Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Waiting ...

... is the hardest part, as a great rock song once put it. It seems like an eternity has transpired since we made our decision last June to undertake an international adoption. Since then we've been extraordinarily busy as we grappled with the decision of where to adopt, which adoption agency to join forces with, and all the legwork and red tape that goes along with those challenges and more. Now, almost a year later, all the decisions and most of the preparations have been made. Very soon we will be traveling to China to unite with our daughter, Eleanor -- a mysterious little girl who, at this point, we know nothing about except that she exists. But that's more than enough to go on for now, and we can't wait to meet her.

Our decision about which country to adopt from was sort of instinctual; we both knew almost from the beginning that it would be China. Any doubts we might have had were dispelled with a screening of the National Geographic Explorer TV episode entitled "China's Lost Girls," which gave a vivid account of a group of Americans traveling to China to meet their new daughters. The program moved both of us to tears, and spurred us to gather as much information as we could about China adoptions and what was involved. Karin Evans' excellent book, "The Lost Daughters of China," did a fantastic job of placing the current adoption trend in China into historical context and dealt extensively with how adopted Chinese orphans are thriving in this country.

We then launched the process in earnest. We found a wonderful adoption agency, ACCEPT, in the Bay Area, which has a longstanding relationship with US Asian Affairs, a Monterey Park agency that acts as a liasion beween families in this country and the authorities in China. We gathered all the documents required for our "dossier," a complicated paper chase that took about four months. A very caring social worker connected to ACCEPT conducted our "home study," which consisted of meeting with us and touring our home. Finally we received the critical approval from the INS, which has to review and approve all international adoptions. The application then was forwarded to US Asian Affairs, which translated everything into Chinese and then forwarded the documents to the national governmental agency in China that processes the applications and matches parents with children from orphanages throughout the country. Right now we're in the "matching room," and hope for our referral later this month. We'll get a few pictures and some medical information about Eleanor. So now the waiting truly has become excruciating -- but we take comfort in knowing that it won't be long before we can see what our daughter looks like and can make definitive travel plans.

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