Wednesday, May 19, 2010

One, or Two?

Over the past couple of weeks, Geoff and I have been thinking a lot about our adoption plans.  While thinking about our adoption is not new in itself, what is new is the way in which we've been talking about it.  Specifically, we have been talking about the possibility of changing our child request from siblings to a singleton.  Shocked?  I was when I first had the idea.  The thought was reinforced when we received a note from Imagine Adoption last week, basically laying out the limited number of siblings referrals that have been given out over the last couple of years.

In talking with someone at Imagine yesterday, she confirmed that, if we were to change to a singleton request (particularly if we were open to an older child, which we are), we would be matched very quickly.  That doesn't mean to say we'd receive a referral quickly, because the province of Manitoba seems to take a while to process documentation, but a match between us and a child would likely happen very quickly.

It makes one think.

When one has been trying to adopt for eight (yes, eight) years, the prospect of finally being matched with a child is a very, very appealing one.  I want this journey to end.  More specifically, I want the journey of trying to complete our family, to come to a close.  At age 43, I don't think it's unreasonable to think that I want to know who our family is.  Does that make sense?  Our family feel incomplete.  Is is incomplete.

It's made me really think about why I envision three children in our lives.  Why not two?  That's perfectly acceptable, totally wonderful.  Why be greedy by hoping for three?

When I was fourteen or fifteen, I had a dream.  A very, very vivid dream.  In it, I saw with great clarity a small African-born boy who was my child.  He wasn't a baby.  If I had to guess, I'd say that he was three or four years old.  When I awoke, the dream stayed with me and formed the basis of my early desire to adopt from Africa.  I announced my plans to my family, who frankly didn't think too much of it - would you, if your teenage daughter who wasn't even dating anyone, announced her plans to have a child (maybe it would have been more shocking if I actually had been someone!)??  Years later, before I would agree to even date Geoff, I told him that I had an intention to adopt at some point.  Thankfully, this idea sounded good to him.  There's no doubt that when we later learned that fertility would be one of our issues, our pre-dating discussion about adoption made it a very easy to decide that the time was right to pursue this course.  Of course, we had no way of knowing then that, eight years later, we would still be at the pursuit stage. It's been a long and hard journey, with paths that first wound their way to Vietnam, then to China and, finally, along that well-worn trail to Africa that felt like we were coming home.

The African-born boy of my childhood dream has been at the forefront of my mind in the past few weeks.  I believe that, with that dream, God planted the seeds for our current efforts in my heart.  But what I haven't ever really considered was whether it meant adopting one child versus more children.  To be honest, even having thought about it, I'm not sure that God cares one way of another.  What I mean by this is that, while I do believe that our desire to adopt came from God, I'm not convinced that, in our case, he really has a preference as to how many we adopt.  What I do feel sure about, is that it was God who gave me the ability to love children the way I do; and that it was he who gave me the desire for family (though why he made things so difficult for us is a mystery that I likely won't be able to solve in this lifetime).  When we closed down our China file and re-opened it in Ethiopia (doesn't this make it sound like a simple process??!), we learned that we had an opportunity to adopt two rather than one.  We (particularly I!) jumped on it.  Lunged for that opportunity.  Oh my goodness, I thought that was the best thing ever and I wondered for the zillionth time why we'd take so long to find our way to Africa.  It felt totally right.

I'm thinking that it still feels right.  I don't know know whether the opportunity to adopt two comes from God or not, but I surely know that he has given me a love for those children that is paralleled only by my love for Matthew.  To give up on one of them now would be another loss to grieve in this whole journey we're on.  When the crap with Imagine happened last summer and I thought our adoption dreams were, once and for all, over, the grief over that loss felt indescribable.  Still I cannot even write that sentence without my eyes filling with tears and my throat closing up; that place in my heart is still very raw.  It was so much more than losing a dream; it was losing my children.

So, I think we'll hang on for a while yet - to our dream of adopting siblings.  Maybe we'll come to regret it, I'm not sure.  But someone who knows me well asked me yesterday which I'd regret more:  making a change now to adopt one child instead of two; or not choosing to wait (even) longer to see if we might be able to adopt two.  It's risky, for sure, because there are absolutely no guarantees in the international adoption process. But I think I'd regret more not waiting a while longer and seeing what dreams are possible.

