Tuesday, January 31, 2012

State of the Union Address

Oh hi there. So, yeah. Things were a little heavy around the ol'blog last week, no? Jeez. Apparently I had some thoughts and some feelings and I needed to spew them all over the interwebs.

Thank you all for your positive feedback and contributions to the conversation. This is hard stuff, and it can be uncomfortable stuff. In many ways I am grateful that our wait to take custody of YH has been longer than expected because it has given me time to learn more and grow more confident in my knowledge of issues and politics surrounding inter-country adoption.

It has also given me time to progress from the stage of feeling like I know it all. Remember when you first learned about orientalism or feminism and you suddenly felt compelled to tell everyone you knew about how they were appropriating another culture or how they needed to subvert the male gaze? NO? Just me? Ok, well I had a similar overwhelming need to unburden myself as I learned about inter-country adoption.

I remember being absolutely certain that we had found the right program pretty early on in our process. In this program we would sign on with a smaller agency, wait 6-9 months to be matched with a mother who had just given birth and then travel to the country of origin. We would spend 6 weeks in country. The birth mother would physically hand her child over to us early in the trip and maybe come by the hotel once or twice a day to nurse the baby. We would get to know her and her family and hopefully have an open adoption (albeit one where we were separated by thousands of miles). It seemed so perfect! We wanted an open adoption! It is so much better for everyone!

And then. Then it began to sink in that if the money we were paying for an adoption were invested in family preservation efforts this child, this nursing infant, might get to grow up in his/her home culture. With his/her cousins and aunties and uncles and birthparents.

In this scenario the concept of an "open adoption" is pretty misleading. The adoption would be "open" in the sense that the adoptive family could agree to sending updates and coming back for visits but because of the huge imbalance in adoptive parent and birth parent resources, it is unlikely that the birth family would have as much access to the child as the term "open" would imply. The adoptive family would always hold the upper hand.

I am not bashing this particular program (although the agency was investigated by the central adoption authority of the placing country last year and it did suspend its program--but good news! The agency just opened up a new program in another impoverished part of the world! hooray!). I am just illustrating how easy it is for us to see what we want to see when we start researching the options for growing our families.

After this particularly enlightening moment I felt the need to cry "corruption!" at every adoptive parent story/blog post. It was not pretty. It was a reflex driven by fear and panic that despite our good intentions we were actually making the world a not-so-great place. I'm over that now. I will proudly shout from the rooftops that I am ignorant, that I am a work-in-progress. That circumstances are rarely GOOD or BAD and that in fact they are almost always BOTH.

As it currently stands I think there is room for awareness, joy, and anger in the adoption process. All at once. I think these heavy thoughts all the time. But I am also eagerly awaiting the GOOD STUFF. The chubby fingers, the belly laughs, the first trip to the beach...all of it.


My situational anxiety is at an all-time high. The latest rumor is that the Korean government will start processing Emigration Permits on February 1st. We don't know if YH's permit will be in the first batch or the second batch of permits to be processed. Chronologically it should be the second, but because of his age and medical status he may be moved to an earlier batch. Each batch takes about 4--6 weeks to process and then adoptive families get their travel calls.

Of course that's the way it usually works. So far this year nothing has gone "as anticipated" so I am wincing in the corner, awaiting the next devastating blow that will further delay travel for us.

Additionally, we received confirmation last week that YH does indeed need surgery. Due to schedule issues with the surgeon in Korea it is recommended that he have his surgery here in the US. We are gathering specialist names and researching recovery times and other things that as a parent you hope you never have to do. I am exploring websites with information about his medical need with my fingers splayed across my eyes--peeking through at pictures of other children who have walked this road.

It's not fair to be this consumed with worry so I'm trying to find some time each day to allow myself to be excited. To let myself organize his "room" (really a nursery/office space that is attached to our master bedroom). To look at his pictures over and over. He turns two this weekend. Two years old. He was 11 months old when we accepted his referral.

That's just the way it is.


  1. The surgery for your child thing is hard. Part blessing because here we are able to do it. Yet part hell as you look for the best doctors and outcomes and try to be truly informed. All the while knowing it isn't your body you are looking for some one to repair but your heart's seemingly fragile home.

  2. I think you are spot on in saying that it is good and bad and I will add beautiful and ugly all at the same time. I think many--most?--situations in life are like that. My heart hurts for this extended wait--I cannot imagine waiting so long after accepting a referral. I am also so sorry to hear about the surgery, scary stuff indeed. I hope you find the resources and specialists you need.

    1. Beautiful-ugly indeed. Thank you for the kind words--we are fortunate to live close to a children's hospital that has a specialty practice with a surgeon who is well-versed in YH's need. We are hopeful. And sad. All at once, of course.

  3. Beautiful-ugly and utterly human in it's love and it's failings. Nora, I really love this post. I've tried to express the conflict I feel so many times, but just end up silent, without the right words. It is, indeed, just the way it is.