Sigh. Wait, let me do it again. Sigh.
If you are reading this thinking that you will glean some insight for your own adoption journey as you are contemplating taking the leap, I will give you my most important piece of advice yet.
Stop. Run. Have your own babies, or steal them from a neighbor, a friend, a relative. Foster some, adopt from America. But do not, under any circumstances, wake up one morning and turn to your husband and say, "honey, lets adopt a baby from...Russia...Ethiopia...China...Guatamala...Ukraine...Thailand....Pakistan. Just don't. Resist the humanitarian urge.
If that did not deter you, then my second piece of advice is this:
Have no expectations. If they give you a time frame, double it. If they give you an age range, triple it. If they give you a gender, think the opposite. Do not try to plan your life, picture your child, or make any plans for the presence of the child in your family until that child has been in your family for at least 3 months. Maybe longer. Just to be safe.
This whole process has been so unbelievable its unexplainable.
When we started this process...18 months ago, we were told that we should have the girl in our home 1 year later. Well...18 months later, we don't even have a referral. Some idiot woman from Tennessee put her son on a plane back to Russia and ruined any sense of timeliness we'd hope to have in this process. Russia came to a grinding halt. First, they told us we'd have to take 3 trips instead of 2. Then, they tell us there were no referrals happening. Then, they told us we had to do all this new required (additional) training and a few weeks ago we dropped everything to go to Chicago and get it done. I think the theme of this process has been "hurry up and wait.'' Last November we rushed to get our dossier in before the end of the year so we'd get on the wait list early. That was 1 year ago. Then we got a referral 7 months later and we rushed to get the child evaluated only to turn her down. Then they told us we had to hurry, hurry, do this training immediately because there are no referrals without them. So we hurried to Chicago. We hurried through some online training courses. We hurried to order this book we needed. And we got that all in last week. Then we heard there were some referrals coming available in November. But we also heard our dossier was expiring (the one we submitted a year ago). So..hurry up and get it done. Hurry up and re-do the forms, the notaries, the certifications. Tim's boss left work in the middle of the day to get an employment verification taken first to the bank and then to the courthouse (remember, we are in CO, we can't do any of this in OH) and my dad had to drive up to our house in Dayton and fed ex copies of our passports overnight to our adoption agency. Tim drove around like crazy in CO getting this together. We sent our new, updated dossier just before November so we could hopefully get a November referral.
So...when we came down from the mountain (literally) on our hike today and Tim is on the phone walking towards me and smiling, I knew he was on the phone with our adoption agency. This was it. Finally.
Wrong. Instead, now, they say that we will be waiting over a year for a referral of a girl under 2.
If we are willing to make a decision to accept a child up to age 3 (read: the oldest she can be when we bring her home to the USA is 2 years 11 months old) then we can get a referral in the "beginning of the year" which I finally found out will be either February or March. (read: 3-4 more months of waiting...)
So..hurry up! Make this decision! We need to know! We will have to redo your paperwork ASAP. No big deal. We're just totally changing everything we've imagined about this adoption. Adopting a baby and adopting a toddler are two very different things. So we talked about it..weighed our options...for all of about 30 minutes...because it was almost close of business in Ohio. The emotional challenges a 2 year old and a 1 year old faces from being in an orphanage are huge, and I do not pretend to be ignorant of the potential behavioral and emotional challenges bringing home an orphaned and poorly cared for 2 year old will present to our family.
But, here we are, hurrying now to redo our paperwork by Monday to allow us to adopt a child up to her 3rd birthday. Only to wait again..for 3-4 more months.
I feel incredibly at peace and incredibly unsettled about this decision all that the same time, but we have until February or March to change the vision we have for little Elizabeth Claire (insert Russian name here) Larson and to prepare ourselves for what this will look like when we bring her home next summer(?)
I am very thankful I now have some kind of timeline, but if the the last 18 months have taught me anything, it's that any expectations I carry are really quite laughable.
God, I hope this works out. I hope that somewhere in Russia right now is our daughter and that in 3-4 months we will get to see her picture and travel to Russia to meet her.
So...again, I implore you: make babies or steal babies. It's really the best way to go.