You do not adopt by accident. Or so I'm told.
I'm told that international adoption referrals do not happen by mistake. You can have an accidental pregnancy, but an unplanned adoption? Not so much. Not international certainly. Unless you are a Callahan.
I'll admit I was researching adoption in Africa. There were a few countries I was specifically drawn to but the roads were daunting. I was warned over and over that an African adoption wasn't a road to take alone, no matter how adoption savvy, and how strong hearted. So I reached out to this highly recommend organization. The reviews were stellar. She (We'll cal her Ms. J) was in it for the children. To help them. Imagine that. Ms. J came with the highest of recommendations from everyone I could find that worked with her. I was excited. We could find support for our African adoption. Except...we couldn't. Ms. J was so great at what she did, and the organization she ran in her "spare" time (after being a mother of 2 and a full time attorney) that they had become overwhelmed with so many families who wanted to adopt from Africa. She wouldn't take anymore families. They wanted to focus on raising support for the orphans, not just through adoption, but with other outreach. We were lost again and a our dreams of adopting from Africa seemed unthinkable on our own. We looked at other counties and considered other options. We sort of floated around in adoption land, not certain where our next child (a daughter we hoped!) would join our family from.
Then I got an e-mail. A simple few lines from Ms. J, "Are you working with anyone? What age range are you looking for?" I first nearly threw up, and then I sat and wrote her back. Gone were my plans of heading to the Social Security office to get Matty's social security number. I was sitting right there...waiting for her reply. I told her our considered ranges, and she wrote me back. "Call me." I thought I had better let Mike in on all this before that step went down. So I talked to him. I had butterflies. I had butterflies with Tyler. When we heard about his situation, when we were waiting to see if we were matched with him, I had butterflies. I told Mike what we had e-mailed about. I asked him what he thought. He thought, "Are you going to call now?" He had butterflies too. I called.
Ms. J told me about a call she had gotten. A little girl, abandoned at an Orphanage. Not quite meeting the qualifications of any families she was working with. They preferred to take her out of this Orphanage and put her in foster care where they knew she would be well taken care of, but they needed a family. They have no birth-date, no history, no...anything. They think she is two. Are we interested in seeing a picture?
We wait the millions of hours (5 minutes?) it took for the e-mail to cross our inbox. I'm a little bowled over by my reaction. It's different than it was with Matty. So. Different. With Matty I knew he was my son. It was quiet and self confident. It was just there. With this little one? Not the same. I first had to take her in. The round face, the chubby cheeks, the plump belly pushing her dress out. The cute button nose. The squishy soft little lips that were slightly open, and certainly not smiling. The white powder dusting her neck and head. The shaven head. The eyes. Her eyes.
She was totally shell shocked.
Have you ever seen a shell shocked two year old? I mean I expected it. I knew she had been through a lot, I knew she had fairly recently been abandon. I knew all that. But I had to process it as I gazed at her photo. So I did. I sat with it a while, tears in my eyes as they met hers. Then I began to see her as more. I know she can be more than that shell shocked photo. I can see her with a funky bright headband, with puffs or braids with beads in her hair. I can see her chubby cheeks plump with a smile. I can see those things in her...but I can also accept the rest.
So here we are...with this unplanned adoption, reaching out to our friends, family, and even strangers. Asking for help. Asking for literally...the title. Funds for Her Future.
**Because of the sensitive nature of all international adoptions, we are not disclosing the specific country our daughter is from. We are proud of our adoption, and her heritage, and would love to share it with our supporters privately. If you'd like more information on our specific country of adoption, please feel free to contact me privately but leaving a comment (which goes right to me before being published) with your contact information. Thank you for your support!