Assembly Required

I spent my two-year adoption wait in misery.  Well, I guess it began as discontentment, inched up to angst, and then morphed into full blown misery.

I suppose I was fairly productive at first.  I made all of the appropriate announcements, (Its a girl!  And…a girl!) and worked to prepare my children for the arrival of their new siblings. I purchased furniture and clothes too.  Oh, and I, a white woman, learned to care for and braid African hair.  I was pretty proud of that one.

But then, the years drug by and eventually, I could no longer find anything to do.  That is when I took things to the next level.  I started making phone calls.  At first, I called my agency, but when the situation seemed to drag on and descend into deeper and deeper chaos, I attempted to call Haiti.

With my heart threatening to pound right out of my chest, I punched the long number into the keypad on my phone and listened to it ring and ring on the other end.  When, at last, someone answered, I begged for word of my case in broken Kreyol either to the profound annoyance or amusement to the person on the other end, depending on who answered the phone.  It didn’t really accomplish much though other than to assure me that yes, there was a place such as Haiti, and yes, my paperwork was superglued to someone’s desk there.

Sometimes, when months had passed by without the promised monthly update (with pictures!) of my girls, I would resort to abusing my computer by hitting send and receive about twenty times in a row.  This was largely unproductive as well.

I was thinking about this recently as I watched my youngest on the soccer field. For the longest time, she was literally the smallest person in her school. She arrived home sick, frail, and perfectly unaware of what she was supposed to do with this odd thing called a “family” and this ever present pale giant called a “mother”. She clung to me, and I deemed that a good sign. I rocked her. Fed her a bottle. Tried to be sure she had all of her needs met. I thought it would be enough. I really did.

But it wasn’t.

At some point along the way, I realized that she didn’t really think she needed me at all. She was far to content to be alone. Scarily self-sufficient. She possessed an independence that said, “I don’t trust you. You may let me down. I’d better just take care of myself.”

That is when something very important happened. I realized I was ignorant, and that took care of the arrogance in a heartbeat.

I began seeking answers. I listened to what other adoptive parents had to say. I bought the books they suggested, read them, and put into practice all I learned.

I was thinking about this as I watched her play soccer. She is one of the tallest kids on the team- a little powerhouse. She is aggressive, and has a killer left foot. All of that is pretty amazing, but there was another miracle on the field. Whenever she makes an extraordinary play, she turns to find me in the stands, where I wait with a big smile and a thumb’s up. The little girl who not so long ago could care less what I thought about her, wants to know I’m there, and that I’m proud of her.

That’s when I feel a bit like I wasted the wait. It is when I wish some wise someone would have shown up at my house seven years ago at the very moment I was torturing my inbox to say, “Whoa…hold on a minute. I have something to tell you. You are going to be the mother of two fantastic little girls who both have tremendous gifts inside of them. The only thing is that it is going to take a bit of work on your part to help them put it all together. So, why don’t you give the send and receive button a break for a minute, and start reading these instruction manuals.”

Yes, I think, as I watch her dribble past the competition, and that killer left foot strikes again, adoption is a lot of work, but so worth it, and there is joy to be found in the assembly required.

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