I learned something that made me go hmmmm.... this week. It's kind of long, so let me explain.
We started the process to adopt a second child on January 1, 2006. Katherine was not quite 2 and had been home for just over a year. We knew it would take several months to gather all the required paperwork, but we joked about how the timing would be just perfect if we got a referral in the late spring, just before school ended. We'd have kids two years apart, could travel right after school ended, and would have the whole summer together to bond. Katherine's referral came just 7 1/2 months after we were logged in and we expected things to go much the same this time around. We were wrong. VERY wrong.
Our paperwork was "logged in" with the Chinese government on July 28, 2006. By that time, we had been warned that there had been a sudden slow down in the adoption process and that we would wait at least a year for a referral. We were mildy disappointed that our dream plans would be a bit delayed, but didn't worry too much. But as the months rolled by, we realized that the slow down was much bigger and much slower than we had ever imagined. Months turned into years and we still waited. Eventually we requested to be considered for special needs referrals, partly because we really felt that our girl would have some sort of special needs and partly because there was no end in sight to the wait. Katherine was getting older and we weren't getting any closer to a referral. In fact, the longer we waited, the longer it seemed the predicted wait grew.
We received Rachel's referral on April 27, 2009, more than 3 years into the process. We traveled to get her in September, more than 3 years after we were logged in. The wait had been so long and so difficult and we were so thrilled to have Rachel (and so busy chasing her around) that we just breathed a huge sigh of relief that the whole process was over. Thank goodness!
I was browsing websites yesterday and discovered that families that were "logged in" through July 28, 2006 were matched this week. If we had not moved to special needs, we would finally have gotten a referral this week! This bit of information has given me a lot to think about. Even without contemplating life without our Rachel, the "what ifs" are disturbing. We would have waited more than 5 YEARS for a baby! 5 years and 10 months from the time we began the process until we knew who we had been waiting for. Our daughters would not have been 2 years apart, as we originally planned, or 4 years, as they actually are, but 7 years apart. I can not imagine the patience and strength it must have taken for the families who got the referrals of their beautiful babies this week. I know that I could not have endured such a wait. 3 1/2 years nearly destroyed me. Those families have a faith that is stronger than mine.
I watched Rachel skipping ahead of me on a walk this evening and marveled about how our lives have turned out and about what an amazing kid she is. I thought about waiting 5 1/2 years for my child. And once again, I breathed a huge sigh of relief.