While I certainly don't have a pregnancy experience to compare it to, I have happily attended many showers and visited tons of friends who have delivered as they recover in the hospital. And believe me folks, not having an extra large tummy (well...at least not due to pregnancy! Hahaha! I DO have a big tummy!) makes all the difference in the world in terms of how others perceive what you are going through. While there are plenty of kind inquiries, it is different, pure and simple. And often when you are adopting, depending upon the circumstance and the details involved, the questions can get harder and harder to answer as so much is out of your control and the wait can be a real struggle.
When all is said and done, we will have 5 children. I won't have given birth to a single one, and yet each is as precious to me as if I had. There is no difference in what the heart recognizes as the love a family has for one another, regardless of superficial things like skin color or eye shape. Each trip to adopt has been remarkable, each has changed all of us in profound ways.
But each time it has felt a little lonely.
Each time Dominick and I found ourselves preparing for our new addition pretty much by ourselves. We live far from grandparents, aunts and uncles. For the most part we prepared nurseries by ourselves, we bought onesies by ourselves, we dreamed by ourselves. There were no showers, there was no "ooohing" and "aaahhing" as cute outfits were admired by others. When Matt came home we hadn't lived here very long, we were not involved in a church and had spent so much time working for survival that we just hadn't had time to develop many close relationships. One friend I had at the time made an attempt and had a cake and I think there were 3 other people there which was about all I actually knew in town!
This time, surprisingly, it feels different. I feel a little less alone in all of it. Part of it is due to you, our Dear Readers, who have cared for us and followed our journey since Kenny's adoption. You have prayed for us, you have written us, you have continued to offer your virtual support and it has helped enormously.
Part of it is also due to the dear friends I now have who simply will not allow me to feel that this is not just as important as having a baby! It is a new experience for me, and it is amazing to have friends who tell me that despite my own worries about it they will never tire of hearing about our little mini-drama here and they are as excited as we are about our newest additions. They are letting me share it, letting me feel "pregnant" for the first time, they are supporting and nurturing me through what has to have been the World's Longest Virtual Pregnancy.
Yesterday I went to lunch with 3 close friends, and much to my surprise one of them pulls out a JCPenney catalog so we could all look at girlie bedding and plan a beautiful bedroom together. Good thing too, as I have absolutely no taste at all and need my Idea Machines to help!! We flipped from page to page making comments like "too mature"...or "too young", and I ever-so-slowly began to feel something that I have never felt during our prior adoptions...I actually feel kind of "pregnant"!!!
What do you all think of this one??????
And you know what? I AM!!! At least in the only way I will ever be, and quite frankly in the only way that feels "normal" to me! Hahaha! Community...sisterhood...it makes all the difference in the world. Just having someone to share it with, people who really care about our family and who voice how they are imagining us all together someday...knowing they have even GIVEN it a thought...it creates an entirely different environment surrounding this event.
And have I said how very, very wonderful it is to feel for the first time fairly certain that we will actually complete this adoption...that years of high hopes and dreams might actually come true? The release of carrying around those bottled up emotions is healing. The dread of each email telling of another uncontrollable delay, the fear that I might live the rest of my life feeling as if I have children out there who will never make it home has shuttered my heart for a long time and I am slowly gaining a sense of confidence that we just might actually make it through!! Even Dominick is beginning to check out the weather in Kaz (always a personal adoption milestone I can count on...when the weather checks begin for anticipated possible travel times!) so I know he is feeling as upbeat as I am.
Today, to help step up the anticipation we received the travel package of information compiled by our agency, Pearl S. Buck/Welcome House http://www.psbi.org/site/PageServer?
Our representative there, Leonette Boiarski, has put together the single most comprehensive travel preparation document we have ever received, bar none. I was amazed at how culturally sensitive it was, how thorough and well thought out it was. Of course, much of what was shared was information we already know from our previous trips, but especially for the newcomer it was chocked full of all the little details that agencies often don't think to share with their clients.
We have been truly fortunate that each of our adoptions was with an outstanding agency, ethical and helpful. Somehow we managed to avoid the ones that through the years have been shut down or were corrupt. I have to laugh though that we will have adopted 5 children and used a different agency each time...not with intent or because of discontent, but because that is just how it worked out!
I am ever-so-glad that I have spent the thousands of hours online doing research and participating in online forums as it has truly paid off in our own personal preparation and kept us somewhat safe and well informed. If you keep in dogged pursuit of information, it doesn't take too much to figure out which agencies to avoid after reading repeated stories about issues parents have overseas, etc. but it does take diligence to seek out information from a variety of sources. We have never had the money to lose should we make a mistake so my research became terribly important, especially in light of situations with larger agencies in the past such as Yunona and its subsidiaries or Orson Mozes, both of whom were working in Kazakhstan and both of whom had large fraud cases against them.
Although this has been, by far, our most arduous and difficult adoption to date (and definitely our last, regardless of now owning a 15 passenger van!), it was in no way due to the fault of our agency, and Leonette has been uber professional the entire time, even when at moments I know she had to dread picking up the phone to inform us of another delay in dossier processing. The Pearl S. Buck Foundation and Welcome House Adoptions have been around for over 50 years and their stellar reputation is well deserved. It is also what helped Dominick and I have the confidence to continue despite all the struggles this time around, we knew we had a good team behind us and each step further into our adoption that is becoming more and more evident.
So I guess the time has officially come to begin working on a bedroom, to think of yellows and lavenders, of flowers and butterflies. It is as safe as it ever gets with international adoption, so we will proceed not with caution, but throwing caution to the winds and rejoicing in the fact that this time, we are not alone!!