: See above. The waiting here is worse than before, because now you know who you are waiting for. And that they are growing and learning each day.
Now we have entered one of the last stages.....
Pins and needles: This strange anticipation that fills my each waking moment. Little Brother walks with me like an invisible partner throughout the day. I feel like I can reach out and touch him at times. But then I remember just how far away he really is and what steps are left to bring him home.
Countless times a day, we check our email hoping for notification of a court date in Korea. One family in my waiting group just got notification of their court date---Jan. 27! They were submitted to court just one day ahead of us.
A second family announced today that they have a court date, and they were submitted a day after us.
AND...another family with our same agency, who has had the EXACT SAME DATES as us throughout the entire process, JUST GOT THEIR COURT DATE!! Feb. 4!!
So you see, this really can happen at any freaking minute. Yikes! My stomach flops just thinking about it. Please keep your fingers and toes crossed that it happens this week, because I'm not sure I can deal with the pins and needles phase one more minute longer!
Back to "what was the process like" question. If I could give one bit of advice to potential adoptive families, I would share with them that yes, the process can be challenging. It's easy to just focus on that part, because there's some deep down belief that once the child is home, you will feel complete.
But I'd encourage families to really try to understand more about "what's it like after they come home?" For us, that's when the really hard work began. All the emotions that we experienced---hopefulness, determination, impatience, helplessness, complete joy---we continued to experience at a much more intense level after Little Man came home.
There will be time to deal with that soon enough. Right now, enjoying the excitement and joy we feel that soon, Little Brother is coming home!!