Our Adoption Story Part 20--Interview with ISSJ

Sorry for the brief delay in my post--the Oshman family has been ill and I have something like pink eye.  I would like to speed things up a bit with these posts and get to the good part--the real Gotcha Day!  In addition, Rebekah and I are going to Thailand in three weeks to visit with her biological family and I want to be done with this story, so I can share that one while it's happening.

ISSJ agreed to an initial interview with us.  We met in August of 2008.  An English speaking social worker flew to Okinawa from Tokyo and sat down with us for over five hours at a Starbucks in Naha (Okinawa's capital city).  The words "initial interview" led us to believe that it would be a meeting that lasted only a couple hours and included her gathering some superficial information about our family, background, and goals in the adoption.

Boy, were we wrong.  She grilled us.  Big time.  She asked us every deep question possible--things we were not at all prepared yet to discuss.  We knew that, if ISSJ chose to work with us, these questions would eventually come in the Home Study, but we were not ready for them that day!

She wanted to know all about our families of origin, how we met, what our marriage is like, what our kids are like, how we function as a family, how we discipline our kids, what we hope for and dream of, what we anticipate our struggles to be with Deer, how we plan to bond with Deer, how we plan to react to her misbehavior, how we plan to discipline her, what we would do in myriad hypothetical situations, and much, much more.

At this point, we knew we were called to adopt Deer and we knew that the Thai government was going to let us try, but we had not yet done very much work to prepare ourselves for the nitty-gritty parenting of our potentially adopted child.  Many of our responses were, "Uh, wow.  Huh.  That is a really good question and something we plan to research.  We, uh, well, we will do our very best to do the right thing should that happen to us."

At the end of five hours we were fried.  Not only were we trying to give thoughtful and accurate answers. we also had to do the mental gymnastics of relating to a JAPANESE social worker.  I don't have enough space here to describe the very deep differences between Japanese and American families, their values and the parents' goals for their children.  Suffice it to say, American family values and Japanese family values have some strong differences. Not only did we need to articulate our answers to the best of our ability, we also had to craft them in a way that struck some kind of common ground with this Japanese woman who was assessing our fitness for adoptive parenting.

We left Starbucks and on the Expressway home we watched a tornado descend from the sky in the distance.  It was eerie.  And it felt like an omen to me. The interview had been tough and I did not feel good about it.  It really felt like a failure to me.  Thailand would only let us adopt through ISSJ and I felt pretty certain that they were not going to be willing to work with us.

We went home to our three little ones and prayed our hearts out once again that the train wouldn't stop here.  I shed tears a few times thinking about the what ifs and begged God to clean up after us and help the social worker approve us.