Monday, January 12, 2009

Thougths at Twelve Months (or Fifteen Months, or Nine Years) Waiting; Ramblings from Crazytown.

Settle in, get yourself something to drink. It's a long one.

To begin...
I am fully committed to my adoption. It is the single most important thing (next to my current family) in my life. If for some reason I couldn't do it, I would be devastated.

I have found, as many of you wise women mentioned after the Six Months Post, that these stages repeat themselves. So, here they are again, with a few additions. I am having trouble differentiating between what may be typical stages of grief, and what may be typical stages of waiting during an international adoption. If you are new to this blog, and want to know what we are grieving about, just search this blog with the word 'Chris.'

You guys don't need the Kubler-Ross graph again do you? I didn't think so.

Here are what I think have been my stages of waiting . It has been six fifteen months since we applied to adopt two small children from Ethiopia. As of January 10th, we have been 'officially waiting' for one full year ( if you don't know, that means our Dossier was officially accepted by our adoption agency a year ago Saturday).

These are my thoughts of how it has been for me. In no way am I trying to project or assume that others have had the same experience. Not everyone is a resident of Crazytown.

First Stage of Waiting: RELIEF. Relief that you and your husband have finally landed on the same page regarding your family building. (Page 93 right honey?) You agree on the country. You agree on the agency.You agree to the expense.

Second Stage: JOY. Joy overwhelms you. There is a light (two lights) at the end of a long, nine year tunnel. You have a spring in your step. The excitement is palpable. You can go to a playground without weeping. You become a member of a club that has up until now excluded you. You can talk about preschool and even attend community school board meetings without fear of someone carrying you out in a straight-jacket. You skim the paper to see just what is the name or number of that education account you can start? Is it a 503k or something? You weigh the benefits of trundle vs bunk? You childproof. You tell EVERYONE you know about your plans.

Third Stage: What I would like to refer to as the WIN/WIN/NAIVETE/MELISSA FAYE GREENE STAGE. You have just finished,"There is No Me Without You." You think, not only I am helping myself, but I am helping Africa. We want kids, these orphans need families. They do. They absolutely need help. There are millions of orphans that need homes. There are families that have been decimated by AIDS and other diseases. There are so many parentless children. It is a win win situation. You get your family, they get a family.

Fourth Stage: HARSH REALITY/ ETHICAL QUESTIONING. A lot of these children up for adoption are not necessarily orphans. In fact a lot of them have TWO parents, a mom and a dad. They have siblings. They are being relinquished because their family can no longer afford to feed them. They will be, by your adopting them, taken from their country, their family and the only lives they have ever known. Their losses will be enormous. This is where it starts to get tricky. This is where you start wrestling a lot. " If I really cared about Ethiopia, I would take these thousands of dollars in adoption fees and bring them immediately to the organization that would do everything in their power to preserve this Ethiopian family." These thousands of dollars could keep many Ethiopian families intact. Which brings me to my next stage...

Fifth Stage: The I AM A SELFISH ASSHOLE. My white privileged need of having a family is much stronger than my need to help Ethiopia. My mothering hormones are not going to be dissipated by my concern for struggling Africans. I am an asshole.

Sixth Stage: BARGAINING. I am an asshole, but I agree to change my need. This is when, if you are me, you announce to your husband one morning, " I think that we should adopt a twelve year old from Ethiopia instead. Our neighbor is twelve and they can hang out together. Our child can go right into school. We will make sure that she is in actuality a true orphan, an only child, and HIV positive. We have good health insurance ."

This is when your husband starts to wish he never met you. Your husband who likes, more than anything, to make a decision and stick with it. Your husband starts some questioning of his own,"Who is this Crazy person and why did I ever marry her?"

Seventh Stage: OUTRAGE. Why doesn't everyone else know how bad things are around the world? Why aren't people doing more? Why is Haiti in the shitter and no one cares? Is Don Cheadle getting through to anyone? Unfortunately this outrage turns into a self-righteousness and a judgemental attitude, which sends me back down spiraling into...

Eighth Stage: GUILT. I feel guilty. I feel guilty for judging. I feel guilty for adopting. I feel guilty for eating, you name it...I feel guilty.

Ninth Stage: RESOLVE. I will do more. I will bring awareness. I will make a difference. I will do something. I will start a project that will help.

Tenth Stage: RENEWED OPTIMISM. It's okay. I will continue. I will call today and give our agency the third payment they have been asking for. I will continue my reading. I will learn more about parenting. I will do my best to be a mother to these two children. I will give it everything that I have. I will continue to wrestle. I will try to do what is best. I will look for answers.

