A handful thoughts about this adoption process have been rattling around in my head lately. I know there are adoptive families, like ours, who are scouring bulletin boards and blogs for answers to questions and wondering "how" and "why" in this journey. So, with my fingers moving over this keyboard, I offer a little bit of experience and a lot of words. I hope these thoughts are helpful...
On vaccinations... International adoption that requires travel necessitates vaccinations. Before we traveled to bring MyLinh home, we each ended up with at least five shots --whether new vaccines or boosters. It came as a surprise that there were even more recommended for our trip to Ethiopia. We were faced with a couple of dilemmas, including "do we vaccinate even though these aren't required, just recommended?" and "how do you weigh the risk of disease with the cost of the vaccinations?" and "who has the best deal?" (Who knew that you could "shop around" for Yellow Fever and Typhoid vaccine prices?) With much research and finally a command decision (based mostly on fear, not statistics), we ended up with a total of 4 shots (two for each of us) that totaled *gulp* nearly $500, and we still didn't end up with all the recommended vaccines.
On blogs... The world of blogging has been a tremendous encouragement to me on this journey. Those in this process have a unique vocabulary and anxieties and joys that can sometimes be best shared by those walking the same path. However, I am most grateful for the blogs of those that have walked before me. The heart offerings of these saints have been lifelines as I have wrestled with questions. I would challenge those first-time adoptive parents to not only listen in to those walking next to you, but be still and glean from those that have journeyed ahead. I wish to thank Ann, who has been a source of tremendous wisdom, encouragement and laughter as she has so transparently shared her heart on her blog.
On reading... When we were in the process with MyLinh, I read all of the recommended books that our agency listed, as well as most of the books from the library that I could get my hands on. Many of them were tremendously discouraging as they dealt with issues that might arise, and as an expectant parent, reading about every possible problem made me wonder if that was in store for us. Once MyLinh was in our arms, I analyzed her every behavior. Instead of delighting in her winsome ways and sweet personality, I was worrying that her lack of stranger anxiety meant she had not properly attached. Was her delightful tiptoe walking really an indication of a sensory issue related to institutionalization? It is wise to be prepared, but I write all this to share with you a few titles that I have read recently that are lighter reading about this journey:
Lucky Girl: A Memoir by Mei-Ling Hopgood offers a fascinating look at an adoptee's reconnection with her Tawainese birth family.
Digging to America by Anne Tyler is a novel that gives an interesting perspective on culture and identity.
A Sane Woman's Guide to Raising a Large Family by Mary Ostyn is a treasure trove of advice for those raising a large family, giving nuggets of wisdom for adoptive mothers as well.
On waiting... I hate waiting. I am impatient to a fault in all areas of my life, and I don't like unknowns or surprises. I thrive on plans, lists, calendars, schedules. All of creation operates in beautiful synchrony. The tides can be timed, the sun rises and sets on glorious schedule, the birth cycle happens in a neat time frame, and as I wait for my chocolate-eyed Moses to arrive in my arms, I can no sooner predict the day than count the stars. I can guess, hope, and pray, and we are doing a lot of that here. But, ultimately, this is out of my hands completely. Very little in our lives as Americans is out of our hands, and I am not used to this feeling. I don't like this. At all. But, I am learning that this season of waiting is beautiful, because it is in His time. As I wait on the One who set the tides in motion and brought all four of these sweet faces into my family, each in His way and in His time, I am reminded again and again (thank you, Mama) that my life is not my own. This is a good place to be, this remembering of the big picture. And it is a good place to be, bowed around the dinner table, to hear three voices echo prayers for a brother oceans away. So even as I walk into a tiny room with crib tucked against a gray-blue wall and a soft jacket sewn by a Nana waiting too, I am reminded that He makes all things beautiful in His time. And so I wait. May you find sweetness and beauty in this days of delay. Because these days, too, are a gift.