Friday, August 9, 2013

Planning and preparing

Last Friday was a great day for the Pauls family. It was the day that John Kerry (with his infinite support for international adoption) welcomed Brian and Nikki to enter into the U.S. with a young immigrant child for the purpose of adoption. It was a great day and certainly encouraging for the process. We got that approval notarized on Monday and I headed to Topeka Tuesday for some state certification fun. It was actually quite a pleasant process (though I’m sure I’m the only one who really enjoys doing adoption paperwork), quite easy, and quite quick. Thankfully our state capitol is just 1½ hours away and an easy drive.  

As I was preparing the documents late into the wee hours of the night on Monday, I realized that I had, in fact, forgotten to obtain an updated marriage license. I half-panicked for about a minute and then realized that I probably could get a new one in Topeka while I was there. So I calmly did some research, found out it takes 15 minutes and the vital records building is right next door to the Secretary of State. Aside from using an additional quarter in the parking meter, it was a pretty smooth process to get the marriage license and then walk next door state certify the rest of the documents. All in all, less than an hour process for both things and I left with a perfect state certified (in-process) dossier.

Now we’re getting in touch with the courier for our authentication process with the Chinese Consulate in Chicago. We’ll send that off, and then our dossier will be on its way to China. And then all we have to do is sit, and wait. Sit and wait and paint the bedroom and apply for another grant and fight the health insurance company and meet with the school district and have another fundraiser and meet with the attachment therapist and get some of my own work under control and apply for another grant and get our dog to like new people and read more books and shop and clean and do another fundraiser and nest and prepare for our lives to never be the same again.

And as our process continues, I realize that there’s really only so much I can do to control it. And (I will let myself in on this trade secret) what I have control over is a little, tiny, nothing. From this point on, there is absolutely nothing I can do to control this adoption process. So when people ask me when we’re expecting to travel or when this or that acronym (you know, adoption process, all acronyms) is going to occur, I really just say I don’t know. Because I really don’t know. Oh sure, I could count the number of days between this step and that step. And then I could get on Facebook or yahoo groups for people adopting from China and see that the Smiths received their PQR approval in 84 days, while it took the Jonses 92 days and then the XYZ approval came for the Johnsons in a surprising 67 days while it took the poor Williams 102 days. And then I could panic that we had surpassed the 84 day mark and were still waiting. And then that panic could turn into worry and then sickness and just as soon as that all would start to happen, we probably would get the dang approval.

Or, I could just start my list of items two paragraphs above and stop wishing the time away and realize that I still will probably still be folding Yiyi’s last load of laundry at 3 a.m. on the day we board the plane to China. I’m going in completely unaware of the process and I really like it. I honestly have no idea how long it takes until our paperwork hits the next step in the process and when it does, I have no idea what that even means. They say doctors are their own worst patients. Well apparently adoption social workers are their own worst, well, adoption social workers! We’re going in like those people who don’t find out what gender baby they are having when they are pregnant. We’re going to be just as surprised as we can be when our caseworker calls and tells us to buy plane tickets. And you know what? It’s kind of nice. I have a ton of stress in my life and I am absolutely one of those people who can jump on a panic bandwagon faster than any one of you can (known all too well by my husband who witnessed one such incident over me forgetting to thaw butter to make cake frosting. It was cake frosting, and tears were involved.) But this isn’t one thing that I’m going to let stress me out. I’m truly going to enjoy the journey. We’re only going to be childless couple once and I want to enjoy this time that we have. By doing an adoption and choosing an older child, we missed out on a lot of those surprises that new parents often get. So I’ll take them where I can get them.

My message today is for those of you who find yourselves controlled by your adoption process…take control back. The paperwork doesn’t own you, the process doesn’t own you, China doesn’t own you, and little speed bumps in the journey are not roadblocks. Own your process, own your journey, take some time to breathe and realize that sadly, there’s not a whole lot you can do about things to make them move any quicker. And panicking about how so and so got ahead of you, or cursing the notary for getting divorced and not changing the name on her notary stamp yet, or realizing the night before that you forgot to get an updated copy of your marriage license, surely isn’t going to help you to get your kiddo faster.

So take the time for fun things, like picking out paint color for the new ones bedroom, or take the time to do something you’ve been long wanting to do for yourself (ahem, [insert myself looking in the mirror here] like get your Kansas social work license), and enjoy this time with your spouse or your other kids because it’s never going to be the same again.

Now, if only I can figure out how remain this calm in other aspects of my life, I will be super set for motherhood!



  1. We honestly enjoyed our whole adoption process. We think of it with very fond memories and at the time referred to it as our "pregnancy." You are right...enjoy this time. Each "pregnancy" is different, whether it is in-utero or on paper, just as each child is an individual. We make the choice to enjoy and find the joys!

  2. I advocate taking lots of naps while waiting. And sleeping in at every opportunity! Honestly, of all the things I miss about my pre-kid life, sleep is the number one. Obviously, I would give up everything I've given up for my children all over again, in a heartbeat, but there is something to be said for enjoying the relative simplicity of life before your kiddo comes into your family, really embracing those moments as fleeting. There is also such joy in preparation - I loved that part. Decorating Zinashi's room was so fun and special, and choosing all the special little things we wanted to have for her was pure sweetness.

    (Elvie, of course, as kiddo number two and a big surprise timing-wise, came home to sleep in a stroller. Poor thing. She'll have a bone to pick with me when she's older and recognizes this great injustice - she didn't even get her own room! Ever!)

  3. Actually, I think I enjoyed the treasure of "firsts" more with our two made in China daughters adopted older than with our four homegrown. I still stand back in amazement watching my little girls knowing just how much of their lives are filled with firsts. - 1st bath. 1st meal together as a family. 1st McD (in China). 1st trip to the zoo, amusement park, grocery store, park, etc. 1st birthday home. 1st Christmas, 4th of July as a U.S. citizen, etc. 1st snow. 1st time swimming. 1st word in English. 1st complete sentence.
    Lots of treasured moments!!!

  4. Thank you for the reminder! Working hard to enjoy the process! :) And congrats on this step!!!

  5. Yes to this great advice and YES! to a Kansas social worker license! ;-) Praying for you three. Stacy