On paper. (Honestly, did you fall for that?)
Since I was an incubatrix for so long it is impossible for me not to compare this adoption to pregnancy. And I should make it clear that I am not one of those, "Oh, I just love being pregnant!" types. I never loved being pregnant. I saw pregnancy as a very painful, very inconvenient means to an end.
Sure, the idea of growing a child inside of me was very cool, for a good 15 minutes or so. And I loved feeling the kicks, so long as they were not aimed at a bladder. But the other 98% of my gestation vocation?
I'll compare it to a nine month long upper lip wax. Something that must be done, and the result is most certainly worth it, but you'd have to be flat out psychotic to romanticize the physical sensations associated with it.
The worst part of pregnancy is the first trimester, when I felt like pure dog, but that was the only evidence of a coming baby. Looking fat, but not pregnant. Puking. Exhaustion. Aching. Crankiness. Essentially a three month bout of stomach flu.
Then suddenly, right at about twelve weeks, the nausea ended, the the fatigue let up, and along came a cute baby bump for all the world to see. I always had Week 12 marked on my calendar as a reminder that the misery would soon abate.
And now, we've entered into Week 12 on the adoption journey - we've completed our homestudy.
Whoo hoo! I'm showing!!
Last Sunday, on Valentine's Day, Bethany, a social worker from Gladney came and spent the afternoon with us. Our homestudy was originally scheduled for Friday, but a very unusual snowstorm in Dallas canceled her flight (insert global warming commentary here.)
Sunday was fine, except for one large thing - the kids don't have school on Sunday. Ike would nap, but the other three would would be here. All afternoon. Keeping themselves occupied. While the grownups talked. Uninterrupted. For several hours.
See, my kids are really into attention of the Mommy variety. They can be pretty hornery. They also rarely go twenty minutes without someone whacking someone or calling someone a dumbhead or destroying someone's Lego creation or pinching someone's arm or throwing a Polly Pocket in someone's face. Or just stripping naked.
And while I know that Gladney is not looking for "perfect" families, I also knew that if my children chose to be completely obnoxious during the homestudy, it would stress me out in a really really large way.
My Valentine heart had palpitations at the thought of it.
Therefore, we had a slew of folks praying for us. And the prayers were answered mightily.
After church, I gave the children a small Valentine gift based on need and limited funding resources: a whole pack of printer paper to share and each their own set of markers. That turned out to be nothing less than inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For four hours y'all, Shepherd, Eva Rose and Mags played in the playroom with their new markers and paper. No one fought. No one tattled. No one even got naked. They only interrupted us to bring in cute and slightly precocious drawings of our family with the words "I love you Mommy and Daddy" written across the top.
It was a St. Valentine's Day Miracle!
Bethany asked us a ton of questions about why we want to adopt, our childhoods, my own adoption as an infant, how we will deal with the complications of adoption, how our extended family feels about it, how we discipline, how we spend our time, and who we think will win Project Runway. She talked to us together most of the time and then briefly individually. Then the kids were asked what they thought about it, and Shepherd relayed his preference for a boy from China. (Maybe next time, kid.)
She asked a lot of questions about our marriage, including, "When was the best time in your marriage?" I was honest, and a little surprised, when I answered, "Right now."
It is. In seven years, we've had our hard patches. We've been through 148 weeks of pregnancy and Newborn Hell four times over. Two bouts of post-partum depression. A sick baby in the NICU. Inlaw issues. Job changes. Big fights. Painful words. Betrayals. Shattered dreams. Sickness and health. Richer and poorer. And poorer.
I know that there will be even harder times ahead in our marriage. But for now, we're good. And it feels good to be good.
After our tell-all interview, she told us we passed! Walker and I high-fived and Bethany took a picture with our ridiculous family
and we escorted her out before she changed her mind.
Before she was in her rental car, all four kids commenced to shrieking and hitting and falling apart. Walker and I high-fived again.
So what now? I still have a goodly forest of paperwork to do. My fantasy is for it all to be finished by Easter, to get a referral by Christmas, and to bring home Bethlehem (Bethie? Bessie? Betsy? Betty?) by next Easter. As Bethany said, that's kind of a lofty goal - but not for the God of printer paper and new markers.
Wait -- did you just feel her kick??