HOLD ON TIGHT!!!!!!!!!!!

That is what I feel like I’ve been doing since my last post on NHBO….holding on TIGHT! In April, when it was time for me to post, we were in the hospital. In May, when it was time for me to post, we had just come home from the hospital the day before my scheduled post day. Thankfully, Stefanie is very forgiving! :) Of COURSE she is!

Holding on tight… Our whole family has been doing this very thing the last three months. We hold on to God. We hold on to each other. We hold on to hope.

We came home from China with Kevin on March 4th. We knew we would be facing many unknowns, and many doctor appointments with his complex heart condition of situs inversus, single ventricle, large VSD, and pulmonary hypertension. After his heart cath proved that indeed the way God allowed his heart to be formed is quite complicated and extensive, our team of doctors buckled up for many hard conversations and decisions to make about what the best plan would be for Kevin. We buckled up, too.

On April 6, the surgeon implanted a BT shunt, connecting Kevin’s aorta to his pulmonary artery. All of Kevin’s almost three years of life, he had too much blood flow going through his lungs, causing thickening and hardening of his veins. This shunt would hopefully redirect and reduce the blood flow just enough, but not too much, because we want it to reduce his lung pressures and resistance in his veins. This shunt would also hopefully get his lungs in good shape for his first surgery to repair his heart: the Glenn procedure.

(sidenote: I am by no means an expert on the heart, so I hope and pray I am not butchering the use of these terms!)

While Kevin was still in the ICU, recuperating from his shunt operation, he got a DVT (blood clot) in his left leg. It began to swell, turn purple, and cause him a lot of pain. He immediately began taking blood thinners which improved his condition greatly.

It took Kevin a few days to trust us again in the hospital. I longed to hear him say “mama” again and look us in the eyes. Eventually, he bonded right back to mama.

Kevin was able to come home after only 8 days in the hospital. Other than the Lovenox blood thinning shots that we had to give him in his belly, and the boo-koodles of oral meds he had to take, he recovered from his surgery well. I admit the shots were awful…twice a day, very painful, and having to put our new son (who we were still trying to gain his trust) through this was heart breaking. But, all that aside, he began to play, walk, and laugh again! Amazing!

Two weeks after we came home he had a routine check up at the cardiologist. Surprisingly there was a pericardial effusion around his heart (fluid build-up). He was sent home on high aspirin doses to reduce the fluid. (Also, he was taken off the Lovenox shots!) Two days later we were back at the hospital having an emergency fluid drainage procedure. That was the beginning of an 11 day stay this time.

The fluid came back quickly and Kevin had to have it drained AGAIN during our hospital stay. He contracted a staph infection and had to be given IV antibiotics. Kevin isn’t famous for good veins, and eventually his veins that his IV’s were in all blew, so they had to finish his round of antibiotics by doing shots of Rocephin in his legs.

Finally they sent us home on Bactrim. Kevin regressed severely after this recent trauma in the hospital. He still felt horrible from the fluid. He shut down. He wouldn’t walk. He wouldn’t play. He was swollen. For WEEKS. All he wanted to do was sit on the couch and watch TV. He refused to talk to us or his siblings. All he wanted was Mama. Bless his baby heart. It was pitiful.

We called or went back to the doctor at least twice a week because Mama was scared about that fluid coming back. Mama had been present during the emergency drain, and Mama didn’t want her Kevin to come that close to the edge of the cliff again. We had lots of echocardiograms done of Kevin’s heart in the weeks following the hospital stay.

Three weeks after he had been on Bactrim, he developed a fever and a horrible rash. Back to the E.R. and it turns out he is allergic to sulfa antibiotics. (We were afraid it was Stevens Johnson syndrome, but thankfully it did not progress to that.) The fever persisted for 8 days, and so he was put back in the hospital again to check for infection somewhere else in his system. Praise God this hospital stay was only three days. We are still waiting on results from the blood cultures.

After coming home from the hospital THIS time, Kevin has been a different child! He has played, walked (albeit wobbly!), talked, laughed…oh how wonderful to see him come back to us again.

Kevin will have another heart cath soon to see if his lung pressures and resistance have decreased, and from that we will determine when the best time for his Glenn surgery will be. No, we don’t look forward to another surgery or hospital stay. Yes, we want what’s best for Kevin! Yes, we struggle with what exactly that is!

