Tag Archives: Dominica

Adoption Update: Oh, the Suspense!

This is a re-post from our Dominica Blog:

Okay, life absolutely got away from us, and the Dynamic Davidson Duo simply couldn’t keep up with the blog, but we’re back with a vengeance!  If any of you remember, we had begun a series to recount the story of our adoption process, and we really want to continue that story (because it’s truly amazing and we want to share the amazing-ness of adoption with you).   Also, your writer has switched:  Nic’s still got too much on his plate, so little old Jacelyn will continue the saga with you!

Chapter I: 

  • We spent 7 months making inquiries and phone calls just to figure out how adoption worked in Dominica.  We finally got the right contacts and learned that we needed to identify a child in need of adoption on our own.

Chapter II:

  • Nic walked into a coffee shop and heard the words, “I found kids for you!”  Two days later we met two women in need of a home for their children.

Chapter III begins the next morning:

In a matter of 3 hours, the 2 mothers that we had met only the evening prior called and confirmed that they would like to move forward with the adoption.  One was the mother of two girls, ages 4 and 6.  The other woman needed us to adopt her 13-month-old little boy, named Jonathan.  Naturally, we were ecstatic!  Finally, after 7 months of searching (not to mention 11 years of waiting for the right time) we had at last found children that were in need of a home.  I had that intense excited feeling in my stomach and it was a little hard to catch my breath.  In all our years of talking about it, we had never come this close to the reality of adoption.  But . . . the very next moment we realized, “Wait a minute, TWO opportunities just opened up simultaneously.  Do we actually have to choose between these children?!”  When this reality hit us, we looked at each other with wide eyes and a look that can really only be described as “I have absolutely no idea what to do”.  It’s something like this.  We received these phone calls on a Friday, and told both mothers that we would contact them on Monday.

All weekend our heads were swimming with both wild excitement and bewildered uncertainty.  As mentioned in Chapter II, we’ve long wanted to adopt older siblings.  The sisters seemed to be the natural choice and our preference definitely leaned in that direction.  Still, we knew that diving into the parenting of 2 older children would be extremely difficult, and we feared we weren’t up to the challenge.  Faced with such an intense decision, we knew it was time to call in the experts.  We needed first-hand advice.  So, we contacted 3 families that have adopted older children.  Naturally, we asked them about their adoption experience, but our main reason for contacting them was to ask the question that laid heavy on our minds:  Were Nic and I, who have never had children, absolutely kidding ourselves?  Could we actually handle it?  Weren’t we ridiculous for wanting our first venture into parenthood to be caring for two, older girls who had suffered neglect and witnessed abuse?  We cringed as we waited for their responses.  We imagined they would tell us to let the girls be adopted by more experienced parents, we shouldn’t dive in so deep, we’d be better off going after an easier case . . .

. . . But would you believe that we were met with the exact opposite?  Each of the families, with their first hand expertise, actually encouraged us!  They said that if we had any desire to adopt older children, we should absolutely move forward.  I was not expecting their words of confidence and hope.  A family that adopted two brothers, ages 2 and 4, told us, “It’s weird, but our transition with them, and becoming first time parents, was actually really easy.  They adjusted to us so well.”  Another mom’s thoughts: “Really, 4 and 6 isn’t that old.  You don’t need to hesitate to say YES to the girls.”  We also received meaningful encouragement from a teenager who was himself adopted at the age of 8.

Now, as a woman who loves adoption, I HAVE to point this out: for any of you who have ever felt the tug to adopt an older child, those words of adoption-encouragement are for YOU too!  The parents we spoke with weren’t simply saying that Nic and I, in particular, could handle the adoption of an older child; they were also giving testimony to the fact that adopting non-infants is a great choice and that it does work out.  There is a pervasive fear, and even negativity, about the adoption of older children.  But, in this moment, I hope you’ll consider the opposite perspective.  Here are three families who have experienced the adoption of an older child, and they absolutely recommend it.  I hope this can simply soften our hearts to the idea and wash away a bit of that fear.  For, you never know; someday you may be needed to encourage a friend who is considering adoption, or perhaps you will ponder the possibility just a bit longer the next time the idea of adoption crosses your mind . . . And, if you’re still not convinced that the adoption of an older child could be a good idea, let Disney convince you.  I recently watched “Meet the Robinsons”, and I’m simply in love with that movie.  It shows so well the beauty of adoption.

Okay, back to our story:  Because we were already leaning toward pursuing the adoption of the sisters, once we received insightful encouragement from adoptive families, we were almost positive that this was the route we should take—almost.  Why weren’t we 100% certain?  Because there was a little boy named Jonathan that we simply couldn’t get out of our heads.  We snapped this picture of him the day we met, and we couldn’t stop looking at it.

Li'l Jonathan

Just when we were certain that we should adopt the sisters, one of us would say, “But what about little Jonathan?”  I, particularly, couldn’t stop thinking about the dear little boy because I had held him in my arms during our brief meeting.  I mean, just think of how hard it is to turn down an adorable puppy once you’ve cuddled with the little ball of fur.  This was obviously a thousand times more powerful.

So, it turns out that we spent the entire weekend with that same “I-have-absolutely-no-idea-what-to-do” look on our faces.  This time it looked a bit more likethis.  We simply couldn’t make a decision, and Monday morning was quickly approaching.  Instead, we made two tiny decisions.  First, we scheduled the necessary appointment with the social worker for later in the week, not knowing which mom would be attending that meeting with us.  Second, we decided to call the mother of the sisters first to see if she was willing to attend.  We would see how that first conversation turned out, and then proceed from there.

The time for us to call the two mothers arrived.  With excitement, fear, anticipation, and a bit of panic, Nic called the mother of the two young girls.  A male voice answered the phone . . .

