Colombian Heart A-Crack

Today another tiny crack formed in my heart. I just can’t help but feel it there, wounded with sharp edges like a shattered mirror or broken ice. Today, I finally wrote our adoption agency and said we would not adopt the Colombian twins. I know we basically made this decision weeks ago, but that didn’t stop the tears from falling from my eyes when I typed and, eventually, sent the email that will stop a part of our journey with them.

broken-heart_colombian

I say part of our journey because, in an abstract way, they will always be a part of our family. Not only did my husband and I fall in love with them, but our extended families did too. All of our hearts are yearning for them, although we are lucky enough to have our decision supported because our thought process and maturity are trusted by our loved ones. However, that does not take away the disappointment.

This disappointment leads to the big, unanswerable questions in life. Why is so much suffering tolerated? Why can’t we adopt them all? Why can’t love be enough? Why did my husband and I have a “God moment” when we saw their tiny faces for the first time and called our agency instantly? How can we be 100% sure we aren’t rejecting our divine opportunity to serve beyond ourselves?

I know we are expanding through this experience, but – if you readers are praying type of people, or sending positive energy type of people, or horoscopes or moon phase type of people – please keep these two little ones in your thoughts. These two affectionate, wild, beautiful children have endured a life not deserved, but maybe we can all send out some love to them in our own ways.

I, for one, will continue to pray that I feel the divine calling me with 100% confidence when the timing is right. I don’t know what all this waiting is about, but I am listening to the things that are hard to hear. I will continue to hold these two beauties in my heart, and know that – for some reason – we weren’t their forever family, but that family is out there, being prepared for them now.

You Need a Baby? I Can Get You a Baby – Quick!

The title of the post are words that were spoken to my husband about a year ago when the man he ultimately works for – a man who is wealthy enough to have been on the Forbes Richest People list and has ridiculously influential friends – overheard my husband getting documents notarized for our adoption. Regardless of wealth and influence, it’s pretty shocking to hear someone say they can get you a baby like they might have just asked if you needed more ketchup for your sandwich. Anyway, just to be clear, the method suggested was legal…he just so happens to have a good friend that is an abortion lawyer and finds families for the babies that are too far along to be aborted. (What a crazy world this is.)

Well, two nights ago my husband gets a phone call and it’s Mr. Billionaire himself. He wants to know if we are ready for that baby because a high school girl is three months pregnant and he thought of us. To make matters much more complicated, we have spent the last three weeks in deep contemplation about switching our adoption course to bring home two Colombian, twin, six year olds we randomly saw in a Waiting Children newsletter from our agency. They would be home by Christmas, most likely, and then our family would be set just like that.

And then, there is just one more layer to all of these family planning considerations. We recently semi-stalked and invited over a Haitian couple we knew to live in our area. It was as simple as, “We are adopting from your beautiful country. Would you like to share coffee and pastries and get to know one another?” Well, it turns out they are charming, intelligent, well-grounded, and compassionate people who offered to help us after knowing us for all of about ten minutes. They came to the U.S. as political refugees and still have ties in Haiti. We discussed our process and they left with a promise to try to find out something about our file, trying to see if we can get it moving along. They also told us they would help us learn their language (Haitian Creole) and that, next time we all meet, we will share a Haitian meal. Now if those don’t sound like people you want your future kids to be influenced by…

So, this is the point when my husband and I have to really refocus our priorities, allow a little risk into our lives, and try to discern emotions from destiny. Here is a snapshot of our thoughts:

Domestic, Infant Baby (Due Septemberish): There is a real appeal to many things in this situation: abridged paperwork, no worry about attachment and bonding issues, quick timeline, possible open adoption which has been researched to be best for the child.

Colombian Twins (Due Home around December): Not just faces and names…but the most beautiful faces and names I can imagine; fun ages that don’t require diapers and big plastic toys all over the house (which I will try to avoid regardless); worries about attachment issues, learning delays, physical disabilities, behavioral setbacks, and the ability to overcome these in the long term. Hubby also speaks Spanish so we have an instant connection there; his staff mostly speaks Spanish so we have a community connection with their families as well.

Haitian Child (Due Home TBA – Best Guess is Late 2016): Toddler aged so we won’t miss all of the small, cuddle time and early development stages; connection to Haitians in community; longest wait time; new language development for us; original plan.

So, why did I add “original plan” to the end of the Haitian consideration? Not because we are stuck in our ways, but to remind us of why we chose that path in the first place…

“Original Plan” Considerations:
– Help a young child out of a system that doesn’t offer foster care (Haitian adoption is only consideration of child from an orphanage)
– Add culture to our family by keeping birth country traditions and language alive in home
– Leave room for follow-up decision for family planning (no more kids, one more biological, or one more from a domestic or another international adoption)
– Experience as many parenting stages as possible

Finalization:

Domestic Infant: We decided pretty quickly this wasn’t the right plan for us at the moment. We feel a little crazy making that decision based on the ease of this potential situation, but our hearts just aren’t in it the same way they are overseas, so we have to follow our hearts. No Domestic Infant Adoption For Now.

Colombian Twins: This has proved to be a heartbreaking decision, much like having another miscarriage since we started to fall in love with these little ones, but – after three weeks of research, consideration, and attachment, we believe we have decided Not To Adopt The Colombian Twins. I am positive they will always be in our hearts and we will wonder about them all of our lives. However, my husband and I felt it was necessary to enter a situation with more positive growth potential since this situation offers many exhausting and scary unknowns. Our souls have expanded during this consideration and we realize now a lot of things are negotiable for us, but the bottom line is that we really want a higher probability to raise loving, well-adjusted kids than this situation will give us, especially because this consideration would take so many resources and options off the table for us. This makes us feel a little selfish because these are kids we are talking about, but – in the end – we feel we may have a more positive, influential relationship with a younger, adopted child who we can take out of an orphanage into a family environment.

