Friday, March 12, 2010

Debbie Downer Looks Up

I'm a natural born pessimist. Baby pictures of tiny me have a pained, worried expression, pinched up eyebrows on my tiny baby face. I was born a worrier, a downer, if you will.

So I find it curious that I'm such an optimist when it comes to adoption. After what we went through first time round, how could I possibly have convinced myself that this time would be easy breezy? But I did. I just figured that the hard stuff would be what comes along with adopting an older-than-infant child. The easy stuff would be the actual adoption process.

What was I thinking?

One of the first pieces of advice I give to families starting out in the adoption process is: lower your expectations and expect the worst. That way, you'll only be pleasantly surprised when things go smoother than you anticipated. First time round, I made a point of doing this. I expected court delays, I expected long waits for referral, I expected all kinds of snags, except for the one that happened to us. That one, I had no way of preparing myself for because it had never happened and, as far as a know, hasn't happened again since our case. We were blindsided (if you're new to our story, you can read what I'm referencing here and here).

And here we are again: blindsided. Who would have thought that this latest snag would have happened? Not us. Once again, we find ourselves completely caught off guard.

For the first 24 hours after the news came, I was in denial. I told myself, while chasing Abe, "It'll all work out. Too far away to think about now." I discussed the issue with other adoptive parents, but it still felt like an abstract concept until last night. I was trying to explain to a relative how this decision by the Ethiopian courts now means a lot of things for us, including the cancellation of a trip next month to the south to visit family. We now need to save every nickel and dime to pay for not just one trip to Ethiopia, but two.

In my attempt to explain everything to this family member, someone outside of the adoption world, the reality of it hit me. I started to panic. I felt a sob rising in my chest. My relative didn't get the gravity of it and just kept saying, "Oh, it'll work out. Don't worry." This upset me even more, even though I know he is probably right. It reminded me of the comments I'd get while we were going through the crapstorm that was Abe's adoption: people glibbly telling us not to worry because they were "sure" it would work out. I wanted to ask them how they knew this information because I surely didn't feel it. I felt like they were in a sense telling me, "You carry this burden. Please don't ask me to shoulder any of it for you. I'm just going to tell you that it's going to work out because I'm not willing to feel the pain you're feeling." The most helpful comments were along these lines "I am sorry you're going through this. How can I help? I'll pray. Do you want some whiskey?" Just don't tell me that it's going to work out (I already know it will. Sometimes though I feel the immediate panic of it and need an "I'm sorry this is hard" or a hug or a bowl of soup).

That was a bit of an aside. On to the topic at hand.

I was having a hard time explaining the gravity of the situation to this relative. He kept trying to convince us to come visit anyway, offering his house and extra car for us to drive around in while we're there to "keep your expenses down." I finally, to make it crystal clear, had to say, "Look. We're talking a few extra thousand dollars here to pay for all this. We have no idea where we're going to get this money."

So I had my freak-out last night. Babysitting a friend's two sweet kids helped me get my mind off of it for a while. There was a moment when her two kids, a brother and a sister, were hugging each other, the little one looking up into the face of her big brother and being given a kiss on the head; I teared up, reminded of why we're adopting again. As soon as I got Abe down to sleep later that night, the burden on my shoulders returned. I dreamed about it. I woke up thinking about it.

This morning, I realized how empty I feel faith-wise. Totally empty. So I sat down on the couch, with a cup of coffee and a tiny new testament. I opened it up to no place in particular and read that passage in Luke 11 about asking God for good things, persistently knocking on the door, because He wants to give us blessings, even more than an earthly parent ever could.

We decided to adopt based on this passage, which is a whole other story that I've yet to write about. Our shared encounter with this passage is one of the turning points in our marriage, our family, our lives, one of those moments that we knew without a doubt that this was God stepping in to our confusion and despair. I wasn't looking for it this morning. The tiny book just opened up to this page. How easily I forget God's faithfulness. So easily. I forget. God's faithfulness.

So this is what we're holding on to now. We're not going to stop knocking on the door. From this point on, I won't give in to despair (okay, I know myself too well to know that this is a platitude. I'm pretty sure I'm going to relapse here and there, as I am prone to do, but at least now I have a lifeline).

Debbie Downer is now knocking on the door and looking for the positive things this change can bring about. Things like having extra time to visit places in Ethiopia we missed the first time round or getting to meet some of the relatives of our sweet senior citizens that I teach each week or simply the chance to yet again allow God to be big. There's also the "big picture" issue of this new policy helping to decrease corruption, dishonest agencies, and adoption disruptions (adoptive parents changing their mind). If this policy brings more transparency and honesty in adoption, then I'm all for it.

From here on out, I'm flying the "Half Full" flag. Until I relapse. At which point I may need someone to bring me a bowl of soup. Or a bottle of wine. Folks, we're in for a ride. For those adoptive parents in it with us, my door is always open and our liquor cabinet is stocked. I'm not even joking.

"May all your expectations be frustrated. May all your plans be thwarted. May all your desires be withered into nothingness that you may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child and sing and dance in the love of God who is Father, Son, and Spirit. Amen." --Brennan Manning


Erica said...

This is such a huge change in Ethiopian adoption I can't even imagine how hard this is on the families in the throws of the process. Praying for your little fam. On the flip side one of the most BEAUTIFUL things I have watched is not only the adoption community but friends and family coming together to help raise the difference needed to cover adoption expenses. I know its sometimes hard to ask for help but if each of our friends chipped in a few bucks those extra thousands would be covered. Count us in should you decide to do a fundraiser. It takes a village. (((HUGS)))

The Zimmers said...

