The way I see it, searching for an adoption agency is a lot like dating. It's a rollercoaster ride. It's emotionally exhausting. There are high-highs and low-lows. There are a ton of unknowns. And in the end, you're trying to answer a super serious question...
Could he be THE ONE?
Could he be the man I'm supposed to marry? (Or, with an adoption agency, could this be THE ONE that will bring me my child?!)
So let's talk about dating. It's been a few years since I've done it (going on almost 5), but if I remember right, it starts when you notice him from across the room. (Or if you're adopting - when you find that agency in a google search). Or maybe a friend introduced you? (Or, maybe a friend suggested this agency?) Either way... you start to check him out. Eyes, hair, smile.... (and you check OUT that website... how long has it been since it was updated? Does it look professional? Is there a good amount of helpful information on it?)
Now, if you like what you see... and he likes what he sees, you might move to the next phase of what I'd call pre-dating, or as we called it when I was in high school and college... "TALKING". You know this part right? It's the "getting to know you part" where you flirt and you chat via phone, text, or email. (If you've decided to move into the "talking" phase with an adoption agency, then you've decided to actually communicate with them via email. You know, ask some preliminary questions, tell them a little bit about yourself, and "feel out" whether you want to move forward.) You'll probably ask your mutual friends about him too (and you will call any and every adoptive mom you know to ask what they know about this particular agency!)
Now, if you're lucky enough that "talking" moves into him asking you out on your first date, then you get REALLY excited! (If you're lucky enough to want to move forward with this agency, then you go ahead and set up a phone call to really talk seriously about your next step in adopting through them). You go crazy preparing for the date. You shower, you buy a new dress, you put on makeup. (You go crazy preparing for this phone call. You research and research some more, and then you compile a crazy long list of questions for you to talk about.) The closer the date gets, the more nervous you get. There are butterflies in your stomach! Will the date go well? Will you be asked on another date? Could this really be the man you're going to marry someday?! (The closer the call gets, the more nervous you get. There are butterflies in your stomach! Could this be THE agency for your family? Could you actually submit an application with these people? Could you trust them to bring home your child?)
And then, the date comes. (And then, the call comes). If he seems super sketchy, you might think, "I don't know if I can trust this guy" and make an excuse to go home early. (If the agency seems sketchy, disorganized, or shows that they don't have enough experience, then you might end the call and mark them off your list.) But if you're lucky, that first date goes GREAT! While he's driving you home, you let yourself start to get excited about date #2. You might even let yourself daydream about a future with this guy... (But if you're lucky, the call goes GREAT! You're impressed with the agency, and you and your husband start thinking... "Wow. We definitely want to move forward with them!")
... and then... he drops the bomb. "I had fun tonight and all, but I don't think this is going to work out. I really only like athletic girls (or musical girls, or taller girls, or girls who want to be teachers - or something else crazy specific that is out of your power to change!) Let's just be friends, okay? (And then, the agency drops the bomb. Oh... you would make excellent candidates but you have to have proven infertility... or you can only specify that you want a girl if you already have a son... (or some other unexpected requirement that is COMPLETELY out of your power to change!) You aren't eligible for our program.)
Cue the tears. And the disappointment. And the "what's wrong with me?!" mindset. You thought things were going great and then he crushes you with this excuse out of left field. You might even start to question if you'll EVER get married - especially if he's the 4th guy in a row to dump you after the 1st date! (Cue the tears. And the disappointment. And the "what's wrong with me?!" mindset. You really loved this agency and you wanted to move forward with them, until they crushed you with that crazy requirement out of left field. You might even start to question if you'll EVER get a baby - especially if this is the 4th agency to stop your progress after the 1st phone call.)
And so it continues. I'm sure this comparison probably applies to people going through the referral process (could this baby be THE ONE?!) people going through the waiting process (ever been in a long distance relationship? It's miserable!) and people who've had adoptions go bad when they were much further into the process (I'll bet that feels like breaking up with someone you were ENGAGED to!) but it all comes down to the same truth.
These are emotional issues. They are complex. They take 2 people (or with adoption agencies, a lot more than 2 people and a LOT of paperwork!) In the end - they will change your life FOREVER (you will find a husband... or you will have a BABY!) But even with all the pain... all the heartache... all the unknowns.... they are WORTH IT.
And ultimately, both processes are completely, entirely, in the hands of a loving God who truly wants the best for us (and our spouse... and our future babies!)
Just thought I'd remind all of you out there of that truth, just in case you've been facing some discouragement like us! We don't quit dating just because it's difficult and emotional... so don't give up on adopting your child! Your little one is out there, somewhere, it just might take a little more time to find them than you expected.
But I can't end this blog without sharing some good news too! As of today we've been asked out on a "2nd DATE" with an adoption agency!!! We'll be submitting an application to an agency in New York sometime in the next few days! It's not a sure thing, but we have found someone willing to advocate for us with a specific orphanage and we're willing to give it a try. I'll post a follow up blog with more details soon, but if you could go ahead and begin covering this process in prayer, we would greatly appreciate it! Maybe this "date" will lead us to our "Happily Ever After" as a family, after all!