Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Waiting Families

I pictured the waiting families gathering a little something like this...

Several nervous couples lounging on the floor on over sized pillows gazing up at me in reverent silence as I expounded the virtues of open adoption. They would all be novices in this voyage but I would be their anchor. No, their lighthouse. Yes, a lighthouse stoically illuminating their path through the hazy waters. I would be that voice of experience that would calm their fears. We would build lifelong friendships out of this common journey to parenthood. And I...I would be the founder of this tight knit group.

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeech. Hi Reality, good to see you! Who invited you to the party?

I'm not sure why I thought we would be the only second timers in the crowd. Or why our experience would be relevant to the pre-selected topics of last minute placements and entrustment ceremonies. We had neither.

Let me remind you that we did not attend these gatherings during our last adoption process. But we thought we'd give it a shot this time. Part of the reason we attended was to be a reference tool for the other families. My other hope was that these discussions would calm my escalating anxiety.

We arrived at the host's home to discover that they had adopted a son in September of 2004, just one month before Lillian was born. Then in walked another mom with her three year old. We recognized her from the adoption seminar we both attended in January of 2004. Rounding out our little gathering was a couple soon to be in pool and three couples who joined the pool around the same time as we did.

Suddenly the pool seemed a whole lot more crowded. These are all eager, bright, loving couples who want the same thing as we do.

The host family casually mentioned that had been in the pool for a year. Pause here for my blood curdling scream: AAAAHHHH! I told Jeff that I would have to video conference into the waiting families gathering a year from now...from the funny farm. I will be mentally unstable if I wait a year. Did I mention...AAAAHHHHH! So much for calming my escalating anxiety.

The discussion began with the counselor asking if any of us had experienced a last minute placement. One mom told us about adopting a four-month old in a last minute placement. They were kayaking in the San Juan's when they got the call. The met the birthfamily on July 4th and were told to return the next day ready to take home their little girl. They didn't have a car seat. They only had infant clothes. They had formula but this child was allergic to dairy. She said they ran to the only store open at 8:30pm on the 4th of July and frantically grabbed other mothers in the aisles to ask what size a 4-month old would wear. After the counselor commented that many people get the call while taking a "last vacation," I suggested that we all go kayaking this weekend.

The families had many questions about the logistics of a last minute placement. How does the birthmother select an adoptive family? Do you go through mediation I & II? Are there ever disruptions in a last minute placement? How does insurance work? We sat and listened and picked up a couple of new pieces of information.

Then the conversation turned to entrustment ceremonies. These take a variety of forms but are generally the expression of both the adoptive and birth families' feelings prior to departing the hospital. The counselor said that almost every family has some sort of entrustment ceremony. (Huh, we didn't have an entrustment ceremony. Lillian's birthmom didn't think we needed something formal and we agreed.) Then the counselor remarked that these ceremonies are a very important part of the process. (We certainly didn't feel like anything was missing in our adoption process.) After she went on for some time about the value of being able to tell the child about this important ceremony, something in my head snapped. How dare she assert that those of us who did not conduct some tear filled gesture would not be able to tell our child how loved they are by their family. So I piped up and boldly remarked that we did not have an entrustment ceremony and didn't feel like we missed out on anything. The counselor asked how we left each other at the hospital. I told her that we took pictures together in the lobby, hugged everyone, promised to call once we got home, got in our cars and left. She just kind of smiled sadly and continued on about the importance of this exchange of emotions. The guy sitting next to me whispered conspiratorially that he didn't want to have a ceremony. Oh well, even if the counselor didn't agree with our process, it was satisfying to the people involved which is more important. AND these waiting families were able to hear an alternative point of view. I guess our experience was a valuable contribution to the evening after all.

After an hour and a half, our gathering came to a close. We said our goodbyes and jumped in our cars without exchanging so much as an e-mail address. Guess we won't be lifelong friends.

On the way home I told Jeff that I didn't want to go to another one of these gatherings except for the fact that I offered to host the next one! Well, I can continue to hope that by the time January rolls around, we will no longer be a waiting family and I will be relieved of my hosting duties. I'm beginning to have my doubts but a girl can hope...and pray.


Anonymous November 14, 2007 at 3:50 PM  

Lori- We are all praying along with you. You are Amazing to walk where you have. God is right there with you and will be through this entire ordeal. Lindsay

Anonymous November 14, 2007 at 8:17 PM  

dear, sweet, wonderful lori... please don't let this meeting dampen your spirit. God has the perfect baby(ies) for you and Jeff... and His timing is perfect. I know this is of little comfort, when all you want is a BABY... STAT!! But, your baby(ies) will come!!! In the meantime, I'll be praying for God's peace to surround you and for Him to grant you patience as you wait for that dang phone to RING!!! -Becci :)

Anonymous November 16, 2007 at 10:05 AM  

I am praying for you and Jeff. For God to embrace you with a feeling of peace. Becci is right, God has the perfect timing. Just hold onto to that.


Anonymous November 16, 2007 at 11:46 AM  

Hi Lori--I have to be the mom and say, patience is a virtue, kiddo! Hold your horses!! You and Jeff need to focus on finishing all the little things in your house and then when you least expect it --you'll have a new little person to focus on. Remember once he, she or they come you won't have time for anything else for a long time! --Mom

Anonymous November 16, 2007 at 5:52 PM  

Such a motherly comment Linda :) I can't wait for you to get the call either. I keep checking the blog hoping for an update. Sorry the meeting was a bit discouraging. Hopefully you won't have to do the one in January! Beth

Barb November 18, 2007 at 9:42 PM  

Hi Lori,

I'm Celeste's sister-in-law, Barb. I don't know if C ever mentioned to you that my dh and I have 4 boys, 3 of whom were adopted (they're now 14, 10, 9 and 8). Our eldest was a newborn when we got him and we didn't have an entrustment ceremony with him. I don't have any regrets with how the situation was handled and have been able to share how much his birthmom loves him!

Best wishes in your wait...I remember those days of waiting for the phone to ring!


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