Sunday, February 12, 2012

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts


Brad and I attended our second adoption training class yesterday, where the primary topic was adoption as a lifelong commitment.  Things don't always go as planned; and when they go wrong, they can go really, really wrong.

We talked about the woman who in 2010 sent her adopted son back to Russia with a note that she longer wished to parent him.  We talked about the Seattle couple whose adopted Ethiopian daughter, Hana Williams, suffered horrifying abuse at their hands and was found dead in their backyard last year.

Two tragic stories of adoptions that went really, really wrong.  And the children who suffered.  I'm glad discussion of these types of cases--these types of adoptive parents-- is included in our training.  In everyone's training.

Then we met two families who'd completed Ethiopian adoptions with our agency in the past few years.  They had very different stories to share, but each had substantial obstacles they'd overcome.  My guess is our agency could've chosen families who'd had easier adoptions, and I'm so thankful we were given the opportunity to hear these stories.  And look into our hearts, to be sure we're ready for this.

The first parent completed her adoption when Ethiopia was a one-trip process.  She was granted custody of her son with only an agency representative appearing in court.  Then she met her son for the first time when she traveled to Ethiopia for the US Embassy appointment, to obtain a visa and bring him home.  From the sounds of it, her adoption went rather smoothly.  But once home she faced many challenges to help her new son.

He had some pretty severe health issues, and when she met him at nine months of age he weighed only eight pounds.  He's now three and a half, and an amazing little guy.  It sounds like he's still challenged in many ways, but he's been blessed with a very dedicated mom.  He took a liking to Brad and spent most of the session playing with him.  I kept looking over at them and feeling overwhelmed by how badly I want Brad to be playing with our son.

The second family completed their adoption more recently, since Ethiopia became a two-trip process.  They passed court in Ethiopia last summer and became the legal parents of their son.  And then it took them five agonizing months to obtain approval from the US Embassy to bring him home.

I won't go into the details of what the Embassy--OUR Embassy--put this family through, because it's their story to share.  But the amazing perseverance of these parents was inspiring.   It's hard for me to even imagine how awful those five months must have been for them, but what an incredible success story.  Their son is a happy, beautiful boy that seems to have adapted so well to his new family, new country, new life.  And the family said they'd go back and do it again, in a heartbeat.

Brad and I are not naive, we know there will likely be some challenges to face on this journey.  But we can remember what these parents have done for their children, continue to do for their children, and that will give us strength.

Brad's mom has said we've heard a call for our son, and I think she's right.  And whatever happens, we're ready.  Ready to fight for him, defend him, nurture him, love him.  Anything he needs.  Because he's our son.

Thanks to these families for sharing with us.  And thanks, IAN.

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose.

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