Many of you know that we adopted our son two and a half years ago. We started our adoption journey back in 2011. Through our journey, we’ve had a lot of highs and lows. At times, we experienced so much heartache that it seemed like we weren’t meant to be parents let alone adopt. During the spring of 2012, we were in the midst of adopting a baby girl, here in Florida, when that adoption fell through. This was after meeting with the birth mom, attending doctor appointments and supporting her financially. Then, in early fall of 2012, a baby boy we were adopting in Ethiopia died from an upper respiratory infection. These two losses occurred within a year and they left hubby and I reeling. We took months off from talking about adopting. During this time our adoption agency that was handling our Ethiopia adoption presented us with two adorable babies and we declined both. My heart especially was just not ready to proceed.
Finally we were ready to get back into the game and we were presented with the file of our son. I don’t think we even had a doctor review his file. We were ready to proceed and we accepted his referral almost immediately. If you would like to read about our adoption journey with our son, head HERE.
We brought our son home in August 2013 (Do you remember how I went there with a one-way airline ticket and was prepared to stay in Ethiopia with him as long as necessary? Looking back I was C.R.A.Z.Y!!). Since then, we’ve been a family of three and honestly, it’s really hard to remember life before becoming a parent.
Back in 2011, before we experienced any adoption heartaches, we submitted our dossier for another adoption in Ethiopia with a different agency from our son’s. This agency is America World Adoption. We were placed “in-line” and had not been given a referral because there are so many families inline and because adoptions in Ethiopia have slowed so drastically. A year ago, still waiting inline, we learned that there is great need in China for special needs adoptions.
When we first decided to adopt (back in 2011), our hearts weren’t open to special needs. We were first time parents and overwhelmed about the idea of adding special needs into the equation of adoption. However, after adopting our son, we realized that special needs almost comes hand in hand with adoption. Even perfectly healthy children who have been adopted often have different “needs”. Adopted children come from a place of trauma. Many children have been abused, neglected, abandoned, malnourished, the list goes on and on. Their brains develop differently and adoptive parents have to almost retrain their child’s brain to know that they are safe, food will never run out, our love is unconditional, etc. We parent our son differently than we would parent him if he was our biological child. We are constantly working on attachment parenting and also exposing him to sensory activities that will help his brain thrive. As we’ve parented our son, we’ve learned that special needs isn’t so scary anymore.
When we learned that our agency’s China Special Needs program needed families (desperately), we decided to switch from Ethiopia to China. I was sad because I have fallen in love with Ethiopia. But we knew that we would be back visiting Ethiopia many times in the future with our son and we also wanted to go where the need was. So we switched.
Initially, we thought the paperwork would just transfer from Ethiopia to China. That was a silly thought. It didn’t. We had to redo our entire dossier. This doesn’t mean much to many of you, but for us, it meant we had to spend countless hours (probably 80-100 hours or so) working on paperwork, requesting documents, writing checks, overnighting paperwork, getting signatures, getting paperwork notarized and then state authenticated and then signed by the Chinese consulate (all of this paperwork had to be overnighted countless times to and from each place), getting updated home study reports, writing more checks, etc etc. It’s been a crazy year for paperwork.
In January, we were presented with the file for our sweet little 16 month old girl. We were immediately captivated by her adorableness. We had many doctors review her files. When we started diving into the medical terms in her file, we realized her heart issues were severe. However, she had open heart surgery last summer and per her paperwork, many of her issues were corrected. After consulting with a local Pediatric and Congenital Cardiac Surgeon, we were greatly encouraged. Our local surgeon happened to travel to China quite often to perform surgery on orphaned children with heart problems. AND, he considers the Chinese surgeon who worked on our daughter’s heart to be a personal friend. (Talk about small world.) Knowing this helped us decide to go forward. We are hopeful that her open heart surgery was, in fact, successful (we won’t know this until she is under the care of local doctors). If it was successful, we are expecting more surgeries in her future but hopeful they will not be as major as last summer’s surgery. If her surgery was not successful and/or if she has additional unaddressed issues, we are expecting major surgeries in our more immediate future. If you know me, you know that I don’t do well with unknowns. I like to know what to expect and I like to prepare myself for the future with checklists and gameplans (hello – I am a control freak). But I’ve learned with adoption, there are always unknowns and I can’t control anything at all. And somehow, I’m becoming okay with it!
So as of now, we are in the midst of major paperwork phase again. Our agency has given us an estimated travel timeframe of mid-April to early May. At that time, hubby and I will head to China for approximately 2 weeks. I had this grand idea of blogging while in China, but now I’m wondering if that will be possible because of the many restrictions China places on internet usage… I have a little bit of time to figure out if there is a way around that!
Our son is SO excited to have a little sister. He talks about his little sister all the time and is planning on holding her (ummm… she may not like that), sharing his toys with her (we’ll see how long that lasts) and he has even offered to share his room with her (that isn’t happening either 😉 ). It’s been awesome to hear him talk about her and watch his excitement. It has also been wonderful to watch him ask questions about his little sister in the orphanage. We’ve told our son he was adopted since the first day he came home. But now as he’s learning about his sister, it is almost as if he’s starting to understand his own adoption. It is a beautiful thing to watch.
During this next month I will probably be posting more about adoption and adoption related things. I hope you don’t mind! And if we get updated pictures of little sister, I’ll have to share them here. You all have become a family to me and my family and I wanted to share our good news with you! Please keep this little girl in your prayers! Pray her heart stays strong and healthy and that her immune system stays strong. And you can pray for me and my family as we prepare for her to come home. We are spending countless hours applying for grants, raising funds, filling out more paperwork for this adoption and getting our son ready to be a big brother and sometimes everything seems very daunting!
Side note for all of you. 🙂 I remember a few years ago when I blogged about adopting my son, I was met with 90% encouragement and 10% discouragement. Back then, I left up all of the comments – even the hurtful ones. And some of those hurtful ones kept me up very very late at night. I’ll keep all of your comments up now as well – unless they are disparaging towards me, my family or my children. But I do want to share one thing with all of you. We are adopting in China, and have adopted in Ethiopia, because we feel called to adopt. We haven’t felt called to adopt in any particular area of the world. We just feel called to adopt children who are in need. We are not overlooking the needs of the children here in the states – we attempted a domestic adoption but it fell through. Our goal after bringing this little girl home from China (and getting her healthy, strong and happy) is to begin fostering. Not fostering to adopt. But fostering to provide a safe haven for children who need a place to go while their parent(s) get their lives back on track. I feel the need to state this because for us, it isn’t an either/or. For us, we see need everywhere and want to do our part in the small ways that we can. If you feel called to adopt in a certain country or if you feel called to sponsor a child in a certain country – please do so. If you feel called to be an advocate for children in the foster care system here in the states – please do so. All children in need deserved to be helped – regardless of where they live.
Update – already many of you have asked if you can help! Thank you! During the month of March we are selling t-shirts on Booster and you are welcome to order one for yourself or your entire family. 🙂