Sunday, 13 December 2009

Descisions, Descisions

The other day I was watching the "Orphan Sunday" broadcast (about a month late). One of the interviews featured a couple describing their adoption of a little girl, and the woman mentioned how she knew the girl was their daughter the second she saw her picture, because of overwhelming feelings, etc, etc. I believe her. I know people who have seen significance in the dates of their children's births, or orphanage arrivals, or what-have-you, seeming signs that assured them that they were accepting the right referral. These situations make for compelling stories. Compelling stories are the most often repeated. It seems to me that this desire to tell good stories perhaps leaves out the couples who don't have extraordinary experiences regarding their referral. People like us. I also realized that I never did write much about that part of the adoption. So, I have decided to write a bit more about our decision process in accepting Tommy's referral.

As many of you know, towards the end of our adoption process (which we didn't know was the end, of course) we were having some issues with our agency, and I had asked for prayer regarding my desire to act in a Christian manner towards them and to offer forgiveness for some wrongs done to us so we could reconcile and move forward. One of the results of that reconciliation was us getting our desires for the process-specifically our need to travel quickly- placed before the person who had the ability to make this happen. He got on the phone with Isaac right away, and told us that if we were willing to accept a child slightly outside of our requested age range (which was six to twelve months) that we could have a referral within a week or two. This occurred on June 9th. We knew by the beginning of the next week that they did indeed have a baby for us, but we asked not to hear anything until they had the birth certificate, HIV testing, and photos in hand, as well as a reasonable assurance from Isaac that he would be able to secure a court date for us prior to the summer recess. On June 19th we got the call saying that everything was in order. I was on Lakeshore drive at the time, and illegally answered my cell phone because I knew it was Claire, our social worker, and was hoping for the news. She told me Tommy's name (Anthony), age, a little background, and that she was sending me a picture. I was dying to get home to see everything. Jeff was at Argonne working a beamtime (round the clock shifts at the Advanced Photon Source for 6 days), so I knew I would be seeing our baby for the first time without him. That was disappointing.

I got home and rushed to the computer, called Jeff, and we downloaded the photo together. I admit, I was hoping for fireworks. Instead, I thought "he's cute." I looked through the records hoping for a connection that would make our decision obvious. Nothing. Well, not nothing exactly. Anthony/Tommy was born on my Aunt's birthday which also happens to be tax day. But that didn't really do the deciding for us, if you know what I mean.

Our referral photo(s) as we received them

Choosing your child is a weird. On the one hand, part of you just wants to say, "give me whatever you've got." On the other hand, you worry about scheming nuns trying to send you the bully child that makes all the other children's lives miserable (yes, that was my fear. He had a belly and I worried that he was beating kids up to steal their food). With our program (and typically in Uganda), we had almost no medical information, so there was no sense in getting an outside evaluation. I blew up the picture and checked for signs of FAS, but that was the extent of our medical evaluation. We were able to have Isaac ask a few general questions about Tommy's health to supplement the HIV test, but the information the orphanage passed on was vague, and, from what I know now, not entirely correct, although I attribute this more to poor record keeping than dishonesty.

Isaac was confident he could get us a court date before the High Court summer recess if he could try to schedule one first thing Monday morning, which gave us until Sunday night to decide.

We really wanted to go to Uganda before summer recess, and this was our opportunity. Anthony was cute, healthy, and from the orphanage we wanted to work with. There was no reason not to adopt him except that he was a bit older than we expected, and I really had my heart set on a baby. Also, our social worker had warned us a few weeks earlier that people who change their expectations to move more quickly often experience significant disappointment later, and that we should not do that without significant prayer and a conviction that it was absolutely the right thing.

Jeff and I talked as much as we could without disrupting his experiments, and prayed, and talked to family.

In the end, we came to the conclusion that there was no reason not to adopt Anthony. He was a boy who needed parents, and we were a couple who needed a boy. The more we looked at his picture, the more he started to look exactly like that baby we were waiting for. I talked with a friend about my age concerns, and she shared that she still felt that kids of his age had lots of learning to do, and plenty of baby-like characteristics. That comforted me. I just wanted some adjustment time before I had to send my child to kindergarten, and I wanted to teach my child to walk and talk, and all those good things. I wanted to go, and knowing that God had placed Anthony in front of us, even without signs and wonders, was enough.

On Sunday afternoon I made the phone call and accepted the referral. That was the 21st of June. God's timing was good. We knew going into Leah's birthday that we had a little boy waiting for us in Uganda. That took the edge off the pain. It was still a hard day, but we had a little more hope than we had had in a long time.

On Wednesday the 25th I was at the pool in Wilmette with the little boy that I babysat. We got out of the water to dry off and go eat lunch, so I checked my cell and noticed I had a text. It was from our dear friend Joanne, saying that she had heard from Sister Christine that we had a court date. I was cautiously thrilled. I waited and waited for our agency to call. Finally in the late afternoon I broke down and called them. I didn't mention that I knew we had a court date. It came out that we did, but that Claire hadn't called because the appointment was still unconfirmed, but she told me that she would be calling me in the wee hours of the morning to let me know if it finalized. We were on pins and needles going to bed that night. Claire hoped to hear something by one or two our time (morning on Friday in Uganda), but she didn't end up getting the phone call from Isaac until about three. She called us anyway (by request, of course). Isaac told us to get on a plane as soon as possible, as our court date was the next Thursday and he needed us to be there by Tuesday.

Friday morning we woke up exhausted but ecstatic. We bought tickets and started packing. It was insane.

On Sunday the 28th, one year exactly from the day we laid our precious Leah in the ground, we boarded a plane to Uganda and to our son.


mary said...

And what a great decision you made. Can't wait to see you on Wednesday!
love you,

Heather said...

I enjoyed reading this. I remember the e-mail you sent about praying for this decision, and how intense that burden of prayer was, but how much peace I had that this was Baby Klug!

Jim and April said...

What a great post! If you dont mind sharing with me even through email if youd like the problems you had with lifeline..because at the beginning of January we plan on starting our adoption through them for Uganda! I would like to know if it was something big and something they hopefully corrected or may not happen all the time ! Thanks so much!