Kim and I just got back from another adoption training. The first one was with LifeLink in Chicago (our placing agency). This one was with our home study agency, Lutheran Social Services, in La Crosse.
So what’s it like to attend adoption training? I should start by saying it’s just really cool to be in a room with a bunch of other people who are like you. We all come into the room as strangers. But we all have something very special in common. And therefore we all have something to talk about, and can bond quickly. People come to adoption for different reasons. Some aren’t able to have biological children. Some like the idea of a bi-racial, multi-cultural families. But we all have one thing in common- we all have a place in our hearts and home to love a child who has a need. That’s special. And so fun to see other people who are willing to do that.
We had two days of lecture and discussion. We talked a lot about the “lingo” of adoption. It matters how you talk about it. For instance, it’s not helpful to talk about your “own” children or your “real” children. They are your own real children whether adopted or not.
We also talked about how our family becomes “conspicuous” after you adopt. Particularly in our case as we adopt internationally, the makeup of our family is changed forever. We begin to stand out. I couldn’t help but think of our time in Indonesia when we talked about becoming a conspicuous family. We stood out big time over there. We got used to it eventually. And I suppose we’re still used to it now. To this day I still feel that I don’t quite fit in with American culture. Even though I was born and raised here, there’s something about spending time overseas that changes how you look at things, and how you look. After we adopt from South Korea we will really stand out again. But I’m okay with that. I’m proud to stick out for a good thing.
Something that really hit home was the reminder that adoption is a life-long process, not an event. All too often we think of adoption as merely an event- something that we work towards, get a child, and then we’re done. BAM, we adopted! But really adoption only BEGINS when you bring the child home. That’s when it starts. And it continues for the rest of your life, the rest of their life, and into generations to come. The makeup of your family changes, for generations. That’s a sobering thought. They don’t stay little babies forever. Adopted children grow up to become adults. They make friends. Go to school. Graduate. Get married. Jobs. Etc. Adoption is the process of loving your child, through all the ups and downs, through all the transitions, no matter what happens. Am I prepared to do that? Am I prepared to be this child’s father through all these this, and not just when they’re a baby? This is a serious question to consider. I believe I am. But this training was a good reminder that they don’t stay little forever. And a reminder that we’re starting a process and not working towards an event.
So what’s next for us? We have three interviews with our adoption worker in the next couple months. Laura, our worker, wants to finish the home study portion by the end of this year. We have two interviews in our (new) home (Yay!), and one in her office in Madison. Then we expect to get a referral within a couple month after that- so maybe February or so. The referral will be exciting because we’ll have a picture on our child along with some basic information. We’ve been looking forward to that for a long time. To finally put a photo to a name. Much more to come. Exciting exciting times.