Eleventh Stage: DEPRESSION. This one started near Thanksgiving, so I am assuming it is a 'First holiday without a loved one' kind of thing, and not a 'Yet another holiday without children' kind of thing, but maybe it is both. Whatever it is, it is not fun. Since losing his mom, the best way I can describe my husband is that he has been dressed in a soaking wet, fur coat of grief. The coat, thankfully is drying, and I think he may be ready to take it off, and hang it up. He has turned a corner, and things are getting better every day. Depression, adoption wise, stems from reading articles like this. I don't know about you but "The Lie We Love," article put a bit of a damper on things for me. Laura found a rebuttal to this article which helps. This depression stage bleeds into the next stage...

Twelfth Stage: DOUBT. Am I doing the right thing? How can I be sure that my adoption is completely ethical? This for me, also included (for the first time) doubt that I had chosen the right adoption agency. I am still not sure about this one. My agency has been working in Ethiopia a long time, and I am fairly confident that they operate in an ethical manner. But really, how would I know? I haven't been to Ethiopia yet. I am not really sure what goes on there. I know the program has changed dramatically in the past year. So many more people are choosing Ethiopia. There are more agencies, more demand for children, more room for corruption. Hence...doubts.

Thirteenth Stage: DOUBT. Am I too...(insert any of these adjectives here) old, dejected, cynical, impatient, selfish etc. to adopt at all ? Doubt in oneself and one's abilities (this too, may be related to grief stemming directly from a depressed mood).

Fourteenth Stage: DOUBT. DOUBT THAT IT WILL EVER HAPPEN! Lots of people we know who applied well after we did, have received their proposals, traveled, and are now happily ensconced with their new families. Is this just something else that works out for everyone else except us? We are definitely in the bleachers watching instead of playing on the field. Will we only be spectators? I have to say that I definitely have days where I believe that this may not happen for us. We will not get to adopt two siblings from Ethiopia. It feels precarious. It is the same feeling I have had before, when I was newly pregnant. Our four pregnancies didn't work out, so why on earth did I think this would? The stage also involves ENVY, but envy is so yucky, let's not give it its own stage.

Fifteenth Stage: DISILLUSIONMENT or THINGS I WISH I HAD THOUGHT ABOUT BEFORE: This is almost the same as Stage Four: HARSH REALITY/ ETHICAL QUESTIONING, but worse. This is disillusionment with the whole process. This is when all of your warm and fuzzy feelings about adoption don't feel warm and fuzzy anymore. Instead they feel messy and worrisome. Some of the things I wish that I had known about beforehand but was too naive to think about are...

1. DEATH. Sometimes your referred child dies. I didn't really think about this a year ago. It seemed to me that if you adopted these children, they would come to America and eventually become healthier than they have ever been. The truth is, some of these kids don't make it. I have stumbled on more than one blog where the family's referred child has died. I am usually rendered completely incapable of forming any sort of supportive comment when I read this. If this has happened to you, and you are reading this, I am so very sorry for your loss. What a terrible thing to go through. You have lost a child. How do you get over that? Maybe you never even met that child. Doesn't matter. I never met the kids I was pregnant with and I mourn them. I am sorry, and I am sorry if I never said anything to you.

A personal note here to my friends and family...
If I am lucky enough to receive a proposal and accept the referral of two small children from Ethiopia, please don't be offended if I don't show you their pictures right away. Legally, I can't publish their pictures until we are through court, but I could send them to you privately. If I don't do this right away, please don't feel angry or left out. The truth is, I am afraid they might die before I meet them. I don't want you to know their faces too, and open yourself up to losing a nephew, playmate, or grand daughter. Does that sound crazy?

Something else I didn't think much about a year ago...

2. Disruption. I know a bit about this from foster parent training, but for some reason I didn't expect it in an international adoption. Sometimes things don't work out and the adoption disrupts. Here is a link to a brave and honest woman who has written about this. Her son was from Haiti.

Okay. This is getting a little dark and depressing huh? I think it is time to tell you about my favorite stage yet!!

Sixteenth Stage:EXTREME EXHILARATION!!!! It is similar to the Second Stage: JOY, but much, much better. A couple of weeks ago, I was home with Steven and the dogs. All of the sudden I thought, "This is actually going to happen! We are going to have children!! There will be children here, in our house, SOON!" I was filled with joy. I was grinning like an idiot. My eyebrows reached landmark status as they lifted to allow for the stars in my eyes to shine fully.

It lasted exactly 90 minutes and now I think I may have accidentally ingested MSG from Chinese food. NONETHELESS, There was JOY. MSG or not there was JOY!

