A household with one child has no children, says the Hungarian adage. Now, I know this is not so for everyone, but I believe it is true for my family.
Three-and-a-half years ago, I decided to adopt a child. At the time, I was a single mom to a three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Michaela, and also the CEO of a young company in a new industry. I felt strongly that adopting was right for me, but my friends disagreed and felt I shouldn't do it. I was too busy, too stressed, and too single. The question of whether or not I should adopt evolved into a parenting Rorschach test, telling me more about my friends' values than mine. In the end, all their comments only confirmed something I already knew about myself: Always honor my own instincts, even if it leads me down the harder path.
My first step in the adoption process was finding my lawyer, Suzanne. She told me that only three countries would let me adopt because I am single and over 40. This makes me laugh, because the life I can offer children is so magical and nurturing, despite my "advanced" age. This led us to Hungary, where Suzanne has strong connections to the orphanages and foster homes.
So I began the paperwork, which turns out to be the best measure of whether you are really serious, because it goes on forever and is confusing as can be. Ultimately, my whole adoption almost fell apart because I had fingerprints on record for an arrest at age 18 -- for skinny-dipping. All documentation of the charge was gone (30 years later!) leaving no way for the adoption authorities to know if I had murdered someone or thrown trash in a city park. Finally a nice bureaucrat took pity on me and let it pass.
After nine months of meetings and chasing papers, I got my final clearance. A few days later I received a Polaroid of a little girl, two-and-a-half years old. I was given three lines about her and 24 hours to decide if she would be my new daughter and Michaela's new sister. Yes. No. Yes. No. Finally I hedged: I would go to Hungary, but see how I felt when I first saw her. I needed this hedge to get Michaela and me on that plane and through my fear.