Monday, March 5, 2007

How do you know???

One of the things that Z and I have talked about several times since we started this adoption journey is the question of "How will we know when we've found 'our' children?"

Before we started this journey, the adoption stories that I was most familiar with (or at least the ones that I remembered most) were the ones where the parents "found" their child, fell in love with them, and found a way to bring them home. Will we have a story like that? I don't know.

I think the vast majority of adoptive parents do not have a story like this. In most cases, you fill out a series of paperwork for your placing agency that lists the criteria that you want your child to have. You can be specific and state that you want a healthy baby girl who is between 0 and 12 months old....or you can be vague. Then, when the agency processes your paperwork and compares your criteria to the children available in the orphanage, they match your family with a child (if there is a child who fits your criteria in the orphanage at the time). If there is not a child who fits your criteria, you wait until one arrives. In most instances, the more specific you are with your criteria, the longer you wait (especially for babies and toddlers).

Z and I are happy with this process. It makes sense to us that it would be done this way. And we know that we will love any child we bring into our family. However, for me, this process seems a little bit sterile. Of course this is how it should be...and I know I will see their pictures and "know" they are my kids....but in some ways it makes me feel really distant from the process, too.

There is something really romantic about the idea that we'll "find" the perfect children for our family. There is something appealing to being involved with the process in some way.

Our agency has a waiting child list that is available to all adoptive parents working with them. Waiting children are children who are harder to place for one reason or another. Some of these kids are older kids, some of them have health issues, some of them are hard to place because they are sibling groups. It is easy to look at the list and think that any one of them could be our kids. All of the kids are cute...they are all special in one way or another. I have seen lots of pictures of waiting children, and I know that any one of them would be a wonderful addition to any family. But, there are only two occasions where I've looked at pictures of waiting children and really "felt a connection" to the child in the photo.

Does feeling this "connection" mean that we should pursue the adoption of these children? I don't know. This is entirely new territory for me. Does Z feel the same way that I do when he looks at their pictures? him, ALL the kids are cute. And he feels that no matter what kids we adopt, he probably won't "feel" a connection to them until we meet them. Does that mean he is less interested, less involved, less invested in the process? simply means that he is more practical in this area. He knows that in the end, no matter how we "find" our kids they will be the ones who belong in our family.

So, for those of you who are adoptive parents, how did you "find" your children? How did you "know" they were the ones who belonged in your family?


Jennifer said...

I saw our daughter's photo for the first time when she had been matched with another family (they later had to give up her referral). Her picture just made me gasp out loud because she was so beautiful. I look back at that and think "I just had no idea at that moment!" My trouble is that I feel I can so easily connect and fall in love with any child so I have to be so careful about finding out information on specific children before we're at that "stage" of the process! It's all so much bigger than us that I believe there's a definite "meant to be" in it all....

Rae said...

I think I told you through email about how we "found" Spencer, right? Sometimes I'm such a blabber-mouth I forget whom I've told what! As for Siah, I was thinking itty-baby (like it would take a miracle to get such a little baby home!) and we wound up with a referral for an 18 month old! When her photo opened, I gasped, like Jennifer, at her beauty. Really, it was almost startling to behold her. It took me a day or two of thinking about the family dynamics of having 3 kids with birthdays in July of 2003, 2004, and 2005 and talking to friends with different age structures among their kids. In the end, we decided it's gonna be NUTS around our house, but having all three so close in age has tremendous benefits that we think outweigh the madness--for *our* family. I'm with Jennifer again in that I could fall in love with any kid's photo...and I'm with Z that there's a lot of practical stuff to sort through (what's your family going to look like in 5, 10, or 50 years?). I also think we take whatever God "doles out" to us in pregnancies (as far as "special needs" and age gaps), so we would basically trust him to work through the system that he led us to when he picked the agency. Blah, blah, blah--get your own blog, Rae!! Oh, wait--I already have one! :P