The day my husband I decided to start our family through adoption was an exciting one, as are most endeavors before you really know what you’re delving into. We so naively thought we would pick a country, make a call, and receive a beautiful baby on our doorstep in no time. Today as I look so lovingly into the eyes of our daughter (who we waited over two years for), I laugh at our innocence! In my opinion, there is nothing in this world that can match the feeling of holding your adopted child in your arms for the first time. But what you are not told when you talk to the lovely social workers and helpful adoption agency personnel is that this is a journey that will make you scream, cry, stay up at night, fight, beg, and break down in utter exhaustion. It all starts with what is known in the adoption community as the paper chase. Our agency wanted to know every intimate detail about our lives. The government also wants to know all your intimate details (one form had us listing every residence from the time we were eight years old!), and the country you are adopting from needs extra reassurance that you are going to be a fit parent. There are doctors visits for physicals, government agencies for fingerprints (which, by the way, expire for some inexplicable reason), and phone calls every day to follow up on the paperwork you trustingly hand over to your local FedEx guy. And amidst all of these background checks, parenting classes (yes, t10 hours worth), and social worker visits that a prospective adoptive parent goes through, there is still an overwhelming amount of corruption. Two years into our process of adopting a child from Nepal, the US government stopped all adoptions due to babies being stolen from their Nepalese families. Send a ton of money to a developing country, and you’re bound to have corruption. Not willing to give up, we switched to a program in China, and had a ton of paperwork to fill out all over again. Bring on more tears and frustration.
If you are strong enough to get to the point where all of your paperwork has finally made it to the country of choice. If you are still standing at this point, you will be blessed with the best phone call you can imagine. The call I got telling us about the baby girl that we had been matched with is etched indelibly into my mind. I can replay it verbatim at will. I still remember feeling breathless, shaking, and wanting to run home to see the pictures that were emailed to me. This is what makes the grueling journey so worth it. Of course, upon opening the long-awaited email containing pictures and information about our child, we were presented with yet more paperwork! More governmental bureaucracy, and more waiting. Because of the tenuous nature of international adoption, I could not really breathe easily until we were home with her. But, we managed to remain strong through it all. I went to China to get our daughter in April of 2011. And finally, after a very long journey, we were home! Because of her, I am a stronger person today. Because of her, I am a mother. International adoption is not for everyone. But for those that are prepared to take on the challenge, it is so very worth it.
--by Debbie Subhan Silver
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