by Darlene, mom to Tim from China adopted as an older child
Trust God Completely (Proverbs 3:5,6)
Our story began in the fall of 2004. God had started to nudge my heart about adoption through circumstances that took place during this time. It seemed that I wanted to make sure He was leading me in this direction, but every time I would doubt his leading, he would affirm it again to me. In February of 2005, I saw Mary Beth Chapman on a television program where she was sharing her adoption story about Maria. I think this was the first time tears had come to my eyes, and I just broke down and cried after hearing about the Chapman’s story. Two months later I shared with my husband about how I felt God was leading me into adoption.
Then the next year on Valentine’s Day 2006, my husband of 15 yrs, gave me a card and he signed it, “yes, I do”. This was his answer to me for starting the adoption process! In May of 2006, we applied with CCAI in the traditional program as well as the Special Needs Program with stating we would accept a boy or girl up to age 3.
In June of 2007, we updated our Special Needs Medical Conditions Checklist and upped the age to age 6. Our son was almost 8 and felt we could welcome an older child. Some circumstances took place in regard to our checklist we had submitted, and we claimed Proverbs 3:5, 6 “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths”. We had waited so long, and in July and August we gave much thought and prayer to whether or not we should withdraw from the Waiting Child Program.
One day in early September 2007, my 8 yr. old son said “I wish I had a twin brother”. Two days later I received an email from our agency asking us if we wanted to review a file of Guo Tai from Dalian. He had just turned 7 yrs old on August 30th. We accepted the referral a few days later, and since that time, our lives have been forever changed! My son’s wish had come true, as he is 14 months older than Tim.
During the time we were waiting to travel to China, I found a red thread. Timmy’s birth date was the same date as Nate Saint, a missionary who was martyred in the Amazon jungles of Ecuador in 1956. His adoption day is the same date as Nate’s death, January 8th. Nate Saint and his family stories have been very dear to me since my teen years, and I consider him a spiritual hero. This was a special affirmation to me from God.
The day we first met Tim, a favorite nanny had come along with him. When it was time to leave, he did not want to go with us. He was lying on the floor, yelling and crying, and in a frozen state. He was repeating his nanny’s name over and over yelling for her as we picked him up to leave. She had just hugged him and said her goodbyes. It was the most gut wrenching experience I have ever experienced, and it brought a wave of emotion over me and my husband. Were we doing the right thing for this boy, taking him away from the woman he loved so dearly? Tim did not calm down for 30 minutes. At one point in the taxi, he almost vomited because of intense emotion. Finally back at the motel, with Sophie our wonderful CCAI guide, he calmed down and did not cry for her again. On the other side of this, we knew he could bond to people and knew it would be easier for us to bond to him later on.
Tim met his new brother and sister when we arrived back home. He seemed to be in the “hyper mode” those first few days home as he was learning about his new home and family. At times, we felt we had a 4 or 5 yr old son those first few months. He had some meltdowns when he became frustrated, but they became less frequent. The first question asked of us when we told our friends and family that we were adopting a 7 yr old Chinese boy was “does he know English?” There was a language barrier in the first several months but after that, language has not been an issue. We used an electronic translator, BBK AM 101 for the first few months and didn’t need it after that time. He is a language sponge and a very good reader. He enjoys school. This year his teachers are amazed at his reading ability. If you are considering an older child, please don’t allow language to be an obstacle. Talk to other parents who have adopted older children. Our biological children did not know how to speak English for at least two years!
Tim’s transition into our family had some bumps in the road the first few months home. We were told this was to be expected. I think this is normal for a 7 yr old or a 7 month old. Each child is different, and we can’t know for certain how things will be until we experience them for ourselves. He has his own personality and life experiences prior to coming into our family. It amazes me how fearless he is in new situations and his flexibility of trying to “fit in” with other children and adults and wanting to be accepted. I know that God has given him the grace he needs to be able to adjust to a new family, country, culture, food, friends, and school. Imagine if we were to go live with another family in China and be told we were leaving in a few months or weeks. How flexible could we be to our new family and surroundings?
Something special about adopting an older child is that they have some memories to share with you regarding their life in China. There are a lot of “firsts” I didn’t experience with him that I did with my biological children. But, there was many firsts like learning to ride a bike or swim. He’d never been on a bike and had been swimming only once. He loves baseball and sports too, so this year he is playing baseball. He is also learning to play the guitar. He loves music and singing in the children’s choir at church. He loves to give hugs in the morning when I am cooking breakfast. I haven’t lost one night’s sleep since we’ve had him, but lost plenty of it with his brother and sister!
Looking back on the first day we met him, he’s come a long way from not wanting to leave his nanny to bonding with us and his brother and sister. He seems very content with us now. It takes time. God has been with us and directed us as He promised.
Tim was considered “healthy” on his referral. When we were in China we had questions about an undisclosed medical condition that was confirmed when he saw the pediatrician. Since then, the condition has resolved on it’s own, thank God.
I have asked our agency, CCAI, for permission to share some statistics from the agency regarding older children and boys. CCAI has matched over 8,200 children, with only 10% being over the age of 3. Of those 8,200 children, only 5% were boys, but the number continues to increase. CCAI represents 8-12% of the total number of Chinese children being adopted in the US.
Apart from my son’s undisclosed medical condition, I feel his special need was he was a boy over the age of 3 years old. Perhaps some of these older children have seen families come and go in and out the door with babies and toddlers that many of them have helped take care of, as Tim has told me he helped care for the younger ones. They must feel the cold reality of rejection each time the little ones go out the door into their families and they remain standing alone, no one to hug, and ask themselves as they cry silently “ what is wrong with me, why not me?” I pray Tim’s story will help these children join the younger ones, because I know I am glad we considered an older boy. God has blessed us.
Our blog for Timmy’s adoption and life afterwards can be found here.