Back to some things that I wish I had thought about...

3. Don't assume that your social worker knows anything about you, especially if you use two separate agencies for your adoption; one for your home study, and one for your placement. Try to communicate with these people at each agency on the phone, or preferably in person. Don't assume that everyone has read your file, knows who you are, and (in my case) gets your sense of humor. That is all I am going to say about that.

4. Folks say no to their proposals. I had lofty ideas about this. The reality is that at times people you know may turn down a proposal. They say no. Sometimes their reasons will seem utterly ridiculous and shallow to you. Other times you will catch your breath and think, "I am not sure if I could have said yes either." I had ideas in the beginning of this process that were quite lovely. I used to believe that everyone gets the child they are supposed to have. If that is true, how can a family turn down a referral for any reason? Does that mean that the first child was the wrong child? Does that mean that they inherently knew that their child was not this first proposal but the next one? This really shakes up your romantic, 'it was destined', kind of thoughts.

Other times you will feel the presence of something larger than life. You will see a child placed in a family, and absolutely believe that this was their child. Your lofty ideals will be restored as you witness a bond so deep, that it is hard to fathom.

Maybe when we receive our proposal I will think, "Oh, of course, these are our children". But part of me thinks that it is just lists, and waiting dates, and who's next. Maybe it isn't a magical match. Now if our kids are presented to us and they happen to have the names we chose nine years ago for our non-existent biological children, I will print up this post and eat it.

I'm not saying there shouldn't be magical, lofty thinking. I have been wearing these bracelets on my wrist...

What do you think I have determined they represent ? When one broke off I thought,"Our child has died." I promptly got a new one and have not taken them off. I lost one on our wedding anniversary. It was dark out and I couldn't find it. I went out the next morning, found it, and put it back on. Maybe they will break off when our kids come into care, or when their birth mother dies or the day we learn about them. See, romantic, superstitious, wishful, optimistic, interconnectedness kind of thinking. I have it. I want to believe.

Imagine this... Steven and I go to Santa Fe. We stop for a coffee at the place we got married. While we are there, Kristina calls us. She says, I have your proposal for you. Nathaniel and Lucy have lost both of their parents to Aids. Their neighbors brought them into care. They are healthy. Nathaniel was born on (insert date of wedding anniversary, Steven's birthday, etc). Lucy was born on (insert day Chris died of brain cancer, day you first met Steven, your birthday etc.). Lofty right? Does everyone else look for signs that the children they adopt are the children they are supposed to adopt? Does that happen? Oh, and did I mention that Nate and Lucy's concerned neighbors speak fluent English and are well aware that they will, most likely, never see these children again and that they are okay with that?

In reality our kids may come from an intact family. They may have brothers and sisters who will be left behind in Ethiopia. There is nothing romantic about that. This is devastating. I think about this a lot. I see kids here dealing with this, and it is hard, very hard.

Is it just me or does everyone else think that these children are absolutely remarkable? Beautiful resilient Habesha children, what an extreme privilege it is to know them. I have met about sixty Ethiopian children. I feel like I would be extremely lucky to raise any one of them.

Where was I ? Have I lost you? Sorry if this seems self indulgent, but I am working through some things and hopeful that I am not alone, and or that I can help someone learn something about what happens as you delve into an international adoption. It is messy, and beautiful, and scary and wonderful.

Here is another good one...

Seventeenth Stage: UNEXPECTED, RENEWED FAITH IN HUMANITY. Where have you people been all my life? There is something special about the adoption community. I haven't pinpointed it yet, but this is what I think: I think it takes a rare individual to open up their heart to a child they did not give birth to, or who doesn't have their genetic makeup. It is a huge leap of faith to enter into an adoption triad. It takes someone with a big heart, I think, and a little sense of adventure. I am so grateful to have met you people. I mean it. You are good people. You inspire me. You are caring, and fun, and smart, and think about others before yourself. Nice to meet you. I am honored to be your friend. Thank you for helping me through a very difficult time. Thanks for your continued honesty about how it went/is going for you. Okay, group hug!

What stage am I in now?

Eighteenth Stage: A JOYFUL UNEASINESS. This feels right. I am filled with joy and excitement but also a little uneasiness. Maybe with our proposal the uneasiness will be gone but in fact, I think that it is important to always feel uneasy. Uneasy may not be the right word. Adoption is complicated. Just being involved in one as a potential adoptive parent is complicated. The people who are really going through something are the birth families, obviously. Their losses are a million times more difficult and devastating. I realize that I have no problems. I have had lunch, turned the heat up, and settled in with my computer to spill my guts. Who cares. Get a life right? Carry some wood, watch your family die, and give up your baby because you can't feed him. Then we will talk. I think it is important for me, even if I am lucky enough to adopt two Habesha children, to always be questioning. It is important to be observant over there, and to see what agencies are doing, and to read message boards, and to help those who come after, and to make sure, as much as I can, that my 'children's story' is true, and that my adoption is ethical.

