I’m a compulsive list maker, and I write (full-time) for a living. Deadlines and “to dos” are always with me. The pressure of an approaching deadline can be stressful, but when that blog post, research project or magazine article is delivered, the relief is a beautiful thing.
The international adoption process though? It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. Since we started the journey last fall, there have been numerous deadlines and “to dos” that have kept us focused, forging ahead, even frenetic at times. But I was familiar with deadlines and deliverables and daunting to do lists. The fast-paced collection and compilation of data and documents, followed by a thorough double- and triple-checking before presentation and a satisfying strike off the list, was business as usual.
Now, with our dossier (legal documents and official application) submitted, approved, signed, sealed and delivered to Bulgaria, there is nothing to do but wait. No more deadlines. No more tasks.
This is unfamiliar territory.
We’ve waited before—waited for our home study to be completed, for our immigration approval, for FBI clearances—but a new deadline or thing to do always distracted us while we waited. Waiting for that phone call or email delivering the news of our referral (a match with a child) is all that is required of us right now.
It’s not easy, especially when people ask (sometimes with a hint of skepticism in their voices), “Is anything happening with the adoption?” All we can say is yes and no. No, we don’t have anything to report, but across the sea in Bulgaria, yes, our information is sitting on someone’s desk, or being translated or being sent to the agency worker who is handling our case.
Here in Pennsylvania, I’m learning to live with the “Great Unknown.” Who our child will be. What he or she will be like. What parenting will be like. How we will all adjust to becoming a family, and a multicultural one at that. How others will respond to our multicultural family when we’re out in public. How we will understand our child before English becomes his or her first language.
Books and blogs, conversations with veteran adoptive parents, training modules and seminars have well prepared us for all these challenges. But none of them have been 100% specific to our child, our family, our experience.
Yet I’m learning to live in the present, without a deadline, with the “Great Unknown” and a giant looming question mark over the calendar. What I do know is that sometime in the hopefully not too distant future, we will have a new country to visit, a destination that will be tremendously significant to us for the rest of our lives. We know we will have a room to prepare. We know there will be sleepless nights and tantrums and flus, maybe even hospital visits. We know there will be people who will stare at our child, or ask us “where from?”
But most of all, at the end of the waiting, uncertainty and unknowns, we will have a child. A child to take to the zoo, the library, the beach, Grandma’s house. A child to go school supply shopping for (something I’m especially looking forward to). A child to honor and celebrate Bulgarian (and American, Norwegian, Italian, German, French, Irish, and Pennsylvania Dutch) traditions with. A child to learn from, laugh with, and love.