We are in the midst of paperwork. There is a questionnaire we must complete and return to the social worker, each answering some forty odd questions. Much of them seem to be repeated, a change in wording here and there make it look like a new question. A few of the questions are a bit irritating, things about race and culture and values. They are questions that require the intangible to be given body and texture. Impossible task, but we soldier on.
There is a police clearance letter looming on the to-do list. From what I gather this is a letter from our local police department affirming we have no outstanding warrants. It must also be notarized. I call the police department, who direct me the sheriffs’ office. The sheriffs’ office directs me back to the police. So, I let it drop. I can handle that next week when school is out for winter break.
Nor should I forget we must also start working on our application letter. This letter, for those of you not in the know, is our only communication with the agency in China who will approve us for adoption. It is our direct appeal. Our social worker, and Pepper our Agency representative – have both cautioned us to avoid anything political. We are also encouraged not to mention anything about the surplus of children available or the abandonment of babies. ….well, duh. Our letter should focus on why we choose China, why we want to adopt, who we are. Again we are told to put the intangible into words, to give what is in our hearts verbs and nouns and adjectives. I’m frustrated that people tell us this with such ease; as though we go everyday summing up our greatest dream in a paragraph.
Then, the email comes.
There are so many fees involved with adoption. People ask how much adoption costs and I have to correct them – it’s not the adoption that costs. It’s all the assorted fees in paperwork, paying social workers and notaries that all starts to add up.
One of the fees facing us is the donation to the orphanage. Now, this isn’t due until you are in China – and you aren’t in China until you are matched with a child. For us, this is three years away.
But the email sitting in our inbox tells us that the donation has gone up, by two thousand dollars. This money goes to the orphanage and the money, desperately needed, goes to help the children left behind. I fully support the donation and, in time, the amount required. Right now this news doesn’t sit so well. I can only console myself that at least we have three years to save up. And I try not to think about it going up further in these next three years.
We’ve just left base camp to climb a treacherous mountain whose peak cannot yet be seen. Each day gets us a little closer to the top, a little closer to seeing the unknown peak waiting for us. Then the clouds drift apart, the sky opens a little and we can see. The peak is still too far, crowned in mist and impossible to observe. But what we can see is that the path is just a little bit harder, that bit more treacherous than we first imagined.
I pause and inhale deeply.
Exhaling, I close the depressing email and deepen my resolve.