Today things seem a little bit precarious, and a lotta bit exciting. In one year we have moved from the 103rd place in line, to the 3rd place in line. We are okay. We are excited. We want this more than anything. We are ready. I long to be a mother. I long for a family.

I can't wait to see my husband as a father. I can't wait for my parents to meet their first grandson. I can't wait to sing someone to sleep, to make someone laugh, and to bandage a skinned knee. I can't wait to show someone the beach, and the mountains, and a rain storm. I can't wait to explain the benefits of two dogs versus one. I can't wait to make chocolate chip cookies with two small Habesha children.

I am ready for my joyful, uneasy, happy ending.

* Some Newbee Links:

Ethiopia Adoption Agency review

Children's Home Society and Family Services Online Forum

Ethiopia Adopt




  1. Julie, you can explain to me the benefits of owning two dogs in lieu of one. :) Mind if I link you?

    Big hugs and wet B.L. kisses,


  2. OK, my response was getting long, so I did it as a post on my blog! Thanks for this post!

  3. I can't say enough what joy it is to find someone online wrestling so honestly, and with such ambivalence and fear and courage, with their adoption experience. The world is a mess. The heart is a mess. Adoption is a mess. But you will love your children well, and provide for them the type of home where messy emotions are safe and supported. And this big community you've created around yourself—from your husband to the dogs to Obama to your friends to your angels below and above—will love them well too. Head down now. Push forward. Wait and see.

  4. Julie, you are not crazy or maybe we are both residents of crazytown, who knows. I still have uneasy feelings even as I stare at the picture of my daughter half a world away. I am elated, scared, sad, joyful, you name it and I have felt it. You will get through this. I won't tell you the feelings magically go away once you see the pictures but it helps a little.

    You my friend are an amazing woman and I have no doubt that you will be a great Mom. Thank you for your friendship, honesty and willingness to talk about the tough stuff. I have learned a tremendous amount from you and am so glad I can call you a friend.

  5. Wow.

    And a couple of thoughts:

    My doubt stage gets mixed up with part of what you describe in the joy stage - am I adopting just to be part of the club that I haven't been able to join up until now? Is there something wrong with wanting to be part of the club? How can I be sure I'm really doing the right thing by adopting, or even by becoming a single mother through any means?

    I don't think it's crazy not to show pictures of your kids to friends and family in the beginning, it's the same as not announcing a pregnancy early on just in case (and I'm so very sorry if that brings up painful memories for you). My family is superstitious, we absolutely do not have baby showers for anyone - giving gifts for a child that hasn't arrived yet is just tempting fate in our book. I plan to treat my adoption the same way, now shower or gifts until we're HOME.

    What you describe in the last stage sounds to me like being conscious, aware and awake. You have joy, but you are also going into this with your eyes wide open, and you'll continue to keep your eyes open as a parent - which is why I think you will be the best mother two Habesha kids could ask for.

  6. Wonderful post from beginning to end. I was just telling someone last night about how difficult it is for me to find people that "get" me and how much I appreciate all my new blogger "friends."

  7. Yeah, life is messy. Thank you for this post. If all of life was just a great big vanilla sunday with a cherry on top then there would not be any orphans. So, that means that we have to deal with the mess and do our best to create something good. You will meet your children one day and you will walk together on this journey of heartbreak and utter joy. And I can't wait to see it happen for you! *hugs!*

  8. Oh Julie! You always say exactly what I am thinking.

    P.S. I like Crazytown - the residents here are nice :)

  9. I for one found signs everywhere. Mihiret was born when we started considering adoption. She came into care the same day that we decided to move off the siblings only path. She is feisty, mouthy,bright and beautiful. She is a perfect fit and I cannot imagine our family without her.
    I loved your post Julie! Thanks for sharing.

  10. You put it out there. Honest. Real. Complicated. Ugly. Hard. Fun. Exciting. All if it plays it's part.
    Hang in there. Your joyful end to this part of things is coming soon!

  11. I am so honored to have met you and have you as a friend. I LOVE your honesty and your giant heart! We ALL go through these stages during our adoption process and they continue once you are home. I find it magical how it has helped me to dig so deep within myself and I have discovered emotions I never knew I had, fears I never knew I had AND strength I never knew I had. It is a wonderful journey we are all on, and life will just keep getting better and better!!!

