She could see her little girl so clearly: shoulder length, curly, dark brown hair, brown eyes, and a smile that could light up a room. She was running to her, her little arms outstretched for the warmest embrace. The sunlight behind her kissed her exposed arms as she flew across the grass.
Finally, she was hers. This was the daughter she had waited for.
Then, she woke up. And she woke to an empty home. There was no pitter-patter sound of little feet. No squeals of delight or giggles.
In fact, there was no sign of a child ever having been there.
The bedroom she set up for her little girl was in pristine condition, waiting for the arrival of its new tenant.
The brown, stuffed teddy bear with a pink bow around its neck sat in the corner, longing to be hugged. All the pillows were perfectly arranged on the bed, showing various shades of pink.
She was ready for her. Would she ever come?
Many hopeful parents long for the day when they will be able to welcome a new child to their home. This can happen in many different ways.
Some families grow with biological reproduction. Other families achieve their dreams by completing their family through adoption.
The process of adoption takes months to complete. During that time, there are various documents that need to be submitted and verified in order for a child to legally become part of a family.
There are variants to consider as well such as whether the adoptive parents will choose the route of domestic or international adoption for their family. Rules and laws change from state to state as well as between countries.
There is no fast track to adoption, unless the adoption is taking place during a pandemic—like the Mosiers.
The Mosiers’ Story
During a pandemic, adoptions are not what they usually are. Seth and Meg Mosier shared their story and journey to finalizing their daughter’s adoption from India with The New York Times.
In the final moments before the whole world shut down, with countries closing their borders and flights canceling, the Mosiers did the impossible and finalized an adoption in a matter of two days—a process that should have taken a minimum of one week.
Due to the pandemic, professionals from the United States and India rushed to get the Mosiers’ paperwork completed.
Time was of the essence. The Mosiers had mere hours before they would miss their chance to go back home to the United States with their daughter, Selvi.
In an anxiety-riddled trip to complete their family, the Mosiers struggled to maintain their calm, bond with their new daughter, and flee a country all at the same time. This effort was not without its hurdles along the way.
As if the emotional separation of 2-year-old Selvi from her caregiver whom she had known her whole life wasn’t stressful enough, now the Mosiers faced being stuck in a country that was unfamiliar to them.
The adoption was quickly finalized and all seemed to be going right for them in those final moments before boarding their flight.
As they attempted to board their plane for the journey home, it was discovered an important exit stamp was missing from the adoption paperwork required for Selvi to leave the country.
Their worst fear finally caught up with them. They were not allowed to board their plane, and no future flights out were being scheduled. They were stuck in India.
Instead of going home, the Mosiers sought shelter in a hotel that seemed abandoned since the majority of guests had left due to the pandemic. They made the best of their circumstances and used the time to bond with their new daughter.
After days in the hotel and sending requests to the United States Embassy for assistance, the Mosiers were notified that a flight meant for Latter-day Saint missionaries had open space on their plane. They had transportation home.
There have been many quarantine measures put in place across the United States. Some states have been put on a shelter in place or lockdown order. For the Mosiers, their home state was put on lockdown. This meant that they could not introduce their new daughter to friends and family at the time.
In the long run, this lockdown was a silver lining for them as they were able to bond and connect with Selvi more intimately. They learned her likes, dislikes, and introduced her slowly into a home she could feel safe in.
The Effects of a Pandemic
During the pandemic, there have been many situations in which people have felt out of place due to uncertainty. While some have focused on the loss of normalcy, others have faced discouragement with adoption interruptions.
In general, an adoption process can take months to complete. There are many steps in place to determine the eligibility of an adoptive parent and to match that parent(s) with the right adoptive child.
Throughout the adoption process, there are many legal documentations that need to be submitted, fees that need to be paid, and an in-depth review of the adoptive parent(s) and their lifestyle to be conducted.
Not every adoption goes smoothly either. There may be times when adoptive parents face the fact that their adoption isn’t going to happen as soon as they thought because of various factors.
Once an adoption is complete, a breath of fresh air fills the lungs of a new family. The moment everyone has been looking forward to has finally arrived.
However, this outcome is not so easily attainable during a pandemic.
In fact, nothing is easy right now. There is uncertainty, doubt, and negative emotions that came with this pandemic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the coronavirus first hit the United States in February 2020. A short time later in mid-March, all 50 states had reported cases. This was the beginning of what is now known as a global pandemic.
Not too long following the virus’s spread to the United States, many states began issuing orders for citizens to stay indoors. Airlines also began canceling routes, employees were ordered to work from home, schools shut down, businesses closed their doors, and the world came to a standstill.