So….all this is not to scare you. Though I probably have, and I’m sorry. I mean, it IS scary after all. If you look at all the scary parts.

God just reminds me to look to HIM….not the scary parts. He is in control of the scary parts, by the way. He is in control of the good parts too. What else can we do, but HOLD ON TIGHT? I wouldn’t have it any other way. I can honestly say, I would much rather go through hard times, than not have Kevin. I look back at how God brought him into our family, and I cannot deny that he is where God wants him right now. With us.


Seven brothers and sisters who ADORE him, unconditionally.

A daddy who waits patiently on him to bond.

And a mama who is seeing first-hand a broken heart be mended by God…in more ways than one.

Here is the bottom line:

Three months + newly adopted two year old + in and out of the hospital =


I’ll Say It

This post is one that has been brewing, stewing, soaking … whatever you want to call it … in my head for a LONG time.

I just read the latest update on our agency’s blog. Here is an excerpt:

The current wait time from LID to referral is 50-51 months with a trend of increasing approximately a full month each month. Families should read the China Program Newsletter emailed on 3/19/2010 to understand the variety of factors contributing to the wait time and the reasons why it is impossible to predict the referral wait time for each family. Families should continue to anticipate a long wait for a referral.

50 to 51 months. In reality, that is 4 years and 3 months.

4 years and 3 months.

Let that one soak in.

And then this excerpt:

The Waiting Children program is also an excellent option for families who are interested in a boy, an older child, or a child with various types of medical or repaired conditions.

And there are over 1,000 children WAITING.

Does anyone else besides me wonder why there are THOUSANDS of people waiting YEARS for a child they want so badly when there are children WAITING? There are more than 1,000 children waiting on a list who are paper-ready and there are an estimated 30,000 families waiting. What are these families waiting for? Or rather I should say whom?

I know many will say it isn’t really that simple. But isn’t it?

I can tell you that the VAST majority are waiting for an infant girl, who is deemed healthy, and is under two years old. Is that in and of itself wrong. Of course not.

And yet, is it possible that at least a small percentage of those waiting, particularly those who say they were called to adopt by God … isn’t it possible that some of those 30,000 families might actually already have a child waiting … if they would just allow God more room to work?

Is it possible that a couple with no children could be equally blessed to have a SON as much as a daughter?

Yes, I just said that.

The TRUTH sometimes hurts. And the truth is that little boys under two who are listed with the need of cleft lip and palate, just as an example, are waiting on the list sometimes for MONTHS. A little girl, under two with cleft lip and palate … they are FOUGHT OVER by families. And I do mean fought over. Visit forums and boards when a new shared list is released by China once a month if you doubt that. You’ll see words like “disappointing”, “lacking”, “small” and others I won’t even type. What people are really trying to convey is there is a lack of young girls available with minor needs.

It really reminds me of supply and demand, and quite frankly it turns my stomach.

Before anyone asks, I will tell you straight up that back in September 2007, the Prez and I filled out a checklist. We marked 12 special needs, two of which were repaired heart disease and unrepaired cleft lip and palate. We later changed heart disease to unrepaired as well.

And we marked another box: GIRL.

But we didn’t know … about the boys. And we wanted a girl. And we didn’t know about the boys.

Once you know …

I will share that our little girl was NOT fought over. I know that. She waited for weeks on the shared list before we received THE CALL about her. If we ever adopt another little girl or a big girl from China, she WILL BE WAITING. We will never join the “feeding frenzy” (not my words but one you’ll see every month if you visit the forums).

No thanks.

But back to the waiting children and our agency … all of the families undergo a stringent process …one aspect of which includes a statement of faith in Christ and a letter recommendation from one’s senior pastor. And I am left to wonder: is God REALLY calling such a disproportionate number of families to ONLY be open to a little girl under the age of two?

Or are His people just not listening? Or willing? Or insert any number of words in that blank.

Sometimes the truth (at least as I see it) really, really, really hurts.

If this posts makes you angry and you are a believer and you are waiting YEARS for the *perfect* child for family, PRAY and ask God to reveal to you HIS WILL. Does it mean that you heard wrong years ago when you marked “girl under two” on your application if you now open your home and heart to a little boy?

