Saturday, October 03, 2009
Friday, October 02, 2009
I have been asked to be a contributor to 'No Hands But Ours'. So, my mind has been filled with ideas of things to write about based on my adoption experience. Let me know what you think about this one.
I have a passion for adoption. I have one child adopted from China. I don’t know if I will ever go back. But I want to do more. I want to be a part of helping children come home. I want to be an enabler. This is where I am right now and I have heard from a lot of women in the same place.
This is the story of how people enabled me to bring my daughter home. This is how I know that I can still play an important role in the lives of families and children. These are some things that can be done to support the families who are still on the journey to their child:
When we first started talking about adoption, I didn’t know very many people who had adopted. My blog changed all of that. It became a lifeline for me.
I was a little nervous about telling our family when we made the decision to adopt. I didn’t know how they would react. I thought that they would be supportive but I didn’t know for sure. My anxiety was a waste of energy because our family has been wonderful, but some families are not as accepting. If someone in your family makes the decision to adopt, be their supporter and champion to the rest of the family.
I didn’t know a lot about what to expect or how the paperwork flowed, or what I needed to do. My agency was helpful, but truthfully my information came from women on-line. When I had a question, I would post it and I would receive the information that I needed.
This was a tremendous help and kept me on top of the things I needed to know. Reach out to adopting families and be a source of knowledge to those who are following in your footsteps.
I am a working mother with a large family, so I need help to care for my children and to keep my household running the way that it should. The key to my success in this is one woman. One woman who cares for my family and believes in Sophia’s adoption. Daycare person is not an adequate title for Lynn. She is my friend and enables me to be the type of mother that I want to be. When I approached her about the adoption, she was so positive about it and willing to take care of our new daughter. As time marched on and we decided to go the SN route, I talked with her about it and again her response was so positive. She was willing to be there for our family and care for Sophia, special needs was not an issue. When I received a file that we were looking at closely, I would go over it with her. She always had an open heart. She was willing to get her family vaccinated for hep B if we went that route, she was willing to care for a child with spina bifida. It brought me such peace to know that my new little one would be in wonderful hands while I was working. I needed Lynn’s support to be able to make this work. If you are in a position to play a role in the lives of families by providing care for their children, please be open to adopting families and understand that these little ones may need special concessions.
We waited a long time for Sophia. It was not a happy journey for us. Our agency kept changing the rules and providing us with information that honestly was just plain untrue. There is no doubt that I had to fight to bring my daughter home. I was in constant contact with my social worker. I was always two steps ahead of my agency in knowing what changes were coming down the pike. I knew so much more than they wanted me to about what they were doing (thanks to all of my waiting moms in blogland). There were times when I didn’t think I could make it to the finish line. There were times when I just sat and cried. My children had lost hope that this would ever happen. If it were not for my friends, the women who came out of cyberspace to support and love and pray for me, I don’t know if I could have made it. I was infused with their strength and it kept me going. Some of my closest friends now are a result of this experience. When you sit in a restaurant face to face with another woman just as sad and desperate for her baby as you are and she reaches for your hand and through her tears tells you she hopes you have your child first (and you know she truly means it), you are bonded forever. If you have the opportunity to pray for, befriend or emotionally support someone who is waiting for their child, please do it. They need you.
After we received our referral, there were so many things that we needed to do…it was just a whirlwind. We had a lot of fees that we were not aware of initially that came to light and had to be paid immediately. We didn’t have the cash to cover all of these fees. We needed to raise funds and I decided that an on-line auction was the best way to try to do it. I had never used my blog to ask for funds for myself, so I was a little nervous about it. The outpouring of love and support was overwhelming. A dear girlfriend of mine designed a gorgeous site exclusively for the auction. Women flooded my e-mail with offers to help and items to be sold. . I received so many donation items to auction, so many beautiful things. I also received checks in the mail from women I had never seen face to face. I put them in a box in my room and cashed them when we had a fee due. There were times when I was so touched that my eyes just filled with tears. All of these women wanted to help. They wanted to be a part of enabling us to bring our daughter home. And they were. We raised close to $5.000. All of our up-front fees were covered. It was such a weight off of my shoulders, the stress just left me and I was able to focus on getting things ready for travel and for our daughter. The only way I can re-pay these women is to pay it forward. If you are in a position to help a family raise funds for their adoption, please do it. No effort is too small, everything adds up to a miracle.
Sophia turned four years old shortly after we came home. I could tell that she was very intelligent, every bit as smart and able as her four year old brother Eli. I had Eli scheduled to start preschool and soccer in the fall and I thought Sophia could be in preschool and an activity too. It has been my hope that she will be ready to start kindergarten on-schedule. For this to happen, I would have to get her into preschool. I didn’t know if they would take her, she didn’t speak much English and I did not know what level she was at as far as education was concerned. There was also the issue of separation anxiety which we were dealing with. I called the preschool and explained our special situation. Without hesitation, they told me they would let her in. They had never had a child who did not speak fluent English, but they were willing to try. I will be honest, the first week of preschool was rough for Sophia, but after that she has had a wonderful time and her language skills are unbelievable. She is picking up English very quickly. Next came the issue of an extra-curricular activity. Sophia’s gross motor skills needed work. I don’t think she ever spent much time off of the floor of her orphanage. When we first got her, she took steps one at a time like a toddler and was a slow runner and was very cautious on play equipment. The dance school in our town has a class for 4 year olds, ballet/tap/tumbling. I called to see if they would be willing to work with Sophia and her special situation. Miss Kelly who owns the school agreed to allow Sophia into the little girl’s class and pays special attention to helping her. Sophia loves her ‘ballerina school’. Last night I sat with tears in my eyes while I peaked through the studio door and watched my little girl walking on her toes and trying to plie. If you are a teacher or a coach, open your heart to these kiddos.
People on the ‘front lines’ of adoption need people behind them to support them and help them. If you are done growing your family, it doesn’t mean you can’t play a vital role in the adoption movement. Enable the people around you to complete their journeys, sponsor children who need help. Donate to organizations to pay for supplies and surgeries for children in need. Someone paid to heal my daughter’s heart, a surgeon somewhere in the world volunteered his time to give her a fuller life. I don’t know who these people are, but I owe them a debt that can never be paid. All I can do is pay it forward. I can be an enabler.