* Thanks, all, for your comments and, Michelle, for your prayers.  Cindy, I really appreciated your perspective, given your own experience of making that switch (and I so hope that your next adoption happens quickly!). Shannon, your heart-felt thoughts mean a lot to me; I imagine that YOU have been through a similar process, having made your own switch...given the experiences you and Cindy have had, maybe YOU guys could make our decision for us!  
Bottom line for us for the moment...Though we may yet alter our plans at some point, and though the knowledge that we would receive a quick referral is a huge pull on us, I THINK we'll wait it out for the time least while we're in a state of uncertainty about whether or not to make the change.  I appreciate everyone's thoughts very much!!
PS.  Shannon, thanks for the encouragement to keep writing - means a lot!!


  1. Oh Ruth, the decisions and quandaries adoption brings are heart breaking. How does one decide?

    We came to Ethiopian adoption exactly like you did (through China) and we too jumped at the chance to adopt siblings. We were tempted many times to change to just one child but it just didn't feel right for us at that time. Like you, we just wanted it all to be over and be the family we were supposed to be.

    You are asking yourselves all the right questions, keep listening to your heart! You are always in my prayers,

  2. We switched from waiting for siblings to waiting for one or two children knowing that we would receive a referral for only one (we were open 0-3 years. We received our referral for Mihiret 2 weeks later. She is a perfect fit for our family! Meant to be I would say!
    That said...I do wish we would have waited for our sibling referral. Not because we wish for any other child then our daughter but because we feel that 4 kids is the right number for us. So we are starting again...sigh...and although our wait in the US does not compare to yours it still stinks to high heaven to think of doing the whole darn thing over again.
    Not very helpful am I ; )
    Good Luck with whatever you decide. It will work out wonderfully either way.

  3. You're in my thoughts, Ruth. And don't forget that you can be on BOTH lists, not just one or the other. You can continue to wait for siblings while you open up the possibility of a singleton referral.

    Don't give up. Your child(ren) are coming home. :)

  4. I should add that if you changed to being open to a single child, you'd probably get a referral within weeks, with your wide age range and DTE! Pretty exciting to think about!!!

  5. What a post Ruth !
    Ok I sure hearing your heart in all this is not easy.
    I think of you all the time and wish I could make this easier.
    I do not know what to say .........
    The thought and trill of how fast it could go if you switch over is very exciting and at the same time to grieve the sibling you have grown to love is very hard.

    When I switched from Ecuador to Ethiopia it took me so long to adjust as I was so excited about my child in Ethiopia and was so missing my spanish toddler who was no longer going to be coming home. I did a big change in my age request to help me with my grief. it helped a bit but time is what helped the most, and funny is my toddler still lives in my heart but she makes me happy now instead of missing her like I used to.
    Not sure anyone of this makes sense as I am not as good with my words as you.

    All the best as you give your heart some time with this one.

    ps please keep writing you do it so well and always makes me feel connected to you when ever I read your words

  6. am glad to hear that you have for now decided to hang on and wait for a sibling referral. I know that with all that you have gone through on this adoption journey, it is unlikely that you will do another adoption after this one so I think it will be worth the extra wait. Also, as a person who adopted siblings, I can tell you what a blessing it has been for our kids to have each other and I am thankful that we decided to wait it out even though we were tempted a few times to switch our request. I will be praying for the kids that God has already chosen for your family!

  7. It was so much more than losing a dream; it was losing my children.
    that line sure resonated with me...i remember that well this last summer, grieving for our two precious little ones whose faces we felt we would never see. praying for you today. it is a hard, hard road. darci at feetontheroad

  8. We are right there with you guys Ruth... having all the same conversations and struggles with what we are supposed to be doing. Days like this, I wish someone would just tell me what to do. We're hanging in there with you, for now, too. I really appreciated reading this post (nice to know we're not alone!) and your follow up one (I forgot about the whole possibility of the MOWA piece changing... its another reminder that for now we're in the right place to hang in there). A