Imagine you and your spouse decide you want to have children. You are so excited for the possibility. You can't help but wonder what he or she will be like.
Then you get pregnant. A baby is on its way to you. You only have to wait a few months. You excitedly tell your family and a few close friends your wonderful news. They are happy for you.
You go to your first doctor's appointment and the doctor starts grilling you with questions. What is your background? How were you raised? How stable is your marriage? Do you agree on parenting philosophies? After the questioning, your doctor hands you a piece of paper. I need you to gather all of this information for me by our next appointment.
You look at what is written. You need to complete background checks from your local police department. The state has to sign off on your parenting application. You need to gather birth certificates and marriage certificates. You also need to be fingerprinted by the federal government.
Your doctor asks if you understand all of the requirements to have a baby. You look at your husband questioningly. No one you know has ever had to do this to have a baby. Is this right? Your husband shrugs his shoulders as if to say, if that's what we need to do, then we'll do it. You look at the doctor and say yes.
Great, says the doctor. I will see you in two weeks at your home. I must inspect it to see if its a proper home to raise a child in. Inspect your house?!? Oh my goodness. You spend the next few weeks on your hands and knees and standing on stools to reach every nook and cranny. Your house has to be perfect.
After you pass home inspection and the other checks, you start to feel more confident. You feel the baby growing inside of you. You begin to tell others about your child. You pat your belly and say, we are expecting a baby. People look at you strangely and nod. Great, they say. Congratulations.
Finally your doctor calls. He says, congratulations, you've been approved to have your baby. You've been approved! Hallelujah! You can have your baby,
Its time. You and your husband rush to the hospital to have the baby. You are both so excited. You are ushered into a room alone. You look for your husband but he is not there. In fact he is at work, in a meeting. You look around. This is not the hospital.
This is your house. You are in the laundry room or the kitchen. The phone rings. A voice on the other end says "Congratulations. Its a boy." A boy. You have a boy. You ask when you can see your son. The voice says check your e-mail, I'm sending you a picture.
A picture? But this is your son. When do you get to hold him? Relax, the voice says. He is fine. He is in a care center. We are taking care of him for you. We will let you know when its okay for you to see him. But, you say, he's my son. Well, no he's not your son, not yet. Your approval isn't final.
So you hold on to the picture and the basic medical information they send you. Its all the proof you have that your son is alive somewhere. You wait. You wait some more. But you don't hear any new news.
You begin to wonder if it was real. Do you really have a son.? Was he really growing inside you? Yes he was, but he was only growing in your heart, not your body. He is yours, but not yours. Wait they say. Everything will all be okay. You just need to be patient.
Finally some news. New pictures and updated medical information. But wait what do these numbers mean? Is he sick? Is he anemic? Is there a problem? Can you retest? No, the answer comes. We cannot. You will have to wait.
So you wait some more. Finally they send another email to let you know that you are going to court. However, you cannot be in court. You cannot plead your case. Someone you have never met will do it for you. So you wait and hope.
You find out a piece of paper was misplaced. Your case was not heard. It was rescheduled. You must wait again.
Your court date comes and goes. Still there is no word. Finally the answer comes. He is your son. Its official. You are legally the parents of this boy.
But you can't bring him home yet. You have to wait for someone else to tell you its okay. So you wait. And you wait some more.
Travel dates are announced. Your name is not called. You wait again.
A new set of travel dates are announced. Sorry, they say. We cannot receive you at this time. You must wait. Wait until April. You will see your son sometime in April. We think.
You think? How can you not know. He is my child. A piece of paper from some court says so. He is legally my responsibility.
I did everything you said. I waited for over nine months to find out it was a boy. I waited for another five months to find out he was really mine. I don't know if he is crawling or walking. I don't know if he is healthy or if he is sick. I don't know anything about this boy, my son.
I have a son. I have a son and you won't let me see him. Why? He is mine. I love him. I have loved him from the moment he was a possibility. I loved him when I saw his picture. And I have loved him every day since.
The answer comes, sorry. That is just the way it is. You have to wait.
And so you do. You wait. Your heart is broken in 7,000 pieces, one piece for every mile that separates you. But you wait like a good girl.
It will happen. Everyone tells you that. You know it is true. But just because they say it does not make the pain any less. It does not glue your heart back together. It does not place your child into your arms any faster.
You have a child out there somewhere in the world and you will not be whole until he is in your arms.
That is what adoption is like.