Early last Tuesday morning I spent $113 to overnight all of our paperwork to Faithful Adoption Consultants. We had every document, every signature, every reference, and every photo itemized and stacked on the kitchen counter the night before. The pile was so fat I couldn’t wedge the jaws of a giant binder clip around the edge of it. I emailed FAC the night before to ask about the best way to send it and when I saw their answer, “UPS or Fed-Ex overnight,” I stepped into a pair of boots, pushed my coat on over my sweatshirt sleeves, tucked the whole precious stack of papers under my arm and headed to the UPS store with the only other family member who was awake, Ember. Fifteen minutes later, we pulled into the parking lot and jogged to the door through the rain, the papers protected inside the front of my coat.
I set them gently on the counter and told the employee that I wanted overnight shipping in a box, not an envelope, and then stopped breathing for a tiny second when she announced the price. Then I had to make a decision. If I wanted any chance of making the deadline, and being “active” before FAC’s winter break, then I would have to pay the exorbitant price to have it shipped there quickly. I paid it. It’s just $100. It’s a quick grocery run. Two dinners out. A few tanks of gas. I talked myself through it.
“It should be there by 10:30 tomorrow morning,” the employee said. I didn’t take a photo this time because I hadn’t showered yet, I was wearing my snowflake sweatpants, and I had coaxed Ember out of bed to accompany me so she looked like a homeless child. (I realize the irony of that simile.) It was hard to walk away from that stack of papers sitting on the counter by the cash register. The lady at the counter noticed my hesitation and promised to take good care of it. But it felt like I was leaving a child. (Another ironic simile.) There were countless hours of work, and an insane amount of money represented in that sheaf of papers.
Our hope was that if the paperwork was all in order when they received it, and they were able to process all of it by Friday, we would be declared “active” which means that our profile would be presented to prospective birth parents, starting this next Monday. On Thursday, though, FAC emailed us and said that our home study had still not arrived. The home study that we started a year ago. Feverish with frustration and disappointment, I emailed the home study agency to learn that they had sent it 10 days earlier but there was no way to track it. It was just missing.
Our contact at FAC told me that even if it arrived first thing Friday morning, they wouldn’t have time to process it. He said to “take a deep breath, try to relax and enjoy your Christmas.” And then in the next paragraph, he explained that this delay means we won’t be able to make any progress on this adoption until mid-January, and by then a number of things we completed and paid for last year will have expired and we will need to complete them (and pay for them) again.
So there is no surprise happy ending to this episode. We are incredibly disappointed by this most recent complication. It has been a heavy blow to our morale. This adoption has been a fight from the word “go,” and we are weary from it. I am sorry to say that we discussed giving up this time.
We estimate that we have already raised and spent $15,000 in the last year, including home study fees, application fees, and all of the various background checks and other requirements. That number confounds me. We started with nothing.
We need to raise another $15,000 by the time we are matched with a baby, and that is just for the agency fee. We did it once, so I am hopeful that we can do it again. We spent all of last weekend filling out applications for grants and gathering the required supporting documents.
We would like to apply for a Lifesong matching grant. If we are chosen, Lifesong will match donations made by friends and family. We also have an incredibly dear friend who has been brainstorming fundraising ideas for us, and says that she won’t let us give up on this yet.
So for the sake of honesty, which was the motivation behind this blog, I will confess that we are exhausted. The waiting, hoping, wondering and working has been consuming and we are feeling spent. But we said at the beginning, and many times since then, that we would keep walking forward until the door was closed. So we will keep walking, with this fragile hope of a baby still before us.
Here is a link to our fundraising account AdoptTogether. If you donate it is tax deductible.