Just In Time

The moment was made more dramatic by the announcement the day before that Romania was stopping all international adoptions until charges of corruption could be investigated.

Russia shut down its adoptions last year to address the same issues, and most major countries are united in their support of the Hague Treaty — a treaty that will create an accreditation process for agencies working with international adoptions. In fact, when our efforts to adopt in Russia were delayed by this new accreditation process, we were encouraged to look toward Romania.

As Cyprian was brought into the living room, however, it was no longer a matter of writing checks, filling out forms, or dealing with bureaucratic red tape. This was different: I was going to look in the eyes of my son, he was going to look into mine, and who knows what would happen? What if he didn’t like me?

In all my preparations for this moment, I hadn’t even considered this possibility. The irony of the sudden reversal wasn’t lost on me: We had not merely chose Cyprian, now we’d find out if he would choose us.

He refused my offer of a fuzzy brown bear, keeping a tight grip on the knee of his foster father. However, the wooing of my wife and daughter, Theresa and Hannah, elicited a few steps in our direction when his attention fell on a green balloon. Cyprian threw it into the air in our general direction — as we kept the balloon floating in the air, the room became filled with his laughter and ours.

After the foster home, we visited a doctor’s office to get the required certification of Cyprian’s good health. Three of his first four years were spent in a Romanian orphanage, which has the reputation of being a hard place to grow up. The doctor’s positive verdict came as welcome relief, but her words to Theresa and me were poignant: “You have come in time for this child.”

Cyprian, like other orphans, developed the habit of rocking himself to sleep or to soothe himself. Every time he does it we can’t help but be reminded of all the children who go to sleep at night without parents to tuck them in.

One day Cyprian will let his mother or me rock him to sleep, but who knows how long it will take? Who knows what his memories are or what they will be? These are things I am adding to my list of what is out of my control.

Theresa and Hannah had to convince me that I wasn’t too old (age 51) to raise a young son. Their persuasion, coupled with the Holy Father’s words about “giving the gift of self,” overcame my resistance. Now, of course, I am kicking myself for causing any delay at all.

What if we had not come in time for Cyprian? Of course, the more important question now is how long other children will have to wait for nations to agree on accreditation standards for adoption agencies. Until then, adoptions will proceed haphazardly, and some parents may not reach their children “just in time.”

(Deal Hudson is editor and publisher of CRISIS, America's fastest growing Catholic magazine. He is also an advisor to President Bush. You can reach Deal at hudson@crisismagazine.com.)

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