Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Interminable Wait

Seven Months. That's right, seven. Honestly, I thought we had the whole waiting thing on lock. I mean, we've been in this adoption process since 2012!! We know all about waiting!

But none of the other waiting prepared me for the void that followed our request to be matched with that tiny little girl with the tiny little profile.  It was July the first time we saw her on paper--this little bitty person with the huge, sad brown eyes staring right at us, a stark contrast to her pink floral ruffles and puffy white sleeves. We could see her entire, sad little story in the glance captured by that single picture. It remains, to this day, the only one we've seen of her.

It was the first week of August before our caseworker finally got a response from the Inter-Country Adoption Bureau (ICAB) acknowledging our interest in this little girl. But immediately, there was a hiccup--one of her special needs was not listed as "accepted" on our "acceptable special needs" list. When we got word of this issue, Jake was in Kansas (of course he was!) and I was traveling for work (of course I was!), and so the corrected form didn't arrive until three days later. Then came more silence. 

We heard silence all through August and all of September. The first thing that is supposed to happen after you request to be matched with a child is to receive their comprehensive file, and then state definitively "yes, we want this child." But two months had rolled by with no files, and we were beginning to think well, if they won't even send us files on the child, odds are they are not going to pick us for her.

On October 8, 2014 we finally received the little girl's full file. It contained the same picture we had seen previously, plus details about her history (sad indeed, and for a different post), as well as details about her medical issues. 

It was more information, but nothing that differed from what we learned about her through the little paragraph that originally accompanied her picture. We immediately notified our caseworker that "yes, we want this child," and she conveyed our response to ICAB on the same day. Which is a good thing, because we were given a deadline of less than a week to respond!

After that...More waiting. The rest of October passed us by, and half of November, too! On November 20, 2014, our caseworker received an email from ICAB asking if we were still interested in  the child, and noting that we must reply within three days. More hurry up and wait!! But it was an easy question to answer; in fact, my email back had only one word and five punctuation marks in it: 
After that email exchange, guess what happened next? Yep! More waiting. Thanksgiving passed us by, and then we rolled into December. When we were headed toward Christmas, I became convinced I was getting news as my Christmas present.

Never convince yourself that something out of your hands is going to be your present. Ever. It was a super rough holiday, and I did it to myself.

Christmas passed with no news, as did New Year's Eve and Day. It was two weeks into the new year, on January 14, 2015, when we got an urgent email from our caseworker, with loads of questions to answer about our family.  ICAB wanted to know more about Howie's medical history; they wanted to know more about our home dynamics; they wanted more information about Jake's service and his retirement plans. It was a ton of questions, but none directly related to the little girl we requested, which was a bit confusing. We didn't know if this request was about her, or if ICAB was just updating family files.

And, again, we were given a very short time frame in which to respond. 

There's nothing like waiting forever to be thrown into the frantic, over and over. 

We cobbled together answers to all the questions (read: the wordsmith in me poured over them endlessly until I thought they were perfect), got a letter from Howie's doctor regarding his medical history, and managed to get it all sent off within four days. I'm actually really proud we managed to respond so rapidly. 

...And you know what happened next. 

Honestly, these in-between places sometimes feel like a game of Jeopardy that will never end, theme song on a perpetual loop, when all I want is for someone to shout the right answer!! Anyone? Anyone?

On February 25, 2015, we received a FedEx package from our adoption agency containing, among other things, the news we had been waiting for...
"The Inter-Country Adoption Bureau has approved the placement..."
Oh the joy! I laughed and cried and would have been dancing in my office, if I weren't still trying to prove to my then-new coworkers that I was sane and well-adjusted. (Although I have it on good authority, however, that others were crazy-dancing on our behalf).

I was so excited about the news that I *almost* missed the fine print. The letter from ICAB was dated February 9, 2015. And the first line of the second paragraph read:
"Non-receipt of the couple's decision on the placement within fifteen (15) days...will be deemed a rejection of the proposal."
Anyone catch the math? We got the package on Day 15 in the U.S., which meant that Day 15 was already over in the Philippines. 

Our caseworker had been traveling on business for the adoption agency. No one checked her mail while she was gone. And now, after months of agonizing over whether we would be picked as this little person's parents, we were facing a blown deadline. 

And just like that, the fine print squashed our joyous celebration like a bug.

I don't know if I've ever felt that sad and that furious all at the same time. I raced to put together the materials required to accept the proposal. It was no small task! There were detailed forms to fill out, cashier's checks to obtain, doctors' notes to obtain, things to be notarized, not to mention a slew of things to collect to send to the little one (pictures, stories, etc.). 

Fortunately, I had already been working on a storybook for her, which was basically ready to go.

Mixbook - Create stunning photo books, cards and calendars! | Design your own photo book with Mixbook's easy online editor.

We threw everything together as quickly as we could, sending the acceptance first digitally and then by overnight courier to our caseworker, praying that ICAB might still let us bring home our girl.

It was another two weeks of waiting and wondering before we finally got the news--despite our missing the deadline, ICAB was going to let us proceed with the match. 

On March 12, 2015, ICAB confirmed receipt of our documents, and let us know that the things I sent for the baby were being forwarded to her caregivers.

I'd love to stop right here and stamp the whole story with a "happily ever after," and then pepper your social media feeds with pictures of our little brown-eyed girl. But it's July and we still only have one, rambunctious, boy-of-a-child running around our house, so you know the story isn't over.

No, we learned that the official match was only the beginning of a whole new process (and a whole new round of waiting!) to get from a match on paper to a child in the home.

Stay tuned...

1 comment:

  1. I found your blog tonight after searching for Philippines adoption blogs. My husband and I have been married five years and ever since we got married, adoption has been in our hearts. We still have about a year to wait until we're ready to start the process, but knowing it will happen - I love reading others' stories. Yours has been such a struggle of hardships and I'm sure once we begin, we will have our fair share as well. But reading this post makes my heart so happy for you! It's been such a long journey that's not over, but God is already working on the minute details of this and it will come together beautifully! Thank you so much for sharing your story and I'm so excited to continue following along. Many blessings!