I know I was going to write about selecting a social worker next, but this particular topic has been on my mind lately. I will get to the social worker bit later. I am also working on being objective about selecting a social worker as opposed to completely bashing mine. I have a few choice words to say to that a-hole.
Some feel that evaluating your referral can be the most difficult part of the adoption process. Whether it be a blind referral or one you receive in advance evaluating a referral is difficult. But if you ask me, leaving your child for an unknown amount of time is more difficult. Of course this is just me. The process is different for everyone.
I have a unique perspective on referral evaluations. I have done it twice. Depending on your agency you may or may not have the opportunity to have your child evaluated in country by an international adoption (IA) doc. You should also have the opportunity to have information received evaluated by an IA doc here in the states. There are so many people out there that believe Russian doctors are poorly trained and don't know what they are talking about. This is not true. Russia is not the US. Doctors are trained differently and no, they are not American docs. This does not mean they don't know what they are talking about. For the most part Russian doctors are very well trained. It is their lack of diagnostic equipment that makes doing their job difficult. Of course Russian doctors are a post unto themselves. This post is about evaluating your referral.
When you submit your paperwork for a referral you put forth certain criteria for a child. The typical request is "as young and healthy as possible." This was on our paperwork. Parents agonize over what medical conditions they are or are not prepared for. For us, we were not equipped to parent a severely special needs child. Plain and simple. This does not make us less of a parent. It makes us honest.
When you receive medical information from the orphanage doctor the list of "diagnosis" may sound scary and intimidating. Perinatal Encephalopathy, syndrome of neural and motor dystonia of hypotonic type, valgus deformity of both feet, hydrocele on right, recovery after toxic infection cardiopathy, 1st degree hypermetropia. What the hell is all of this? These are Pickle's "diagnosis" from the final medical report we received when we adopted him. What does he actually have? Funky feet and he had surgery for a hernia. That is it.
I will tell you our experiences.
When we met Little A there was this instant feeling of "this is our son." He was perfect. Beautiful, healthy, energetic and happy. We were in love. I mean in loooove. The IA doc gave him a huge thumbs up and all we needed was a court date.
Meeting Pickle was a totally different story. We met this sad little boy. He was scared, shy, and would not smile at all. He would sit in my lap and rock. I was not sure at first. Maybe I was still getting over the loss of Little A. I was guarding my heart, but I did not have that "this is our son" feeling. Even after we got home from meeting him I still was guarded. He was not unhealthy. He was just sad. He looked as if he desperately needed a mama and daddy to love him. Given the fact that it took lots of work on our parts to get him to interact with us we accepted the referral. There was no reason to turn him down.
What I am trying to say is that not all families have this instant connection to their children on the first trip. I will honestly tell you it took about 3 weeks of being Pickle's mom before I truly felt like his Mother. Don't get me wrong. I love my son. I can't imagine my life without my son. It just wasn't instant.
There is no doctor in the world that can make the decision for you. There is no one else that can tell you what to do. You have to make the decision yourself, but what I do want to say is don't rule out a child because you didn't feel that instant bond. Look at the child and look deep into yourself. Am I the right parent for this child? There are no guarantees with being a parent. Whether you are a parent to a biological child or an adopted child. Ultimately, you take a huge leap of faith.