Are you waiting for a referral?
Are you waiting in the Waiting Child (SN) program or the traditional (NSN) program?
Are you waiting for what seems like years? Or perhaps you have been waiting for years?
Do you know who you are waiting for?
A daughter younger than two years old perhaps?
Or maybe she could be three or … possibly … four … maybe?
How about a son … or not?
These are questions all parents have probably at the very least mulled over, maybe even revisited again and again if waiting for years for a referral from China.
And these are all questions that at times honestly perplex me.
The biggest question I would love to ask everyone who is waiting for years for a referral is this: Who Are You Waiting For?
Let me assure you that I have never asked a waiting parent this question. I suppose in a roundabout way I am asking anyone reading to consider it now. Obviously in a blog, no one has to answer or even feel the need to answer. On the other hand, comments are always open and welcome here so a discussion could always come about … and that is most often a good thing.
Let me throw out some hypothetical assumptions here. I am basing these on conversations I have had over the years with other APs, many of whom are astounded when they actually meet our “special needs” children and learn that all three of them fell into the “hard to place” category.
Hypothetical #1: You are one of a majority of families who are NOT open to a child with multiple needs. A child who was born with complex heart disease and cleft lip and palate.
That would be entirely too much. Now, let me stop here and say let’s assume insurance is not a deciding factor and also that you qualify in every way for these hard to place children. But assuming you have excellent medical coverage and all requirements are met, you are just not open to a child with those “severe” needs.
Let me introduce you to our child who was born with complex heart disease and cleft lip and palate. I am going to show a VERY RARE glimpse of our Li’l Miss on video. She is singing a song she penned herself, and she sings it often to Jesus. In one line, she sings:
Lift up Jesus Christ, He loves you sooooo much.
Lift up Jesus Christ, He made you so wonderful.
Does it get any better than that? Wow. I admit to just about losing it when she sang it for me the first time. I already mentioned she made this song up herself. Did I mention she has complex, single-single ventricle heart disease? Yes she does. And no, we don’t know what her life expectancy will be, and honestly we don’t dwell on that and didn’t even consider the question when deciding to move forward with our second daughter, also born with single-ventricle heart disease.
Why? In short, they all deserve a home and a family. And if you met her, I can almost assure you that you would never ask the question again, “What about life expectancy?” which is the #1 question asked of me by parents wondering about bringing home a child with complex heart disease.
Now let me be clear in saying PLEASE ASK QUESTIONS. I love to answer, and though my answer may not give you any peace or reassurance, it is honestly how the Prez and I feel. It DOES NOT MATTER what their life expectancy will be. We adopted her and will adopt her little sister not because of how long they might live, but because they ARE living and they need a family … and I think we need them just as much or maybe more.
Our daughter is 6 years old. She has been home for 3 years. She has SEVERE language delay in the area especially of articulation, but did you hear her singing? I might be just a wee bit proud of her. She WORKS SO HARD. She had significant hearing loss for more than 4 years until tubes were finally placed and her hearing is now excellent. She has endured 8 surgeries since she came home, and does so with bravery and courage that most of us will never know.
She is AMAZING. If you met her, you would not believe she has faced so many needs and endured so much. She is our daughter. Why do I share so vulnerably here?
On the shared list today, multiple children with needs EXACTLY like our Li’l Miss wait and wait and wait. Maybe you haven’t ever felt like you are waiting on a child like that. Maybe though you are missing out by not pursuing one of those children.
Hypothetical #2: You would never consider bringing home an older son because there are too many risks and older children can never bond anyway, and if you did go there you would definitely only consider a girl anyway.
Enter this charming young man.
I know he is charming, because he is my son. My 3rd son … well really 2nd … except he came to me 3rd … but he is our 2nd oldest. I know it confuses my brain sometimes too. I know how you feel because I was definitely not open to an older child … and definitely not open to an older son … and definitely not open to bringing an older boy into our home with younger children. No way. That is what other families do. Not us. Besides, that is irresponsible and just asking for trouble.
Except he hasn’t brought us trouble or made us irresponsible parents. In fact, he has brought more joy and love and grace into our home and our parenting. Not only that, we are immeasurably more blessed for having stepped way out of our comfort zone and done the thing many think is taking it way too far.
