Wednesday, March 05, 2014

The proposal

Typically, hosting parents are not allowed to discuss adoption at all and are encouraged to change the subject as quickly as possible if it comes up.  Every season, kids have been misled, hopes have been raised, and parents have made promises in the moment that are then not met.  Parents turn out to be ineligible, or a child isn't eligible, or plans change as they tend to do.  Kids get crushed.  Orphanage directors are left consoling a devastated kid and, understandably, disallowing the agency to host future kids.

So promises are made to orphanage directors that adoption won't be suggested or discussed, and we stuck to it on our side.

M, meanwhile, brought it up every day.  Every.DAY.  There was this day:

M shows me a clip of The X Factor in her language where a 16 year old boy sings a song about praying for parents after 16 years in his orphanage. She starts looking for "prayer for parents", clearly trying to find something for someone literally praying for the gift of having parents; the lyrics to the song. All of the results are prayers for kids to be grateful and love their parents; or for parents wanting to do a good job. Nothing for her. She breaks my heart in a new way every day.

There was the way she would point at kids in photos of her school.

"She get adopted.  Lucky.  He adopted.  Lucky."

There was the flat out statement:

All any of us want is to be adopted.  It is what every kid in the school wants.
So her heart was pretty clear.  She went as close to directly asking as any kid accustomed to rejection could possibly get.  One day she told me she'd be asking the social worker to find her a family.  I asked what she hoped to find in a family; she said "Anything.  Anything is better."

And then she left.  We prayed--hard--and debated and slept on it (or didn't-sleep on it) and explored a dozen options.  Two dozen options.  Everything kept coming back to adoption.  A week after she left we told the agency we were interested in adoption if she was. Kids get to say yes or no, and the conversation is supposed to happen from the social worker to make sure there are no misunderstandings, implied pressure, implied promises, etc.

We waited.  And waited.  and waited.  We were told she'd likely be asked by late January.  Early February.  mid-February.  The agency finally just told us to ask her ourselves, given our nearly daily communication and her age.  Then we were stuck wondering how to ask her.  She uses a friend's phone to go online so she could be sitting in her somewhat quiet room or sitting in a public cafeteria or out at the park or...  I certainly didn't want to leave it as a message.  I didn't want to even leave a "meet me at 5pm so we can talk about something important" message.

Saturday Febraury 15 finally found us all online.  She'd had upsetting news a few days earlier and I wanted to give her time to process that; Friday had been too busy on her side for a real talk.  But Saturday morning, we finally had a moment.  After a few pleasantries, I opened with "Can we talk about something important?" and she said "Yes, what?".  ("adopt" translates to a word in Russian that often comes back to English as "welcome")

And that's how it happened!

(Also--that three and one half minute pause from the proposal to her response will always and forever be a moment I will imagine and relive and wish I could know her full range of thoughts.  Someday we'll discuss it.)

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