It’s November — National Adoption Awareness month! This month of awareness reminds me of how unaware I was nearly twenty years ago when we began our adoption journey with the twins. We were hardly aware of any of the issues involved in the process of adoption, especially navigating it in a foreign country in a second language. And did I mention twins?
I cut my uninformed self some slack though, because Google didn’t exist back in those days, so I couldn’t do any rapid research with the convenience of the laptop at my fingertips (our computer definitely wasn’t made for my lap). On top of that, we lived in Venezuela at the time, so there wasn’t an adoption agency around the corner where I could pick up some shiny pamphlets either. There wasn’t even an adoption agency in the country that we were aware of.
Besides, I probably wouldn’t have been able to process much information even if it were available because the psychologist in the Venezuelan child protection services reported that I had “below average intelligence” after our short visit. Of course, I could have asked Gary for help, since she reported that he was of “high intelligence”. I’m not sure if it was his charm or his use of the new Spanish vocabulary words he was practicing on her that morning. But after I saw the family that he sketched in our interview, her conclusions made me wonder more about her intelligence than Gary’s or mine.
My suspicions about her were confirmed, though, when she recommended our course of action for adoption. She suggested that we make a contact with a nurse or doctor in the local public hospital—just a couple of blocks from our house. With a little down payment accompanied with our phone number, we’d hear from them soon enough with a newborn ready to be picked up. We’d be able to walk out of the hospital with a newborn registered as if I had just had a pain-free labor myself.
Even though I am only a person of “below average intelligence”, I was able to figure out, with the help of my higher intelligence husband, that although it would have been an easy labor, there were some things about that arrangement that didn’t feel right. Her shady advice also confirmed my suspicions regarding her assessment of my intelligence.
While I’m all for an easy labor, I was beginning to see that there wasn’t going to be anything easy about our labor in the adoption process. I had a long hard labor with our oldest son, so I figured that I was up for the task. And fortunately, I more than make up for my below average intelligence with my above average optimism–and of course my highly intelligent husband. If I were a little more intelligent, I might have figured out that the beginning of this process was indicative of the labor-intensive journey ahead.
Following our encounter with that psychologist and a few tours through some orphanages where the guide sounded more like a salesman at a used car dealership than an advocate for the children, Gary and I decided to pursue adoption with a lawyer recommended to us in Caracas, the capital city of Venezuela, a ten hour drive or a plane ride away.
When we went through Caracas, we were hoping for a smoother adoption journey. If smooth meant quicker, then I suppose that it worked. At least smooth didn’t involve any shady transactions. But I can assure you, there was nothing smooth about bringing home two-year-old twins.
Since it’s Adoption Awareness Month, this month I will share some chapters from our adoption journey that caught me totally unaware. If anything, they may confirm to you that the Venezuelan psychologist was correct about my below average intelligence. At best, maybe they will help you be aware of what to expect if you’re on a similar journey.
So stay tuned, and you’ll be hearing more from this “below average intelligence” mom about our above average adoption experience that began twenty years ago—before we had Google, laptops or Adoption Awareness Month.