The Social Worker came, and what do you know: she didn't bite. Actually, had we been blessed by her presence during our initial homestudy a whopping three and a half years ago, that whole part of the process could have been a little less...ummmm...stressful.
It all went off without a hitch and we didn't feel like we'd just been judged on our parenting skills by the time the interview was over.
I received the report a few days later and after editing a few small areas, I neared the end. I had spent the last several minutes reliving our interview without so much as a second thought until I found myself stuck at the last line...
"The finalization of this adoption was clearly in the child's best interests."
The ache. It returned simultaneously with the lump in my throat.
I still struggle with that line. I think I always will. After our afternoon of good-byes at the orphanage, a small part of me will always feel some conflict at the wonder of this.
Quantitatively. Objectively. Yes. This is in the child's best interest. When chatting with an agency representative who has been in this line of work (and passion) for several years while in Ethiopia, we were told that there are approximately 7000 'new' orphans each year. About 5000 of them are adopted (internationally).
The math's pretty easy on that one.
Your heart may have just broken a little...mine did.
The stark reality of what we are accustomed to reading is close to home now.
Many, most, if not all of the remaining 2000 will end up on the streets. Yes, there are alternatives for some of them...but not all. 2000. Each year. And the famine's not going to end any time soon. My apologies if that statement is not full of hope or faith. I have hope and faith. I'm also aware of the gravity of the situation as it currently stands and while I believe that with (much) time we will see change, Rome wasn't built in a day and disasters don't happen, nor are they healed overnight.
And so, wherever these 2000 are...it is not in their best interest - objectively speaking.
They are however, surrounded by and living within their culture. They know (possibly) of some family tradition or at least tradition deeply rooted in their country. It's likely they have an aunt or uncle, cousin or friend-like-a-sibling with whom they can relate. Subjectively this could be in their best interest.
Yet, when I see Makeda's eyes light up when she is spoken to in Amharic (a huge blessing from our move here) or when I try to fumble my way through "Ameseginalehu", I have to truly wonder if this is in her best interest in every way, shape, and form. And, as I see the twinkle in her eyes sparkle just a wee bit brighter I am motivated to immerse our family in her culture. To try hard. To work better. To want more. For her.
The finalization of this adoption is in her best interest, but we are really going to have to work to make sure that it's in her best interest as she grows up. And, as she realizes the culture she left behind. And as she asks about her heritage. And as she notices that her skin is brown and her brothers' skin is not and when she asks why. When it comes to food, water, and shelter this adoption is in her best interest. Yet when it comes to tradition and the phenomena on which we cannot put a price tag, we will truly need to ache for her and seek for her and celebrate with her, all those things which make her...her.