Waiting for our second daughter

It was a warm Fall season, much like this one, when with intense emotions, with anticipation and nervousness, we were waiting to become parents for the first time. Two years have passed since. We prepared for the impact, like two ships on the stormy sea.

În așteptarea celei de-a doua fiice

We chose to speak openly about our decision to adopt. We felt in our heart that it is better for us. The joy of anticipation, our preparation in all areas: emotional, physical, psychological could not happen in a void. Not at all. But our decision to be transparent had its sideeffects. Nothing is preset in adoption. Time is relative. The wait is heavy. The variables unknown. “What’s the news on the adoption front? Did you solve anything? Are you still adopting or did you change your mind?” I tried not to take it personal… but besides our own wrestling, the fog on our path, the lack of answers that we ourselves wished we had… How is it possible that people don’t understand it’s not easy? Why do they add salt on the wound? But none of us was born learnt, and out of a desire to do the right thing, mistakes were made by asking and not asking …Alas, we had grace. Grace for them, for us. And it’s water under the bridge.

Now it is Fall again. The journey of recertification looks very much like the first one. A few days after we got the green light that we can get re-certified, as in there were 90 days left of the first certification that already fulfilled its purpose, but we couldn’t overlap them, we started the journey of putting together our documentation. It was a Spring of running and hoping.

Going through the same procedure of certification again, I realize how fast I forget. I forgot willingly, or maybe that’s how a new parent’s brain works. In consequence, for me and posterity, here is how the adoption works in Romania of 2018.

You decide you want to adopt. You ask a friend. You tell your family. You look for the shortest road, but you end up at the same institution DGASPC, and they inform you about what adoption entails. They answer all your questions, the ones you have and the ones you didn’t even know to ask. The adoption Chief answers all your questions and they add you to their yearly pre-information list. They give you a list of documents you need to gather and from the moment you bring all the paperwork (which takes about two weeks to gather) you submit your file and the 90 days countdown begins, until you get your certification as able to adopt. During these 90 days there are evaluations, classes, visits you need to go through.

The circumstances, as I understand them, to NOT get certified are as follows:
You live in precarious conditions, improper for raising a child. In Romania you don’t need to have a separate room for the child, especially if you opt for a young kid. They consider that you can expand to a larger space with time, as long as their potential and a will. You don’t have to be rich to adopt. Usually, the adoptive parents are not rich. They are modest people with a big heart and an ability to adapt financially. We worried on this matter as well, but God multiplied our income much like the oil of the widow in Sarepta.
But, the most important point of the matter, to adopt you have to be sane and stable. Adding a new member into the family can shake the house from its foundation. If we are unstable adults, adoption can throw us off tracks. And the people responsible for our case, they raise hard questions, they make us doubt everything holy, they shower us with cold water …and it’s not comfortable. It may even seem that they discourage you from adopting. Because it’s not easy. On the contrary. But if you don’t loose your heart, if you sit strongly in your lane, you move forward to certification.

All the parents who have adopted say that the hardest part in the process of adoption is the wait. Waiting for The Call. That the system has matched you with a child according to your profile. We opted to adopt a girl between 0 and 2 and relatively healthy. The rest didn’t matter. The day we got the call, a new matching program had just been launched. And we were matched one to one with a girl soon to turn 3. So a few days later she would have not matched our profile. After we were called, they stopped the program matching till further review, because our matching was an anomaly in the system. (My constant prayer was that God would have his hand in the program for us). There were other certified families who have been waiting for longer, who could have theoretically matched our girl. But the good ladies from the adoption office said that they already called us and they couldn’t take their word back. We had established a visit to the girl the very next day. And thus we met our first daughter. We went there decided that we don’t turn back. We knew with our mind that she is ours. The heart, the attachment, the emotions followed.

That year, walking through the city, seeing kids walking with their class, hand in hand, coming to or from kindergarten, we would look at their faces, so different, so diverse, and we would wonder how our kid looks like. We had trained our heart so well to not covet other children, that now, when the time came to see our very own daughter, it was like we couldn’t let our heart loose to attach, to rejoice. Is it her? Really? Our? No reservations?

From her side things developed with such naturalness. She came into my arms after a few minutes. I was clumsier, Conrad more brave. We all entered the room where she was having breakfast, with wide eyes, and timid but serene smiles. We courted one another, we observed each other, we played, we talked, we asked and we listened. And we all melted. At the end of our of visit, the girl came outside with us to walk us to the front yard gate. She was holding conrad’s hand, wearing a purple rain jacket and red rain boots. I caught them on camera walking ahead. We were reinventing ourselves as parents And our hearts were going to be forever transformed, beaten like a Schnitzel, tenderized and filled with life.

Two years have gone by since then. We don’t fear time anymore. The passing of years are measure not in our growing old but in the growing and transformation of a new life. I feel that parenting gives meaning to life. After tasting the professional success, and what a feast I have had, being a parent is what was missing. I renounced the Mecca of technology in Silicon Valley for the Heart of Transylvania, for a simpler life with more flavor. For at least a while. We needed just a little courage and a little more madness to return, and I give credit to Conrad for his decisiveness without a trace of doubt, to come and start the adoption procedure. I would have dragged my feet a little longer, in my fulfilling career, in a social context where I have blossomed, far away from familiar.

