My heart is bursting with love and gratitude as I write this post nearly one year after
During the last year, I worked tirelessly to become foster-care certified, a process that my son Isaac enthusiastically supported and participated in. I finished the process in April, and eagerly prepared a bedroom for our soon-to-arrive family member. I made inquiry after inquiry on adoptive placements in New York and even attended a state adoption exchange, only to be repeatedly told it was not a match. Ultimately, I learned that a single parent household is not always a desired family composition. While I certainly appreciate and respect that, the information was disheartening and the process became emotionally taxing. With each mismatch, I told myself (and my son Isaac) that we are the forever family for a child out there, and that the time just isn't aligned yet.
During the summer an unexpected surprise came into our lives in the form of a (very large) puppy we named Chico. He was being rehomed and while I wasn't planning on getting a dog or even looking for one, there was space in our home and hearts. Something told me that a big loving dog like Chico would offer a tremendous amount of love and comfort to our new family member whenever they arrived.
As the year came to a close I decided to take a step back from pursuing a match. I couldn't even bring myself to go into the new child's bedroom anymore. Maybe it was time to commit to a partner or pursue a new personal interest. Expanding my family just didn't seem to be in the cards. Then the remarkable happened right before Thanksgiving - my caseworker notified me of a local pre-adoptive placement who seemed to be the perfect match! My heart skipped a beat as I read about the child (who happens to love dogs), and I just knew - this is the child we've been waiting for.
It's the unexpected that changes our lives.
Just days after meeting our new family member I learned devastating news - the college that I work for is unexpectedly closing and I am being laid off in January. The timing couldn't have been worse, and I seriously questioned if it would be wise to take on a new dependent while facing unemployment. I have always lived my life boldly yet strategically, and my choices have admitedly raised some eyebrows. I carefully evaluated my finances and disclosed the update to my caseworker. We agreed it would be feasible to proceed with the placement, and I chose to focus on the joy of the new addition rather than wallow in the disappointment of the impending job loss.
Now, as I write this post both(!) of my children are sleeping peacefully upstairs after taking Chico for a walk. My heart is full and my soul is at peace.
I knew this road would not be easy. It was actually a lot harder than I aniticipated, and in so many unexpected ways. But isn't that how life goes? I don't know anybody who is living their plan A (I'm probably on plan Q by now), and I'd argue that this path is so much more enriching and rewarding than a linear one. I don't know exactly what the future holds, and I don't need to have that information. I know that no matter what happens, my life will be beautiful, bountiful, and full of love beyond measure.
When we have each other, we have everything.
Dr. Lori Ana Valentín is an analytical chemist who holds doctorate and master’s degrees in chemistry from Binghamton University as well as a bachelor of science in biochemistry from SUNY Fredonia. She has worked with individuals and teams across the globe.