There have been specific times in my life when I have formed a special bond with a group of folks based on common circumstances or a shared goal. The cast of "Godspell" from Warren Players Club in the early 90s was one such group. In college I had my Kappa Delta gals, whom I still love and think of fondly. There are the ladies I did life with while we were experiencing our first pregnancies and those new mom moments.
This kind of sisterhood forms through adoption as well. Of course, families who have gone through the same wait, the same mountain of paperwork, stayed in the same hotel, and experienced the same growing pains forge even the most different folks together. There are more families than I can count who I rely on for the "been there/done that" and the "oh, yeah - that's normal" in the adoption realm. While I haven't met most of this support group in person, I am able to be more vulnerable with them than most in real life people who may not understand the nuances of walking out older child adoption.
In the amazing group there is a subset of women (and men, but they have their own social cues of spitting and scratching that I cannot quite interpret well enough to engage with) who have walked an even more specific and lonely road called "a failed adoption". While I am not into any kind of exclusion, I am happy to report it is a small group - at least the one I am a part of.
Not everything is exactly the same with our failed adoption stories. Some of us never made it in country. Some did, but came home empty handed. Others made it home with child in tow, only to have adoption fail on this side of the ocean which meant a long, painful farewell escort trip back. In all honesty, the specifics don't matter. Regardless of the logistics in our different situations, each of us in this sisterhood know the pain - the actual physical pain of a failed adoption. We know the emotional roller coaster, the well meant but poorly delivered words of consolation from others outside the circle, and the utter confusion of "What's next?". It's a bond of pain and disappointment, but as strong and unbreakable as any I've known.
A few of us in this group have joked about secret handshakes, T-shirt slogans (unrepeatable, but hilarious), and meet ups somewhere warm and beachy. (It's odd - I have only met one of these gals face to face, and we had to do it halfway around the world. Totally. Worth. The. Airfare.) But I think we have stumbled across a better, more sparkly group sign - the nose piercing.
I got my nose pierced well before we even thought seriously about adoption, and I confess here and now that I got it done because - quite simply - I like things that sparkle and I have big ears that need no extra attention drawn to them. One of our newest "members" of the sisterhood just went and got her nose pierced, and I am hoping for a trend - no, a movement - of sparkly sisters of failed adoptions everywhere. OK, actually I hope the group doesn't ever grow any bigger, but I love the idea of the few, the slightly crushed, sporting some bling.
Regardless of our nose decorations or lack thereof, I am so thankful for this small band of maternal warriors. It is a difficult road to walk, but I am glad to walk it with my sisters. The greatest part of this journey is being able to remind these ladies that there is great hope ahead. Being paper ready and willing (with a little glitter for good measure) is the beginning of a wonderful road of healing and joy. I would walk through fire for my beautiful daughter now, and it is an honor to be able to share our story with these amazing ladies - many of whom have beauty from ashes testimonies as well.
So to my sparkly sisterhood - hold on. If God has called you to add to your family through adoption, hold on. Press on. Do not allow a door to be closed if your heart is still open.
Pierce if you need to, but most importantly - sparkle on, sisters.