Thursday, January 21, 2021

If you surveyed 100 people and asked them how they would describe the year 2020, you are guaranteed to encounter an array of visceral responses. Awful. Horrendous. Trying. Hard. Devastating. Renewing. Refreshing. Liberating. Exhausting. Mind-blowing. By now, you’ve also probably seen the commercial that has pervaded our airwaves by, where Satan and ‘2020’ connect on the company’s application and are evidently a match made in…hell.

We cannot discount the insurmountable loss that many people experienced last year. Our lives are forever changed, and for many, they are difficult new beginnings. Yet through all of this, something else also occurred. For many, it marked the start of something amazing and spectacular. For many, it marked the start of something amazing and spectacular- something that was long dreamed about and finally realized.

In 2020, 53 children adopted through Barker's domestic infant and older child program began a new official life with their forever families through finalized adoptions.

In a year where there was so much upheaval, we also saw systems, organizations, and people pivot and become increasingly creative and graciously innovative, using many digital platforms to advance human connection. While we continue to miss the beauty of in-person interactions, families welcomed the prospects of new ways to accomplish their long-sought goals. Many children had already joined loving families when our world spiraled into unpredictability and despair. Processes that were once easily charted on a timeline graph were now hanging in the “unknown” column while we awaited further guidance- When would courts reopen? Would we be able to have an in-person ceremony like many other families experienced? How would the inevitable backlog affect my chances of finalizing this year? All reasonable thoughts that entered the minds of families who saw every bit of certainty stripped away. Yet and still, our families pushed through with consistency in the things that they could control. Parents loved on their children fiercely and continuously, almost as if they could swallow the darkness through their steady and decisive actions to make lemonade out of the fast-paced lemons that were being catapulted from unseen canons. They trudged forward, enjoying more of the beauty of the parks in socially distanced ways. Families visited waterfalls, creeks and discovered more of their neighborhood communities by walking and cycling through lengthy trails that were previously only heard of but never relished in person.

 As many became more familiar with sweatshirts in contrast to pantsuits and more couch time as opposed to commutes, we kept one eye on the government shutdown and the gradual reopening of courts who were now hearing cases and finalizing adoptions through virtual platforms. One by one, we received notifications of final adoption decrees, signaling beauty and triumph in one of the most trying years of our lifetime. Following years of familial instability, a sibling group of four joined their forever home in December 2019 and finalized in the summer of 2020. They were one of four sibling groups whose adoptions were finalized last year, breathing a sigh of relief, a profound demonstration of resilience. With each decree in each county, another family felt hope that they too would be able to tie the same bow of finality on their adoption process and begin their official life together.

In a year that took so much from us, we stop to acknowledge all that it gave. And we are grateful. Congratulations to all 53 finalized domestic families! There are always bright spots in the dark alleys if we only choose to find them.

Saara M. McEachnie, LCSW-C, LICSW
Barker Moments