[JS] It represented adventure. And I don’t know if that makes it sound like it was, it was light. But it really, our whole adoption, it was an adventure.
[ND] Carrie and I were struggling with that wait of, you know, when is this going to happen? We feel like it’s taking forever.
[SH] The last thing you want to hear when you’re adopting some times is God’s timing is perfect. Um, but it’s true. It really is true. And I say that to families now, and I can remember wanting to, like, sucker punch the next person that would tell me that, but it is true. And you really do have to hold onto that because God’s timing is perfect.
[CC] You always remember where you’re standing, you know. I don’t remember what . . . But some people remember what they’re wearing. I don’t remember that but I do remember, yeah, just feeling like, oh my goodness, this is it. You know, it’s, it’s like finding out when you’re pregnant or finding out when any big news in your life. It’s like, ahhhh it’s going to happen.
[MS] You’re listening to together by AGCI I’m Madi Salvati. Those were just snippets of the incredibly moving conversations we got to have with some of our staff members at AGCI about a period in the adoption process, often referred to as “the wait.” Before I started my position at AGCI, when I thought of adoption, I thought of gotcha days, financial miracles and families united for the first time ever. While all of these things play a beautifully significant role in the process. I never really considered the heaviness and the excitement behind “the wait” or the time period of waiting to be matched with a child. It’s a massive part of the adoption process. And in my mind today makes room for God to be invited into that space of waiting so that he might work and help families fully recognize His wonder and power in their lives. Today, I’m so excited to have our Director of Adoption, Julie Salwasser, our Executive Vice President, Nate Dawson and International Adoption Specialists, Sue Harkema and Connie Cummings, talk about their own adoption experiences with “the wait.” It’s incredible to hear how this specific part of the adoption process, while hard and sometimes daunting for each of them, turned into a singular moment of joy when they heard they were matched with their children.
Let’s start with AGCI’s Director of Adoption, Julie, who waited for her daughter Charlie.
[JS] For me, it was just, it represented adventure. And I don’t know if that makes it sound like it was, it was a light, But it, really our whole adoption, it was an adventure. And like, that’s how we viewed each obstacle. So when we were waiting 13 months, of course we were anxious because of our family’s timeline of like, you know what, how we were planning out our year. And, and of course like, we’re excited to meet this little, this little one that we’ve been dreaming about. But when I was placed, it was just like, yes, this is the next step. Like, this is so fun. We knew we were going to bring home a child. It was just a matter of when. I was at work and I got a call from our caseworker. And at that point, every Monday, I knew that that was the best possible day that I would hear that we were placed because there’s a committee in Colombia and they’re the ones that make a decision on, on making placements for families. And so every Monday I would wear my adoption shirt. It was the shirt that we made for our, um, for a fundraiser. And I loved it, but I made that decision when our caseworker had said, we’d probably be placed in two to three months. So I’m thinking, okay, this’ll be something fun. Cause it could happen today. Well, at that point it was 13 months later and I’m still mostly wearing my adoption shirt every Monday because I felt like I had made that commitment. So at that point in time, when it goes from two to three months as a possible timeline to now 13 months, your level of expectation kind of decreases. I was wearing my shirt and I got a call from my caseworker. And she was the one who was able to just share about the fact that Charlie Milagros whose name at that time . . . it means miracles. It’s still part of her name. Um, but little Milagros, we were placed with her. And it was an official match. At that point, that’s when you kind of enter into, um, getting to know who she is and understanding a little bit about her medical background and um, but it was so fun. That was the last Monday I had to wear my adoption shirt, but I still own it and love it.
[MS] Here’s AGCI’s Executive Vice President, Nate Dawson, who waited for his daughter Elsa.
[ND] So the waiting game in international adoption was, um, I think equally as tough for us as it is for a lot of families. We started our adoption process in April of 2010 and we completed our adoption process in June of 2012. So, a couple of years. Our referral call was a little bit different than maybe a traditional call. Um, Carrie and I were struggling with that wait of, you know, when is this going to happen? We feel like it’s taking forever. And really feeling anxious about that. And we went to dinner that night, that we were particularly struggling with this issue of the anxiety around waiting. And, um, we had just resolved to stay the course. On the way home, we saw a waiting child email with Elsa’s picture and we kind of freaked out a bit. And then we’re like, that is our daughter. And so we wrote, um, a letter of interest to AGCI and let them know that we thought that we would be the best family for Elsa. And here’s all the reasons why. And, um, they called us the next day to let, let us know that, um, that Elsa was going to be a member of our family.
[MS] Here’s AGCI’s International Adoption Specialist, Sue Harkema, who waited for her son, Josh, and her daughter, Anna.
[SH] My caseworker at the time, her name was Kim. And she said, you know what? Typically it takes three, you know, three, four months to complete a dossier. And I said, Oh no, no, it’s not going to take that long. I’m going to get it done much quicker than that. And we couldn’t be on the waiting list until our dossier was done. Well, I sent my dossier in four weeks later. So my mom described me as a freight train that no one was going to get in the way of. So, like I got it done pretty quickly. Um, we got on the waiting list for a little boy because we had said either a boy or girl was fine with us. And they said, well, it’s going to be a boy because the boy list is shorter. And at the time, it was, you were a number on the waiting list. So, I was number 23. We were number 23 on the waiting list, and my twins and I would make a poster every month of what our number was on the waiting list. And Kim would call every month and say, now you’re number 18. Woohoo, we moved up! And we’d make a new poster. And fast forward to early, late spring, we stayed number four for four months. We looked at the number four poster on our refrigerator for four months. No new poster, no new poster. Driving home from the beach one day, I can tell you exactly where I was on the road when the phone rang, and it was Kim. And I figured she was calling to tell me, maybe we were still number four or maybe we were finally number two or number one, Maybe. Answered the phone and she said, it’s a boy and I went, What are you talking about? She said, you have a son! And I screamed and said, I gotta pull over, just a minute. Pulled over in front of a yellow house — I’ll never forget it. My kids are screaming in the background cause they were so excited. And she said, I’m emailing you all the pictures now. Mind you, this is back in dial-up internet days. Called my husband and I said, get home now and start downloading the pictures, but do not look at them. So, I got home and we looked at the pictures together. Um, Josh was born on August 19. We got the call on August 22 and we took a Visit Trip to visit Josh when he was two weeks old.