    Wanna grab a coffee later?? Call me.

  12. Thanks for the vulnerability. I know your previous post really helped validate the emotions I was feeling (and I hadn't even started paperwork yet---I was just a year into researching about international adoptions.) I've been surprised about how many negative emotions actually do come out---anger at injustice, guilt, frustration, remorse, despair, etc.
    I've really appreciated seeing your honesty!

  13. so many little comment space... I might just have to call you. In a nutshell: you are an amazing writer/human/friend/soon-to-be-mom. And you seem psychic--how else are you able to write the things the rest of us secretly feel? I'm glad I stalked you into friendship.

  14. Wow. I believe this post should be required reading for all PAPs. Kinda like Hague compliant.

    I've felt all of these only could never have put them into words as beautifully and honestly as you did. You are wickedly talented and I CANNOT wait to see you, Steven and the dogs grow by two.

  15. Julie, I love this post so much. I loved your six month post (although I only found it about a month ago) and this just goes to show that it doesn't get easier as you go along, it just gets messier. But I, for one, would so much rather read the real messiness that you write about rather than sit around pretending everything is GREAT and adoption is always a land of hearts and flowers. I do so much hope that the hearts and flowers are going to start for you VERY SOON though. It's hard, and sometimes it's ugly, but I guess that just sounds like real life. Opt out of the mess and there's not much left. Thanks so much for writing this. Hope you don't mind if I link to you too!

  16. Thank you for sharing. Some of the thoughts seem to fade a bit once your child(ren) come home, but they do rear their ugly heads from time to time, and not talking about it doesn't make it all go away.

    Awareness is so important.

  17. Amazing post Julie, you are really a special person..did you know that?! I don't think that I could have expressed myself so well...these stages are so true, we all go through them (maybe not all of them but most of them) is so hard to understand if you aren't in this world. I appreciate your honesty and I cannot wait to see your posts when your beautiful children are home.

  18. Julie, a couple of things: A) you are an amazing writer and if not already, you should think about making this a career; you know how to the get to the heart of the matter and engage all of us reading immediately and thoroughly and B) because of your experiences, not only those mentioned in this post, but because of your total life experience, you are going to be an amazing parent to your children...personally, I am so much smarter after the many things I've been through in my adult life that I know I am a better parent at the age of 42 than I ever could have been back in my 20's. Be thankful for the wisdom and the compassion that you've gained as a result of your struggles...they are what will enable your children to grow into happy, healthy and productive individuals. I wish you the best of luck in the rest of your wait!

    - Themia (MomofETchild from the forum)

  19. Wow. What an amazing and beautiful post. Thank you.

    As for signs (and I definitely looked for them too) with our daughter - she was born on my grandma's birthday (and my son was born on my grandpa's), our travel date was my other grandma's birthday,and he met her for the first time on my mom's birthday.

    I can't wait to read about your happy ending on here.


  20. This is just such a wonderful post. I really do get it. I sort of have all stages, all the time, even though our adoption is "completed;" it never goes away, because then you are raising these children FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. It is done, but not done, and it is sure scary.

    On some level, I never really believed it would happen when we were adopting, so I was a pretty good wait-er. But by some incredible miracle, here I am, Zufan's mother, forever, against about a million odds. How did that happen? I don't know.

    I looked for signs like crazy, and they were there. The dates overlapped with other dates in such a bizarre way that I do believe in fate, or God, or the "red thread." And the way the usually impossible-to-get grant and other money fell from the sky like manna is mind boggling. (Now, it has dried up and I'm in a fix. Maybe time to start another adoption to get things rolling? J/K!!!! :))

    I think those of us who struggle will always struggle, with something, and that is so much better than just forging ahead without thinking -- I think... But it is still forging ahead blindly... so I don't know. I sure have no answers here, do I?

    Have you read Mountains Beyond Mounds, by Kidder, about Paul Farmer? I just finished it yesterday and I LOVE that book. Lots of questions, lots of action, but again, really no answers.

    OK, so I really said nothing worthwhile in this 10 minute comment, did I? I guess, just know that I'm there with you, and in the end, I really believe it is a good thing. Especially your particular Ethiopian adoption. It is a very, very good thing, so allow yourself as much joy as you can!

  21. If you're living in Crazytown, at least it's good to know you're surrounded by friends. Seriously, I want to reach into my computer and give you a hug. Your wait is almost over. I can feel it. There is going to be much partying in Crazytown the day you receive your proposal, and the day those precious little people cross the threshold of your home just may have to be declared an international holiday. It's gonna be THAT big. I feel completely privileged to have been able to drop in on your life over the last year - both the heartbreak and soon, the joy, give depth to this insane thing we call the human experience. Believe.

