Tonight Keith and I are meeting one of my ex-colleagues at Starbucks, so that she can notarize the latest packet of information required by Kazakhstan in order to bring home our daughter. We heard a few weeks back that our dossier (big fat notebook of a million and one VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS) was being shipped back to Washington D.C. for more paperwork. This is not good. This is a delay, a big one. The new documents required include: FBI fingerprint check, letter from our bank that we are in good standing, agreement to provide the Kazakh government with annual reports on the well-being of child until age 18, and new medical reports for Keith and I, which include tests for all kinds of crazy diseases. As an aside, you'll be glad to know that both Keith and I tested negative for leprosy.
So I've spent this week in a flurry, squeezing in appointments with doctors, banks, notaries, you name it, every day. Tomorrow I'll spend my lunch hour downtown, having everything apostilled (the apostille affirms the certification which affirms the notarization which affirms our signature). And then the packet of information is off to be united with the first part of our dossier, and then back to Kazakhstan. I don't have an estimated timeline for how long it will be between receipt of dossier in Kaz and time of travel.
All of this waiting makes me feel like I'm treading water. We're putting forth the effort, but not getting anywhere. I know it will happen, that at the end of this we will have a child. That our family is soon going to burst into a 5-person fold, in lieu of four. But it does not feel real to me at all. The delays are no longer heart-wrenching. They are simply expected.
There are adoption programs where things run as planned. China is one of them. Every family who adopts from China has the same timeline, the same requirements, and they do not change. China has it down to a science. Kazakhstan keeps their program "fluid" - there are pros and cons to both methods. I don't feel like expounding on that now, but you get the picture. And either way, we're not old enough to adopt from China.
So we're adopting from Kazakhstan. We chose Kazakhstan because we chose Eva, and she lives in Kazakhstan. We've researched the country, the city, the system. We've studied the language, we've studied the culture. We are ready to go there, embrace it, find our daughter.
Our paperwork approves us for a child up to age 2. The child we've chosen turns 2 in March. If we do not travel by that date, we will not be allowed to adopt her (without changing our paperwork, adding cost and time delays, have mercy).
What if we don't get her? What if, after all this, we don't ever meet the little girl whose face I feel like I know? It's such a real possibility. I've stopped looking at her picture. I've turned them face-down whenever I find them in our house. It's too easy to be attached. It feels dangerous somehow.
I've heard the statistics on children who are raised in orphanages and are turned out into the "real world" with little skill, no family, no money. The suicide rates are staggering. The prostitution numbers are unbelievable (I'm talking about all countries, not Kazakhstan specifically). What if we don't get to her, what if she grows up in the orphanage (a very real possibility, as she grows older and becomes more "undesirable" to prospective parents)? What if she gets out, what if she can't figure out how to make it without the orphanage? What if something awful happens? She will never know how close she came to a family. To having parents and brothers who would love her and support her. To having her own toys and clothes, an extended family, American opportunity? She'll never know. But I always will. We could miss each other by a matter of months, even weeks. Her face, if I never see it in the flesh, will always haunt me. She came this close.
I'm pessimistic most days. But who knows, maybe things will work out. Maybe we'll get to the orphanage and a nanny will come around the corner, holding her in her arms, and there she is! and is the camera working? and I'm your mommy! and this is your daddy! and we're all crying, and here are pictures of your brothers, and can I hold her now? And all the things you'd expect from the first time you meet your 18-month old daughter.
But for now - treading water.