How do people find out that they’re going to be parents? What is that moment like? Well, here’s a scene that I sometimes imagine:
The woman stands in the bathroom, peering intently at…something…down in the porcelain sink. She waits anxiously for the indication: a change of color from pink to blue or the appearance of a +/- sign. So many things riding on such a small sign. More importantly, why must it require peeing?
And just as the sign appears, in walks the man; oblivious, as he often is, to the drama playing out in front of him. She turns to face him, the bearer of the news in hand. Holding it up, she points it towards him. Tears well up in her eyes. Maybe it’s joy, maybe it’s panic. She proclaims, “Honey, I’m pregnant…we’re going to be parents!”
That’s exactly how it works in real-life, no? Maybe I’ve watched too many movies and it’s actually not like this at all. I don’t know. Accurate or not, I do know that this is certainly not how it works for adopting parents (especially those adopting internationally). Instead of a pregnancy test, there is a Dossier. Instead of a sonogram, there’s a Log-In Date (LID). Let me explain how it’s been for us…
Ah, the dossier. The all-important, all-encompassing expression of one’s intent to adopt. This bad boy is the master file that contains everything concerning our petition for adoption. In it are photos, medical records, background checks, social-worker-produced home study, innumerable forms filled out by hand, and, of course, financial records. The dossier also contains hopes and wishes…probably some fears, too. Do we desire a boy or a girl? Are we willing to adopt a child with special needs? What is the oldest aged child we are willing to adopt? Then, once the dossier is completed CORRECTLY (it’s amazing how carefully the documents are reviewed…for example, never put that your birthplace is “Taiwan” if you hope to adopt from China), it is submitted to the China Center of Adoption Affairs (CCAA).
What happens to the dossier, then? Once the CCAA receives the dossier and processes it, it is logged in. At that point, we are given a “Log-in Date” (LID), which indicates when we are officially in the system to adopt. In essence, the date marks when we got in line. Since we are ethnically Chinese, we qualify for “expedited” processing. China, apparently, likes it when their Chinese orphans can remain somehow connected to their ethnic roots. While it’s an understandable preference, it’s still an assumption. Just because one is ethnically Chinese does not mean that one has any real connection with Chinese culture. I know plenty of non-Chinese who know much more about China, Chinese culture, and Chinese thinking than some ethnic Chinese who eat meat loaf or listen to country music (joking of course, since eating meat loaf doesn’t make one less Chinese…no further comment on country music). By the way, only one member of an adopting couple needs to be ethnically Chinese in order to qualify for expedited processing.
As far as Chinese adoptions, the average wait time (as of this post) is somewhere around 24-months for expedited, a whopping 48-months for non-expedited. There is something tragic about this fact. That motivated parents, who have gone through great effort and expense to adopt, and children, born in a country (like China) which has an overwhelming number of orphans, must wait up to 4 years in order to be united…it feels wrong. In a situation like this, it is easy to assume the worst of governments and agencies. There are reasons for the lengthy wait period, which we may get into in a different discussion, but to China’s credit, it is taking steps to shorten the wait and streamline their process.
We just recently submitted our Dossier and now eagerly await our Log-in Date. When we think about it, it feels like what we imagine getting the pregnancy news must feel like. In all of the ways that these two situations are different, there are still similarities: We now know that we’ll be parents and we also know that we have to wait. Even though the wait is much longer, we are filled with anticipation still.
It is not how I really imagined receiving the news of my impending fatherhood, but the message is just as sweet…”honey, we’re going to be parents!”