On Labor Day we took a family outing to the County Fair. The mud was slippery, the grass trampled flat, and the smell of livestock sat in the air; all in all it was a delightful country fair the likes of which Pollyanna and Huck Finn would have enjoyed. Dellabug managed to overcome her current threenager streak to squeal with glee at seeing all the Wilbers snorting in their pens (we’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web and she loves the movie), danced with her daddy to the live polka band music, and mustered the courage to pet the massive head of Bear the black horse. One thing she didn’t do was ride carnival rides. Maybe next year she will be tall enough, but for this year at least she was still my little girl, too little to ride the rides.
That was one week ago and the carnival rides didn’t make much of an impression on me. There had been no meltdowns, tantrums, or whining when Dellabug had received the news that she was too little. It had been a statement, she had accepted it, we had gone home after a full day and that was that.
But in her 3-year-old mind something must have plucked up that idea to be sorted out later and she has been slowly digesting this for many days. I know because out of the blue during snack time yesterday she looked up from her apple to say “Mommy, you can ride all the rides. You are a Mommy. Mommies ride all the rides.” It wasn’t a question, it was her proclamation of a newly understood fact.
Then it was my turn to pluck that idea up, sift it through my life lens, and come up with my own statement. Being a mommy or daddy is a wild ride, sometimes it’s fun, sometimes it’s terrifying, and you always have someone looking up to you trusting that you are tall enough to ride this ride.
People tried to prepare us for adoption being a wild ride as well, and I totally believed them, but I was expecting the stomach tumbling dives and spins to begin after we finalized the adoption and came home with a new child in our family. I was more or less expecting this paper process to be like waiting in line at an amusement park, one of those tricky lines that has been designed to snake its way along, sometimes making it appear as if there is only one more bend in the tunnel before your turn, only to have it take a sharp detour up a few flights of stairs which shuttle you off away from the front of the line. Your are antsy, hopeful, tired, sweaty, your feet hurt, you wonder if the line will ever end, and you are full of anticipation, but your feet are firmly on the ground.
Someone probably told me this, or thought it was too obvious to say, but I’m saying it here for anyone who is considering adoption. The entire process of adoption, not just when you travel to finalize the adoption and begin settling into a new normal at home, but ALL of it, is a wild ride. I’ve been meaning to post an update but it seems like every time I’m about to tell you okay, this is where we are, here is what is happening – things change!
Right now we are stuck on the ride. Being stuck on a rollercoaster ranks in the top 10 of my biggest fears. Can you imagine boarding the ride, tightening your seat belt, and clanking to a start all the while comforting yourself with the knowledge that this thrilling terrifying experience will be over soon and then you can get off the ride, hug the ground, and enjoy the feeling of being alive, only to come to a jolting stop at the top of a precipice?
While you dangle there, you are helpless. You pray capable people are rushing to your aid and soon the glitch will be repaired, the ride will end, and you will never step on a rollercoaster again. For now you have to wait, trying not to glance at your feet dangling in thin air.
Last Tuesday I mentioned to a friend that this adoption process is going so smoothly; it has been easier than we anticipated. We had our final homestudy meeting and home visit scheduled for Thursday at which point we would sit back and wait for bureaucracy’s turtle slow cogs to turn till the day we received USCIS approval and were eventually given travel dates to meet Angelina. Incredibly generous donations have been flowing into our adoption grant to the point where we only needed about $7,000, suddenly that number didn’t seem insurmountable.
Oh silly, silly me! At the time I didn’t know an email was waiting for me from our social worker requesting to reschedule our final visit and that email was soon followed by another confusing email which seemed to suggest that due to something about insurance/liability for her agency, she may not be able to continue with our homestudy… with a lurch our smooth sailing ride came to a halt and I looked around to realize we are sitting at the top of a rollercoaster, we aren’t just waiting in line with our feet on the ground.
All this came to mind as I gazed into my 3-year-old daughter’s trusting upturned face. Of course I did not tell her that her mommy, her mommy who is tall enough to ride all the rides, feels small and helpless, instead I grinned and we baked an apple cake.
This week as Timm and I have sat tight, waiting to hear back from the multiple attempts to contact our social worker, we have prayed for guidance, peace, patience, and Angelina’s continued safety. Now it’s my turn to lift my trusting face up (which is a much better way to look than down at the dizzying height) to my Father and say “Thank you. Thank you for giving us this wild ride of parenthood. Thank you for Dellabug, little Kitty, and our Angelina. I don’t feel tall enough for this ride and I will be oh so relieved when our feet on the ground again, thank you for being here with us on this ride. We could not do this alone.”