Haitian Adoption: This one is still in the works. We are hoping our new friends may be able to find out more on our file – and possibly speed up the process for us – but, even if they cannot, this seems to be the most fitting option for us right now. The Colombians have showed us that we are ready for a lot of change; they have given us the gift of coming back to this Haitian process with a new-found confidence and excitement. We now feel so much more ready and equipped to take on one youngish child from another country since we were considering two, older, special-needs kiddos.

One of my favorite spiritual leaders, Richard Rohr, always says you learn the most through suffering. It might sound crazy since it was our choice, but I am truly sad we have decided not to adopt these beautiful twins. However, I feel I have already learned more about myself, my limits, and my passion because they briefly entered my life. I have become more open to a messy, unbridled type of love. I feel more sure about my capacities. And, for that, I will always silently thank them.

When in Costa Rica…Don’t Forget Your Colombian Massage

It was anniversary #8 and my sweet husband surprised me on vacation saying, “5:00 – massage at the villa. Enjoy!” I was already quite relaxed from spending days on a mountain top with sun, wild toucans and monkeys, and an infinity pool overlooking an oceanview…but I know when to just say thank you and enjoy a treat.

Echoed many times, life – and massages – are not always what you expect. At 40 minutes after 5:00, a tiny Colombian woman found her way down the short path from the clubhouse to our jungle villa. With the help of my husband translating, we quickly realized she spoke little to no English and I spoke little to no Spanish…and then he left us, a little reluctantly, to start our session.

Stumbling through our communication as we got started, she signals that she wants to set up her table on the front porch instead of inside the more private doors of the villa. She simply pulls the veil of the mosquito netting to surround the area while I pray that people will pass by on the path below on their way to dinner while I am still clothed.

The masseuse – I’ve decided to call her Gloria since I don’t actually remember her real name – gives me a Colombian hard candy and puts the smell of lavender under my nose and, when I nod in approval, she strokes the oil onto my nose, cheek, and other cheek with her index finger, while looking into my eyes. Then, she lights her incense. As I awkwardly bite down on my candy, listening to it crunch in the silence between languages, she offers yet another layer of aromas: cocoa or chocolate spray massage oil (I choose the cocoa as it was the less acute of the two smells).

Now it’s time to undress: down to my underwear, she motions, as is normal. Not ordinarily, she stays right where she is as I shed my dress and bra, tucking them politely into a corner of the patio couch, and pseudo-confidently take my place on the massage table, burying my embarrassment under the provided sheet. Just as I’m trying to get my shoulders to shrink away from my ears, she ruffles my hair and – after more ruffles and half-words between the two of us – I realize she is insisting on the necessity of a hair tie. I obey, get off the table and proceed inside the villa without a robe or a protective sheet, pleading that the glaring lights over the front porch do not give me away to those on their way to the clubhouse.

When I finally settle back into the massage table, hair securely on top of my head and face down, she begins. She kneads my back, my shoulders, and my neck. She contorts my limbs and laces my fingers with hers as she pulls me like her marionette. She rolls her arms down my body like a rolling pin, leaving ligaments and cartilage throbbing with pain and taking the breath out of me. Without hesitation, she yanks my underwear up to my hips, tucking it in my buttocks, and grabs and pounds the muscles, her skin on my skin. Replacing the sheet momentarily, Gloria takes her hand, aimed like a knife, and slides it between my lower cheeks. She locates a part of my tailbone no hands have ever touched, deep within the crevice of my buttocks, and rubs the bone in a circular motion with two fingers.

Gloria signals me to turn over after afflicting every part of my back side. She puts a cloth that smells like someone else’s sweat over my eyes which half keeps the bright lights above at bay and half nauseates me. Taking off the protective sheet that usually stays upright in massages while you lay on your back, she instead places it by my hips and lays a flimsy hand towel over my breasts. She kneads my stomach in a swirling motion, making suggestions I don’t understand when discovering different intestinal organs. Her cell phone rings and she quietly leaves my side to answer it five paces away, speaking her native language at an ordinary volume. After a 3 minute conversation, she returns to my side with no fanfare.

She grabs my ribs and reaches around and inside them. She takes one tiny hand and reaches between my breasts and under the hand towel, rubbing from my neck – passed my sternum – and down to my belly button in one swift, but repeated, motion. Gloria plays the piano on my face, rubs each molar outlining my jawline, and plucks-plucks-plucks at my eyelids with pinches of skin between her fingers. She massages my nose with such long strokes that I am anxiously deciding whether to keep holding my breath or succumb to open-mouthed breathing. She takes out the hair tie. She tousles my hair.

With my underwear still up around my hips and my hair wild, she communicates that we are all done. By this time, my husband has already wandered back into our villa, so I quickly dress in front of her and retrieve him to help close out the session. With no time to explain anything privately to my husband, he asks how it was and she beams with pride as I say how much more thorough it was then a typical American massage. He gives her a hefty tip and she packs up quickly and heads back to wherever she came from earlier tonight. I look at my husband with shock as I try to process and relay the details of the last hour of my life. If not a gift of relaxation, it was definitely a gift of amusement and life experience. As the saying goes…when in Costa Rica, do as the Costa Ricans do…and don’t forget your Colombian massage.