"The Wait" in Adoption
This guest blog post is written by Kirstyn of Travis and Kirstyn, currently (and inexplicably) our longest waiting Purl Family. Kirstyn writes about the difficulties she’s experienced in the adoption wait, and her hope that the child meant for her arms is coming.
“The Wait”. In the adoption world, those two words refer to the time between when you are home study approved, or legally certified to adopt, and when a child is legally placed in your family and can no longer be returned to his/her biological family.
This month marks a year of our “waiting” process (7 months as a Purl client), and I never imagined it would be this challenging and painful.
Through our hours of classes and months of becoming home study approved, we learned a lot about the waiting process and how it looks different for every family. For some, the time period can be short and their placement uncomplicated (the few). For others the process can be long and complicated (the many). No two journeys are the same.
Adoption is inherently complex. For one family to grow, another family is separated. There are many reasons children are placed for adoption, but the root of it is usually a crisis. It is not natural for a biological family to be separated and it is an immense decision for anyone to make. Therefore, it absolutely makes sense that any adoption process is marked with unexpected changes, uncertainty, and strong emotions all around. Yet this knowledge never prepared us for just how challenging this process would be for us when we started.
Our journey to adoption is a little different than most. Many come to adoption after finding that they cannot conceive biological children. While we technically were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” prior to our daughter, we have no reason to believe we could not have another pregnancy if we pursued that route (although no one ever really knows, right?). Before meeting my husband Travis, as long as I can remember I have thought adoption would be part of my family story. I have 15 adopted family members, and adoption is well celebrated in my family. Travis also has always felt adoption would be a part of his family story- he was raised in a guardianship after his mother died when he was a toddler. In our 10 years of marriage, we have always referred to adoption in our family as “when” and not “if”.
When our daughter (biological) turned 2, we started talking about plans to grow our family. Being parents has brought us more joy and satisfaction than we could have ever imagined, and we felt ready to add to our family. We decided this time to start the adoption journey- the one that had been on our hearts since before we can remember. We first pursued international adoption, and then adoption from foster care when we were told no by both due to both agencies only allowing adoption in “birth order”. That is, because our daughter was the first born it is in her and every subsequent child’s best interest to join the family and maintaining the “birth order”. We were encouraged to wait until she was 5 years old or start the “domestic” route if we wanted to start now- so we chose the latter. It took us months of classes, books, essays, letters of recommendation, social worker visits, detailed analysis of our lives, medical history and finances, and so much more- fast forward to October 2018 and we were SO excited to finally let people know- we were ready to adopt!
From October until February we were on the wait list with one agency. In the meantime, we started a Facebook page in the hopes that we may connect with someone considering adoption for their child and needing a family. After some frustrations with the agency, we found Purl Adoption Advisory, an adoption advisor, otherwise known as adoption consultant. Katie specialized in lower cost, ethical adoptions from across the country. In February 2018, we decided to work with her and sent our profile books all over the place. We spent hours filling out forms, creating our family book, talking on the phone, introducing our family. It felt like a frantic rush! And then…. time to wait.
The first time we “presented to a situation”, that is- said yes to a mom considering adoption, it was impossible not to feel a mix of anticipation and sadness. Anticipation- will we be picked? Will she like our family? Sadness- I wish she had someone in her life to support her. I wish she did not have to make this decision. I wish the baby could be born under different circumstances.
We were not chosen. Now, we felt a mix of rejection and hopefulness. Rejection- What about our family does not seem good enough? Hopefulness- We are the right family for another child we have not met yet.
Fast forward a couple of months to April. We had presented to many situations but had heard nothing but no’s to every situation we said yes to for a variety of reasons. Then we saw a Facebook post from an agency. They were looking for a family open to a child due any day with some special medical needs. We responded right away- it was a yes for us! We talked to his mom, an amazing woman we instantly connected with. We had many signs that pointed to this being meant to be. We booked our flights, took down our infant car seat from storage. My mom booked a flight to meet us in the state he was born in. We picked out his name. I filed my leave at work. We prayed all the time for his family and ours.
14 hours before we left to meet him, the process came to a crashing halt. Out of respect for his story, we will keep the details minimal. But we had experienced something we knew was a possibility in this journey- an “adoption disruption”. An adoption that is set in motion and for one of many reasons does not make it to the end. While we knew it was a possibility, we always felt that we would find peace for the most common reason an adoption disrupts, which is the mom has a change of heart and chooses to parent. We fully believe any woman who can safely choose to parent absolutely should. But our adoption “disrupted” for a very different reason and it left everyone involved so heartbroken.
I was so devastated I had a physical reaction. I felt ill. This was a loss I had never experienced before. And I will never forget hearing my mom cry on the phone when I told her what happened. Followed by having to share one by one with our other family and friends and seeing their sadness out of care and concern for our family and this sweet mama and the baby. It was then that we decided to keep our future “situations” private, to spare our loved ones this emotional rollercoaster that we are on.
So here we are today. One year in the “the wait”. In one year, we have seen 50+ situations from attorneys, agencies, and women reaching out through Facebook from across the country. Because we are very willing and open to raise a child with heavy substance exposure, many of the calls we get are complicated situations all around. We have heard from women at only 13 weeks pregnant and have received calls for babies already born. We have said yes to situations for women who are homeless or in jail, to highly educated women not ready to parent. We have said yes to women considering adoption for their first child, to women considering adoption for their seventh child. We have prayed over and thought deeply about every single one.
Through this journey, the support we have received from Katie at Purl has at many times been the only thing that has kept us going. She has been there when we have felt excited, she called us in the middle of the night when the baby we thought was ours was born, and she sat on the phone with me as I sobbed on my front step when we received bad news. She has encouraged us to trust our instincts, and has many times been the only voice of hope that tells us that “someday this will all make sense when you are holding your child”.
For reasons we do not yet understand, the child(ren) we believe we are the family for has not yet come into our lives. While we are usually optimistic, we have found ourselves in a period of sadness and questioning the very root of why we chose adoption in the first place. Despite that, we still have the small voice inside that has been there all along telling us that there is a reason adoption has been on our hearts for so long. So for today we will hold out hope, and continue the wait.