  22. I've been trying to make sense of all of the different phases of emotions for quite awhile...You explained it perfectly! I have learned so much from you!

  23. You are amazing! I can't wait til you and your husband get your big news and I can't wait to meet you in person! You could teach Eli and I alot!

  24. ayyy!! Help! I knew there would be a typo.

    Mountains Beyond Mountains, by Tracy Kidder.

    Zufan gets all excited when she sees it and yells "Mommy BOOK!!!" Well... was reading on kid-duty time neglect or good example?? Walking the fine line, I'm thinking.

  25. and this is why I LOVE your blog! seriously. you are honest and open and so much of what you write resonates with my own experience.

    keep on keepin' on girl - as a fellow citizen of Crazytown, I am behind you are all the way.

  26. Oh my freaking gosh, 3rd in line? AAAACCCCCCCCCCCCCCCKCKKKK!! I got all quivery(not a word, I'm sure) and excited to think you WILL be meeting your kids soon!!! As usual, always love your thoughts on everything.

  27. love this post! (and your sense of humor). i didn't adopt from ethiopia but from US foster care. but we have some of the same stages/feelings. i enjoyed reading it, but not so much that i ignored the turmoil you must be going through. i wish you good luck and a referral soon!

  28. Well Julie - a mountain of comments and I'm right here with the rest of them. What I love love love about your perspective is the growth you demonstrate over time; digging into your joy, pain, loss, and hope. Yeah, that's what parenthood is all about. You're a momma already, my friend, and all of this work has prepared you to receive your precious wee ones. The cool thing is, our children get to be our teachers, and it couldn't be more evident than in the tales you have already told.

  29. Those are perfect. And though I was hopeful about the "signs they were meant to be ours" it didn't necessarily come. But he was and he's perfect. Perfect by himself and perfect with us. Yours will be too. You'll be a better version of yourself, one you weren't looking for but that comes anyway.

    And I can't wait to read "proposal" in that subject line!

  30. Julie, you can write, girl. With just me up and about in my house, I went and got a nice apple juice and crackers to enjoy with your long post. You are crazy honest out in crazytown! I did just read "The Lie we Love" and it was tough. I am so relieved Steven is feeling better. I agree with you about the adoption community and it was so nice to meet you, too. You can't imagine how hard I am pulling for that proposal to come through.


  31. kicking ass and taking names, you are. you are SO close.

  32. very well put. some of those were if you had read my mind at different stages! The Melissa Faye Green one made me laugh out loud! (during that stage, we switched out referral request from a single baby to siblings!) Anyway, thanks for the honesty!

  33. This truly is a must read for all those considering, in process or waiting endlessly.

    All of us citizens of Crazytown are happy to have you as a neighbor we can hang out with. I too had to laugh at the Melissa Faye Greene phase- I actually was never able to pull myself out of that one and now have a spirited 7 year old who is kicking my ass on a daily basis to show for it. Thanks Melissa!

    And about the magical, lofty moments. All I can say is we were officially waiting for Noah 12/05/05, he was born 03/05/06, got referral 05/05/06 took custody of him in ET on 06/05/06. Noah's bio dad passed away 02/05/05 which is my husbands (Noahs dad's) birthday. Magical? or Crazy?

    Maybe even more crazy that I just wrote all those dates out in a comment on your blog.

    I know there is a proposal for you guys just around the corner.


  34. I know you know how I feel about the signs and the magic and the fate and the wait. I have nothing much to add except to say that Im' very happy to hear that Steven is starting to feel a bit better. And that, for me, the guilt and the outrage at the injustice of it all is just made bearable by the sheer joy (so far) of parenting and the knowledge that Curly & Slick are getting what thier family wanted (in the lesser of two evils sense) for them.

    I'm really sick of waiting with you. Bring on the pure, unadulterated joy.

  35. I really, really appreciate this post! I've been through or am currently in most of these stages myself, but never could articulate nearly as well as you have! Nice to find that perhaps I'm not so out there after all. Thank you!

  36. Oh my goodness, you have the stages DOWN!!! Your time is soon, i feel it!!!! Your children will come to you soon and they will be so, so lucky. Once again, i love your writing; so expressive and beautiful!

  37. You are almost there.
    Have you thought about how you are even going to announce the news? Imagine hundreds, yes, hundreds of us, all over the world, crying onto our keyboards, and laughing out loud with joy. That's what that day will be like. My heart will celebrate with you on that day, as well as so many others you have touched with your honesty and courage. I can't wait until the day I meet you, because I know I will also be meeting your precious children.

