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"Paper pregnant:" Nine months? Nine years? Who knows?

"Paper pregnant:" Nine months? Nine years? Who knows?


Today we became “paper pregnant.”

Huh? (This is the common reaction from friends and family we
have shared with thus far.)

Paper pregnant is a common adoption term used to insinuate successful completion of the grueling dossier process – which is another fancy adoption term – this one meaning the “application process.”

Huge milestone in the adoption process, right? Put the champagne on ice?
(Hey – you can’t do that with a traditional pregnancy).

Well, it’s complicated… and our emotions certainly reflect the complexity. The dossier process included hundreds of hours spent with doctors, psychologists and social workers, along with eons of time spent completing training, essays and paperwork that eventually took over an entire room in our house (“have I not told you about my childhood in depth five times already!?”).

We won’t even talk money invested, but it’s safe to say, the dossier was a financial hurdle in itself. Anyway, a registered dossier means we passed this six-month exam without anyone telling us we were not fit to adopt! Indeed, it is quite the accomplishment and we should count our blessings to be this far.

Our application is officially translated and sitting on someone’s desk in Burundi. Awesome!

Like everything with adoption, though, it is not that easy. While it is certainly a milestone, the term “pregnant” implies a specific excitement around time and proximity of the upcoming event, obviously due to the parallels with biological pregnancies. Being pregnant certainly does not come without it’s challenges, but a couple can typically pick a hospital, possibly learn the gender (or at least the health) of the baby and start anticipating the approximate arrival of the new addition in short order. Being “paper pregnant” actually just signifies the end of the road for all things we can control – a road that could be a few months or several years long before being matched with our child.

We can make sure all 12 letters of recommendation that we requested for the dossier were turned in timely, but we cannot force the Central Authority in Burundi to meet, especially after cancelling many of their sessions this year. We
are at the mercy of an orphanage, government and country that desperately need our love and support, but does not quite know how to accept it.

To be clear, we educated ourselves and were well aware of these commonalities in adoption – especially from Africa – and would not change anything. This is the journey we are meant to be on. We are just reflecting upon the ups and downs of adoption and battling the notion that we are only just now getting to the real starting line of the race even though we have been invested for years.

However, despite the irony in the term, we could not be more proud and ecstatic to be paper pregnant. Stay tuned.

Sarah and Kyle Keene operate Project Play and Franklin Speech & Learning Center, which serve Middle Tennessee through a network of more than 50 therapists with office locations in Nashville, Franklin and Nolensville. They provide Pediatric Occupational and Speech Therapy, with concentrations also including Physical and Feeding Therapy.

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