I finally have news to tell. But before I say what the outcome of today’s conversation with youth welfare services is, let me go back to the beginning.
January 2007 – we got married and started talking about having kids, both biologically and through adoption.
January 2008 – started trying to conceive.
Mid 2009 – mid 2010 – after years of trying without ever having seen a positive test, we got surgeries for varicocele and endometriosis.
August 2010 – moved to Switzerland, and continued trying to conceive.
March 2012 – decided to focus more on adopting, and less on getting pregnant.
April 2012 – our adoption process officially begins.
December 2012 – officially gave up trying to conceive, convinced that adoption was the right path for us.
January 2014 – after arduous and endless talks with the social worker, we get our approval to adopt a baby nationally.
May 2014 – we are finally included in the „waiting list“ to adopt nationally. There are over 30 couples/individuals waiting to adopt, and around 12 babies to adopt per year.
End of 2015 – after a long period of waiting and silence, we start thinking about and considering older child adoption, and find out we can adopt internationally from Brazil, our home country. Our permit is only valid for a couple more months, so we decide to renew it and change it to be able to adopt a sibling group of older children from Brazil.
Beginning of 2016 – more endless and, this time even more unpleasant talks with the social worker. We feel mistreated and decide to complain to youth welfare services.
July 2016 – the social worker issues a negative report to youth welfare services, advising against our adopting a sibling group from Brazil.
August 2016 – we attend a meeting with youth welfare services and their attorney. We are informed of the negative report from the social worker. If we wished an answer right then and there, it’d be no. Instead, after discussing together, we find a solution for continuing with the process: we were to get a second opinion, and a new report from a psychologist appointed by them.
October – December 2016 – we have some very pleasant conversations with the psychologist, and we realize how different and much more beneficial the home study could’ve and should’ve been. We felt some joy and saw beauty in the process again.
December – February – while waiting for youth welfare services to decide on our approval, we feel hopeful, yet exhausted. We feel angry that the process is taking so long again, and that someone else gets to decide if and how many children we can have. And more importantly – when. We feel extremely discouraged and completely tired from this long and seemingly unending journey. We think about giving up the process completely, about taking a break from trying to have children.
February 21st, 2017 – after what seemed to us like the longest silence ever, we receive an email from YWS, inviting us for yet another meeting. They wanted to explain what „their plan“ was. This was not great news. It could only mean two things: they want to give us the approval, but not with the criteria we wanted; or, they were planing to deny us the approval to adopt from Brazil.
If you feel like this story is too long already, try to imagine living it.
At this point, we don’t even know what we want anymore. We just need answers, and closure. We are emotionally drained and feel defeated, yet again. We feel enraged that a healthy, intelligent and young couple with emotional and financial stability, and a solid relationship, might be denied the approval to adopt. And as much as we try to be patient and understanding of the hurdles and bureaucracy of the process, we can’t understand why it has to be so painful, exhausting and long.
After 9 years of trying to build a family, we feel like we’re finally at the end of the road. But as is turns out, it’s a dead end.
The meeting was set for a week later, Tuesday the 28th, at 9am.
It’s Sunday afternoon, and we already feel restless and anxious. At night we go to bed and as I am trying to sleep, my mind won’t stop working. After about two hours of staring at the ceiling, I go to the living room and, on my knees, I start praying. Often when I feel anxious, I don’t really know what I’m anxious about. So I just started praying for everything, anything that came to my mind. After a few minutes, I was sobbing. This moment felt SO familiar, so similar to that day in the shower, 5 years ago, where I decided to give up trying to conceive, and to surrender my biggest dream to God. And yet this time, it was different. I didn’t feel desperate at all, or unloved, or abandoned like I did that day, and it wasn’t hard giving it up to Him. But very deep in my soul came the realization: this might be the end of this long, joyful and at (many) times painful journey. We might not be able to adopt after all.
So I sobbed, and prayed, and felt utterly sad as I prepared myself for the worst. All I asked from God was that He would fill us with His presence, so that we would lack nothing. I asked for His indescribably fulfilling Presence, so that our faith and joy might be unshakable. So that what and who we are, are not dependent on circumstances.
By then Daniel had heard me and had joined me in the living room. I din’t want to wake him up with my crying, but I felt so relieved to have him by my side and talk to him. We talked and prayed together in the dimming light of the early morning hours, and we were on the same page. We felt and expressed our feelings differently, of course. But we understood each other. And once again I was utterly thankful for our friendship and for how much this whole crazy journey has brought us together. We went to bed again, completely sad, but completely at peace. It took us seconds to fall asleep.
You see, what this journey has taught me so far, is that first of all, God IS enough. Always. He is so much more than enough. Second of all, life is hard, to everyone. It is messy, at times frustrating, and ever changing. Nothing in this life is definite. And third, my worth is not on what label I was given. „Mother“, „architect“, „wife“, „daughter“, „smart“, „accomplished“: those are like the „extras“ you get on top of an ice cream. But what defines the flavor or the quality of the ice cream itself, is not what’s on top of it. In fact, the less tasty the ice cream, the more „extras“ you’ll want to put on top of it.
What defines me is simply this: I belong to God.
The night before the meeting we were anxious again. We filled the hours with frivolous laughter, watching series and avoiding the elephant in the room at all cost. The occasional look in each others eyes gave up the real emotions, but nothing was said. We couldn’t. The end felt so painfully near.
See, I could’ve spared you this long story, and skipped right to the end of it, where I tell you what youth welfare services decided after all. But that would be too simple. You might hear just the outcome and say „wow, what a beautiful and exciting story.“ But there’s so much hurt and frustration involved in it. And this world has enough of superficiality and empty excitement already. I want to remember the truth.
Of course we all wish for the exciting, amazing story. I do too. But instead, what we get is often not a miraculous, unbelievably amazing end to our story, but small steps and what feels like even smaller miracles, JUST enough to keep us going.
So this morning, when the lovely lady at youth welfare services told us that the report of the psychologist was positive, that it gave her a better understanding of who we are, and that they will give us the permit to adopt two children from Brazil, this is exactly how it felt, to both of us: it’s a victory, of course it is. It’s wonderful, it’s a miracle. But it’s not even close to being over. Even though we wanted 2-3 children, it’s a victory. We feel thankful, but still so emotionally exhausted.
Of course we still have to wait a couple more months for the permit, because they want to see our new apartment first. And they will ask for another social worker to rewrite our report. But we can start putting together and translating other documents that we’ll need for Brazil. So you see, this means one more step ahead. And step by step, maybe someday we’ll get there, at the finish line, when we’re able to look in the eyes of our own children, call them ours, hug them tight and never let go.
Our general state of excitement has over the years been replaced by a general state of disbelief that we will indeed one day be parents. It’s normal, it’s the result of years of frustration and broken hearts. But this is to you, my future kids, meus amores: you can rest assure that the moment we meet you and call you our kids, will be a memorable moment, full of the deepest, most heartfelt excitement and joy. And even though this long, long journey has been filled with not so joyful moments, you will have been worth it all.