Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A forever family

Although I try not to talk exclusively about our adoption on my professional(ish) blog, I realize that it has given me some additional information to be able to connect with my work in a deeper and more meaningful way. Being on the other side of this adoption equation is helping me to understand what my clients go through. Today’s blog inspiration is based off an update we got about Yiyi. 

We’ve been marginally chill through this whole adoption process, moving none too record speed, only asking questions when we really have to, taking on the brunt of documentation prep ourselves to save money, accepting the fact that nobody is interested in traveling out to Yiyi’s foster home to start working with her on English, and, for the past 9-months, treasuring the one photo we have of her.

And it’s a darling photo, don’t get me wrong, I love it. It will always be my favorite photo because that’s the photo I saw when my eyes filled with tears and I felt something in my body that I had never felt before.

That is the photo that Jesus used to tell me that Yiyi was our daughter.

But from the looks of it, it is from November 2011. And last time I checked China is vying for superpower status and internet is widely available, so just snap another photo of her on the way to school and email it. It’s not that hard. And it’s been two years, so we’re not being all that demanding, I don’t think. But alas, it has not come to fruition and so we remain patient.

In an attempt to pacify us, we were encouraged to ask 10 or so questions to get an update on Yiyi. We decided to keep it light and casual, but worked very hard on our questions for a couple of weeks, just to be sure we had the right questions. We narrowed it down to 10 and sent them off with the email subject line: Questions for Yan Yiyi and then the first line of the email states “We would like to know answers to the following questions from Yan Yiyi.”

I thought that was pretty self-explanatory. Get the child, tell her the people adopting her in America have some questions, and ask them to her. I’m a social worker, these questions are all fine and surface level, and it’s not going to do any damage to ask her these questions.

Within about a week we got responses to most of the questions. No height and weight update, nor another photo, but we got answers to the questions. Based on these answers, we should be focusing our clothing shopping on buying dresses and skirts in the color red, filling our fruit basket with apples, thinking of fun places we can take her shopping, buying a Barbie doll (sorry sister, orphan or not, I just can’t do it), and getting a new puppy (though we are hoping we can convince her since Sunny is small that she is, in fact, very much like a puppy). 

See - tiny like a puppy!

I read through these answers, very glad for this information that I considered highly plausible, age-appropriate, and seemingly accurate. Until I got to this part -  

Question:  What are you looking forward to most about living in the United States? 
Answer: She wants a forever family with a mom and dad to love her.


Well, after I stopped chuckling and composed myself...

Despite wanting to think that my child is a delicate genius who has more appropriate social work lingo in her vocabulary than I did until I finished graduate school, I just can’t buy it. Thanks China, but unless you have been holding out on us that each child to be adopted is getting weekly, intensive therapy by a licensed therapist or social worker who is teaching her how to identify and name her emotions, I’m pretty sure she didn’t say that. I may have been born in the morning, but I wasn’t born yesterday morning.

But, when I have told folks about this update over the past week, this answer has resulted in responses that ranged from tears, to squeals of delight, back to tears again. “Oh, the sweet baby just wants to be adopted! How sweet!” None of those responses from me mind you, as my only response has been that of sarcastic laughter.

I would love to buy it. You have no idea how much I would love to buy it. But I just can’t.  

My message to you, dear comrades who are adopting older kids, is to not fall into this trap of believing anything that doesn’t come straight from the child’s mouth. It’s safe to assume that your older child does not want to be adopted. Whether or not it’s better for her, she probably doesn’t want it.

As sweet as these updates are, and as kind as the agencies are to offer some updates to us, they seem to have lost some of the oomph if the child herself isn’t even aware that such questions exist and was never even asked.

So take your update with a grain of salt. Enjoy it for entertainment value. Share it around and feel that you have something to hang onto, proudly, like a sonogram photo. Trust me, it will make you feel better. If that’s the outcome, then it’s worth its weight in gold. We have very little tangible in the adoption process, so make this something that you can grab onto to take you to the next hurdle.  


  1. You are a precious woman and you are going to be a precious Mom!

  2. It has taken almost 5 years home for one of our daughters to share the real dirt. When told she was being adopted by an American family, her best buddy asked if he could go too. The staff responded that he was too naughty to ever be adopted (side note - he came home about 6 months after our princess). Our sweet girl knew "they were just teasing him" because she was his partner in crime. However, he was heartbroken and told her horrible things about American and what her life would be like here. Add to these confusing messages that she thought her foster family of five years was her forever family. You never know what past your child brings home within their heart and mind.

  3. Hi Nikki - Heather sent me over and I LOVE your blog! Thanks so much for writing! It was great to meet you at 4H last spring and I can't wait to see your updates, and your insight about them... ;) (We are still waiting a while yet for our referral). --Nancy B