Guest Post: Don’t Plan

Here is another guest post. ?This time Jenni tells us about the trials of trying to plan in adoption. ?There is an old saying, “let go and let God.” ?That is what it takes in the world of adoption. ?A knowledge that it is out of our control.

I couldn’t tell you exactly how I came to know Jenni. ?I’ve been reading her blog for quite a long time and I love to hear the stories of how her children keep her on her toes. ?That and she is an amazing photographer. ?It helps that Vika and Eamon are just too damn cute.


One thing I learned during my years working with neonatologists is this: Don?t make a Birth Plan.? While you may have an idea of how you want things to go, the birth process is out of your control and you need to trust that the physicians and nurses assisting you are working in your (and your child?s) best interest.? It?s kind of the same thing with adoption.

When Jeff and I began the adoption process, we knew exactly what we wanted: an infant and a toddler, preferably a boy and a girl.? Our ideal scenario was to adopt infants that were twins or ?virtual twins? (kids that are the same age, but not bio siblings). And, amazingly enough, we thought this would all happen within a year.? It brings a smile to my face to think how na?ve we were.

The reason why we wanted infants was because we felt that adopting children as young as possible would minimize the risk of attachment disorder and other issues relating to time spent in an institutionalized setting.? However, we were practical enough to know that adopting an infant and a toddler was a more likely scenario, so on our paperwork we requested children between the ages of 0 and 2.? Well, things didn?t quite work out as we planned.

The social worker handling our homestudy suggested we expand our age-range to include children up to 3 years old.? She felt that would help us get a referral quicker.? So we amended the paperwork and purchased a crib, some nursery furniture, and placed an order for a toddler bed.? We set up the children?s room and took a photo to include in our dossier.? That task done, we apostilled the documents and sent them off to Russia.

Then we waited for a referral.? We picked out names for our kids: Eamon James and Kennedy Ina.? I made name signs for their wall and restrained myself from purchasing baby and toddler clothing.? A month later, we received our first referral.? It was for two boys, ages 1 and 3, but we would be traveling blind ? meaning we would be given no information other than the gender and age of the children.? This was quite a big risk for us to take, especially since the referral was not for a boy and a girl, as we wanted.? So we declined (I still wonder about those boys to this day).? The following month, we received another referral, for a boy and a girl, which we also declined.? The little boy was available for adoption right away, but the girl would not be available for another 6 months, during which time, a Russian family could adopt her.? The children also both lived in separate regions, which would have required 4 trips to Russia, months apart, to two different areas.? The process and the cost were daunting, so we declined.

By this time, I was getting frustrated.? Why weren?t things going as we had planned?? Would we ever get the right referral?? Then I remembered the advice I learned from my neonatologist friends during my brief pregnancy: don?t make a birth plan!? I realized that this applied to adoption as well.? You can?t plan how things will go and you won?t have much control over what happens.? You have to trust the people working on your adoption and be flexible with your plans and timeline.? Keeping that in mind, I relaxed a bit and trusted that everything would happen, as it should.? I still wanted to have our kids home by Christmas though.

A little more than a month after our second referral, I got a call from our agency.? ?We?ve found a pair of siblings for you.? The little girl is a bit older than you wanted, but both kids look healthy.? Do you want me to send the picture and information to you??? After a brief hesitation, I said yes.??? A few minutes later, I received the e-mail that would change our lives.? My husband, Jeff, and I opened the pictures first, and what we saw was not at all what we expected.? The little boy, who was nearly 3 years old, looked incredibly sad, but something about him tugged at my heartstrings and I felt that he was meant to be my son.? Then we opened the picture of the little girl, who was 4 and a half.? She was olive-skinned with black hair and dark brown eyes.? She didn?t fit our stereotype of a Russian at all!? Plus, she was much older than the infant girl I had imagined sleeping in the crib upstairs.? Jeff and I quickly had to reevaluate our expectations and what we wanted.? As we read through the medical and discussed the referral, we came to realize that even though the little girl was ?older? what were a few extra years in a lifetime?? Sure, there could be attachment problems and grief issues, but we felt that was something we could handle, so we called our agency and accepted the referral.

Thus began a whirlwind of preparations, both at home and for travel.? We returned the crib, canceled the order for a toddler bed and purchased two beds that could be made into bunk beds later.? During our first trip to Russia, it became clear that we would not be changing our little girl?s name and that we would be keeping part of our son?s name as well.? Out went the ?Eamon James? and ?Kennedy Ina? name signs ? our kids would be ?Eamon Nikolay? and ?Victoria Ina? (as an aside, Vika?s Russian name was spelled ?Viktoria?, which we planned to keep, but the Russians changed it to ?Victoria? on all her documents, assuming we would want to use the English version).

So, while nothing quite went as planned, everything fell into place perfectly.? And we did get our kids home before Christmas.? At around 8 pm on December 24, 2005, our plane landed in San Francisco, beginning our new life as a family.

2 Comment

  1. Sandi says: Reply

    I still remember those referral photos and how I would stare at them and wonder what they were like in person. What did their smiles look like, how did their voices sound. We had no idea how they would take hold of our hearts and never let go. I love being their “babushka”!

  2. Annie says: Reply

    I like that doctor! Somehow I’ve always had a sense that it would be – well not “evil” but for me wrong – to plan something as sacred as family. I got married to that tune, and we had two biological children without any planning of any sort. Then, I just sort of “thought” about adoption and was immediately connected to our Sergei and after that it was just openmindedness and an open heart to our family of six. I was never disappointed about anything because I lived entirely in the moment…. I had gotten the idea from watching other adoptions in our church that I should count on everything taking MUCH LONGER than we were told. So, when it only took a little longer – that seemed like a special blessing! God has a plan. I believe it absolutely. Great topic!

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