I stepped off the plane into gray. It looked gray. It felt gray. Jerry and I dragged the kids through the empty airport to retrieve the luggage and then outside to hail a taxi. Neither of us said a word. I wasn’t a world traveler and I never expected another country to feel different, but it did. Poland felt like it was covered in a dense fog of depressing weight.
We arrived at the hotel with less than an hour before the first meeting with the law firm handling the adoption. We checked in at the front desk and rode the elevator up to our room. The kids explored our two-room suite while I went to the restroom to splash cold water on my face and reapply my smudged makeup. My adrenaline surged when I thought of how far I had come. I was in Poland! I had survived the plane trip! The children that I had been journaling to and loving from afar were within driving distance!
I had been living in the pre-adoption limbo for so long I didn’t think it would ever end.Adoptive parents know this limbo well: The paperwork is finished (finally). The home study is complete. Yay!INS approval. Fingerprints inspected. Everything has been forwarded to the proper authority in ________(fill in the blank). Then comes the most excruciating part: WAIT FOR THE CALL.Simple right? The hard part is finished. Wait, an inactive state. Rest, sit down for six months, have a cup of coffee with your wait. Then, suddenly, the CALL. The labor has entered the final phase in the adoption world.The birth is coming!
“There are three siblings eligible for adoption:two boys, Damian and Gregory and a little girl, Ania. They’re seven, five, and four. She wants an answer tomorrow.”
Our host, Carly leads the way with some great questions Amerey and Kathleen answer. So, you hear the prospective of mother and daughter. There are some surprises in this episode that even our team member, Lori says ” I didn’t know about”. You can listen to her reaction on the podcast. Listen and have some tissues ready. You will laugh, cry and then do both again. After your listen, I hope you leave as friends and join us next week again for The Whole House Podcast!
Positive Adoption A Memoir is being re-released in February with the cover above and a bonus- A Study Guide. This Study Guide is designed to be used with an Adoption/Foster support group. If you don’t belong to one, that’s fine too. We’ll be going through it online with The Whole House Book Discussion starting March 5th (we will make sure we remind you)!
Here’s the info and link from Sandra Flach, host of Justice for Orphans. Join us today!
Don’t miss my conversation today at 1:30pmEST with WV adoptive mom and author of Positive Adoption-A Memoir – Kathleen Guire. Kathleen and her husband Jerry are parents to 4 children adopted from Poland and are Empowered To Connect parent trainers. Tune in to The New Light WDCD 96.7fm, 1540am or stream it live at: http://www.newlight967.com #justicefororphans#orphansnomore
“A tiny plane blipped across a map of endless ocean at the front of the cabin. I gripped the plush blue arms rests. I battled claustrophobia while my three children, courageous and ready for this overseas adventure, raided the snack cart every time it squeezed past. My husband Jerry snoozed. It was November 1999.
Focus on the goal, I commanded myself. You are going to adopt your new children.
I grabbed my purse and fished out the precious Polaroids of Damian, Gregory and Ania, sent airmail from the orphanage. The prospective members of the Guire forever family looked directly at the camera, as if staring straight at me instead of the lawyer who had snapped the photos in a hallway of the orphanage:
Ania, a pumpkin-faced four-year-old gripping the drapes behind her, willing them to swallow her up; Gregory, a Peter Panish five-year-old sporting an Indian feather cowlick and mischievous eyes; Damian, a somber faced seven-year-old with a worried soul in a young body.
What compelled me to board a plane, fly to a foreign country and adopt strangers?
God in His wisdom built the foundation of society on the family: Adam, Eve, a beautiful perfect home, and the command to be fruitful and multiply. Adam and Eve ate the only forbidden fruit and sin entered the world–the great divorce of heaven and earth. The first family was torn apart. Adam and Eve were ripped from the garden and from the connection with their heavenly Father”
Adoption is like walking in the middle of the movie and taking a seat. You didn’t see the beginning. You’re not exactly sure what sort of plot or family you stepped into. This paragraph gives you a bit of my story and you have joined me in the middle of it.
Jerry and I had the seed of adoption in our hearts when we married in 1985. We were in the midst of communications with a pregnant teen mom to adopt her infant (early in our marriage). She changed her mind at the last minute.
Ten years and three kids later, we opened the door to adoption again. We started with phone calls, information packets and not a lot of headway. Then an adoption coordinator called us from Huminska’s Anioly and asked us some pointed questions, “Are you going to fill out the paper work? Will you take three children?”
We said, “Yes!” to three and headed down the adoption road at full speed. Of course anyone who has traversed the adoption road knows that means at a snail’s pace most of the time. And yet, every time we filled out a document or put our finger prints on paper or had another visit for the home study, we felt as if we were one step closer to those children.