If you pray, when you pray, pray for us.

On to the next thing…

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“Adopting a Better Attitude” or “Embassy Sweets”

I love being let down.  I’ve started relishing the realization that I have to relinquish what I thought a given outcome would look and feel like and embrace what it really is.  After years of “casting visions” and soft-lighting all things future, and the subsequent deflation when nothing measured up to my expectations, I began to notice that, if I got past my disappointment, the reality of the situation was actually better and far deeper than what I’d originally planned.

For instance, for as long as I can remember, I’ve talked about martyrdom.  Jim Elliot was my hero.  I loved being the guy preaching about the virtue of self-sacrifice.  In my mind, it had a gloss to it, a fine veneer that made it appealing.  The idea of being a “mini martyr” in your everyday life sounded ultra-spiritual, magical, and deep.  Oh, the hubris of the young.  “When I was a child, I spoke as a child…”  It turns out that suffering and self-sacrifice really end up taking a lot out of you–everything, actually!  Who knew, right?  I guess that’s why the rest of the quote goes, “…but when I became a man, I put away childish things”.

No matter how inspirational I thought it would be to die to self, when it really came down to it, I don’t think I had truly considered that that meant I actually had to die, and death is never pretty or comfy.  Initially, when I was suddenly faced with putting someone else’s needs over my own desires, actually “willing the good of the other”, the photoshop was stripped away and I’d find myself thinking, “I didn’t sign up for this.”  But, as life played out, and I realized that on the other side of the pain was purity, after the Cross was the empty tomb, life took on a much more exciting tone.

Whether it was finding that marriage really is “where bad people go to die” (Fr. Mike Schmitz) or discovering that I was a first-class heretic, the underlying truth and reality was always a worthwhile trade-off.  The false, self-centered view of the fulfillment that marriage would bring me was piffle compared to the actuality of what it means to place my all, my hopes, dreams, and body in the custody of my wife and give myself up for her.  And, in my opinion, the tempest of autonomy that Sola Scriptura and Sola Fide bring about are on par with an 18-month-old taking the wheel of an 18-wheeler, when compared to the joy of coming home to the permanence and security of the Church.

Get it?

Which brings me to the title and purpose of this article.  Even before we married, my wife and I knew we would adopt siblings internationally.  We’ve always been vocal about our desires to adopt older siblings, specifically because they were of the least adopted demographic.  “Leave the infants to the others,” we said, “We’ll take the ‘least of these'”.  For the first ten years of our marriage, that was the extent of it for us–talk.  It never seemed like the right time, regardless of whether we were at home or abroad.

Then, we moved to the Caribbean island of Dominica (pronounced da-mi-KNEE-ka) so that my wife could attend medical school. Prior to moving, we had zero inclination that we would adopt; however, about two months after we arrived, we both began to feel like we should at least look into the process here on Dominica.  As we followed the tug on our hearts to investigate adoption, we felt that familiar surge of excitement, the one that says you’re about to do something adventurous and inspiring.  In my mind, the wide camera shot had slowly zoomed in on my wife and me as we spent moments in fervent prayer, our hearts alive with expectation of children who would twirl into our arms with abandon, their mouths filled with well-articulated gratitude.  “When I was a child…”

Not that there hasn’t been quite a bit of that so far, but we are quickly discovering the beautiful and exhausting fact that there is no gloss to real life.  Nor should there be.  On the other side of the supposedly-inspiring “Guess what Nic and Jacelyn are doing???” is sleep deprivation, needless trips to the capital city, personality conflicts, paperwork hang-ups, unforeseen delays, sleep deprivation, thousands of dollars, hours of phone calls, stonewalling by embassies, and lack of sleep.  What sounds spiritual and refreshing turns out to be physically depleting.  What you’d hoped would be a corny made-for-T.V. movie (or at least an after-school special) turns out to be more like a 5-hour jr. high production of War and Peace, starring no one you know.

The gorgeous and illuminating part about it, though, is that I would honestly have it no other way.  Not only is it a nice way to try to enter into the perseverance and pain of childbearing and childbirth (with the man getting to bear a some of the load in this case), but it is also a great way to strip away the misconceptions and delusions we’d had about what adoption actually is.

This is where it all hits home.  Paragraph 1129 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “The fruit of the sacramental life is that the Spirit of adoption makes the faithful partakers in the divine nature by uniting them in a living union with the only Son, the Savior.”  It is an unfathomable, humbling, and precious fact that, as Christians, we were adopted into the actual family of God and that nothing can “separate us from the love of God” (Rom 8:39).  However, lest we be tempted to gloss that fact over with a sheen of ease and comfort, paragraph 1129 reminds us that it is the “sacramental life” that brings about participation in the divine nature, and the sacraments exist because of our sin and His suffering on the cross.

Essentially, the need for adoption exists because we’d first sinned and left the divine life, and the option of adoption was made possible once again by Jesus’ willingness to say, “Still, not my will, but yours be done.” (Lk 22:42)  Since being adopted into God’s family, I’ve caused many sleepless nights, many unforeseen delays, and done my share of stonewalling on the road to purity and completion, but my Family has not failed or deserted me.  My brothers and sisters have not disowned me.  My Father and Brother have continued saving me.

I love being let down.  I enjoy finding out where I’ve been wrong.  By being open to my own errors, I’ve found a depth and peace in marriage that I never imagined was possible, an anchor in the Catholic Church, and a deeper understanding of my adoption into God’s family.  May all the saints and angels pray that we be open to smudges in the veneer, because, as far as I can tell, when we allow ourselves to be let down and humbled, we find out about true exaltation. (Lk 14:11)

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