He is the most loving and compassionate guy you’ll ever meet. He loves with his whole heart, which I should add is not perfectly formed. He was also born with heart disease, and though a PDA seems minor enough, his was not repaired until he was 10 years old in China and while we awaited our LOA for his adoption.
So, I know you may fall in that majority who says, *IF* I was going to adopt an older son, he would have to be healthy. But let me tell you, our son is HEALTHY as an ox. He does anything he wants to do sports-wise and he is smart and funny and just adds another layer of love to my heart!
So, my advice: don’t assume you couldn’t adopt an older son. Maybe an older son is just who you have been waiting for all of this time. Many of them wait on the shared list right now. Today. And a LOT of those boys are healthy, and some others have “needs” like our son did, but don’t let those needs define the child. Look past them and do your research and talk to experienced parents. And then decide. But at least consider an older, waiting son.
Hypothetical #3: You do not need a son. You want a daughter. You are not going to change your mind because this is your dream and that is that.
This is a tough one.
I know this may not go over well AT ALL. I am well aware of that fact.
But sometimes the tough stuff needs to be said. And sometimes we just gotta say it.
I have been blessed with four amazing sons, 2 by birth and 2 by adoption. When we had our 2 birth sons 4 years apart, I remember being thrilled both times to hear the ultrasound tech say, “It’s a boy!” I mean, absolutely thrilled. There was no disappointment in me or my husband whatsoever. Why would there be? Both boys appeared to be healthy, growing as they should, and due right on schedule.
That was enough. A son. And then another son. Icing on the cake!
And then came China. And our 2nd adoption, 4th child. A son? Really God? Are you sure?
But I knew. Without a doubt. He was calling us to THIS CHILD, the one I just spoke of above. The older boy. Who happened to be on our agency’s designated list at the time.
And so we moved forward, and once we did I never looked back. What I would have missed? I can’t even fathom now.
Enter son #4. REALLY GOD??? ARE YOU SURE???
Oh how winding our path was to this Li’l Dude you see pictured above (and whose upper lip finally seems to have expelled those last remaining “dissolvable” stitches). I can only imagine the Lord knew how much He needed to grow my love for this little guy BEFORE we met him … and grow it the Lord did!
When we met, I quickly realized his immediate needs were great. Far greater even than I imagined. And I imagined fairly realistically. And yet, less than a year and a half home, he IS rocking it out! I tell you he stood up on the stage at church Sunday night in the preschool program and acted the part of a CAMEL. Now he didn’t have all the right moves precisely down like his sister and the third camel, but he stood there and he didn’t run away or act disruptive … and he definitely was one of the two cutest camels on that stage!
He is now reading some too. AMAZING. Did I mention he was born with heart disease (TOF), cleft lip and palate, is deaf in one ear … oh and he lived in an orphanage in China for 5 years?
Yeah. He was waiting for YEARS for a family too. Did I mention that? Why?
I think probably because he is a BOY, he was older (4 at referral; that is OLD for a little boy waiting), he has multiple needs, and … uh, oh … and undisclosed need. That is way too much.
And yet, when I look at the above photo, I just see my little surprise. That is what I call him: my little surprise! He grins that big grin and says, “I LUBBBB you, Mommy” and my heart melts all over again.
Who Are You Waiting For?
If you are waiting, perhaps even years for a NSN referral of an AYAP girl, maybe it is valid question. Maybe it is not. Only you can decide that for your family. I will tell you this though.
Our first LID was December 14, 2007.
We are still YEARS … yes, YEARS … away from a referral with that log-in date. Since that date, we have brought home our … three waiting children … all hard to place … all NOT fought over … all NOT part of the “new shared list” each month … and yet all equally amazing and a blessing to everyone they meet … and most importantly, treasures uniquely created by our Father God.
… and born with a single ventricle heart … and EQUALLY deserving of a family … and we feel completely overwhelmed in a good way that God is entrusting us yet again with one of these special babies!
Feel free to check out our adventures in life as a family of seven … soon to be eight … at my family blog, Room for at Least One More.