by Laine, mom to Kimmie from China with radial club hands and Quan from China with cleft lip and palate
If that title doesn’t get your attention, nothing will! We were blessed beyond measure to adopt two special needs children at one time. Our story is a miracle. Our story is God’s story.
We began the adoption process in fall of 2006. We have 4 biological children, and the Lord called us to adopt. This was not in our original “family planning” book. We had 2 boys, 2 girls, happy family! But when God speaks in such an obvious way as He spoke to us, one can do nothing but obey! I would love to say I was one of these mothers who had always dreamed of adopting and having a big family. I was not. I thought I would have maybe 2 kids and work full time. God had other plans. And I’m so glad! His ways are not our ways, they are so much better! Anyway, I digress…. when we began the adoption process, God really laid it on our hearts to adopt two children. Our agency said that is not possible, unless we adopt two special needs children. I was scared of that word “special needs”. My husband was gung-ho, let’s do it! After much prayer, we submitted a check-list of the special needs we felt we could handle. We also made it clear that we would love to adopt two children.
In December, 2006 our social worker matched us with a beautiful 2 year old boy with CL/CP. (This was well before the shared list of waiting children existed.) It was love at first sight! Cleft lip/cleft palate was one of the needs we felt we could manage. We asked if there were any girls on the list that she felt we might be able to adopt at the same time. The next day we were able to review the file of an 18 month old girl. She had radial club hands. This was not even one of the needs we checked, but when we saw her picture, we knew she was ours. We were not familiar with her special need, but we had such peace and confirmation that she was our daughter, that we were not afraid! We plunged in with both feet to bring both these toddlers home. We submitted two LOI’s and anxiously waited for two PA’s. We asked our family, friends, church, and anyone who would listen to please pray that we would be approved to adopt both children. By this time we felt like they were already ours, and if we could only adopt one of them it would feel like an arm had been cut off… About a month later we received a phone call from our social worker. She had confirmed we had verbal pre-approval through our agency’s in-China coordinator to adopt BOTH children! HOWEVER, there was quite a God story behind it all. At first, the person in charge of special needs at the CCAA had said NO to our family being able to adopt two at one time. This person is known for making a decision and sticking to it and not ever changing his/her mind. But for some inexplicable reason (GOD!), a mind WAS changed and the verdict switched to allow both these children to be placed in our family! We know this was the Lord moving to accomplish His will and purposes.
As we waited to bring them home, we began to pray fervently that the Lord would knit their hearts together. We knew they lived in the same city, and were in foster care, but in two different foster homes. This city happened to have a population of over nine million. What are the chances our children, Kimmie and Quan, would know one another well? We prayed the Lord would supernaturally arrange play dates for them, that they would be able to know one another and also have played together often. We were hopeful this would help them in their transition to our family if they had each other as a familiar face to give comfort. Before we traveled to China, we received the most amazing answer to our prayers. We found out that their foster mothers were SISTERS and they lived close to one another and practically grew up as cousins. We even have pictures of them playing together in China before we adopted them! Only the Lord! On July 23, 2007 Kimmie and Quan became brother and sister forever. God had moved mountains to bring His will to pass! Throughout our process we realized how rare it is to be able to adopt two special needs children at one time. The orphanage director told us that he had never seen it happen in his ten years of service. I am not sure if it is allowed anymore, but I know that we are very thankful for the blessing and privilege of being able to do this.
Toddler adoption has its challenges. Multiply those challenges times two, and it could seemingly be a recipe for disaster. But the Lord was our strength and our help in time of need. Quan was our feisty fighter in China: biting, hitting, scratching, grieving so sadly. Kimmie was in a catatonic-like state. She spent most of her time in China in a “zone”, staring off into space. Bless their little hearts, they both were so shell shocked, not knowing what in the world was happening to their little world. They seemed to be on opposite ends of the attachment spectrum, and we had a hard time dividing our bonding time. We clung to the promises of God; He is always with us. We remembered how He had obviously been behind this adoption every step of the way and He would not forsake us now. It took a lot of time, patience, structure, and unconditional love, but slowly our two little toddlers became to feel more and more secure. Each month that passed by got better and better. In just three short months (though at times they seemed pretty long!) they made great strides in adjustment and attachment. Our doctor at the International Adoption Clinic told us wonderful advice: Do not judge how things are going day by day, because when you first come home with your adopted child, the days vary greatly! Judge how things are going by the week. At the end of the week, assess how well your overall week went. That was wonderful advice!
As far as their special needs, we do not consider our children as special needs children! Quan had surgery to close his palate in October, 2007. His lip was repaired in March, 2008. He goes to speech twice a week at the local elementary school. His language and articulation are exploding! He was attending speech also at our local Children’s Hospital, but because he was speaking so well he was released from that in December, 2008. Kimmie has regular appointments with a pediatric orthopedic doctor for examinations of her bi-lateral radial club hands, and as for now we are not considering surgery yet. That may be down the road, but we feel led to wait on that decision until Kimmie gets a little bit older. I know there are those who opt for the surgeries to straighten their child’s hands. The surgeries are pretty extensive and Kimmie would need them on BOTH hands. We just feel like the best decision for Kimmie is to wait for now. She can do everything with her hands! They are so functional, and that is another reason we are in no rush to do surgeries. There are certain syndromes related to radial club hands. Kimmie has had her heart and kidneys checked and they both are normal. She saw a genetic doctor who did blood work that showed she does not have any syndromes. We are very thankful that her hands seem to be an isolated special need.
Our children have taught us way more than we could ever teach them! The main thing we’ve learned is that we who are in God’s family are ALL special needs children, amen? We give Him the glory for great things He has done! When asked if we would adopt special needs toddlers all over again, our answer is a resounding “YES! IN A HEARTBEAT!!!!!!”