Monday, September 14, 2009

2 days

It's amazing, isn't it? That we've been able to do all this... that we're traveling to China, where a child from a very alien society will be thrust into our care, and just like that, he will be our son for the rest of our lives. Then we will have a child, an offspring, a kiddo, a spawn, and he will be a purebred Han Chinese learning the ways of the American. We will be a conspicuous family, totally dedicated to our son and ignoring the doubts and cynicism of strangers, and we did it all on purpose.

It's been an incredible, peculiar journey. A year and a half ago, we went to the adoption conference and learned about the different methods of adoption, the strengths and difficulties of each approach. How does one decide from there? We thought about it long and hard, and what a strange process that was.

First we gathered all our options. We dismissed the unrealistic options, like countries that were not really open for international adoptions. Like DSS, unfortunately; we were wide open to an American child, but the process had too many negatives that we just didn't wish to deal with. Likewise for domestic private adoptions. We spoke to agents and other experts. Then we chose an agent we liked personally who had access to several of the options we had left - that happened to be Karen.

Then we evaluated our options based on their difficulties. The path with the fewest difficulties won. Suddenly we were signed up with China SN.

Evaluating by difficulties is a very, very personal thing. Each family has its own priorities. Our priorities are not best, safest, or most altruistic. But they are our priorities. Not everyone else should have our priorities - families are diverse, and if everybody chose the same way to adopt, there would be bottlenecks. We don't want bottlenecks. There are already enough bottlenecks - for instance, in Chinese adoption the bottleneck is for baby girl NSN (non special needs). We missed that one, just barely! But it's important to do it your own way, for everyone's happiness and for greater diversity.

Then we entered the "paper pregnancy," a truly bizarre experience. All of a sudden everything becomes, "Fill out this document for your baby. Speak to this official about your baby." And it stays that way. Slips of paper with phone numbers on them accumulate, and file folders full of cover sheets and photocopies. The three little photographs you receive gradually appear everywhere - on your blog, on your desktop, in your wallet, on your mantel. Your dentist tries to schedule your next appointment; your cousin invites you to his wedding; your volunteer coordinator asks you to help with an event; and you have to tell them all, "I might be in China."

Then you don't go to China, so you attend after all, and have fun, and tell the next round of relatives and schedulers that you might be in China. Then the trip gets delayed and you're still telling people you might be in China.

They all smile at the news in vague fascination, maybe telling you this thing they heard about China 5 years ago, or they start listing off everyone they know who's adopted or been adopted, and they give you their very best parenting advice, and you appreciate it all because you know that everyone is doing their best to show you they care. What else would they say if they weren't giving advice? You may be thinking, They don't really understand what it's like. And you're right, and they know it, but it's awkward to come out and say so.

Now we're going. All the approvals and do-overs and setbacks were small individually, but now that we're poised to travel to China, the whole process seems big. Everything so far has been plot development, and this is the climax. We're already thinking ahead of ourselves, to Book 2: Parenthood, like real authors do, because you can't get the child home without thinking Book 2 through first.

No wonder we want to skip over the buildup to the climax, and maybe even skip the climax itself. We're excited about China, but we've been focusing so much on parenthood, it's hard to wait anymore.

We're aware that our form of parenthood is atypical; we won't pretend it isn't. Race matters. The emotional weight of adoption matters. As with anything related to parenthood, people will have lots of opinions. People really love their children. Some people may really love our children. That's a wonderful thing - we want him to have lots and lots of love. I hope people will understand that we have some nontraditional issues, too, and we have to find our own way through them. The best advice we can get is optional advice, with plenty of leeway. Because if doing things differently than other people means we're doing it wrong, then, in fact, we are doing it wrong. Oh no. Panic panic.

Our families and friends are supportive and understanding, and I doubt we'll have much trouble with judgmental, unsolicited advisers. But it's there, the elephant in the room - in some ways, we are different. In most ways, we are parents, just like all other parents in the world. We hope people won't be intimidated by the differences in our family, but appreciate and celebrate them instead.

Or rather, we will be. Leaving for China in 2 days! Meeting our AwesomeCloud in 7 days!



  1. I won't even pretend to know what's going on in your hearts and minds, how could my imaginings even come close? I will say that I am super excited for you guys and I can't wait to meet your little one (at some point, when you're settled and ready of course!). My thoughts and prayers will be with you on your journey!

  2. Wow. It is *so* soon! I'm with Lori - don't know right thing to say but so excited for you!! I don't want to intrude but want you to know that if you need anything once he's here, we are like 2 minutes' drive away.