Time stretches and shrinks around the pivotal moments of our life.
When Sophie was a baby, time was measured every three hours, which was how often she was fed. After she died, time flowed unmeasured and lost its meaning.
Later, time was measured every 21 days together with the dreams and hopes of another child.
Soon I was expecting again, and time was measured on a weekly basis, counting to the safety of week 12. Before reaching that milestone, we learned that it was a complicated pregnancy and I stayed home in bedrest for six weeks, until the risk was over. But a couple days later, at week 16, I miscarried and time again lost any sense.
Almost a year later I was pregnant, this time of twins! and at week 20 the water of our baby boy broke. I was sent to the hospital in strict bedrest. “The babies will have a chance to survive at week 24,” said the doctor. “But let’s aim for week 28; their chances are much better every week that passes.”
I counted the weeks, I counted the days, I counted the hours. Time didn’t seem to pass. Every day at 6 pm I crossed off a day from my wall calendar where a beautiful baby girl with eyes as blue as the ocean stared back at me.
Zoe and Jean-Marc Junior were born at exactly 24 weeks. Our son lived for hours and Zoe stayed in the NICU for 130 days, during which I didn’t count weeks or days. I just gave thanks for the day that had passed and prayed for another day with her. She came home on May 5, 2009.
Three years later we embarked in our journey of international adoption. We were approved by the US State Department right before Halloween of 2012. The next step was for the Adoption Committee in Ecuador to refer a child to us. We were told that the committee met on Thursdays and typically dedicated one Thursday to assigning children to families, and the following Thursday completing paperwork, so we had two chances a month to be matched.
December was almost a lost month because of Christmas and the end of the year. January 10 was the first Thursday of 2013 and for some reason I was convinced we would be referred a child that day. I estimated that given that we needed to wait six weeks before traveling, we would leave for Ecuador around late February and started making plans for the 4-month leave of absence I would take from work.
On January 11, though, we were told that the Committee requested an additional psychological evaluation because we had gone through several important losses and they wanted to be sure we were emotionally stable and ready for adoption. On the one hand I was surprised at the thoroughness of their analysis, yet on the other hand I felt a deep sense of urgency. There are more than 6,000 orphans in Ecuador, and more evaluations represented a delay. It meant more days and night of a little girl in an orphanage instead of home with her family.
We turned to our former therapist Dr. Goldstein for the evaluation. The Committee had requested a standard test called MPPI, which is now a requirement for all families adopting from Ecuador. The MPPI is a True of False test of more than 500 statements. They range from seemingly random phrases, such as “I enjoy reading mechanics magazines” or “I never have back pain”, to radical ones such as “My entire family hates me” or “I often think about killing myself.” Some of the statements were written in such a way that you had to read them twice, such as “I seldom don’t leave the door open”. Dr. Goldstein explained that the test had been created to assess the emotional stability of an individual, and that because it had so many statements, there was literally no way of cheating.
The test took two weeks to be interpreted by the company that created and reads the results of the evaluation, and then the report had to be translated to Spanish and sent to Ecuador. There went another three weeks. We sent a PDF file but we were told that they needed the original, so around a month later it arrived in Ecuador.
Earlier during the year we had been thinking about inviting my parents to visit us from Argentina but had been holding off because we didn’t know when we would be traveling to Ecuador. At this point we went ahead and confirmed their visit, hoping that it didn’t coincide with our trip.
In early March we were approved by the Ecuadorian Committee, so I was ready to start counting Thursdays once again… but wait! The Committee had trainings during the first weeks of March, and then came Easter, so before I knew it, we were in April.
I thought that this delay could be beneficial, because maybe my time off would coincide with summer, and I would be able to spend several weeks completely dedicated to Zoe and her little sister. I was convinced that by summer we would be traveling to Ecuador.
My parents’ 3 week visit came and went without any news from the Committee. I was glad we took the risk of inviting them during that date, because we spent a wonderful time together. When they left, on April 15, I was ready to hear the good news from our agency.
There were five US families working with our agency that were ready to be matched. I befriended some of them on Facebook. It was exciting to know that other families were going through a similar experience. One Thursday in May the Committee’s meeting ran so long that they rejoined the following day. This was apparently very unusual. I prayed all Thursday and all Friday. I had the feeling that this would be it! Friday evening we heard that there had been one assignment for “family C”, but the other four families that were waiting had not been matched. I was disappointed, but the following morning I woke up grateful for the good news for Family C. I imagined their excitement and their travel plans. It was only a matter of time until the rest of all received the good news!
I believe that there is a time for everything. God’s time is not always our own, and as much as I love making plans I’m well aware that most of the times things don’t happen as I imagined them. In spite of this, I was impatient. It looked like after all, we would not be traveling until the end of the summer. Then again this might be a good thing, because I would take time off once Zoe was back in school, which meant I would have several hours a day alone with our little one. I had started reading a book on parenting internationally adopted children and I was learning about the importance of one on one time for bonding, especially during the first months.
I had been saving my days of vacations for the trip to Ecuador, but my vacations would expire in September, so by mid June we decided to take some days off anyway, and booked a flight to San Francisco and a house by the sea in Northern California. They say that the ocean fixes everything, and it certainly took my mind off work and everyday stress. However, I was well aware of Thursday, and checked in with our agency, only to hear that there had been no meeting that week.
We’re about to board the flight home now, and I was told that this Thursday the Committee would be making assignments. Will the 4th of July be our turn?