Thursday, June 4, 2009

Adoption is hard, even when it's easy

I need a huge banner in my kitchen that reads, "WE HAVE NOT BEEN WAITING VERY LONG."

People keep asking, "Any news on the adoption?" They have glints of hope in their eyes. They're ready to cheer if I say something exciting. They want to meet the baby, coo over him, maybe even - if he doesn't mind - hold him.

"We're in that awful waiting period," I reply. "Waiting to hear from China." And my chest cramps a bit, like a pulled muscle that won't quite work itself out. That muscle has been under a small but constant strain lately. It's barely been more than two months since our dossier arrived in China, but my heart thinks it feels like two years.

The person then has a barrage of questions for me: "What will China say? When will they say it? Is this the last step? How long do you have to be in China? Will it be this summer?"

"Any minute!" I squeal. "We could get the call any minute! It could be tomorrow. Some other families got their good news last week. We could be next."

It's true. We could get our Letter Of Seeking Confirmation from China any minute. If we do, we'll be among the lucky families who didn't wait very long at all. Later, when our son is home and we're immersed in doing the parent thing, we'll say, "It seemed like eternity at the time! But now we barely remember it!" People say that when their wait is a year, two years long. Our wait has been two months so far. It might end up being three months or four months. Time to count the ol' blessings.

My husband's co-worker adopted a little boy from Nepal 2 years ago. He's 3 years old now. It was a difficult ordeal for her and her wife, but they had a good agent who played the system for them. While it's illegal to discriminate against gay families in adoption here in MA, the country of Nepal has quite the opposite philosophy. But they got their son, and just as they were bringing him home, Nepal closed to adoptions entirely.

They applied again for a second child, and their dossier waited at the top of the list as Nepal's resolved its internal issues and Hague compliance. It opened again, a few months ago. But the Ministry of Adoption and the state orphanage are till at odds with each other. Adoptive families had to choose whether to put their dossiers with the Ministry or the orphanage. Our friend's dossier ended up with the orphanage.

She soon learned that the Ministry's list was moving, but the orphanage was stalled. Families started transferring their dossiers in a hurry.

Now, our friend says, the waiting list at the Ministry is several hundred long, and if she transfers her dossier, she'll lose her prime spot at the top of he state orphanage list. The orphanage could start processing adoptions any day now. Aaaany day now. Or it might not.

That makes me feel lucky. But not necessarily happy - I ache for our friend who has to go through this ordeal. I ache for her son as he waits and waits for his sibling.

We'd like to get our sons together when Yun Gui comes home. Their son could be an instant slightly-older playmate and mentor for ours, and ours could be a friendly toddler for theirs to practice on while they wait for #2. It could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

And it will mean our son will know where he stands on the gay parenting issue. When he hears people rant about how "Johnny should NOT have two mommies!" he'll look at us and say, 'They're talking about my friend, aren't they?"

Yes, love, they are. And your friend might need you to stand up for him once in a while. Hopefully not too often, though. Luckily for us, we live in one of the most socially tolerant regions of the great liberal state of Massachusetts.

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