Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Peepers Family Adoption Journey

Our Eastern European adoption appointment was the most exhaustive hour I think I have ever lived. 
We waited in a small hallway outside of the government office until we were called to come in.  It was a tiny office with two desks crammed into a corner and a couch on the opposite side which had a table set in front of it.  On the opposing wall were book shelves filled with huge three-ring binder type notebooks and each one contained hundreds of photos of orphans.   A year was written on the bindings of each book, and that book contained orphans which were born the year the binding indicated.  The lady with whom we had our appointment was furious and babbled on for at least a full two minutes when she found out that we were not there to adopt the child named in our original paperwork; but instead wanted to look at the photos and to choose another child whom we felt that God called us here to adopt.  She finally agreed and fumbled through the books and extracted pages from first this book and then that.  First were ten year old boys.  To say they looked like mug shots was an understatement.  Each child looked more pitiful than the next.  This boy had a prosthetic knee; this one had a heart murmur, etc.  Then came the sibling groups.  This set had a mother who died and the father gave up rights, this set had a father who died and the mother lost rights.  These children had a mother who let them wander the streets and the children were taken from her and she never showed up to try to get them back.  It was so exhaustive.  “Take notes” our lawyer said, “so you will know which ones you like best to make your final choice.  Write names and birthdates down.  Don’t worry about spelling; just write them so we can get back to the ones you want.  Kind of like a kid in the candy store, right?  So many to choose from.”
NO! Not like a kid in a candy store.  Like a person tossed into the sea after a horrible ship wreck and given the chance to choose who will join them in the life boat.  Just one or maybe two.  No more than two.  Reality hits.  The ones not chosen, go back into the book.  What happens to them next?  What about Yuriy?  Where is his file?  In the archives we are told.  Not accessible.  This child has people who have listed him on a website with hopes to find a family for him, and his file is in the basement.  What are his chances of adoption?  Not very good.  So sad.  
This goes on for an hour.  After the hour is up we are told to choose.  We can’t choose.  We can’t even think.  We are told that since we want an older child we will be given an hour to walk down to the coffee shop on the corner and make our choice from there.  My brain is completely numb.  What just happened?  I can’t hear God’s voice.  Two little ones who have been highly recommended: one ten and one fourteen; only they look to be about six and eight because they are so underdeveloped, were set aside in the “maybe” pile.  Many others were in the “no” pile.  The bed wetters (quite common we are told because of the trauma they have lived through), the boy whose brother looks kind but whose picture radiates the anger he feels to be at the orphanage because his father died not long ago and his mother gave them away.  Paul likes them, but I can see the defiance in the older boy and know it would be a very difficult task to help mend his heart.  The boy with the prosthetic knee.  Only one can be chosen if the siblings are not considered.  The law will not allow two unrelated boys to be chosen at the same government appointment.  Only one.  We head towards the coffee shop.  Our heads are still spinning.  Our lawyer says the sibling boys would be a good choice because they are highly recommended and not many people come for two.  They only want one. He makes other small talk about the souvenir district which we are walking through being the largest in the world.  I had not even noticed there was merchandise which lined the sidewalks on which we had been walking.  We wait there a moment while he crosses the road to drop our papers off at the copy shop.  I notice some extremely beautiful paintings laid out for sale.  Such beauty right outside of the place where there is such chaos and sadness.  Someone gets chosen.  Someone stays behind.   Paul says he is not ready for two children.  I am in shell shock and cannot really speak what is on my mind.  I tell him it is his choice even though my heart cries out for the two younger boys.  It is decided.  One boy.  The fifteen year old who comes recommended by the missionaries.  The call is made.  The choice is over.  We walk back to our apartment just as it starts to rain.  The clouds reflect the darkness I feel in my soul.  So many in need.  Only one chosen.  Lord, please let him be the one You chose for us.  And NEVER let us forget what we have seen.  Let us be the voice for these children who have no voice; only pictures in a book on whose binding is written the year they were born.
I listen for God’s voice.  I expect to hear it come thundering down from the Heavens.  I wait.  Is He satisfied with our choice?  Did we choose correctly?  How will we know?  A hint of the answer is to come shortly, in the form of a phone call.  It’s the missionary and in response to my earlier phone call telling her our choice; she informs us the chosen child seems as though he is too apprehensive about being adopted into an American family.  We are told that he is going to have a visit from his father that evening.  His father?  No one spoke of a father.  Panic strikes my heart.  I do not want to tear apart a father from his son.   I do not want my husband to share his son with another father.  Why we were not told there was a father?  I phone the lawyer who is assisting us with the adoption and give him the news.  He tells me that we have fifteen minutes before the government adoption office closes so I must tell him now if we want to change our choice of children.  My mind spins.  I remember the ache in my heart when my husband chose the one and not the two younger boys.  I look at my husband for council.  He nods.  Another choice is made: We will try for the two.  We are exhausted from the day’s events and can take no more.  We settle into our rented apartment for the next hour.  Paul lies on the mildew filled couch in spite of his allergies and I take the bed.  We need time to think; alone. 
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