So last Friday I saw our adoption worker Chareyl post a petition on her Facebook page and on our agency's page with the tag line, "Sign this petition and help us save adoptions!!"
Petition link here: http://saveadoptions.org
I'll admit that my first reaction was (very selfishly) - "Oh no...not again".
Of course I believe that all children deserve a home and family and I would never want anything to hinder that possibility for all children that are in need of those things...but first I selfishly worried about our family, about our child.
When you hear an ambulance siren or a report of a horrible car accident do you mentally take inventory of those closest to you? Of course you don't want anyone's family member to have been in a tragic accident, but it's natural to think first about preservation of your family and loved ones. And so it was with me. We've been actively pursuing this adoption for nearly 4 years now. A little over 2 years into the process our adoption from Ethiopia fell through. It was difficult and painful, however after a quick but intense 4 weeks we applied to continue our adoption journey in Haiti. We knew it was right. I may have had worries at first that my heart wouldn't be "in" things like it ever was with Ethiopia...the same way that I once worried that I wouldn't be able to love the child growing in my belly as much as our first child that we went through so much to bring into our family through adoption before him. Of course I love him as much, and of course we feel every bit as committed to adopting a child from Haiti as we did from Ethiopia.
I may not have met our little girl yet, but I have thoroughly fallen in love with her country of birth. I feel like when you adopt from another country that you don't just adopt one of it's children...but also the country itself, along with it's culture/language/traditions/struggles. I feel invested in Haiti and the child that she will give us through whatever form of loss and tragedy she's gone through to come into our family. I think of her daily and we all pray for her every night. My heart misses this child that I haven't even met yet, and the idea of something threatening our adoption again made my heart skip a beat and sink in my chest.
There are still a lot of unknowns regarding the proposed regulations, but I do know that they come from the department of state. While I do support regulations that increase standards of ethics and protect children, many of these reach so far beyond this that they actually backfire and hurt the children they are supposedly designed to protect. The regulations are not only over-reaching, but lack funding both on the U.S. side and particularly unreasonably for the country of origin. For example, if the U.S. wants to designate that orphanages can't receive funding from agencies (paid by adoptive parents) to provide for the child in their care until the adoption is complete...and their country's government isn't able or willing to provide that funding then the options are either that the child's standard of care will suffer staggeringly, the orphanage will have to find other (likely unethical ways) of supporting themselves, or that the orphanage will be forced to close. None of these options help the children in their care!
They are also proposing that all internationally adopting families participate in 20 hours of foster care certification in addition to the 10 hours of parent training already required. I'm all about gathering information and being prepared as an adoptive parent, but many of the issues internationally adopted children face are different from those in foster care in our country. There isn't funding for this training, and those providing the training aren't educated in the specific differences of children being adopted internationally.
I could go on. Here's a link to the proposal as it stands now: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2016/09/08/2016-20968/intercountry-adoptions
So, basically my nerves have been a little raw waiting to see how this unfolds. I signed a petition voicing concern, and I know there are people and organizations working to see that these regulations don't pass as they are written now...but it's just a worry.
Now on to my theme song!
I have two or three songs that have seemed to really resonate with me during our adoption process over the last several years. One of which is "I Will Wait" by Mumford & Sons. When I hear the chorus to that song it's like my heart is scream-singing along trying to make itself heard clear in Haiti by a little girl there that we are waiting to know and hold. I can't hear that song and not feel something. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I feel emboldened, sometimes I feel energized, and sometimes I just want to pull a blanket up around me and listen to the song on repeat.
Anyway! I had the opportunity to see Mumford & Sons in concert on Monday! They put on a fantastic show and I loved it. What song do you think they performed in their encore? Yup. "I Will Wait". The song was released the year we began this journey and would have resonated with me at any given time during this process...it certainly did that night.
Lastly, my reality check:
Yesterday my friend Jaimi's family brought their sweet daughter home from Haiti. I found out who she and Ryan were because Mark's parents are friends with Ryan's parents. We connected online and they invited us to their online album where we got to see photos of their trip meeting their daughter for the first time while they were there! Then I met her for the first time at a yard sale fundraiser for Haitian Roots in June 2015, but really got to know her during our time working closely together during the Haitian Roots gala. My heart ached for her during delays with their paper process and with how long it took them to get their little girl home. We prayed and fasted for that little girl to come home and it was so, so fantastic to see their family all together at the airport.
We were grateful to be invited to be part of their homecoming and our whole family attended to offer them our support and excitement and also to try and show the boys what this will be like someday. To make things less abstract for them. Noah was pretty into the whole thing and the other two...well they were a bit distracted, I leave it there (insert story about Lincoln & Max fighting and then Max getting lectured by a police officer). However! It was so wonderful to see Jaimi with Jo on her hip, and how she kept wrapping her arms around Jaimi's neck and resting her head in the crook of her neck. Beautiful.
While I was genuinely elated for our friends to have their little girl home (especially ahead of an incoming storm that could develop into something troubling for Haiti)...I was surprised by the mix of emotions in my own heart. They were somehow familiar even though this was my first time at an airport homecoming of this type. Then I realized what it was...it was that feeling that I had during all the years we ached to become parents when we were happy for those we loved to bring children into the world. It's how I felt at baby showers, when people announced their pregnancies, or brought their new babies to church for the first time. I was genuinely excited for them and happy, I really was...but it also came with it's own sting of yearning to join them. I know I am blessed with three wonderful little boys, and that is not lost on me...but I also have another child out there that we are STILL waiting on to complete our family. A child that I worry about and that we have yet to even meet...and that was the reality check. We are still so far away from her being home. And that hurt.