  38. Okay, after sleeping on your post, now I have to say more. About the selfish asshole, I get what you are saying and I think it is a stage, but not one that every adoptive parent is willing to really take a good look at, much less feel it. Secondly, motherhood is a paradox. It is giving everything you have, literally. Really, for no other person than your child will you give so much without a common reciprocation. I don't mean that mothers get nothing back, of course we do, but it not like with adult relationships where there is a bit of a bartering for love and care. For moms, it is all one-sided, all the care and love. But. It isn't. And that's the paradox. All that you give makes you into something else. And I will selfishly give and give and give to my kids because it is the intoxication of my mothering. And that is why, when I start a blog, it will be called Hey, nobody steal that! Oh, yeah, and you are already a mama.


  39. I think you are so generous. This blog, you, so generous. And just lovely.
    Some of these stages have continued on for me even now after Sam is home. I feel like there is so much to say that I'm not sure what to say.
    I will say this. There will be magic. I PROMISE! It may not come in dates or names, it may, who knows. I just know there will be magic. I wish that somehow I could take the confidence I have about that out of my heart and place it into yours. But, its OK that I can't because one day, maybe soon, (hooray #3) you will be together as a family and you will know the magic and you'll think, "Jen, you knew, you were right. Magic!" Sending you love and continued courage!

  40. What a great list (again). In our adoption, I skipped the ethical questioning and went straight to the selfish stage.

    I know it's been a long, hard road for you guys. I only hope that it makes it only that much sweeter when you finally have the family you have longed for. I can't wait to see you as a mother. You will be an awesome mother and I'm privileged to be one of the lucky ones who will get to witness it with my own eyes.

    I'm proud to be your friend and I can't WAIT for you to get your proposal!

  41. Well. I always love what you write, Julie. And I've certainly felt most of these. Thanks for verbalizing it so well.

    And, I am getting excited for you!

    And, you are not an asshole.

  42. I just found your blog today and it couldn't be more perfect timing. I am going through a whirlwind of different stages now and we're not even done with our dossier. It seems that for the last 4 years of trying to have a baby, I've gone through every stage you mentioned. Thanks for reminding me I'm not alone.

  43. It's taken me a while to comment on this post because, really, I couldn't find the words to say. I still don't have the right words. But I do want to tell you how wonderful you are and that this is such an incredible post. Although I haven't experienced all these stages, for sure I've experienced some of them. Thank you for your honesty. You are so lovely. :)

  44. Also- I had to link to this post. Hope you don't mind an awful lot....

  45. Seriously the only thing I know how or what to say is WOW. You have taken every single thought I have ever had and written it out in the most eloquent, thoughtful, gut-wrenching way possible. I know you did this for you, but thank you for understanding me in the process...for making me feel much less alone tonight. Thank you. Oh! and those children that you are going to bandage and love, those children who are alive and happy and sad today, they are going to love you so much. They are going to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE you. Who wouldn't? Heck, I do and I haven't even met you! :)

  46. You are amazing, Thank you for sharing, I needed that....Wonderfully written..

  47. The stages are crazy and I am so glad that you wrote about them. I don't think other people who haven't been in this process really understand.
    I know that I always tell you this when I comment, but really, I mean it - YOU ARE GOING TO BE GREAT PARENTS!
    I am looking forward to the announcement, which ya gotta make, Julie. By the way, I will be bummed out if you don't send me the pictures! : ) Julie, you are going to be parents and there is no doubt about it in my mind. - Julie O.

  48. Dang!

    Julie, thank you for articulating these stages for us.

  49. Wow! Great analysis of the process—it brings back some memories. Though I went through it when wait times were much shorter, so lots of those steps have occurred since the adoption. Sorry you've had to wait long enough to experience all 18 of them! Here's to hoping for a proposal before 19 sets in.

  50. That was by far the best adoption post I've ever read. You captured so much of what we felt, but we have two bio kids. So the poignant part to me, since I work mostly with couples who have no bio children, you allowed me to crawl into your brain and your heart, and see my clients more clearly. My hope is that I've always loved them well... that I'm one of those "good" social workers (b/c yes, there are too many bad ones), who cares deeply about them, their case, and their children.
    Your honesty has helped, and will help, so many people. This story of yours is beautiful... so breathtakingly beautiful. The ups and downs only add to the beauty... I'm so honored to be able to read about your journey here.
    wishing you extremely joyful days ahead...

