A friend of mine has officially hit the two year mark. An anniversary you say? Yes. But not a good one. Today marks the two year anniversary of the date she started waiting to be matched with her baby. And as someone who last year hit that SAME awful milestone? It sucks. No question about it. If you are waiting, KNOW WE KNOW IT IS SOOOOO HARD!!!
Now, here is the thing. Some folks think I did not wait long, and that is super preposterous. My heart knew as soon as we returned from our first adoption that we were to go back. So I started the process, spoke to the agency, and filled out the preliminary forms. Filled out the medical conditions checklist. From that point on, my heart was waiting. And 2 years and 2 1/2 weeks after we filled out that MCC, we saw our daughter’s face for the first time. Maybe you just started waiting. Your jaw just hit the floor saying, “TWO YEARS??? I could NEVER go two years!” Never thought I could or would have either but yes, God’s timing was perfect. We see and know that NOW but let’s keep it real shall we??? That knowledge is all 20/20 hindsight. It did NOT make the wait any easier (oh, and many people have been waiting, ARE still waiting, at 7 1/2 years now so really 2 years ain’t that bad.)
But probably even harder than the wait (ok, maybe not), harder than the knowledge that your child is out there somewhere, was the CONSTANT, seemingly UNENDING commentary from sometimes critical and sometimes well meaning people asking me questions, debating my choices, second guessing and minimizing the decisions and processes we came to carefully and deliberately. My husband and I chose a girl. Chose specific medical needs. Chose SPECIFIC aspects and that is OUR business and our reasons were well considered for OUR family dynamic and what we could handle and why.
So rather than belabor the point, I am going to express the typical comments being passed around the adoption community and explain the problem with each one. If you are waiting, or have been matched, or are home with your kiddo, THINK. Read these. Pass them along. And consider before you speak (or type) these kinds of comments.
1.) “Why don’t you add things to your medical conditions checklist?” Think. Do you REALLY think we WANT to wait so long? And do you REALLY think that heck, after 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, we did not reconsider and add every medical need we possibly could? Sure. Those waiting a few months who expected a faster match can learn a lot from people sharing that spina bifida can be a pretty manageable need! But I assure you, by the two year mark?? We have memorized every word on the MCC. We know more about the “minor needs” options than you, the person who was just matched after a 4 month wait, could possibly fathom. And we have read every best case scenario of the more major needs, hoping we could accommodate more options.
2.) “Well, this (fill a medical need in the blank) is a really minor need. Why can’t you add this to your list??” Oh my gosh, you JUST saved the day and gave me a revelation I never expected!!!! Um, yeah. That is sarcasm. Again, like number one, we KNOW already. But a.) what is minor for some people is not minor for others and b.) what may be minor to everyone may still need certain levels of care, attention, or skills of which the parent is incapable of giving, for a variety of reasons. Here are two examples. CL/CP (cleft lip/cleft palette) is not, in my mind, a minor need. Not even remotely. The sheer number of surgeries, follow up, dietary issues, not to mention additional things often associated with this need (remember – this is a need most associated with fetal malnutrition which also affects brain and physical development and a host of other things…) make this a need that is not for the faint of heart. If you have signed up for this need thinking, “Oh! We just need to fix his lip – big deal!!!” then you have a possibly very long and challenging (and depending on your insurance,) COSTLY, road ahead of you. Or maybe, like ME, you live in a small town with incredibly limited options for care, early intervention programs, pediatric physical and occupational therapies, and the like. This leads to number 3.
3.) Next up? Many needs, whether you would consider them minor or not, are not an option for me but because of where I live. Being here would make it impossible for me to care for that child they way he or she would deserve. And finally, I had 4 kids already. I am NOT a Dugger where all the older kids parent all the younger kids. So taking on a more time involved need when I have other kids already with special needs is not something that would work for the way I parent. On top of that, I have a husband who travels regularly.
4.) “Why don’t you change agencies? So and so agency has a TON of girls and matches everyone in 3 months or less and has a small list of waiting families and has the youngest boys and will transfer your dossier right away!!” Sure. Let’s throw away the 18 months we have waited and start from scratch with explanations that could be about agencies who a friend of a friend used. Uh huh. Young minor needs girls are fewer in availability than they were 10, 5, 2 years ago. Than they were 6 months ago. FACT. Every statistic in the world validates this. I know of two agencies who are minimizing files and altering information. One is under review, another one is about to be. (And no, I won’t tell you.) I know of others who closed for financial issues but really were fined and could not afford it. I know of one that closed that was small, and could not meet the demand of families looking for girls and waiting so long for files and therefore could not do business. There is a reason to go with a specific agency. We have those reasons. Some of us find our kiddo on an advocacy sight or page and we switch. Some of us don’t. But to throw away thousands of dollars and tons of time because the timing is not preferable and is quite a trial is not an option for most of us.
5.) “Why don’t you want a boy? Can’t you consider a boy? That is so selfish and hurtful to not consider a boy!” DO NOT SAY THIS TO ANYONE. PERIOD. Family dynamics play into this. True story….I had someone message me (Carmelita of course), a few months ago. She asked if she could actually call me. I gave her my cell and we chatted. Well, we chatted AFTER she could talk and breathe between the sobbing hysterics. She had just taken a major bashing on an agency specific Facebook page because they are waiting on a girl only. She got the classic statement, followed by comments about the selfishness of refusing to consider a boy, how if it was a biological issue they would have no choice etc. She shared from the depths of her heart…Her husband’s grandfather and father were both molesters of little boys, including her husband as a victim. Both still alive. His family is riddled with pain and dysfunction. He had decided never to have children, because although he felt no draw to pedophilia, he lived in fear of ever following in the footsteps of his perverse and abusive family. He met her, they married, and after several years considered adoption. They chose China, and he will only have a little girl because his fears run deep and that is the end of the story. She left the Facebook page (obviously) and was depressed for two days before she reached out to me. I told her these unknown strangers have NO right to judge her, her husband, or their motives. This precious broken man lives in fear of ever hurting a child but she could never share this. Her heartbreak was SO sad to me and was a huge reminder that we do not know someone else’s life. For some families it is the household dynamics, hand me down clothing, sharing rooms, and more. Either way, this is something THEY came to. And I assure you, they know there are far more boys waiting than girls. It is what it is, for whatever reason, and trying to guilt people into something so personal is intrusive and rude, no matter how well meaning you may be.
Look, we KNOW you probably want to help. And heck, share these things, but maybe without directing them to anyone. Maybe without pointing out what they may already know. Maybe without telling the person who has waited over a year and KNOWS this stuff. Just think. Really ask why you need to share this, and think about HOW. And maybe consider that the person you THINK you understand, you don’t really know at all.