Um, so Anna’s process didn’t go quite as smoothly as Josh’s. Um, she was born in July. We visited her at the beginning of August. And again, Kim was still my rock and… I learned a lot about being a caseworker from Kim. I really did. Um, she was great. She was also an adoptive mom. So she, she knew. It got to be December and I thought, oh, Kim, she’s going to be home by Christmas, right? I don’t know Sue. I’m like, Hey, that sea can part again, just like it did for Josh. And she’s like, I don’t know, I just don’t know. A week later it looks like it could happen, Sue! She might be home for Christmas! I’m like, yes, yes, four and a half months old and she’s going to be home for Christmas. Had tickets picked out online to order for flights and everything. I’m ready to go. I’ve got everything. I even had the schedule made out for grandma and grandpa for the kids while we were gone. It was December 16 and we were supposed to likely leave four days later. And I got a call from Kim thinking she was just calling to wish me well, go ahead and order the tickets, we’re good to go. And she’s like, Sue, I don’t even know how to tell you this. They spelled Anna’s name wrong on the birth certificate and it’s all good. The civil registry fixed it, but the magistrate that needs to sign it is on vacation for six weeks. And I remember saying, where do they live? I’ll go find them. Just, just give me their address. They need five hundred dollar bills? What do they need? I’ll bring them what they need. She’s like, No, we can’t. You’re going to have to just wait. There’s absolutely nothing we can do about it. And that was hard. Oh, that was a lonely Christmas. And we had presents under the tree for her. She was supposed to be home. I had a Christmas dress for her and everything. There was nothing I could do about it. And being a self-proclaimed control freak, God knows how to teach us lessons. Let’s just say He taught me numerous lessons through the adoption process. So, Anna’s gotcha day was February 1. We picked her up on February 1.
The last thing you want to hear when you’re adopting some time as God’s timing is perfect. Um, but it’s true. It really is true. And I say that to families now, and I can remember wanting to, like, sucker punch the next person that would tell me that, but it is true. And you really do have to hold onto that because God’s timing is perfect. And those times when you’re waiting, they seem like eternity when you’re in it. But looking back now, it was all supposed to be that way. And so just hold onto that, that God’s timing is perfect and He knows, He knows what’s best. And I think the thing for me is just knowing that God loved my child, loves my child, more than I ever could imaginable. There’s no way I can love this child as much as God does. And I just had to know that while I wasn’t there to care for the child, God had it under control. God had it taken care of. And I just, I had to believe in that.
[MS] And here’s AGCI’s International Adoption Specialist, Connie Cummings, who is not only an adoptive parent to her daughter, Jasmine, but who is also an adoptee herself.
[CC] I’ve literally lived and breathed international adoption my whole life. Like I’ve always wanted to do this. And it was kind of that culmination of just really a lifelong, literally, a lifelong dream to give back and to, to want to provide and be that person just like somebody was my person. First, I thought, you know, I’m just going to come in and do case management and, and do my job. But then as I’ve really kind of leaned, I think into this role, I really feel like I can be an advocate, you know, for adult adoptees for all adoptive kids. Um, and just really relate very, very easily with the parent on the other line of that email or the phone, because I know exactly what that feels like when you don’t hear news when you’re in the wait. Um, I know what that feels like when you get the call. So it’s really fun to make those calls because someone made that call for me and changed my life. And I get to do that now.
I never knew how much work my case manager was doing like every day. Cause you really don’t hear from us for a couple of weeks and you think nothing’s happening, but there’s so many things happening, like both in the, in-country, both with Central Authority and both in the headquarters. So I really wish I knew how much work was going on behind the scenes to bring my daughter home.
I still remember standing in my kitchen getting that call. And then calling Danny, and saying we gotta be on this call together. You always remember where you’re standing, you know. I don’t remember what . . . But some people remember what they’re wearing. I don’t remember that, but I do remember, yeah, just feeling like, oh my goodness, this is it. You know, it’s, it’s like finding out when you’re pregnant or finding out when any big news in your life. It’s like, ahhhh it’s going to happen.
[MS] If you’ve found yourself in this in-between space of waiting for what’s next, especially if you’re waiting for that call like Julie, Nate, Sue and Connie were, know that God is with you too in that waiting and He will sustain you through it. While I personally have not experienced this kind of waiting, I know what it’s like to feel frozen in that space of uncertainty for what will happen next. Uncertainty can be a really beautiful place to land for a while and you might be surprised at how God will use that time of waiting, wondering, and hoping to carry you through. He’s in the waiting right there with you and so are we. Remember that this time of “waiting” was never intended to be done on your own — it’s an experience that God wants to walk with you — together.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If this episode struck a chord with you, we’d love to hear from you with any of your own stories, questions, or comments. We love being a part of your day and are so grateful to do this life together with you. You can email us at together at allgodschildren.org. Thanks for listening, everybody, we’ll talk to you soon.