Writing a letter to the unknown entity who's in charge of matching you with a child or children to adopt is one of the more nerve-wracking ways that a couple can spend an evening or two. The adoption journey isn't getting any shorter or gaining any clarity, so Paul and I recently decided that we needed to revise our letter to the board in charge of matching families.
The board of the organization that runs the orphanages that our child(ren) will be placed from is a completely mysterious body. Nobody on the U.S. side knows who sits on the board or how they make decisions about matches. It's known that they don't necessarily match families in the order that paperwork is received, but instead use some sort of magic juju to determine where children will be best served. I'm not even sure if the board members see a couple's full dossier of paperwork - I think that most of the time they just have the cover letters that potential parents have written and family photographs on the table in front of them. Not that I feel pressured to write a good letter or anything.
The 1-2 page business letter also has to include details about the ages of children you're interested in adopting and health conditions you're willing to consider. There's a lot of information that has to be crammed in, but there's so much that just doesn't fit. We can promise in the letter to provide our future child(ren) with love and excellent educational opportunities, but there doesn't seem to be space to say that we're the type of parents who will let the kids experiment with digging holes and filling them with water for hours until their little bodies are fully caked in dirt, but that we often avoid playing with puzzles or other toys with too many small pieces that end up under foot. You can count on us to gently answer a half hour of our child's questions about whether there are smoke alarms in Ethiopia, where are they, how do the fire engines get to Ethiopia and what color are the engines; just don't rely on either one of us to have a reserve of patience once the lights have been turned out and the kids are supposed to be in bed. The little details seem like the ones that differentiate us from all the other potential parents, but I've never heard of anyone including them in their letter to the board.
Likewise, we have to wonder if The Powers That Be are reading in between the lines. Our paragraph about Atticus and Norah says that they're both very enthusiastic about having a baby or two join our family. Can the board members connect the dots between "energetic", "sociable", "creative", "enthusiastic" and "loves holding babies" to get the idea that it might be best if they match us with a new child who seems particularly hardy and unflappable and appears to enjoy being around loud noises and sudden movements?
All of this leaves us feeling as though we're writing to the man behind the curtain. Who are we trying to please? Do they understand what we're trying to communicate? If so, could they please fill us in because sometimes we don't even know? Added to this is the extra layer of knowledge that we have as parents who have already adopted and seen the transformation in personality that can take place once a child feels healthy and secure. Norah in particular has very little resemblance to the silent and unassuming little bundle that we brought home from Ethiopia. Paul and I don't even believe that you can make a "perfect" match but instead feel confident that we're hardwired to love whichever children we're given to love and protect.
And so...the new letter is floating out there in cyberspace. We've opened ourselves up to some new ideas including the possibility adopting one child right now and waiting a year or two before pursuing the idea of adopting a fourth child. We have no idea what our path will be from here, but the letter has been sent out like a prayer into the ether.