In many ways, the various factions of my life are separate. Like being an adoptive parent. While parenting is integral in every aspect of my life, the fact that we've built our family through adoption is not. The kids are with us now; that I didn't carry them in my uterus doesn't really matter much from one day to the next. But being an adoptive parent is very much a part of who I am. In a way, it's like being part of a club-- you don't really understand what it's like until you've lived it. And I feel connected to other adoptive parents in a way I don't think I otherwise would. But that connection isn't something I think about every moment of every day. So it's odd, in a sense, that being an adoptive parent is helping put the pending bar results in perspective for me.
Yes, today is the magic day the California State Bar results are released electronically to test-takers. The public can't access the information until Sunday or Monday (I'm not sure which). And I suppose it's possible that mis-information could be available online, which is why the Bar cautions all applicants not to rely on their online results and to wait for the mailed results instead. Whatever. No one believes they need to wait. And so, at around 6:00pm tonight I, along with the other nine thousand or so examinees will try to log in at exactly the same time to retrieve our results. I haven't been thinking much about it until the last 48 hours. And I think I'm more nervous now than I felt when I was actually taking the test. It's obviously out of my hands. The results have been compiled. But the not knowing is eating up my stomach. Literally. I slept only a couple hours last night, and I am operating on pure adrenaline.
So what if I don't pass the California bar? I mean, it's not like some giant hook will swoop in to the office and pull me out of my desk. The firm I'm at gives us a second chance-- we can re-take the exam in February. And I have my teaching career as an alternative, as well. I will be embarrassed by my failure. And I will beat myself up. And I will wonder, probably even after my scores arrive in the mail (because you only get your scores if you didn't pass the test), why me? The scariest thing about the potential of failing the bar exam is that I just don't know what more I could have done. I really did give it my best shot. And I know that the failure will eat away at whatever self-confidence I have.
That said, it's a test for crying out loud. Sure, only 78% of the first-time test-takers from my law school passed last July. And the statewide first-time taker pass rate was only 67%. But it's a test nonetheless. We're not talking life and death here. And in the big picture of life, this will-- long from now-- (hopefully) just be one small blip.
Helping me put all this in perspective is the touching story of Hannah, a child who will be returning home from China shortly. Hannah's parents met her for the first time some time in the past few weeks, after traveling to China from Lansing, Michigan. Part way through their trip, after China had finalized the adoption, Hannah's dad, who is diabetic, suffered complications from diabetes and passed away. I can only imagine the shock and grief of meeting my child for the first time, then losing my spouse almost in that same breath. But that's exactly what happened to Hannah's mom, Sandi. And then it go worse. Because the U.S. Consulate initially refused to issue Sandi a visa to return to the United States with Hannah, explaining that her family circumstances had changed and she would need to re-do the paperwork. Yup. Bureaucracy at its finest. Our government was essentially telling Sandi to leave China alone-- no husband, no child.
It didn't end that way, thankfully. Sandi's congressperson was contacted (by over a thousand people who heard about their story through adoption boards and word of mouth), and he sprang into action. It took some string-pulling and wrangling and the involvement of some very important higher-ups, but it looks like Sandi will be able to return home to Michigan with her daughter. Still a family of two instead of three. But a family all the same.
And this got me to thinking about the bar results. It may feel like everything in the world to me in this moment of time. But it's not. I can imagine my world without me being a lawyer. I've been doing it all my adult life. There are so many other, more important parts of my life that define me-- like my family and my friends. In the end, it won't matter how many hours I billed. Or if I passed the bar exam on the first try. Or even if I end up practicing law at all. At the end of my life, what will matter is the relationships I have, the friendships I share, the love of my family.
Now, if I can just keep that in perspective for the next eight hours (and maybe even beyond), I'll be in good shape . . .