Thursday, January 12, 2012

Part III: Cue Tom Petty--The Waiting is the Hardest Part

My first child was vacuum-sucked into the world five days past her due date. My second child was coaxed out by a dose of castor oil taken eleven days past his due date. My third child...well, he has no "due date". We are currently in the end/middle/surely-not-beginning? of our wait to take custody of YH. The countdown clock started ticking 13 months ago when we officially sent our acceptance paperwork to Korea.

The super fun awesome (NOT) part of the process is that we have NO IDEA when his emigration permit will be processed, thus triggering our much anticipated "travel call". When we initially accepted his file our wait-to-travel was estimated at 11 months. On Mother's Day 2011 (thanks universe!) we found out the wait would be 14 months. As of today, no one has *officially* said that timeline will also be extended but it sure looks like a possibility to me and many of my fellow waiting parents.

I have done my best to be stoic about the wait. If you asked me what the wait was like, or how we were doing, I probably responded with one of the following chipper phrases:

1. We're so thankful he has more time to spend in his home culture!
2. We know he's being well-loved by his foster family and that's all that matters!
3. This gives us a chance to work on our Korean language skills!
4. I am so grateful for the extra time this gives us to prepare for his special needs!

You know why? Because those are the *right* things to say. Those are the thoughts that my intellectual self has rationally constructed. Those are the bon mots that my brain dispenses in moments of pure panic. Moments when my emotional self takes over and my throat closes up in a swell of despair. In truth when my mouth is forming one of the above sentences, my heart is screaming "This sucks! I hate that I have no idea when this child will join us! I just want him in my home."
I do. I really, really do.

So I've been living in a state of stagnant self-pity for the last two weeks. Everyone in the Korean adoption community expected that January 2, 2012 would bring rapid progress in the emigration process for our waiting children. We pinned our hopes on that day and started researching different flight itineraries and worrying over which hotels were already booked. And I guess we were all getting a little too smug about the prospect of travel...because for the last nine days there has been silence. Now we all sit stunned in front of our computers, alternating between hitting "refresh" on our email, checking adoption forums for news, and then hopping over to our adoption agency website for updates.

And I admit that in my desperation I wished for an email from our program specialist about anything, just something to let me know that she was there and she knew I was waiting.

(Hahahahaha...Oh Nora! How dare you tempt fate that way.)

And so my wished-for email arrived yesterday at 1:43 pm. But instead of telling me GOOD NEWS my wished-for email (now more of a visit from a bad fairy) told me that our son needs surgery.


And so I sit 6969 miles away from him waiting for medical files to be translated, for specialists to be consulted, and for big decisions to be made. I am more helpless now than ever. Instead of feeling stagnant I feel wild inside. This is a real little boy facing real medical intervention and I have no say in the matter. The Korean government is legally his guardian and they get to decide when/where he receives medical treament. His sugery and recovery could very well further delay his emigration process.

I should clarify that my son's medical need is not life threatening, but it does need to be corrected and it would impact his quality of life if left untreated. I should also say that we intentionally set out to adopt a child who needed extra medical support. As it turned out, the child meant for our family had "invisible" needs (or so we thought). We knew that YH would likely need several different kinds of therapies throughout his life and we set about drafting care plans and building resources in anticipation of those "invisible" needs.

And then we were blindsided by a "visible" need.


  1. Oh Nora, the good fairies are coming.

    1. Mama Dog, they better be. I'm ready! Bring on the benedictions!

  2. I'm so sorry. The waiting and feeling helpless is painful in ways others can't understand unless they've walked the road. I hope the surgery goes well and that you get unexpected good news soon.

    1. Thank you so much. The waiting sucks big time. A brilliant friend of mine, also waiting, just reminded me that "That to which we give attention grows". I'm going to try to stop being such a sad-sack and give my attention to some beauty from here on out...(also: your children are so amazingly lovely).