This has brought a new meaning to life as citizens shifted their normalcy to something they had never experienced before seemingly overnight.
While the pandemic has halted the economy of the United States, it has also halted the lives of its citizens in ways many did not consider.
The Parkers’ Story
It has been particularly difficult on families who were so close to the finish line in their adoption process. David and Michaela Parker were looking forward to the finalized adoption of twin baby girls when the pandemic hit. In an interview with National Public Radio, the Parkers shared their story.
In August 2018, they received custody of the twin girls while they were living in northern Central Africa. Finally, they received the green light to go ahead and apply for adoption visas for the twins in January 2020.
Unfortunately, their celebration of this milestone was short-lived. The pandemic hit shortly after, which meant they could not travel back to the United States as a family due to the twins not being United States citizens.
Due to the nature of their relationship with the twin girls, the Parkers felt they could not just leave the twins behind. The girls were part of their family. Instead, they continue to wait in Africa until their entire family can go home together.
Adopting During a Pandemic
These are unprecedented times. The Mosiers and the Parkers are among several families throughout the world who have had their adoption process derailed due to the pandemic.
At a time when families should be celebrating their growth and joy, many are feeling lost, confused, and frustrated.
Michelle Bernier-Toth, the State Department’s special adviser for children’s issues, told National Public Radio, “where conditions allow, adoption visas are still being processed.”
She continued to share, “But these are on a case-by-case basis with constraints due to the pandemic—such as restricted travel and closed government agencies in other countries—making it difficult to move many cases ahead.”
Some families have gone the route of applying for humanitarian parole through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In a nutshell, humanitarian parole allows noncitizens to enter the United States temporarily due to an emergency. However, this is only a temporary fix and is not always a guarantee of a successful outcome.
Adoption, in general, can come with a sense of loss of control. There are factors that play into an adoption application that cannot be skipped.
Many of the steps require the adoptive parents to submit document after document and then sit back to wait for the next directive.
International adoptions also come with many unknown factors such as the following: not knowing the child’s medical history, spontaneous trips to the child’s home country, timelines of the government of the country a child is being adopted from, and never being able to locate the child’s birth family.
The uncertainties surrounding an international adoption, in addition to the uncertainties of a global pandemic, can be overwhelming for hopeful adoptive parents.
The world is currently operating in a nontraditional manner. This means everyone is learning how to move forward without having any examples or prior experiences to guide them. That being said, there are oftentimes no answers for those seeking clarification to their international adoption process questions during the pandemic.
Despite the pandemic days looming over international adoptions, some families are still able to find their magical family moments in nontraditional ways.
From Arkansas, Kimberly Wieneke and her husband shared their finalized adoption story on CNN, sharing the happy news of growing their family through adoption.
While many court proceedings have been canceled, postponed indefinitely, or deemed nonessential during this pandemic, the Wieneke family found their way to the legalized adoption of their son through a Zoom video call.
This was a happy day for the Wieneke family. However, it was also a bittersweet day of grieving the special adoption day plans they had and all the pictures they wouldn’t be able to get.
“Sometimes it feels like not real, I mean we sit and look at him and we’re like ‘He’s ours.’…But it’s like, we didn’t get that experience,” Kimberly shared.
The pandemic has shifted the way the world conducts business and how citizens live their lives. Moreover, it has impacted hopeful families emotionally as they learn the new ways of proceeding with an adoption internationally and domestically.
This unfortunate time causes many to become filled with anxiety or fear due to the unknown. New procedures have been implemented and then updated continuously to reflect the latest recommendations.
Employers and employees are constantly keeping up-to-date with how they can help hopeful adoptive parents make their dreams come true. Navigating these new waters is tricky. Therefore, hopeful adoptive parents are encouraged to continue their plans of adoption amid the crisis. The outcome of an adoption may not be exactly as dreamed or may not be finalized during the original timeline. However, there is still hope that one day all these families will report their unification with their adopted children among a pandemic.
The Dream Come True
When that little girl finally saw the woman from across the grass, she knew this was her moment. This was the moment she would remember for the rest of her life.
She ran as fast as she could with her arms outstretched to the woman. This was her mom. She would give her a happy life.
The woman knelt in the grass awaiting this long-anticipated embrace. Their bodies collided in an earth-stopping hug. The journey for them to finally be together was culminating here and now.
She saw the brown teddy bear with the pink bow around its neck waiting for her in the car. She beamed from ear to ear, knowing that this was the first day of the rest of her life. “Let’s go home,” her mom said.
And happily, they walked hand in hand to the car and drove off into the bright, sunny horizon.