Two weeks before our travel date, we got a call from our adoption coordinator,Tracy, “there’s a baby! A younger sibling! Do you want him?”
“Of course!” We couldn’t imagine leaving the little on behind. Tracy didn’t know the sex of the baby or if he was eligible for adoption. She only knew through some research on the attorney’s end and a question while interviewing Damian who asked, “what about the baby?”
The judge said “NO!” to our pursuing the adoption of the infant. He was easier to adopt out and other Polish couple should get the chance. The Guire family flew to Poland with INS approval to bring back four children.
Front row: Hunter, Gregory, Ania and Rafal
The first meeting in Warsaw with our attorneys in a hotel lobby was tense. Jerry asked about the baby. “Forget about the baby! Focus on the three you came to adopt!”
We couldn’t let it go. We prayed. It was all we could do. We were in a foreign country with no power, no say in what would happen next.
“The next day dawned gray and cold, just like the one before. I felt as if I had entered an old black and white movie and I hoped it wasn’t a Hitchcock. I packed everything back in the suitcases and we hauled the luggage down to the lobby. We were traveling with Walter and Bartek to Pietrokow, where we would meet the Director of Orphans.
Walter was already surly-faced when he arrived. He rushed us out of the lobby into the stinging gray air. I was stuffed in the back of a small taxi with a seat belt embedded in my hipbone and a child on my lap. The windows remained permanently fogged, blocking my view of the city we were leaving and then the countryside as it flew by. My children, tired from the previous day, settled back into their seats and ventured an occasional, “How much longer?’
When dad came to pick us kids up for summer visitation, the departure was swift. We packed our bags in the trunk of his current car and rushed down the lane, leaving a trail of dust behind us, Mom growing smaller in the distance. This is the moment the fear gripped me. The familiar faded and the unknown lay before me. The tense anxiety choked me while my stomach churned. Down the highway we sped to another unknown destination; Dad rarely bothered to sit down and explain where we were going and what it would be like this time. The landscape changed from the hills of West Virginia to the bluegrass of Kentucky or the plains of Iowa, where once we raced beside a tornado as it ate up the fields beside us.
Every year, it was a new home in a new state. And every year, it was the same unstable summer, with our travel and activities dictated by someone else’s moodiness or alcoholism. New places did not fill me with hope. They were foreign landscapes with no known retreats or safe hideaways from the too-familiar emotional climate. The unrest filtered down to me and cemented my fear and presupposition: There is nothing good in the world.
This journey was not on my terms, it was on God’s. There was absolutely nothing I was in control of: when I could go to the bathroom or what mode of transportation I would use or what foods would be available to me. This was not about my comfort level. It was dependent on my trust level.
God does not hand out easy passes. What God requires of me is always greater than I think I can handle. If I would have succumbed to my fears, I would still be at home. I would probably be living comfortably with three children, but it would not have been God’s perfect will for me. It would have been trading something of eternal value for temporary ease. I would have gone through life feeling as if something were missing if I had ignored the still, small voice and listened instead to the bawling fear.
After several hours of driving, we pulled into the snowy little city of Pietrokow. The taxi wound around into the heart of the city through snow-covered narrow streets of old stone buildings. We skidded into an icy drive: the office of the Director of Orphans. She came outside to meet us. I leapt out of the car to drink in a breath of cool fresh air. Walter had already stepped out of his taxi and was speaking to her. Bartek appeared by my side and asked,
“She wants to know if you want to meet the baby?”
My mind whirled. See the baby? Meet the baby? Was this some sort of cruel joke?
“Well, yes, of course,” I answered quietly, scarcely daring to hope.
Walter spoke again and Bartek interpreted, “She wants to know if you want to adopt the baby. She says that she will speak to the judge for you.”
I suddenly felt giddy. In one day the impossible had become possible.”
The Guire family increased by four in January of 2000 and the four new Guires were able to join us in the states in February of 2000.
There is much more to the story and you can read it by ordering Positive Adoption: A Memoir in which I weave the story of my childhood with the story of my children’s adoption.
And … inviting you to join me for an online book study of Positive Adoption A Memoir. Join me for the seventeen week study (one week per chapter) starting Monday, January 18 and ending Monday, May 9th. I will post the study questions on the group page Monday mornings. I will be available online to chat about them Monday evenings from 8:00-9:00, so don’t panic, it won’t take a big chunk of time. Just an hour a week or less if you choose. You are welcome to answer the questions at any time of the week or post on the page! So, pick up the gift today, the Kindle copy ofPositive Adoption A Memoir !
