Friday, December 14, 2007

Adoption Update, Part Four

The answer was not what we had hoped.

After writing down our names, personal identification numbers from our carnets, birth dates, occupations, educational backgrounds, current employment, etc … and seemingly being quite a little confused about what exactly it is that we do in Chile (ie, “Do you mean you are here to expand your church?”) … the SENAME social worker’s initial response was, “There are quite a few problems here.”

The first and biggest problem was our current lack of permanent residency.

The second was the fact that we already have three children, and she explained that they often have difficulty with judges allowing even a second adoption for some of their couples because there is just too great a “demand” and childless infertile couples are given priority.

The third was the backlog of waiting couples – she told us that this morning they had begun yet another of their three-part informational workshops, and that the 120 couples who had participated in ours last month would not even be receiving their first meeting with a psychologist until May of next year.

She was fascinated with the picture of our family and interested when we explained that we had not come seeking the “perfect” child … that we have already faced a heart defect, prematurity, and cerebral palsy in our three children … and also that race is not an issue for us.

The social worker then told us about a children’s home right next to one of the hospitals in Santiago, where babies who are found abandoned in bathrooms, bus stops and street corners are taken for observation. Many of them demonstrate signs of health needs and these are kept in that home while the healthy ones are sent away to other homes in search of families. SENAME needs families for these special little ones … but we do not yet qualify because of our legal paperwork.

Learning about these children in additional to the hundreds we already know of in government care was very frustrating to me. With so many Chilean families only being allowed to adopt one child (if they are fortunate enough to pass all the requirements in the first place!) then it is no surprise that most want to adopt a child as young as possible, as healthy as possible. Instead of Chile having a process to streamline matching these other children with special needs with the few families who are open to adopting them, the system just lumps them all together and they all languish that much longer in children’s homes around the country. And by the time our family has the legal standing to begin the process, we will be on our way north to Iquique.

The news out of Iquique that the social worker shared with us is that the SENAME office in Iquique is often asking Santiago for couples for their babies. This is presumably due to the high levels of drug addiction up north and the resulting abandoned children. So there is definitely hope that we could pursue the process in Iquique, but there is also definitely disappointment that we must continue to wait (and wait … and wait.)

For those who are new to our adoption journey, we began working towards adoption #4 almost two years ago while Owen was still a baby. We started the process so soon after his arrival because we had hoped to adopt another sibling of similar racial heritage before leaving for Chile. Hours of phone calls, interviews, piles of paperwork, several agencies, half a dozen required workshops, setting up and dismantling a nursery, and hundreds of dollars later – not to mention having expended enormous amounts of emotional energy– we still have nothing to show for it.

I feel very weary.

And if I stop to think about it too deeply, I feel angry too. Angry that there have to be so many obstacles to adopt when there are so many children that need homes and so many parents longing for children. There are literally millions of orphans around this world, yet those who do have the heart to adopt them are often stopped by imperfect legal systems, crooked governments, and the “almighty dollar.”

Ultimately, I know that God is in control and can supersede even these obstacles if and when He chooses to do so. I have personally seen it happen! The fact that He hasn’t in this case must mean that waiting yet awhile longer is still His plan for us. Or even perhaps, that only three children are in His plan for us. (But since He has not taken away the desire for more children, I prefer to think that the former is true for now!)

So we continue to wait, “knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” And remembering to “let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing …” (James 1:3,4)

3 comments:

Kohana said...

I'm a fairly new reader so I don't know what options you've explored. I am actually making some headway in finding agencies that facilitate expatriate adoption, and international social works to do home studies abroad. I'd be happy to share the info with you if that is something you all would be interested in.

Kathy's Korner said...

((((((((((Steph and Pedro))))))))))

I too have been at a loss as to what path you are to be taking. It seems at times things are in place for "it" to happen...but it just doesn't.

I know you are weary. And justifiably so. I really feel your journey isn't done yet. I don't know where it will go or why it has taken all the turns it has, but keep praying. He'll show you. And someday those "bends" will straighten and you will know the whys. Either here or someday "there"

Holly said...

I am sorry you have faced so many challenges with adoption number 4! I can understand how you would be feeling weary and yet still hopeful at the same time. Cling to that truth that you stated about God's timing... it is so true that sometimes His timing is so different from ours. I pray that things come together for your family for child number 4 in a way that will be SO evident that God orchestrated it Himself.