Adopting internationally is no joking matter but let’s keep it light hearted as we walk down a list of seven things to be if you’re going to be an international adoptive parent.
7. A Private Investigator
No need to go sleuthing in dark alleys, but you do need to research, research, research! US agencies, international agencies and contacts, websites, and everything between need to be scrutinized. You not only want a reputable organization you can trust, but you want the right fit for your family as well. Don’t hesitate to break out the magnifying glass and look in all the nooks and crannies until you find the match you feel is best!
6. A Documents Analyst
Don’t put that monocle away just yet. You’ve got paperwork! Informational packets to read, questionnaires to complete, documents to sign, and sign, and sign, home studies to have translated, dossiers to complete –it can be overwhelming, but think like an analyst and take it one form at a time.
5. A Juggler
While we’re on the subject of papers, let’s not forget phone calls, emails, your day job, your family, and oh, things like remembering to shower and eat. Start now and by the time your precious adopted child arrives, you’ll be juggling flaming batons (aka life) like a pro!
4. A Gymnast
No, no, you don’t have to don a leotard and test your balance on a tiny beam, but you will definitely need a gymnast’s flexibility. Unexpected changes, delays, and surprises are all par for the course of an international adoptive parent. The more you can stretch those muscles the better you’ll be able to bounce back in the event of a setback.
3. A Cross Country Runner
You’ve already got those legs warmed up from the stretches so go ahead and take a lap (or twenty) around the track. International adoption is not a sprint, it’s a marathon! You’re going to need stamina, especially in those last few miles when the goal is in sight but your legs are getting shaky. Plan self-care now to up your endurance game.
2. A Defense Attorney
There’s been no crime. In fact, your motives are as pure as they come, but prepare yourself to be grilled like a guest star on Law and Order. “Why did you pick that country?” “Don’t we have kids who need homes in the United States?” “How much money are you spending on this?” People often mean well, and sometimes they are just inconsiderate jerks who don’t understand boundaries. Either way, the more prepared you are to answer tough questions or to politely send your interrogators packing, the better.
You don’t have to become biblical Job as an international adoptive parent. I mean, really, who wants to search “potsherds” on Amazon? But you will need to tap into his infamous well-spring of patience. And not just patience for the process–it’s a doozy, but most importantly, patience with yourself. You’ll have days full of momentum and check marks on your to-do list. It’ll feel great! Then, you’ll have days when your heart is so heavy and the wait feels so long, you question it all. That’s okay, too. Curl up under a blanket and give yourself time to recover. The momentum will return and the cycle will continue. You can do this! And if you really feel the need, I guess you can rip up some of your clothes and roll around in ashes, but let’s be honest, you’re the one who has to clean that mess up so maybe just skip that part.