Our adoption story highlights patience
|I know exactly what you are doing right now. You are rolling your eyes and saying something under your breath like, “Now tell me something I didn’t already know,” or, “Wow, I’ve never heard that before.”
I know you know life isn’t easy, but I also know this is something we need to remind ourselves of from time to time. Sometimes we get in the habit of thinking everything needs to go our way. We start thinking what we want is the only thing that matters, and that we shouldn’t have to wait or work to get it. But that’s not true. Life isn’t like that…it’s not easy.
In October 2010, we went to a meeting at a small local agency to learn about the adoption process. We excitedly filled out and submitted the forms to begin the process of adoption. The agency told us an adoption placement could take anywhere from a year to two years. By May 2011, we had passed all the background and financial checks and been approved as prospective adoptive parents. It was still going to be a year to a year-and-half before we would be able to adopt because the waiting list was very long.
It felt like I was getting older. At 45, I spent a lot of time trying to convince myself I was not too old to have children. I didn’t want to die before I saw you boys grow up, get married, and have kids of your own. The longer we waited the older I got. If we adopted when I was 45, I’d be 65 by the time you turned 20. My dad died when he was 62. I know that kids lose their parents at all different ages, but I really want to be around at least until you are both 30. I want to know you are both happy and settled.
By November 2011, it had been a year, and nothing had happened on the adoption. More importantly, we were not impressed with the way the agency handled our case. They lost paperwork, delayed things, and never gave a straight answer to our questions. We were very frustrated and decided to look at other agencies.
I called several other local agencies with no luck. I also looked online and called a few national adoption agencies. None of them had a local office we could go to. We didn’t want to deal with an agency over the computer for something that would be the most important thing we ever did in our lives.
One national agency impressed me more than the others. On the phone, they were very professional in the way they addressed my concerns, and frankly, their answers seemed too good to be true. They claimed that once we were approved with them, we could expect to become parents within 3 to 9 months. That was a lot shorter timeframe than anyplace else I’d come across. The person I spoke with asked me for an email address to send me some information. I gave them the email address assuming nothing would come of it because I still was unsure of working with an agency that was not local.
I forgot all about this agency until a few weeks later, when I got an email from them. I almost deleted it as spam but decided to forward it to your mother. They invited us to a seminar they were holding at a local hotel. We decided we would go to this seminar. What could it hurt? Mike, the guy I had spoken with, lead the seminar. They also had a mom there to talk about her experience with the agency. Two and a half hours later, we came out of the meeting excited. These people seemed real now and very on the ball. They answered questions directly and without much spin.
By the time the seminar was over, we had filled out an application for adoption with them. When we got home, we gathered the necessary paperwork. This included criminal, financial, and medical checks. We submitted our application on Saturday. By Monday I got an email with our login information for the web site, and by Tuesday I got an email saying they had reviewed our old home study and approved it. I had never seen such efficient service. I think these guys might be for real, I thought.
Pessimism started to creep in as November rolled around though. At the beginning of 2012, I had thought it would be the year we would adopt. As the year drew closer and closer to the end, this turned out not to be the case.
A year of hoping, wishing, and praying resulted in not much at all. By the end of the year your mother and I felt very disappointed. We decided to put the adoption out of our minds and not think about or plan for it. I was emotional to keep faith and hope alive. The previous year we purposefully didn’t go on any vacations and always tried to make plans based on what would happen if we had a baby. This year, we were not going to worry about that.
As January crept into February, the deep pain of wanting a family and not being able to obtain it was so profound that it seemed to physically hurt. It is extremely frustrating when you want your life to go a certain way; the only way you can see your life going; the only way you will be happy, but for some reason, you just can’t make it happen no matter what you do.
I began rethinking my entire strategy on how to get a baby. I created a website and paid Google for our website to be listed first when entering different search terms. I also spoke to a photographer who spent an entire day with us, taking pictures of us in different clothes and in different scenes to show what our everyday lives were like. I thought this was important because I had lost 75 pounds and all the pictures we had were with me being heavier.
In July we took your cousins to a museum to see a pirate exhibit. Though I enjoyed spending time with them and showing them around, I felt a bit gloomy. The three of them are quite animated and remarkably bright. The twins were going into kindergarten and the oldest was entering 4th grade. Throughout that day I felt a sense of loss for not having children of my own. I wanted to experience the exhibit with my children.
It had been three years since we had started the adoption journey and my patience was wearing thin. Each year we had to update our background checks, fingerprints, and financial information to essentially re-qualify. There were several state and federal forms to fill out and submit only to have them returned because a box was not checked, or my middle name was not included (even though I do not have a middle name). Then there was the matter of finding recent pictures to submit and update our video profile. I didn’t mind doing any of this if I felt like it was getting us somewhere.
The bottom line is, I was a little bitter and angry and not entirely sure how to process everything mentally. I felt like giving up, of not ever thinking of it again, of preparing myself to be childless the rest of my life. However, it was not an option. Instead I felt my life passing by and my getting older. If an adoption did go through, it angered me to think that I might not be alive to see my child’s adult milestones like graduation or marriage. That fear loomed bigger as time marched on. It was frustrating to want something so badly yet be powerless to obtain it. We were doing everything we could, yet it didn’t seem like it was enough.
I am telling you this story for two reasons. First, I think it is important for each of you to know our family history. To know how desperately we wanted both of you and how much we love and cherish you. Second, there is a lot you can learn from this story.
The big lesson here is, when all hope is lost and you just want to quit rather than go through another day of pain and suffering, don’t quit. If you want something bad enough, you’ll figure out a way to succeed. It may not be as quickly as you’d like, but the reward is worth it. There’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind and body into it. Complaining is the biggest waste of time. If you have time to complain, you have time to do something about it. Complaining has never helped anyone achieve their goals. The only disability in life is a bad attitude. Be as optimistic as you can, as often as you can. As hard as it is, you can’t let your past disappointments govern how you see the future.
There were many times we thought things were not fair. We were so angry and depressed that it was hard to go on some days. But we didn’t let discouragement ruin our hopes and dreams of the wonderful family we have today. We knew in our hearts we deserved and wanted more, so we put faith in God and worked hard to make a better life for our family.
See? Life is not easy, and neither is being a man, but if you have a moral code and faith you live by, if you refuse to betray your values and integrity, and if you stay focused on your goals, those unfair things in life won’t hurt nearly as bad or seem quite so unfair. You will understand that even though life isn’t fair, it can still be wonderful. Everything happens for a reason. You will understand that your best life will be lived when you take control of life instead of letting it take control of you.