I am sorry you are going through this. I will keep you and all other adoptive parents faced with this possibility in my prayers!

Coffeemom said...

I have wide shoulders. Open ears. The need to pray for others in order to not wallow in my own muck. And a stocked wine cabinet plus margaritas and martinis. Full because I gave it all up for lent. And I make a pretty mean soup. I'm not even kidding. Love m

hotflawedmama said...

We are there with you. Though my liquor cabinet is not stocked I always have a full bottle of wine (or two). Perhaps all of us stuck in this should have Skype drinks?

HeidiD in CT said...

I am going to march the "half full" flag around for you, not because I'm "sure it will all work out", but just because you deserve a marching band parading in your honor (oh, and I'm happy to have a drink or two for you too ;). I hope and pray it all does work out for you and all of the families affected by this. I thought of you and Ted and Abe a mere 8 days ago on March 4th, when another blogger got such happy news. So, as hard as it is, tell Debbie Downer to take a hike (I'm sure she'll want to visit a bit), and MARCH FORTH sweet Lori, for you, for Ted, for beautiful Abe, and for the newest Rooney-to-be! I, for one, can't wait to see you all together, whenever that may be!!

~Laura~ said...

I'm with Erica! Every little bit counts and we wouldn't have been able to bring Mercy home without love and support from friends and family. You really should consider adding a little donate now button...I'd hit it! :) Lots of love to you guys!

Christina said...

Thinking of all of you affected by these new changes. As necessary as they probably were, this still sucks for those caught in-process and unawares. If you're ever in South Bend (though why would you be?), I always have wine on hand and plenty of handkerchiefs. Sending good thoughts your way.

Renee said...

I'm with you friend...the recent news was tough to hear as I hope and pray that we'll be starting the adoption process again soon. Like you I'm usually a pessamist and always say I would rather be pleasantly suprised than consistently disappointed- sounds awful doesn't it! When you face setback and disappointments it's so hard to put yourself back out there but you can do it! When I see people like Heidi comment on your blog it takes me back to the wonderful support we first shared as an adoption community. Hang in there and just take each day at a time. P.S. If you relapse and need to wallow in sorrow let me know!

Karen said...

Thank you, Lori. Your post makes me (also a born pessimist) feel better about it all. And that the wine consumed thus far was deserved. And that it'll be okay to consume more in the upcoming weeks and months...

Rachel said...

I don't know you but found your blog through Erica. We are also in process. Wed (announcement-of-two-trips-required day), she brought me a bottle of wine and chocolate. : ) She knew it was a hard day.

I had to comment bc your paragraph, ...."In my attempt..." touched me so much! That is EXACTLY true, how it makes someone feel, and how to respond to people, no matter what the struggle is. Thank you for that. I will never forget it.

And I don't have whiskey, but if you're ever in FL, I can offer you some of my wine and chocolate. : )

Jill said...

sometimes all you can do it just hand it over to God. not my strong suit, but sometimes it's the only thing you can do. love that last quote.

Anonymous said...

Oh Lori and Ted,
I am so sorry you are going through
this. Please know that I think of
your sweet family so often. My door is always open for you. Sorry no liquor but the tea pot is always on.
Love, Linda C.

Bridget said...

Can I come over for a drink? I need one. And a shoulder. Oh, and a bowl of soup would be nice, too.

Calmil2 said...

I'm in...a drink (or two), a bowl of soup, chocolate...a blanket...a box of tissues...for happy tears of'course (see, half full:). We're on the wait list too and wondering what is going to happen. Our agency told us to hang tight, there are meetings next week, it's not policy yet...we will see...cheers.

Anonymous said...

Thinking of you...........will even have a drink or two for you. Hope things start looking up soon. Abe is such a cutie. I look forward to watching your family grow.

Quinn Girls

Emma said...

Oh Lori,

As soon as I read about that change I thought of your blog and logged on to check it. I feel for you. This must be especailly stressful for you sinc eit was court stuff that went wrong the first time around.I am praying for you, Ted, Abe and little girl Rooney.

I too would donate if you set up a donate button or a PO box. It would be an honor to be a part of your process.

courtney rose said...

That last quote needs to be in the book we co-write. With a tub of margaritas (poo-poo on the whiskey- bright yellow drinks are the best) featured on the cover.

Loeb you Lori Rooney.

♪~Jenn~♪ said...

oh wishing I lived close enough for a visit!!! here I am, sobbing becuase this is the first I've heard of this...because we have already been scrimping and saving so that our children can come with us...but to travel twice!!??!!

hmmm, needing to find that faith place again.

janKa said...

Dearest Lori,

I feel your pain as you share it. I hope it can dillute itself within all of us who are willing to share it with you and ease your burden, and bring some lucidity in the prospect of hope.
my love and prayers are with you all, and I mean all prospective all.

More Dorrs said...

I've got a bottle of Becherovka with your name on it. It won't take the angst away, but it sure won't hurt.


Cindy said...

((big hugs))

Eryn said...

Lori, I have tears streaming right now reading this. I too have felt empty in my faith in the past 2 months, and have not blogged much about it because it makes me want to barf when people say "it'll all work out".

This week, I felt like I was hit by a bus, and then like it backed over me again. The last update made us hopeful, but we have no guarantees.

I agree with everything you said here...thanks for your honesty. God is big, and he'll have lots of opportunity to prove it with all the folks needing double the travel expenses.

Maybe we should have a glass half full party...half full of liquor. Like Beka said, it can't hurt!

Claudia said...

I love everything about this post.

PVZ said...

Lori: Well I just made a BevMo run yesterday, so lots of wine here if you are in LA. You are the most optimistic pessimist I know. Sending love and virtual hugs your way. P