When you’re looking to start a long journey from Point A to Point B, one of the first questions is how you’re going to get there. Do you drive or do you fly?
Driving is the more familiar option. It's likely you already drive almost everyday. You get to be in your own vehicle with your favorite cds in the changer. You are familiar with the people in the car with you. You are behind the wheel and can take a small detour here or drive a little out of your way there to eat at a restaurant you like. It might take a longer, but you’ll save money if you don’t fly.
Driving is like expanding your family in the “traditional" sense. The drive will take 9 months, but you’re behind the wheel, for the most part.
Flying is great, too, but it’s a different way to travel. Like adoption, it may take you less time to get there (we know people who finished the whole process in less than 6 months). And, like adoption, it will probably cost a bit more.
When you fly, you need to get to the airport in time to go through security. Show your ID, take off your shoes, walk through the metal detector, and no liquids over 3 oz. This is like your home study. You face the scrutiny of a background check on your criminal record, financial history, assets, debts, etc. A social worker comes to your house to make sure it is safe. Do you have fire extinguishers and CO2 detectors? You go through fingerprinting and a mountain of paperwork. That isn’t a complaint. Safety in air travel and adoption are important.
Then you make it to your seat. You might be sitting next to someone you never met. And you might be shoulder to shoulder with this stranger. The bond you share is that you’re trying to get to the same place. This is like the adoption network you build when you’re adopting. We’ve become friends with so many people who are going through the same process we are, and it has been such a comfort to share our successes and setbacks with a group who knows what you're going through. Our friends who aren’t familiar with adoption were happy for us when we completed our home study. But the people in our adoption network were really excited for us, because they were going through it, too, or had just finished it themselves. So they had that extra understanding of what a large milestone it was.
You made it through security and onto the plane, so you buckle your seatbelt and sit through the safety instructions. Then you start moving. But it isn’t you behind the wheel. You hope the pilot is good. That they are prepared for bad weather or whatever may come along. You’re reassured when the captain comes on the overhead speakers to tell you you’ll be landing soon, and you hope they land you smoothly. This is like being matched with a birth mother. You hope she is taking care of herself and making good choices, but you aren’t there with her every day. We feel good about things when we communicate via text or phone, but we know she’s hundreds of miles away. And we know that she can change her mind any time before her signature lands on the page.
And sometimes you can't get a direct flight. You land somewhere you don't hope to stay. You sit in a crowd and wait for the flight that's going to land at your destination. This is like our failed match. It wasn't where we hoped to be, and we couldn't wait to move on. Unfortunately, as we've come to find out in our adoption network, failed matches are about as common as layovers. But it is just a matter of waiting for your correct plane to land. In the end, you may have just needed that "connecting flight" to get you to the right place.
Flying and driving are both good ways to go from Point A to Point B. Either way can get you there and everyone makes their own choices about the best way to make that journey. Fortunately, arriving at the destination is equally enjoyable no matter how you get there, and will give you a lifetime of memories. Just remember to take lots of pictures!