I don’t think so.

Maybe God needed that time to shape you in some particular way. Maybe YOUR child was not ready to be adopted yet. I don’t have those kinds of answers, but I’ll never believe that there are so many BOYS waiting and so many families waiting for years and that this is God’s will.

I just can’t believe that.

I could be wrong though. I have been before.

This Thursday, The Prez and I will depart early in the morning for the first of three flights that will take us all the way to China to bring home our TWO SONS. They are 10 years old and 5 years old. They both waited a LONG time on agency lists. As far as I’m concerned, they were waiting for us and us them. And yet I know there are countless other boys just waiting on the shared listing. Your agency could give you the files of countless little and big boys who are just waiting.

Our oldest waiting son has heart disease; it was unrepaired when we sent our letter of intent to China and we found out he had heart surgery in December. Our younger waiting son has heart disease and cleft lip and palate. He has had surgery on his heart and cleft lip.

Our boys fit the description of “harder to place.” I’m not sure how I feel about that, but it is the truth. And sometimes, the truth really, really, really hurts.

Maybe your son is just waiting … for you. And you … for him.

US 35 North ~ revisited

I bet that I’ve ridden the stretch of US 35 North between Charleston, WV and Dayton, OH at least 100 times in my life.  It’s familiar.  I know where to expect the power plants, glimpses of the river, the convenience stores, and the grand farm houses as we make our way “home” to western Ohio.

But a few weeks ago, on an impromptu “family visitin’ road trip,” that stretch of highway provided something new.  A millisecond of panic.

It wasn’t a panic that I had forgotten the $250 glaucoma eye drops for our youngest, the sudden realization that I wasn’t entirely sure our dog sitter and I had communicated the correct dates, or even from the four deer that apparently wanted to be hood ornaments on our Sienna (though we did gasp).  Instead, that panic was brought about as we cruised through one spot that I distinctly remember almost exactly 13 months before. 

As I recognized that long, straight stretch between the river and one of the huge, white farm houses, a flood of memories washed over me.  On April 8, 2009, we had new information, the picture, my sudden doubt, Ian’s confidence, and (what seemed to be at the time) a looming decision.

Just that day we finally got a phone call from my contact at Lifeline that they had indeed been able to get updated information and new pictures of “Payton.”  We were walking around on my grandfather’s farm (with no access to the Internet) ~ our last stop before heading back to NC ~ when the call came in.  We drove all the way to Chillicothe, nearly three hours away,
before we found a coffee shop with free WiFi so that we could check my email to read about and see the child that would potentially become our youngest.

The information sounded good, and her picture was precious.

But before we had gotten to this stage, I had done my homework and read about Sturge Weber Syndrome, the syndrome referred to in her dossier.  (Perhaps I had read too much).  I’ll be honest and admit that much of what I read scared me.  In that picture ~ that was supposed to show us if the port wine stain was on her eyelid, therefore giving us a better guess if she indeed had SWS ~ her eyes were “blank.”  And that scared me.  A LOT. 

We didn’t talk much after we left the coffee shop.  I think then I used the excuse that I wanted to wait until our kids were asleep before we started discussing our thoughts on the child I had been praying over for 26 days at that point.  However, the real reason was that all of the sudden I was scared.  I became frightened of how this child may impact our lives.  I worried.  And I was really close to simply deciding that our family was complete.

Thankfully, God had other plans in mind.  Because while Ian had been slower to warm up to the thought of adding a third child so quickly (we hadn’t been home five months with our son yet when I stumbled upon “Payton.”), once he gets moving, he’s like a locomotive that can’t be stopped.  And when I began backpedaling, he reminded me of all the things that had drawn me to “Payton” in the first place.

His confidence was disarming.  I began to relax again.  Until I remembered the picture.  I used the it as my last reason to potentially walk away ~ after all, who would have known beyond the two of us and our agency contact that we had even considered another child.  From what I had read about SWS before, the blank stare in that picture was reason for concern.  But my husband wouldn’t be deterred.  He simply said, “Her eyes are probably empty because she is missing the love of a mother.  It likely doesn’t have a thing to do with her brain function.”

