This morning Craig and I had our pre-referral call with our case manager. The purpose of this conversation, as one might imagine, was to prepare us for the call we’ve been waiting for over the past 22+ months – the call that tells us there is a child in Ethiopia ready to join our family. The Call.
We discussed the type of information we will receive about the child matched with us. We will receive a handful of papers, including a medical examination form (pretty basic information, most likely from only one examination), information obtained from an interview with the birth family (if any), child background information from the local government, and 1 or 2 photos. It is very unlikely that we will receive more than the most basic of information, but it should be enough for us to gain a simple understanding of the circumstances that led to the child being available for adoption. We discussed the fact that some of the information we receive may be upsetting or hard to process, which makes sense, since many things happen in the world that cause families to relinquish their children, and frankly, none of them are pleasant.
We also talked about the actual referral process. Our plan is that our case manager will call me, since I am usually reachable (and Craig pretty much works inside a black hole… and I’m only half-joking since he can’t take his cell phone inside his office, he works at three different desks, and he is only sometimes able to get online). I will then perhaps do happy dances or jump for joy or burst into tears (or probably all of the above) and then work like crazy to get a hold of Craig. When I do, he will most likely not be able to understand a word I have to say, but somehow, he will know that we got The Call and we will both head home immediately. Then we’ll receive and review an email with all of the above information in it. I can guarantee there will be hugs, tears, and a whole slew of emotions going on at our house. Heck, I get all emotional just thinking about it.
But this is where it gets tricky, because as much as we will want to shout out to the world that we’ve received a referral, we will instead be sending off the information we have to a physician who specializes in international adoption for review. It is a simple fact that almost all children adopted from Ethiopia are malnourished. The effects of malnutrition are varied, however, ranging from negligible to severe, and we will want the physician to advise us on what he or she thinks the potential health risks are for this particular child. The doctor may also identify other medical issues, too, and request additional information, which our agency would then need to pass along to the orphanage in Ethiopia. The process of review and then requesting additional information may take several days to complete.
While we do not expect to decline a referral, it is possible that we could learn information about the child’s health that would make us decide to do so. So we will not announce the referral until we are sure we are accepting it, probably not even to our closest family and friends. This might mean radio silence for a few days – and you can be sure that we’ll be pulling our hair out while waiting for news.
I should also put it out there now, while I’m thinking about it, that we are not allowed to post photos of our child (who will not actually be our child for several months) on the internet until we bring him or her home. I expect to hear major protests about this, but it’s just the way it is. Sorry!
Now, of course, the question I had to ask – which I knew I could not get a hard and fast answer to, but asked anyway – was, When is this going to happen? Our case manager said she thought we could receive a referral anywhere from a couple of weeks from now to several months from now. I was really excited to hear the “couple of weeks from now” part, because it means that I’m not totally making up how close we are! She said that she “would not be surprised” if she was calling us in just a couple of weeks, and she said she shared that because she wants us to be prepared. (She also made us promise not to hold it against her when a couple of weeks passes and we haven’t received The Call.) Now, of course, anything goes in this international adoption game, and for all we know, there won’t be another referral for a few months. But let’s just all focus on the couple of weeks option, though, okay?!