This month we have extended our series on Autism. This post is for anyone who has ever suffered mom guilt (Tweet this). If you feel as if you missed it, it was staring you right in the face and you didn’t see it. I know. I’ve been there. Today I (Kathleen) want to make a huge confession about my eldest daughter (Audrey), she is most probably on the Autism spectrum and I totally missed it. It wasn’t until several years ago when she and I were researching Asperger’s Syndrome that I started seeing Audrey in the list of the symptoms. Tons of memories flooded in with an “aha” moment for each one.
For those of you have read my bookPositive Adoption A Memoir, you may have seen some of the signs in my description of Audrey’s early years. I see them now. I didn’t then.
Some clues in my own words (book excerpts)
“I hiked up the carpeted stairs of the townhouse with baby Audrey slung over my shoulder. She slept until I stopped moving up and down like a human escalator. Then the crying began. Relentless, ear-piercing, you-are-not-going-to-sleep-all-night-mama-crying.
“She doesn’t like me!” I worried to Jerry. “My own baby doesn’t like me!”
Jerry’s job kept him away eighty hours a week. Some nights he stayed in a hotel close to work to grab a few hours of sleep before he began another shift. We owned one vehicle so I was alone with Audrey ninety percent of the time. My dreams of motherhood had come crashing down over my head in a deep depressing darkness.
The few times Audrey smiled, I snapped a photo.
“I think you brought the wrong baby home from the hospital,” my brother-in-law teased.”
The not smiling, not engaging, not satisfied until moving should have been signs. I didn’t see it. I had no clue. Audrey was my first child and I didn’t have some one else to measure her by.
“Audrey was a square peg in a round-pegged world. She cried when other babies smiled. She slept little. I received loads of free parenting advice from friends and family who had compliant text-book babies. None of it worked for Audrey, so I chucked it.
At five and a half months, she could crawl up stairs. At one year old, Audrey could do a puzzle, take the laces out of her shoes and re-lace them, flip out of her crib and land on her feet. At four years old she could read, at six she won a story-writing contest but had one of her frequent bouts of pneumonia and couldn’t attend her own celebration.
I was frequently scolded by adult family members who wanted me to put Audrey in her place. The truth is, Audrey was smarter than them (fact-wise) and she didn’t have the filter to tell her to keep her mouth shut about it. “
Kids on the spectrum are like square pegs in a round pegged world. Something is different about them. Not bad, just different. As I said the other day, they are honest. They don’t read social cues well. Audrey didn’t know it wasn’t socially acceptable to correct her aunts and uncles when they had facts wrong. Audrey has an amazing ability to read or hear something once and remember it. Most of us don’t have that ability and we may remember bits and pieces of something and she has always been a stickler for exactness. I didn’t know this was a sign. I was so busy treating her physical symptoms that I didn’t hone in on the tells. To me, this was just Audrey.
Thankfully, Audrey is high functioning. She managed her childhood pretty well. She didn’t like hugs or anyone touching her face. She had obsessions, it is who she is. She seemed to live on a different plane or in a different universe. I chalked it up to her being an eccentric genius. She and a friend spent hours creating a Tolkien inspired world complete with a creation story and language.
The good news is that is was no surprise to God. He didn’t miss anything and where I messed up, He liberally poured out His grace and covered me and my child. For those of you who are experiencing a season of guilt over what you did or didn’t do, I challenge you to take some time to look back and see the hand of God. Trace your story line to those moments when you feel as if you failed and God showed up to pick up the pieces. Maybe he provided a friend who supported you. Maybe he sent someone to pray with you or take you out for a cup of coffee. It may be that you have spent years feeling guilty and you haven’t taken the time to look for the grace God covered you and your child with. Take a moment now and ask Him to show you the infusion of grace He poured out in your past. It’s only in forgiving ourselves, putting the guilt to the side that we can move forward into healing (Tweet this).
If you suspect that your child is on the spectrum or that he doesn’t fit in, he hones in on one thing, he obsesses, highly intelligent but doesn’t read social cues, has a large vocabulary at an early age or none at all, doesn’t like to play with toys or only plays with one kind of toy, doesn’t need other kids to play with, has sleep issues and won’t let an issue go, maybe check into some more research or talk to someone. This is not an official list or medically approved list. It’s my list. Sometimes the lists on medical sites are hard to interpret, hopefully mine helps.
I did miss it, but God caught it. I see His grace prints in my life and hers. When I question why, I see Audrey comforting and parenting with understanding. I watch her encourage other Moms and I know, God has it under control. He didn’t miss a thing.