Then he proceeded to remind me of all the things others would call coincidences that had happened that allowed me to find “Payton” in the first place.  But what perhaps sealed the deal was his echo of what our pediatrician had said to us when we had him review her file the week before.  “I can’t promise you that she doesn’t have Sturge Weber Syndrome.  What I can promise you is that if God has led you to this child, that He will equip you with what you need to parent her in any circumstances.” 

And then my husband glanced at me and said, “Remember, we aren’t talking about adopting Sturge Weber Syndrome.  We are talking about adopting this child.  In your heart, do you believe that God had you find her?” 

Within days we were waiting for a waiver from our agency to begin an adoption process before we had reached the “six months home mark” with our son.  Following a frantic paper chase, we were back home with our sweet girl less than eleven months after that conversation in the car.

So almost 13 months later, I had a millisecond of panic as we cruised that stretch of US 35.  As that scenery reminded me of how I almost backed out, I actually had to turn around in my seat and confirm that she was indeed there, sleeping peacefully in her car seat, as part of our family.  It was as though I had to see with my own eyes that my fear of a syndrome hadn’t stood in the way of having the joy of our third child.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Touring the ER
adoptive momma (China) Heather at Noodles, Tea and a Didi, Please… just a “regular” trip to the ER

The IEP Meeting
adoptive momma (China) AmFam at American Family… yet another frustrating meeting with the schools about an individualized education plan; this one specific to sensory issues

Different is not the same as weirdadoptive momma (domestic and foster care) Julie Martindale at Not Just an Ordinary Life… a sibling teaches his peers about differences

The circles of parent hellmomma to a child with special needs Ellen at Love That Max!… reflections on parenting after another blogger’s son passed away last week

Nothing Stops Samuelfoster parent living in China Carrie at the New Day Foster Home Blog… progress after just a few months of physical therapy

Corrie’s Miracleco-founder Lyndsey at The Morningstar Project Blog… a miracle for a little one whom everyone believed had Turners Syndrome

rumors in the SN program

We’ve recently heard some unconfirmed rumors about the possibility of increased flexibility in the SN program by the CCAA. Specifically, in regards to marital status and financial status for people interested in adopting older children or children with multiple special needs.

This could potentially be wonderful news for many prospective families.

We’d love to hear from anyone who has any information regarding this, please leave a comment or email at nohandsbutours@gmail.

We’ll keep you posted.

Perfect Timing

When my husband and I were engaged  (and ridiculously young), we talked about our plans for the future and for the family we someday hoped to raise. We mentioned adoption and sure, we agreed,  adoption was great, but to be honest, we viewed it as Option B.  You know, just in case Option A didn’t work out.  And please, we were still in college, for goodness sake.  Option A was several years off anyway.

On our first wedding anniversary, we walked down to the little university hang-out, “The Brick Oven”.  Oh, how I loved The Brick Oven.  On our student budget, though, I usually just enjoyed The Brick Oven through the heavenly aromas that wafted down the street as I walked past after classes.   But on our first anniversary, we splurged.  The funny thing was, that night nothing tasted right.  “Is it just me?” I asked my husband, “Or does your food taste off?”  “It’s just you,” he said, obviously enjoying his lasagna.  It was my first inkling that maybe something else was cooking in the oven.  And it wasn’t just pizza.  Option A was full-steam ahead, and he’d make his arrival just after graduation.

Then Option A, numero dos, came into our lives during my husband’s junior year of dental school.  By Option A, numero tres, my husband was mercifully (and finally) gainfully employed.  His practice was thriving.  We’d moved into what we considered our forever house.  And I felt done.  Complete.

When our youngest was three years-old, I had an impression that someone else needed to come to our family.   Oddly enough though, each time I prayed for confirmation that we should conceive another child, I felt that no, that wasn’t the plan.  I was baffled.  I’d had easy pregnancies, relatively easy deliveries, and frankly, we made some darn cute kids.  But the feeling was undeniable.  Another was to come, but not in the same way as our first three.  I shared this with my husband, stumbling over my words as I tried to vocalize the feelings that wouldn’t let go of my heart.  He listened quietly and then said, “I’ve felt the exact same way.”

