Adoption Is…


Each journey to adopt a child has its own “specialness.” And our journeys were no different. In working with clients (parents) and reflecting often on the adoption process, I see a number of common themes.

Adoption is complex. Sure, there are parameters and expectations, but they are on a spectrum—a delicate orchestration overseen by your agency and the governing bodies within and outside the individual states and the U.S. There is a reason adopting parents are given a checklist; there is a lot to do and keep track of.

So many people were instrumental in playing a part in each of our three adoptions: from our physicians to enthusiastic family, friends and ministers; from our local police (who turned their letters around in minutes) to the wonderful gentleman at the FBI that took my mother’s tears to heart when our finger prints were lost—not once or twice, but three times during our youngest son’s process; from the surly INS person to the wonderful female Customs official at LAX who exclaimed to my oldest daughter, fresh off a sixteen-hour plane ride from China, “Welcome to the United States! Welcome home, beautiful baby!”

Adoption is emotional and tests you—trying your patience and your faith. Adoption is an emotional rollercoaster. The inherent complexity of any adoption is fraught with anxiety and joy and hope and uncertainty and worry and raw nerves and… and… and …

Although there were commonalities among the adoption of our three children, there were also just as many differences. Laws changed in a matter of years, as did requirements. After adopting from China twice we adopted from Guatemala, where the process was almost a 180° difference. We adapted every time. We learned to negotiate the highs and the lows, the stops and starts, the twists and turns. Through adoption we grew in other aspects of our characters because we needed to and, by doing so, we were sustained through the months of waiting.

We found patience we didn’t know we were capable of and our faith deepened. When our paperwork was delayed due to a typo (yes), we had to dig deep. We were looking at a minimum of a three-month delay to bring our son home. The delay unnerved us. The chasm of ache was bottomless. Would another delay occur? Was the adoption of our son happen?

Gee… I didn’t even mention all of the paperwork and how we felt about everyone knowing our most private details.

“This is not under your control.” Many of us spend our youth and young adult lives learning to control ourselves and our environment for the purpose of achieving success—in relationships, business and personal fulfillment. We become very good at control and affecting change. Sometimes it’s wise to pay heed.

Ruled somewhat by “A” personality traits, my husband and I came to understand quite quickly into our first adoption that we were not in control. We were told. We listened and took the advice to heart. The wisdom about control proved to be oh-so-true throughout each of our adoption journeys.

Along the way we made sure to address what we could control, completing our checklist of requirements in a timely manner. While we sometimes felt frustrated we recognized that much of the process was outside of our agency’s control as well, so we made the choice to be pleasant. After all, we were expecting!

MLJ Adoptions is a Non-Profit, Hague-Accredited adoption service provider located in Indianapolis, Indiana, working in Africa, Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Isles. We are passionate about serving children in need.