Today I wanted to give you a little play by play on what happens if a certain face pulls on your heartstrings in a special way. You see the faces every day, but sometimes one of those messes with you more than normal. A nagging. A curiosity. A gut feeling. You pray for a family for this little one. You wonder if you might be the one. You mention it to your skeptical hubby who finally caves and says he'll entertain the possibility of entertaining the possibility, but don't get your hopes. So what might come next? Inquiring is a very serious step. Let's explore that scenario.
STEP ONE: Google
Seriously, I said it. Most children are on the Waiting Child List because they are older than most families are willing to accept, or they have medical conditions that no one is willing to take on or no one has thought to take on. That was the case with Jude. On the WCL profile there were maybe two sentences about him. You can't really make much of a decision based on that. You'll have to inquire to learn more. BUT FIRST, if it's medical, google that. His conditions were 'brain atrophy' and 'very low muscle tone'. Well, brain atrophy was a bit menacing, but I looked it up. You're looking for something specific, though. Best case scenario and worst case scenario of each diagnosis. YOU will have to educate yourself as well as you can as fast as you can so you can make an intelligent guess based on what you're going to find in that file. So arm yourself with WebMD first.
STEP TWO: Call the agency
Listen carefully here. Before you call your family coordinator, DO NOT NOTIFY ANYONE ELSE THAT YOU ARE DOING THIS! People will weigh in and right now you don't need anyone's opinion or encouragement or discouragement besides your spouse's. This is a nugget of wisdom. If you find something in that file that is a deal-breaker (and that very well may be the case), you don't want to have to tell Facebook that. And you'll be mourning a bit too, so don't go there. Save it for the flip side.
REMEMBER: Referral pictures are notoriously awful. Keep that in mind. It's not a professional photoshoot. Look beyond the wrong gender clothes, the crossed eyes, and the sad face. Pray hard. This was Jude's WCL picture.
STEP THREE: REVIEW THE FILE
Most family coordinators are very professional and very understanding of the gravity of even asking about a particular child. I felt alot of pressure (on myself) but our family coordinator assured us and reassured us that asking about a child does not mean accepting a referral and to really feel the fit out. There was absolutely no judgement coming from her or persuasion. That was wonderful.
When we asked for his file, she held it so no one else could review it at the same time. We had a few weeks to make a decision. In the file were 20 pages or so, mostly medical. Every doctor's visit was explained and charts that showed his growth and development (or lack thereof). We were able to discuss any of his info and paperwork with doctors and medical professionals to help us decide on the severity of his conditions based on that paperwork. ***Most doctors are not going to help you out a ton. It's a bit of a liability assessing a patient they've never seen from across the globe who'se been examined by doctors they don't know. They're just going to give you a best guess maybe.*** BUT we were told that the shape of his head might indicate how much and where the brain damage had been done. So we asked our family coordinator and she emailed Ethiopia. A few hours later we saw these...
STEP FOUR: MAKE A DECISION
That made the decision for us. We knew from our research that his muscle tone could be extreme and he was six months old and had never lifted his head. But when we saw these pics we knew he was progressing. And when we saw his smiles for his nanny, we knew he could connect with people. That was good enough for us!
So I guess what I want to say is this: The three sentences you get aren't enough to make a decision. They are just there to create some curiosity. If one has captured your heart, inquiring will not hurt. It is simply allowing that child to present a case. It may be worse than you imagined and it's ok to say no (did you catch that?)! Or it might be better than you thought and totally change your life. But you'll never know if you never ask.