Monday we awoke with excitement and nerves bubbling vigorously. We drove through to Pretoria for the first day of our Adoption Prep course. The course is held in a group format, so we knew there would be other couples going through it with us. We knew it was going to be an intense time, but we felt ready.
(On our way to the agency)
We arrived at the agency in good time, so went in search of our social worker. My funnest part of the whole process was putting together our Adoption Profile; a photobook with information about ourselves and photos depicting our lives as a whole. It started out by using a template from Q-photo’s software, but I quickly realized that none of them really suited us. So, I downloaded images and backgrounds and went about designing our photobook from scratch. I was so excited to hand it in that I nearly threw it into her hands! She was busy running around getting ready for the morning’s session, so she took it to her office for her to look through later that day.
(See our Adoption Profile here)
Once everyone had arrived, we all moved into the boardroom and, armed with coffee and rusks, dove straight into the first session. Each day started off with a devotional/inspirational reading and prayer, which was special. It was great to hear each different message (even the difficult ones).
After an icebreaker and a quick summary of how we have all found the process so far, we started with Chapter One: The Divine Plan. This chapter explored the journey of infertility and the meaning of struggle, as well as the spiritual foundation of adoption. It focused beautifully on the fact that each person’s journey is different and unique, and we all need to find our own meaning of it. Once you have found meaning in it, anything is possible to handle.
(Our manual for the Prep Course)
The second focus of the chapter was the spiritual foundation of adoption. Adoption is a topic that streams through the Bible, mostly in terms of how we were adopted as sons and daughters into the family of God. But, there are real adoption stories in there too. Esther and Moses are two people who through adoption got the opportunity to save their nation. I really love the story of Moses: at a time where Pharaoh had ordered all Hebrew baby boys to be killed at birth (out of fear that the Hebrews would overthrow him), his mother managed to hide him for three months. When it got too difficult to keep him hidden, she sent him down the Nile River in a basket in the hopes that someone would find him and take care of him. Moses’ sister followed him down the river to see what would happen to him. The Pharaoh’s daughter was the one who found him and decided to take care of him. His sister came forward and suggested she go find a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby; she went to fetch Moses’ mother. So, Moses was nursed by his biological mother, and when he was old enough, she handed him over to Pharaoh’s daughter to raise as her son. He then went on to be the person that led the Israelites to freedom. To me, this story is a perfect illustration of the intertwining of birth mother, adoptive mother and child.
One of the most beautiful thoughts put forward in this session was the fact that even before adoption happens, a miracle has happened. A baby’s life has been saved. I have honestly never taken into consideration the “before” process for the birth mother. She has already had to deal with the decision of whether or not to abort the child. I don’t believe anyone can judge someone in this position until you have had to make it yourself. Morally, you may not agree, but there are all kinds of circumstances that come in to play when faced with this decision and, of course, it is always hoped that the child’s life will be spared, but unfortunately, life is not always black and white. Our baby is already a miracle!
The first day really wasn’t as intense as we expected it to be and we had a lot of fun together. Our group consisted of three couples and two single moms, and the dynamics of the group worked well. If you remember from our first interview, we had to do the sandtray task describing our journey to adoption; this time, we were divided into two groups (guys and girls) to do a joint sandtray incorporating everyone’s journeys. It was so interesting to hear each person’s journey and creatively display it with all the differences, as well as the similarities. I think that they plan this exercise to help the group grow closer in understanding of each other’s circumstances for the rest of the week. Even though we had a lot of fun doing our sandtrays, there were some difficult experiences shared, including some really negative family reactions to a couple’s decision, to the point of certain family members writing the couple off if they adopt. After hearing that, I am so grateful for the support we have received from family and friends. It really does make all the difference!
(Some of the toys we use to make our sandtrays)
We ended the session with some practical expectations for the process ahead, especially with regards to the legal process. The reality is that each area has a different legal procedure/requirements and some take much longer than others to approve the placements. We were encouraged not to get disheartened if we saw that others from our group got their child before us, as there are all sorts of hiccups that can occur, such as a birth father suddenly appearing and an investigation needing to take place, baby getting sick suddenly, extra paperwork needing to be submitted, etc. We also shared about dreams that we have had about our baby…but I will get to that in another post. It was quite encouraging to get our heads around the realistic expectations of the legal side of things!
Once all the “serious” conversation was over, we ended our morning with a delicious lunch and got the opportunity to chat among ourselves and get to know each other a bit better. We all left happy and excited for the following day!