As we head into Spring, we enter the season of birthdays and anniversaries in our lives. It’s a bit odd that when we tell P.’s stories they often start out “Two years, almost to the day…” Indeed both boys were met in March, adopted in April, and brought home at the beginning of May, two years apart. They lived in the same baby home and their birthdays are in the same month.
So since I’ve been having a bit of trouble approaching our adoptions as a subject to write about, I thought I would use some of the anniversaries as a jumping off point.
On March 8, 2002, we attended our first information session at an adoption agency. After all the research I had done, I needed no real explanation of the process. Instead we went to get a feel for the agency itself and how they presented their services as well as the experience of adopting, and ultimately, parenting. It was a very emotional evening for me. After years of reading and talking about it, finally one of those adoption stories was going to be ours.
But like trying to conceive, your first efforts don’t always mean success. Once I got over the excitement and the emotion of the event, I was left with one impression. My husband and I were only one of perhaps 50 other couples in the room. The agency had several programs in quite a few countries, and while the larger group of people all starting out on the same journey helped put my husband at ease, it had nearly the opposite effect on me. This agency, which I knew well, and I thought we were going to use, was far too big for us.
I’m not really sure why, but it took me months to try again. This time, we chose a much smaller agency, The Florence Crittenton League. There were seven other couples in the room, and two adoptive families. The single mother who spoke talked of the agency’s Russian programs. Her son, just about a year old, was a fat little baby with huge blue eyes. He was sort of walking, sort of cruising the furniture, and he responded immediately when I engaged him in a game of round-the-chair peek-a-boo. What a smile! The other family spoke about the China program, their child was older but also charming.
The whole feel of the presentation and the agency was different. I felt that here we would get the attention we might need going through this process. I was so much more comfortable in this office with the mismatched chairs. Plus, I think they said the magic word - St. Petersburg.
Well, St. Petersburg was a major city, one I had heard of, one that I might feel was safe and easier to get around. Friends of mine had actually lived there. I guessed that the children who lived in orphanges there might have more access to medical care, and that if something unusual happened during our visit, we would have more resources for getting help. All of this was, of course, a mental leap, but I took it.
This was the first of many “go with your gut” decisions we would make along the way. We did talk with some more FCL families, just to be sure*, but we looked at no other agencies. Our choice was made.
*Coming soon: Choosing an Agency - Some Tips