I say in many ways it is easier. Words like "dossier" and "apostille" are not big, scary words any more. This time, I'm not afraid to walk in the summit county jail to get fingerprinted. I know right where to go and what to do. The paperwork (though still massive) is not as overwhelming.
I'm on a first name basis with the summit county clerk of courts as well as the woman who works at our local post office. In fact, she remembers me from the last adoption and I remember her. We exchange pictures and stories of our children as she helps me figure out how send documents that need to go to to Cleveland, then to Columbus, and back again to Akron. I know these things can be done because we've done it before.
My expectations this time around are more balanced. I'm not in a hurry to pick out paint colors for a nursery. I don't have a grand expectation that we'll get a referral by Christmas. I know the timeline on documents now and know that not everything needs to be rushed. My expectations are set for the long haul.
Our first adoption took much longer than we were originally told. Those long months of waiting were excruciating, but as I look back, I cannot begin to imagine it being any different. If we had gotten a quicker referral, it would not have been Dima. And I am absolutely convinced Dima was made to be our child. The waiting this time around is still going to be frustrating at times, but I know it can be done because we've done it before.
But, here's what else I have done before, I have walked the halls of a Russian orphanage.
I have seen the faces of children that will forever be etched in my memory.
I have held my son for 4 days, then had to say goodbye for 4 months.
The first time around, I didn't know what these experiences would be like. I didn't know what incredible joy I would feel when I got to hold my son in my arms and see his first smile.
I didn't know what incredible pain I would feel when that final knock on the door came, and I had to watch my son get taken back to his reality, while I sat on the floor of a quiet room experiencing the shock of goodbye.
Since I've experienced these things I now have a context to draw from. This makes things MUCH HARDER the second time around.
I believe that my daughter is born already, based on the timeline of our adoption process. And so this time around, I grieve now for the time I am missing out on now with my little girl. I close my eyes and see the inside of the orphanage. I smell the food and wonder, "is anyone feeding her? or is she doing it herself?"
I close my eyes and see the bathroom and wonder, "Is anyone doing a happy dance for her when she goes in the potty?"
I close my eyes and see the beds lined up and wonder, "is anyone singing to her? Who sleeps beside her? Do the kids comfort each other through the night when they get scared?"
I have seen the inside of an orphanage before, and though Dima's caretakers truly worked hard to provide the best possible situation for him and the other children, nothing can replace a family.
So, this second time around the day to day busyness of the adoption process does not bring me to the frustration points that it brought me to the first time. I am expecting to do and redo paperwork. I am expecting countless fingerprinting, medical appointments, and countless trips to the post office.
Then there are the nights where my heart feels like it might shatter over the thought of this little girl who God has chosen to be our daughter. I wonder what she is doing and who is loving her. In those moments, I am reminded of a God whose love transcends borders and oceans; a God whose love for children, especially orphans, is stronger than mine; a God who can take the longing prayers of a mother's heart and work in the life of her daughter - no matter how far away she is.
And one other thing I remember...we cannot do this on our own! So thank you for asking us questions about our adoption. Thank you for caring about us. Thank you for joining us in our journey. We need your prayers, your encouragement, and your support.
Until next Monday, love, Kate, Steve and Dima.