So this is a first for the blog…I am writing this post from the Business Class cabin of an Air Canada plane, flying back to Toronto from Paris. Sounds glamourous, and I suppose it is – I know I am very privileged to travel the way I do for my job (because believe me, I could not afford this ticket on my own!). I should be enjoying the luxury and the fact that I am returning home after a long work trip. Sadly, it doesn’t actually feel all that great. I mean, the reclining seats and large pillows are nice, but I’m not settled. Actually, I feel quite awful.

A few months ago I was making this very same trip for a project. During that flight I ended up with a little stowaway beside me. There was a family traveling from India, via Paris, with three little children…a baby, a toddler, and a lovely young boy of seven who quickly became my air buddy.

I will admit it: I used to be the type of passenger who cringed seeing the stroller approach down the airplane aisle. I’ve had enough experiences with crying babies, poopy diapers, and seats being kicked, thank you very much. When we got on the adoption train a few years ago suddenly parents become objects of curiosity. It may sound creepy, but I couldn’t help but watch and wonder…would that be us one day? Will we be juggling toys and blankets while we bring our child home from Lithuania?

Back to my wee friend in the skies – this family had already been traveling for twelve hours and another eight hours was proving exhausting. I couldn’t sleep anyway, so I passed my iPad to the eldest boy to see if he would welcome a distraction from the long trip, especially since his parents were already busy with his two younger siblings. He took the bait and soon was happily playing away.

When we decided to adopt from Lithuania, one of the things I did was download a bunch of children’s apps to learn English. Yes, I know – a bit premature. I figured they would come in handy. And they did. Here I was, 38,000 feet in the air, with such a kind little boy, playing games to learn colours and numbers. It wasn’t a trip from Lithuania, and it certainly wasn’t my son, but for a few hours, it was a break from reality. The parents were happy for the extra set of hands, and I got to play fantasy parent until we touched down in Toronto.

So sitting here on the plane flying home I am startled by a recent and harsh truth:
We will never make this trip home with our child. There will be no long flight from Lithuania; no comforting a little one while their ears hurt during landing; no playing games or pointing out shapes in the clouds. There will be no iPhone video footage to show of the trip, no Welcome Home banner on the porch, no luggage to unpack. It will not happen. Ever.

I don’t know how to grieve this anymore, so I guess I will just tell the story. I have a good seven hours…

Our first rejection from Lithuania was devastating. We had a set of photos of this child, a story, a plan, and in one quick email, it was over. When we were presented with a second child who was deemed a good match, we made every attempt to keep our hearts closed and our heads clear. For the record, this is impossible.

When you are matched, you must review the entire file of the child and put together a proposal on why you would be great parents for this specific child. This means pouring over every detail about the child’s history in an effort to match your skill set and resource against their needs. You also have about 48 hours to do it. We wrote and rewrote, reformatted and edited our letter, finally sending it for translation and submission.
Needless to say, we were rejected.

In the Lithuania program you do receive details on why you were not selected as parents as well as details about why a different set of parents were chosen. For this child, they are truly going to a good home that can accommodate their unique needs. They will be loved. This is the perfect outcome. It’s odd to grieve a happy ending, but it’s certainly what I am doing while flying over the Atlantic Ocean.

We know we cannot go through this again.

In both of our rejections, it was clear that the selected families had advantages that we will never have. All were younger, had degrees in child psychology or pedagogy, and already had young children. That’s null for three. Sure, our adoption practitioner urges us not to give up hope. Well, there’s hope and then there’s reality.

I know I cannot look at another photo and read another dossier only to try and fail. We can’t endure another tidal wave of this. That’s why we have decided to stop our adoption efforts in Lithuania and refocus on Ontario.

This decision might come as a surprise given the poor luck that we have had with CAS the past six months. And really, it’s not a choice. I mean, we have not even been told by our CAS if we can attend the in-take in October. Still, it is where we are – the gap between the two trapeze swings, flying between two countries, suspended.

We are lucky to have such an incredible village of friends and family around us – and I know many of you want to say sorry and offer your thoughts. These are all appreciated. But it’s going to take some time for us to get back on our feet.

In the meantime, I have been refocusing a lot of my energy on the adoption community and lobbying for change within CAS and MCYS. At the end of it all, this is not about us as parents, but about a lot of kids who need homes. Watch this space for some serious kicking.

Now, time to recline my seat and think about what to do when I land.

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