Love is patient, love is kind… wait this isn’t a wedding, this is my goodbye blog. Maybe I’m referring to how you are with your kids or maybe just maybe I could change those words to be adoption means being patient, it is being kind. Honestly it is isn’t it? Adopting means being patient or at least pretending to be patient. It means being kind to your coordinator, even when you don’t want to, or your spouse or other friends and family members, when they don’t quite get how you are feeling.
The last almost year and a half has been quite a ride working at IAN. I had the pleasure of visiting Ethiopia twice and meeting most of the kids who have been matched since early last year as well as working alongside our Ethiopian staff. It’s such a joy to see these kids in Ethiopia and then to see them via photos, or in person, once they are home, I just don’t even have the words to properly describe it.
I have been lucky enough to be the coordinator for 500 families. Just kidding, over 50 families which also means I was a part of this journey for about 65 kids! I have been able to listen to you cry, listen to you scream, listen to your frustrations (which can make for both an interesting email and phone call) and listen to the joy that comes with a referral or a court date. If you’ve met me then you know I have a strict no crying rule, because I’ll cry right there with you. Honestly, you could be crying about the weather and I’ll tear up with you.
We’ve watched PAIR come into play and mess with many of your hearts and lives and coordinators’ lives too. I witnessed some of you feel as though it was never going to happen and just about give up hope until a miracle happened. Then there were the priceless magical moments I was able to witness in person, when a family finally met their child for the first time. I was able to stand in the background and tear up with you while you held that child for the first time and the adoption became 100% a reality. I was also able to witness the bittersweet goodbyes that come with embassy appointments, coffee ceremonies and leaving Ethiopia with your new child.
During my time here, some families gave me a hard time and believe me; I have your addresses memorized. Just when you don’t expect it anymore, I shall pay you back, think ice bucket challenge only larger! Just kidding, although that could be fun, we all know that the craziness (remember I say this with love) comes from the fear of the unknown, the anxiety of adoption, the love that fills your heart for a child living thousands of miles away that you can’t hold yet.
I leave you with one last soapbox, because I couldn’t leave any other way!
Please be patient with your coordinators. They too feel the stress when things don’t go as planned. If you’re the praying kind then please pray that this process will become smoother and more predictable. If you’re the betting kind, then bet that it will never go as planned and your timeline is best used as a piece of wallpaper in your bathroom. Trust your coordinator and rely on them for support. Know that our in country staff, no matter what program, wants to see your child come home to you as well. Rely on your fellow families going through the trenches of adoption with you, but remember they may not always be right and their situation is 100% different than yours.
I have decided that international Adoption’s slogan should be “1 st world expectations in a 3 rd world process.” Tell me that isn’t spot on! In a perfect world adoption would take a month and there would be no hassle, no fix your home study, no phone calls that your fingerprints expired, no phone calls that court was moved back or a birth parent missed their date and no rainy season closing court down!
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that this job can be incredibly frustrating, but just like getting a tattoo, the pain heals and you are left with a beautiful picture to look at forever, or in this case a beautiful family. If you’ve ever been to one of my trainings, then I openly and lovingly (as I said above) tell you that you will become the craziest person you yourself have ever met, once you have a referral. To be honest, sometimes we, your coordinators become crazy too. If only I had documented the moments of immense crazy laughter that comes from the end of a stressful moment, or the moments that we coordinators take to calm down. However, those moments and the evidence, must stay locked in a dark place so, I can’t share the details let’s just say French fries and matches could have been involved.
So I say thank you. Thank you for the kind words that you’ve said and emailed. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of something so incredibly personal, yet frustrating. Thank you for the hugs and of course thank you for the pictures you send! This isn’t goodbye because you probably didn’t fully read your referral packets but I am now the God mother to all of your children! Don’t forget me on Christmas and my birthday! Just kidding. Truly from the bottom of my heart I have been blessed by all of you, whether I was your coordinator or just answered a question one time for you. And I just need you all to remember that there are no returns!!!!!
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller
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