It’s been three years of waiting; waiting to hold her tiny fingers in my hand, waiting to hear those sweet giggles and squeals from her little lips, waiting even just to see a photograph of who our daughter might be. Three years… of waiting to adopt.
On July 24th, 2010, Erica and I decided we both wanted to adopt a girl from Ethiopia. We named her Macy and dove into the paperwork with excitement and eagerness. We had to rush to get our dossier done and sent to our agency in order to be placed on the waiting list for a referral. We started on the list as family number 94. The date was March 2011.
Once we submitted our paperwork, there was little left for us to do. We could only sit and watch our number on the wait list go down each month in avid anticipation of the day when we might possibly be number 1 for a referral.
The first month, six families had received the phone call, and our number dropped to 88. The second month, another six children had been placed with their forever homes and we became 82. I started to think about how soon we would be first on the list when the next month’s number came in. The number of referrals? None.
It was hard to comprehend? And of course, you start to try to figure out what the cause for the sudden change might be. There really weren’t any answers. We just had to wait.
The following month brought relief when we moved seven spots. The months after we moved four, then six, then five.
I averaged it out to 4.85 spots per month and calculated the probable date for our referral. According to my computations, we would finally be able to see our daughter in about twelve more months.
That’s when the second punch landed and again we didn’t move at all on the list for November 2011.
I can’t tell you how it felt. I really can’t. I numbed myself to it. I had to bury my thoughts about the whole thing or else I would have lost my sanity. Every month that slipped by brought a new wave of emotions and fears and questions, that I just had to take the ‘pregnant belly’ off for a while before it became too wearisome for me.
Now, I have to pause and say here, that I’m not looking for a pity party from anyone. As much as adoption is a story of gaining a child and adding them to your family, it’s also a story of untold loss for a child. I can’t sit here and pretend that what I was experiencing through waiting was anywhere near the pain and sadness that my future daughter may have already experienced in such a brief time.
But bring on the guilt. You can’t be adopting and not be thinking about adopting, without feeling guilty for not thinking about it.
The numbers continued to come in, month after month. Sometimes with great progress, sometimes with nothing. I stopped trying to figure it out. I began asking questions about the process and felt happy that they were being so careful. But still, I couldn’t dwell. I had to enjoy my time with my wife and the two children I already have. I had to just let it be.
During that time, you could still see her around our house. She was in an empty picture frame on our mantle. Her name was on our ‘prayer board’ in our kitchen. Our kids would offer to save things for when she arrived, and they loved to find her country on the giant-sized map at our church.
But the fire had gone down in order to let time pass more easily. We redid our paperwork when the time came, but then I went right back to letting it go. We had our doubts. We had our talks. It was taking longer than the original nine to twelve months we thought it was going to take. But we both still wanted her here. The truth was, she was already here in so many ways. We wouldn’t be complete now without her.
That’s when our agency decided to stop keeping track of ‘wait list’ numbers.
I can’t tell you how even more defeating that felt. Now we had nothing to gauge our progress, except for the news of referrals that they shared. We had no way of knowing for sure how these referrals were affecting our status.
Our paperwork expired for the third time. We redid the home study. Got updated letters from our jobs and doctors and law enforcement. Then Erica got an email.
In it, the person from our agency called us “one of her top families” and mentioned that it was urgent we schedule a call with her to make sure that our paperwork was ready to go. Suddenly we were kicked into gear! We just finished getting everything together today to send back and now we are anticipating with bated breath once again. Will we get a phone call this month? Probably not. But we have never been considered one of the top families before.
We’re excited to share this moment with you! I hope soon, we will have a picture to show you. Not just a picture of her, but a family photo. On our mantle. With her, finally, in my arms.