The Peru Adoption Inquiry Logbook´s Newest Entry
In a dark, musty little office of one, Edwin and I spent about 40 minutes yesterday talking to a gentleman from Peru´s adoption services agency. Vanessa waited in the car for us. The good news we found is that the process for foreigners wishing to adopt Peruvian children has become substantially simpler in recent years. In the past, I would have been required to actually live in Peru for six months, with the adoptive child living with me for at least four of those months with frequent visits from social services. Today, however, that is not required.The only limitation on me as a single parent would be the age of the child. I could only adopt a child of at least nine years old, which is fine because the two girls I expressed interest in are — or will be — nine by the end of the year. I also learned that of the girls at Atna, only two have been cleared by the courts for adoption — the two oldest girls. The other girls all have family of some sort, but have been placed at Atna by the courts due to issues in the home (neglect, abuse, alcoholism, etc.) or by the parents themselves due to their inability (or, more often, unwillingness) to care for their children. In these cases, the path to adoption would include a special appeal to the courts or the families. Before we left, I signed the register of adoption inquiries that officially expresses my interest in adopting a child from Peru. Edwin has offered to serve as my agent in reaching out to the families of the two girls I discussed with him when the time comes. First, I must complete some paperwork for the agency of Peru, while also completing the process in the U.S. to establish myself as a fit parent. For now, I have followed this path — here — as far as I can. But what I have learned in the last days from my friends about their support and desire to help in any way they can has been so very touching. Edwin´s boundless willingness to help me has been superhuman. And friends at home have been so loving toward me and the spirit of my intent. It´s meant everything.
After our time at the adoption agency, Edwin and Vanessa took me to Vanessa´s family´s coffee plant for a tour. Vanessa´s parents were there, and are among the most distinguished and noble looking people I´ve ever been around. They were expressive and gracious, and went out of their way to mention how much the previous day´s visit to Anta had made an impression on Vanessa. They shared how she talked at length about her experience and how happy it made her.Vanessa took me around to show me the coffee processing operation. Her family´s factory receives the beans directly from the farms. The beans then go through a process of rating and sorting the beans based on their type and quality before them selling them to the companies that roast and bag the beans for sale. At the factory, they have a small roasting machine that they use for their own consumption and for friends. Vanessa´s mother brought me four bags of the finest smelling coffee with special instructions on how to make the best brew. Afterwards, Edwin took me back to my hotel and I spent the rest of the day strolling the streets of Cusco before heading to my overnight bus to Arequipa. I said my goodbyes to Vanessa when Edwin picked me up to take me to the bus station. Both my goodbye to Vanessa and then Edwin at the bus station were not particularly sad, because I feel there are parts of this story that have yet to be written that include these two people remaining close and special friends of mine for the rest of my life. True friends never have to say “goodbye.”
I know there are many reading my entries for whom the vagueness and casualness of my references to adopting may have been surprising, but my wish is to walk through this with special care and intent. I have thought about adoption before now, but more in an abstract way. This experience has been different — a small flame fanned by the tiny weathered hands of little girls waving and calling my name. I´ve never had the idea of adoption take the form of “I want these children.” Such an experience has elevated the idea. So, to what some may see as impulse and haste is really more like something being born in the midst of a beautiful and unique circumstance.
There can be many hurdles in the adoption process, so I have tried to balance the known challenges of foreign adoptions with the honesty and purity of my heart´s desire. This is, itself, an incredible challenge. How does one open the heart wide enough for such a wish, while simultaneously fending off such pety measures as process and paperwork. It´s a cruel reality, and I don´t pretend to like it. In fact, I openly resent it.
My imagination and heart´s desires sometimes run wild, and I can say that throughout my life that is one of the attributes I love most about myself. It does, of course, come with inevitable disappointments. But it also comes with the feeling that I am squarely occupying my life, and not dumbing-down my life experience due to fear of the unknown or practical inconveniences…and I like that. I don´t pretend to believe myself to be so big or so significant that I have the luxury of dismissing the magic in life just because it might appear too ambitious or the answer key is incomplete. There is a difference between living wrecklessly, and living freely and openly. It´s the only way I know to feel awake.
Make no mistake, I see nothing novel in the idea of adopting from a foreign country and setting about the incredible challenge of being a single parent. I realize that, alone, entails a great deal. Add to that the special requirements of helping a child assimilate into a new country, and what my heart is asking for is something profound and massive. I would expect no less from it, though. It has such a history.
What I know about this experience is more important than what I don´t know. I don´t know if it will be possible to adopt the girls. But I do know that it is in my heart to do so. That´s an incredible discovery, and I know that if the practical matters don´t work out I can still play a role in their lives to help make their world more beautiful. That, too, is an incredible discovery.
I so wish I could speak to them, and share with them the path I´m venturing on for them. I wish I could let them know. Maybe, if I could share with them where I am settled — just now — in the center of my life, it would be this:
I want to tell you about the birth of your father…
I have crawled through caves, climbed mountains, swam the seas, navigated the skies and fought through forests to create safe passage for the surprise that became you.
You can know that I will always be ready to clear away the thorny paths that lie before you; or if you need me to, I can stand by — just loving you — as you suffer the wounds that we all need to shape us. But you´ll never have a scratch too small to kiss away the sting, or a problem too big for the both of us to conquer.
My shoulders are broad enough for you to stand protected safely behind, or to be carried upon. But your place will always be at my side. And you´ll always have my trust to lead the way.
I have tested the bounds of my own heart so as to prepare a place there big enough for you. You made me realize its space.
Come stand beside me now and help me cast these words to the stars, and then let´s wish together for them to turn into galaxies and comets and moonbeams under whose light we´ll read them aloud and embellish them with stories from your beautiful day.
I heard in your songs and witnessed in the kindness of your smiles that distance is too small, and time too fleeting, to keep my love from your lives or yours from mine.
Look at all that you´ve taught me, already.
See how big you are.
See what love does…
I rest, now, here with all of it squarely in the center of my life to be just exactly as it is right this moment. Unanswered. Yet unambiguous.
But I really do want to know what happens…
On the bus ride last night, I had time and space to contemplate and assimilate all of my experiences in the Sacred Valley — not the least of which involved the girls.