The toys are put away, the TV has been dusted, the dining room rug has been vacuumed. There is nothing left to do but check Facebook, glance at the clock, check email, glance at the clock. As the days counted down to hours and now to minutes, two words are strobing in my brain like a sign on the Las Vegas strip.
Round Two. Round Two. Round Two.
I am waiting for our caseworker to arrive. A different one this time, one who will help us not with becoming licensed foster parents but who will help update our homestudy to include matching adoption. This caseworker, we hope, will help us adopt a waiting child.
I am struck, for the second time, by the idea that there could be a child out in this world, right now, right this very second, who needs a family. I am struck by my desire to get to him or her before any more time goes by. Before they get any older or experience any more fear or sadness.
I had forgotten what that felt like, but there it is again. Whispered questions from deep within me: Where are you? Are you ok?
That’s how I know I am ready. The pull for the child now outweighs my own fear and anxiety about the obstacles ahead. The child welfare system is still just as worn down as when we left it back in March. No one swooped in within the past 10 months to wave a sparkly wand and create an efficient system that always, always puts the children’s best interests first. I accept the system for what it is: an incredibly flawed machine that is, mostly, run by people who truly care. People who wish so desperately for better equipment but are doing their best with what they’ve got.
I know what I am getting into this time, and I choose to see that knowledge as an asset. My rose-colored glasses have long since been tossed in the dumpster. But that doesn’t mean my hope has to go with them.
Today is the day where shit starts to get real. I know that from experience, too. Years from now, when we think back on our adoption journey, today will be the day we consider to mark the very beginning. It’s the day that we walk our caseworker into the guest bedroom, the bedroom that once was BlueJay’s and is now reserved for the third child we are meant to love and care for. We will watch for her smile, her nod, her approval.
Today, we dive in and start swimming. Round Two.