  51. Thank you!!!
    Adoption is not for the weak. There's so much happy in adoption but there's also so much sadness and loss. Your children will be well-served by the fact that you are able to see that and admit it.
    After all this time and the struggles you've been through to find your children, you may not feel an immediate connection. You may put up a wall in your heart to protect yourself. That's okay. Love isn't always at first site. And sometimes it's even more special when it takes some time because you remember the time before the love and you cherish it more.

  52. So so so true. Very nicely done. I look forward to your stages that follow your proposal and before you have the darlings. I am here now and find the uncertainty around the timeline, lack of information about my childs backgound, and MORE waiting to be harder.

    You are almost there!

  53. It looks like the population of Crazytown is growing. It is nice to meet so many fellow residents.

    Your posts always ring so true, so raw, and so pure. All the emotions you experience during the adoption process are not always pretty and often show us a side we weren't happy to see. And that is not a bad thing. I think you are right on with wanting to feel the "uneasiness". I think you are right with all your questions of selfishness. I think you are right to think about the loss. I would be concerned if people that were adopting were not feeling that. All this mess and muck of waiting is just that - mess and muck. And you can't get around it. I've tried.

    I am definitely in an optimistic uneasiness state - for both you and me! I do have hope. I have enough for both of us. I will share. I will hold it out for you to see when it is difficult for you to see. I hope the uneasiness keeps us grounded. I hope the hope continues to show us just how much strength and courage we have in us. Our children will certainly benefit from both.

    Your time is coming! You can do this!

  54. I've been waiting all week to read this with time on my hands and comment. I'm glad I did, because I got all the comments to read as well!

    Love Christine's motherparadox. I would have tried to say something similar but she nailed it. 'all that you give makes you into something else.'

    Love Mama Dog's the world, heart and adoption are all messes. Yesses, they are messes.

    There are signs. Of course, you won't know till hindsight. Shh.. don't tell anyone but I am more contemplative of the 'being above' after one particular night as we were waiting.

    And, the discussion the two of you have bring you your children. We changed our 'stuff' and had we not, we would not have MZ. The day we learned of him, we could not believe our 'luck.' I kept saying things along the lines of... are you sure?

    Julie, I have had my heartaches in life, but I have not had the same ones you've had. Our adoption, from first glimmer to arriving home was 15 months. Our fertility issues were easily solved. Our kids have come to us with relative ease.

    Yet, I have continued to grow reading your blog, which I found after my two kids have arrived, and I am a better person and mom for it.

    I will not be surprised if I hear a tiny shout from the earth as your online buddies cheer when we hear of your news (ala Horton Hears a Who).

    Thank you for this post. And, as everyone else surely has done, may I link this too?

    PS What? Did nobody else write a book for their comment?

  55. I've been waiting until I had time to really sit down and not be distracted before reading this post.

    I think you've explained all the stages perfectly. Although, now that Eli is home, I think I'm in a new stage. I'm constantly thinking - 'I'm not doing near enough in this world'. Not because I felt like by adopting Eli we were 'saving' him. He actually saved us. I just feel like I've been exposed to the true needs of our world. So much to think about.

  56. Julie,

    I just stumbled upon your blog. My husband and I are also pursing an adoption through Ethiopia. I was riveted by your post on the stages--you certainly captured the true essence of all the feelings. No book or article really captures these feelings. Your words brought great comfort to me because I have cycled through virtually every stage you described. My dear husband has to brace himself when I move to another stage, especially when it is focused on social justice and doubt.

    Thank you for your candid, yet humorous, post.


  57. I know we don't know each other, but I found your post about a week ago, and it hit so close to home that I was laughing, crying, and nodding my head in total agreement the whole way through. Thank you for posting this and capturing all these stages so articulately - it's so comforting to know I'm not the only one that go through these stages!

    ~ Kristen

  58. Beautifully written, thank you for capturing so well what many of us experience. You are definitely not alone! And I found this post at the perfect time, while feeling my own anxiety. Bless you.

  59. Thanks for this - I have had "alot of feelings" for a while and I'm so glad that someone has written them down for me :) You are lovely!


  60. You just put into words everything I have felt. I just received my referral and none of the "magical things" have happened. I really struggled with some expectation that God was going to send down a bolt of lightning and let me know that this is my child. But that didn't happen. I think some people have those moments or those signs. But not everyone and I don't want to miss out on a little girl who could be my little girl because there wasn't a host of angels announcing her referral. I instead am going to have faith that she was brought to me for a reason and I have a calm assurance that I will get to be a Mother and she will get to have a Mother again!

    1. Congratulations on your referral Jen! Calm assurance is a good thing. Let us know how it goes.