I’ve been looking forward to writing this one because I dream of our child(ren) often. Obviously, we don’t really know, but there are some general considerations we are expecting. The ones that are rather self-explanatory are that we are open to either gender and we are approved for 1-2. Statistics would say that a girl is more likely, but we see people get matched with boys all the time too. God willing, we plan to adopt two from India regardless. Whether that is at one time or through two separate adoptions is yet to be determined. We would love a sibling set, but our agency has explained that it is not super likely given the age range we are approved for. For the sake of this description, I am going to write as if we are matched with one child just for ease.
Our child will be between 0-2 years old. This is really our only limiting factor in our openness, but it was intentional. As a counselor, maintaining birth order was really important to me, as I am aware of some of the difficulties it can cause in the family system to disrupt that order. Thankfully, this is important to our placing agency, Children’s Home Society of MN (CHLSS), as well. They require the child at time of match to be at least one year younger than the youngest child in the home. Sylvan is still pretty young, thus the 0-2 range on the home study. If we match when we hope to (November(ish) next year), our child could be about 18 months or younger. They put the year stipulation on to prevent any artificial twinning. If children end up in the same grade at school, etc., it can sometimes cause tension. Some families have no problems at all with this, but it’s just something that our agency prioritizes.
Our child will have an identifiable need. When our CHLSS social worker called to review our special needs questionnaire, she described our answers as open to all minor needs, most moderate needs, and some moderate-severe needs. The categories on these lists were: birth mother history, birth father history, birth conditions, respiratory system, circulatory system, reproductive system, muscular system, gastrointestinal system, skeletal system, infectious diseases, skin-related conditions, sensory conditions, neurological conditions, developmental conditions, emotional/behavioral, and other. For each of these, there were numerous specific considerations and we then answered “yes, have the skills”, “will consider”, or “will not consider” on all of them. It was hard and, in some ways, felt wrong/caused guilt. We navigated it intentionally though, spending hours going through each with a dear nurse friend and then researching and praying for hours upon hours after that.
Based on the webinars we’ve watched and the people we follow, the more common needs in India right now seem to be limb differences, hearing and vision loss, severe prematurity and malnutrition, cerebral palsy, and heart conditions requiring surgery. We are expecting developmental delays and malnutrition no matter what. The medical files aren’t always accurate either, so it’s quite possible that once our child is home, we will come to find out that things are more/less severe or there are more diagnoses present. Once we are presented a file, we will talk to adoption medical specialists, our insurance company, and consult local resources to ensure we can support the child to the best of our ability. The unknowns are intimidating, but ultimately, we know God already has a child for us. We trust that He will equip and walk alongside us through every consideration.
Our child will have trauma. Adoption does not exist without trauma. Children in India have a variety of backgrounds as to how they came to be in orphanages. The most common reasons are single mothers facing stigmas, poverty, parent illnesses/death, and special needs. Regardless, there will be a separation deeper than I can comprehend as our child is broken from his/her birth family. Our heart aches for them now as, in present time, they likely either just experienced the separation, are in the midst of it, or it’s coming soon. We also ache for the birth family and the trauma they are experiencing, too. We think about them often and love them dearly. Depending on the orphanage, they may also experience trauma while in institutionalized care. This could be due to lack of caregivers, resources, or unethical practices. Then, when we bring them home, they will experience an even further, life altering trauma as they leave their language, food, people, colors, landscapes, schedules, textures, normal, everything… all of it will be new. I can’t imagine how overwhelming that will be for them and we will not minimize the vastness of that transition.
Our child will be a transracial adoptee (TRA). I know this sounds obvious, but this has become the most significant area of learning for us in this process. The identity piece that comes with being a TRA is fundamental and we are going to do our best to navigate it with the utmost care. We have read story after story of TRAs who grew up feeling like they had two selves and it was incredibly challenging to find their place. We aren’t going to be perfect in our attempt to support them and we know that, but we are going to do our best to be present for them, listen to them, and encourage any exploration they need into who they are. We hope to preserve culture like honoring certain holidays, making Indian cuisine, providing books and toys with Indian characters, etc. Those are important things, but what we are going to work harder to do is connect with people who can be racial mirrors and role models for them. We hope to build a community for them that provides for them the safety and love they need to become the best selves they can. I’m confident we cannot understand the vastness of this, but we can do our best.
Finally, our child will be exactly the one that God intends for our family. We process with the peace that God is already blanketing our child with love and care. We have confidence that he is preparing the hearts of each member of our family already home so we will meet them where they are and adore them fully. It may be a hard transition, but it will be right. We are so grateful that God is entrusting us with His child. We love that child already, whoever they may be.