We fulfilled our dreams, everything we set our mind to do and more. Almost four years later we decided that we are not done yet. We want and can adopt more. We want our kids to share the gift and burden of an adoption story, and for us to learn to let go easier. Plus, we always known that the more the merrier.

Slowly we settled in as a small family, and the desire to adopt again became clear. When we went to get “pre-informed” about adoption we got the news of the year. Jaclyn has a biological sister that recently entered the child protection services. And we have priority in adopting her. A few months we were living on a high. We felt that God is leading the way, and he opens our adoption journey in His wisdom.

The discrepancy between the pain of abandonment, the trauma of a child, the severe negligence, in contrast with our desire to adopt, to offer from our overflowing life, and at the same time be blessed with the presence of children in our home …all gets mixed and we push them under the thin layer of normality that day to day life requires of us. We live by grace. And where there is grace there is courage to confront our fears as adults, fears of the imaginary competition with the biological mother in the heart of our child, fear of loss, or disapproval, of disappointment, of indignation. With maturity and love from God, we take things naturally, as they come. And we answer the hard questions of our child, we take a deep breath, we remain silent for a moment in front of their pain. We don’t hide, on the contrary, we celebrate adoption.

Jaclyn was born with a deep seeded desire to be an older sister. And the wish of her heart is coming to be. As God allows it. We are still waiting. Jaclyn says from time to time: “Oh, it’s so hard to wait! When is my little sister coming?”

We were hoping, in our naiveté in the spring that by now we will have already met her. But it tuns out that we have one winter to wait. My stomach hurts in anticipation. I worry. I imagine, though I don’t want to, that during this season she is accumulating even more trauma. And all the while we are waiting for her. And there is nothing else we can do.

The little sister is waiting to be declared adoptable. And to quote a social worker: “we need to burn though some phases”. The little girl was taken into protection. But they are looking for relatives up tho the 4th degree (again, as they did for J), and all are asked to give a written statement if they want to take care of the child or not. But this care is monitored. The state also creates a program of rehabilitation for the mother, they offer resources and support, but these come with strings attached in the matter of parenting.

Files and reports are drafted. The social workers, the jurist, sometimes the local police, pay numerous visits, looking for people, trying to reason with them. In a final file they draw a conclusion that affirms the superior interest of the child. In many instances opening her file for adoption is the solution. But as the file is submitted to the court, it moves from desk to desk for a few good weeks. Only after all the stamps and signatures are collected, the child is declared adoptable.

I have wrestled with all the possible and impossible option we have. I took into consideration what it would mean for us to take her is foster care, in our home. But the law forbids it. As odd as it might sound compared to US for example. We are still monitored post adoption for the adaptation and well being of Jaclyn. Her biological mom has no idea (and currently no desire to know) who has adopted her. Jackie will be able to request to meet her biological family after she turns 18. All in all, J’s little sister has to be in neutral territory and care. This is a transition period, and her fate is being decided as we speak.

Oh, in theory it’s easy to live by God’s providence, but in practice, to let Him decide, whatever He would, to pray with gratitude as if we already received, as in: pray with joy and serenity… that’s a big deal.

It was easier when we didn’t know Jaclyn. We were praying that God would open the road to adoption, and then it was equal if He decided that adoption was not for us, even after the big transatlantic move. But now, our three hearts have been tied to a girl, who I feel I already know though I have never met. I pray incessantly for her wellbeing, and I trust that God listens to my prayer. Though for another half a year, I don’t even know how exactly He is answering it.

As it turns out, we shared again the joy of adoption. How could we not! When part of of the story is this roasting wait time. But transparency comes again as a package deal with the usual questions: “where are you with the adoption of the sister? Have you met her? When will you meet her?”

The odd part is that I love talking about adoption. With joy I would like to educate the friends and strangers about adoption. And to share with whoever wants to accept, my joy as an adoptive parent. We three match together like a layered glove, and nobody priorly advised can guess how special is our story and the love we share. But I wouldn’t want to talk about adoption in the detriment of comfort and safety of my girl, nor would I want to brag. We did nothing special. We just received. We received joy by the bucket, and pure abundant love. And this is what I want to shout to the world. We as people are afraid of what we don’t know. We are afraid of adoption because it comes with an undesired baggage, a baggage hard to manage, a history and a pain that the child you’d give your life for, he carries it. And you wish she didn’t. You would want to carry yourself all the pain, the fears, the powerlessness … but God gives strength where he allows pain. And who are we to shade them or protect them of something that is part of their story line, which without doubt adds to their uniqueness, to their beauty, to their strength. We are where God put us. At the gate of war, to keep the shield well, the shield that He gave us. And not stretch ourselves more than our feet can reach, so as to not fall out of powerlessness or exhaustion.

My stomach aches with emotion, because of worries that are beyond me. But I remember that my wrestling is not an offering to God. But my prayer with faith despite how unclear the future is. Because He knows, He sees, He cares, He opens up roads, He loves in a perfect way, and He keeps me and her under His wing. My faith with serenity is an offering, and that’s what wish for.

There will be a day when we will see clearly in retrospect. Some things here on Earth, and the majority in Heaven. But then very little will matter anymore. And yet, I think that the puzzle pieces will make sense in a year or two. Until then we wait in faith.