five weeks of silence
it has been five weeks since we last heard about a potential profile showing. five weeks of silence. one week we had four potential profile showings in a week. one week we had three. this is the longest lull we've had since we were approved at the end of november last year. this process is so nuts! of course there is no predictability regarding when we will have a profile showing -- we're talking about childbirth here. google tells me february and april are the months with the lowest number of births. july through october have the highest. that makes me think there may be a higher frequency of potential profile showings over the summer months and into the fall simply because statistically speaking more babies are born then. but who knows?!
each time we have a potential profile showing to consider, there are so many emotions involved. if we choose to have our profile shown in any given situation, then there is a wait to hear if we have been picked. we've been through that wait five times now. i thought it would get easier the more times we went through the process of choosing to have our profile shown, but it just doesn't. it's such a roller coaster and it takes me some time to emotionally recover after each one. i do have more perspective now when i review a birth mother profile. circumstances that scared me in the past don't concern me as much now. maybe that is part of the wait for us, becoming more comfortable and willing to consider situations that seemed too intimidating for us in the past.
i spoke with our adoption specialist last week because we were at a crossroads where we were thinking about changing course from domestic infant adoption to foster care. i scheduled the call because i wanted to learn more about what the process of changing course might entail. but it ended up being more of a counseling session. ha. i'm not the first of her clients to ask about foster care during this process. she reassured me that all of her waiting families are generally the same -- we're all struggling through this process. some of us are more vocal about it than others (me). that gave me some comfort. it's hard when the few friends i know who have gone through this process have been placed almost immediately after approval. that is unusual, and it just happens to be the experience of the two friends i know who went through this process with our agency with preferences similar to ours. for many reasons i was questioning our path and wondering if we should be looking at foster instead.
i have this habit of reading, watching, and listening to really heartbreaking stories about adoption. the kind that make you think all adoption is bad. david and i watched two documentaries a couple weeks ago. the first was called a girl like her, which was about unwed mothers in the 50s and 60s who were sent to maternity homes and forced to give up their babies. it was really disturbing and disheartening. my heart broke for these young mothers. the documentary studied 100 women in this situation, 30 of whom never had another child. after that we watched philomena, which is based on the true story of an irish unwed mother who was forced to live in a convent and basically serve as slave labor with other unwed mothers, all of whom had their children sold to wealthy americans against their will. the main character, philomena, begins a journey in her old age to find her son, only to discover that he had died of aids years prior. after watching these two films and feeling completely heartbroken and not wanting to be a part of a system that has historically taken advantage of the most vulnerable, i just sat back and asked god: do you even want us to do this?
there are about 30 families on the bethany christian services waiting families list for the madison heights office at any given time, about 100 or so in the state of michigan. depending on their preferences, families can wait anywhere between a week to a year for a placement. some have waited more than a year. some have waited years. in michigan, there are 14,000 children in foster care. about 300 are waiting with no families identified to house them. so while i'm on a list waiting for a baby with 29 other families through bethany's madison heights office, there are 300 foster kids waiting for homes with no homes available for them to go to. this reality, combined with the disturbing and heartbreaking films, broke me. and we started talking about the possibility of trying for another baby by birth while pursuing the process to become approved to be a foster family.
my call with our adoption specialist was such a gift to me. david was supposed to be on the call too but forgot about a meeting he had scheduled 20 minutes before the call was to start. instead of rescheduling i just decided to do the call by myself, which allowed it to be more of a counseling session. that worked out pretty well. she gave me information about the next foster care orientation meetings to take place in the coming months, encouraging me and david to attend one of those and just learn more about the process and what foster care looks like. we would need to redo our home study according to the state's guidelines for foster care, our references would need to be re-checked, we would need to get re-fingerprinted (something we just updated in march), and we would need to complete foster specific training. all of these are things we can do, just a little more complicated than i was hoping. i was hoping we could move forward with our existing paperwork and just complete the additional training. but that's not the case.
our adoption specialist reassured me that i am not her craziest client. because i asked if this were the case. would she tell me if i was, though? maybe not. but she sounded sincere. ;) i was comforted by her experience on the foster side and infant adoption side. i know a few people who have gone through this process as prospective adoptive parents and/or foster parents. she has seen families on both sides of the equation over years. her experience is much more comprehensive than mine. one of the first things she said was something like -- i know some of these birth mother profiles are scary to you, and i just want you to know that with foster care you are likely looking at children born under these same circumstances but with years of trauma on top of that. just a little reality check.
when i shared about the documentary i watched about mothers being forced to give up their babies, she reassured me that part of the reason for the lull in profile showings is because many of the birth mothers they have been in contact with have decided to parent. bethany is not in the business of coercing mothers to give up their babies against their will! and this is one of the reasons i wanted to go with this agency to begin with, because they have a reputation of integrity. our adoption specialist encouraged me to consider that of the birth mothers in situations that scare me who DO choose to PLACE their babies -- if they HAD chosen to parent, they would be facing their children being forcibly removed by CPS at birth and/or the child would likely be in and out of foster care for their childhood. something she has witnessed in her work on the foster care side of things. then, going with that line of thought, having a child in that situation be placed with a family of the birth mother's CHOICE would prevent the need for the child to be forcibly removed and in and out of homes over the course of his or her childhood. well that's a possibility i had not considered before.
i think after all this, i'm much more open to consider the situations that used to intimidate me. i listened to a podcast on fetal drug and alcohol exposure and learned that basically the best thing you can if you're adopting is to assume exposure to drugs and alcohol, get your kid evaluated and pursue treatment as early as possible. there is no cure per say, but there is a lot that can be done to set up your child for as much success as possible mentally, emotionally, and behaviorally. last week i participated in a webinar on trust based relational intervention (TBRI) and how to connect with your child and cultivate felt safety. it was good stuff and i'll be participating in a couple more webinars on the TBRI method in the coming weeks. i've been reading how children learn and the whole brain child, and i've started the connected child after participating in the TBRI webinar this past week. i have so much to learn! i'm thankful for this time to read and learn and prepare, wherever our adoption journey may end up.
and now we continue the wait, believing that god will guide us on this path. not that god will cause a woman to conceive a baby and find herself in a place she feels unable to care for the baby so that we might have a baby. no. that god would use us at this moment in time and cross our paths with a woman who happens to be seeking a family for her child at this moment in time. not that we were destined for each other, but rather that we found each other each on our separate paths. and those paths, both broken, converge to create something beautiful in the midst of brokenness, pain, and suffering. the beauty doesn't negate the brokenness, and the brokenness doesn't negate the beauty. somehow they coexist. brokenness, pain, suffering, and beauty.
i feel resolved to continue the domestic infant adoption journey. i do have a heart for foster care too and that is something i am open to now and in the future. may my heart always be: god, your will be done. no matter how much prep i've done for a certain situation. no matter how many resources we've invested. no matter how much time has gone into this process. may i always be willing to change course if he guides us a different way. and may i always be sensitive to his holy spirit. these five weeks of silence are not silent at all. they have been full of the agony of learning more, feeling more, processing more. and i am thankful.