The sudden decision to adopt left my head spinning. For the entire week after I first broached the subject with David, all I could think about was his softly whispered “yes”. It was so amazing… so easy! The right partner—that’s what it took! Perhaps our ages wouldn’t matter, but that was yet to be discovered. I was exactly 45 years older than the 5-year-old girl who had stolen my heart, but David was much older. Would that get in the way? Perhaps if it did, we could choose one of the older children. There were literally hundreds available in Bulgarian orphanages, and thousands more if we considered children in other countries. But I wanted that girl—the tiny one with the almost-shaved head of brown hair and shy smile. Excitement turned to worry.
The Utah adoption agency returned my call. Our discussion revealed that David’s age might not be a factor, but the first of many steps would be getting approval from the agency itself. We immediately made flight arrangements to Salt Lake City from Anchorage.
I remember holding David’s hand more than usual during that trip. Hearing that age wouldn’t get in our way was a relief, but I was concerned about other steps the caseworker mentioned on the phone: We would encounter a home study, dealings with the INS, gathering every possible official document from our lives (birth and marriage certificates, divorce decrees, etc.) background checks, two trips to Bulgaria and frequent contact with the Bulgarian attorney, our liaison with the government in Sofia, Bulgaria. These were among the things that would dominate our minds and time for many months. And of course, adoption requires a great deal of money.
At the agency, we met with the director. Her patience and expertise were comforting as she explained the process of approval. We filled out forms, but mostly, we talked. “Why are you considering adoption?” she asked us. David, always the quiet one, deferred to me.
“I’ve always wanted to adopt from the time I was a teenager. My first husband and I had two children who are now grown. He did not want to adopt, and it turned out, it’s best that we didn’t because of the eventual divorce. But the desire didn’t go away, and since marrying David… we are just so happy! When I heard my brother and his wife are adopting a boy through your agency, wanting another child came back so strongly. I thought how wonderful it would be to raise a child with a kind, loving man, unlike my former husband. This time it could be a real partnership. I wanted to experience parenting with someone who truly loves children. And I saw the photo on your website of the little girl in Bulgaria….”
“Fiides,” she said.
“What?” I asked, a bit startled.
“Her name is Fiides.”
I felt tears. “Fiides”, I repeated. David squeezed my hand.
“Yes,” she smiled.
“So we looked at her photo… Fiides, and we both fell in love with her. Is that strange?”
“Not at all,” she replied. “We find it’s best to travel with one child in mind. It’s very difficult emotionally to choose after you get there. There are many, many children who need and want a family.”
“Do you know much about her?” David asked.
“We know what we hear through the Bulgarian attorney. She’s a caring young woman who has dedicated herself to finding homes for orphans. Her name is Milana. We know Fiides’ date of birth, the color of her hair, and that she appears to be healthy, although very small. She has one crossed eye, which is very common among the orphans. Usually that can be fixed with laser surgery once they get home A couple that recently visited the orphanage was interested in Fiides, but they chose a boy instead.”
Anxiety hit. I hadn’t thought of that; there are other families who might want her! “Is there anyone besides us interested in her now?” I asked.
“Not from this agency. But of course, Milana works with other agencies as well” she answered.
“How long will it take us to get approved?” David asked, squeezing my hand.
“We’ll be able to tell you in a few hours, but I think things look very good. Why don’t you two go out for lunch and come back around 2:00?” she smiled.
David and I looked at each other across the roof of the car as we each opened our doors. He winked and grinned. We drove in silence to the first restaurant we saw. At the table, he asked, “Do you think we can afford the adoption fee and all the travel expenses?”
“Yes, I think so.” Things were going well at my work, even though David’s business was struggling.
In two months, David and I boarded another airplane in Anchorage; this time it was bound for New York, then London, and then Sofia, Bulgaria.
Stacey A. Lundgren is a speaker and coach, presenter of education programs, and author of the acclaimed book on kindness True Bucketfilling Stories: Legacies of Love, and writes the Life Coach column for Troy Media as well as this column for iguidenetwork.