At this point, I wish I could say we acted on these feelings immediately.  We didn’t.  This sudden change of plans scared us.  It scared us a lot.  So we circled a date on the calendar, a month later, and agreed that we’d both pray and research and talk again.  A month later, we were even more convinced that adoption was now our Option A and furthermore, that this child would come from China.  Now, this would be another great time for me to say that we got right to work and started filling out papers.  We didn’t.  We set a date again.  For a year this continued until I literally felt ill.  I’d felt queasy years before at The Brick Oven, but now I felt truly sick, both in body and soul.

In one of the most spirit-filled conversations I’ve ever had in my marriage, my husband and I tearfully agreed that we could not wait a moment longer.  And in that very instant when we said, Yes, we’re doing this, it was like a strong wind blew through our home, sweeping away with it every last remnant of fear.  In its wake was left joy and peace and hope.

At that time, we didn’t personally know anyone who’d adopted from China, an odd thought today, so I contacted a large agency I’d read about on the internet.  They sent me an information packet that included a contact list. I scanned the list for someone in our home state of Washington and dialed the number.  The woman I spoke to said she’d used this agency for their first adoption, and that they were wonderful, but that for their second adoption, they’d used a smaller agency, one that she felt offered a little more hand-holding.  Then she shared a story, one that would carry me through the months of waiting ahead of us.  “When we were in China, we toured our daughter’s orphanage,” she said.  “As we walked down the rows of cribs, I was struck with such sadness that all of the babies looked somehow the same.  I rationalized this, thinking that they were all baby girls, all from the same area of China, and so of course, they looked similar.  Then my husband said, ‘They have no hope in their eyes.’  And I knew that was it.  That was the similarity that brought me so much sadness.  They had no hope in their eyes.”

I couldn’t call the new agency fast enough.  No hope their eyes!    My child might already be born.   She might already have lost the hope in her eyes.  We started our wait in the Non-Special Needs program.  I didn’t even know anything else existed.  Nine months later, in another tearful conversation, and after more research, we knew our child would be one with special needs.  We e-mailed our agency and the very next day we saw our daughter’s face.  Amazingly, only two months later, she was in our arms.

When we talk to our children, and tell them about their beginnings, I hope each one of them knows that they were absolutely our Option A.  The timing may not have always been perfectly orchestrated, but it was ultimately perfect.  It was perfect because it brought us to them.  Our children.

Do You Really Love Me?

Today’s guest post is contributed by Connie, mom to eight children… two recently adopted (at the same time!) from China through the SN program, Kooper 14, and Kinley 2. Connie has shared their adoption story on our Family Stories page, and blogs about life as a mom of many at One More Ladybug.

There is a pattern emerging. One that was either non-recognizable or perhaps non-existent a few months ago in our 14 year old son.

It goes something like this: gently testing the boundaries, obedience, sibling interaction, affection, vulnerability…and then the emotional overload and outpour, usually in the form of anger. There seems to be no provocation for the anger. A comment or teasing gesture that it expressed often, which under normal circumstances would be inconsequential, suddenly becomes the catapult for an uncontrollable outburst.

While this pattern may look different in each child, I think it is common among children adopted as teens. So many elements of their past have a profound impact on their psyche. Perhaps neglect and/or abuse in the formative years, poor nutrition, poor education and institutionalization all cause the brain to develop ‘differently’. What has taken years to develop cannot be changed overnight.

So, why the outburst in the form of anger? Especially when everything seems to be going so well. As crazy as it sounds, that’s his ‘safe place.’ Becoming angry and distancing himself from his family, allows our son to remain disconnected with his feelings. As he begins to transition into accepting his new life, he becomes overwhelmed by his feelings. Maybe because they are unfamiliar or maybe because it means letting go of all he has ever known. Even though our son’s past was less than ideal, it was his. It was him.

These angry outbursts include backtalk, shouting, throwing objects, exaggerating and doing the opposite of what he knows is acceptable. It’s as if he’s saying, “Do you love me when I do this? How about this? Or this? Do you really love me?” He’s never known a ‘happy ending.’

After such an outburst our son used to isolate himself for hours and would refuse to eat or speak. We realize there are few things he can control, but two of those are what goes into his mouth and what comes out! The pattern is changing though, ever so slowly. Now he will go to his quiet place, the porch swing, and come back to apologize in a short time. By God’s grace, we are able to move on!

We still have so much to learn. I understand that love is not a feeling, rather a choice. In our family it’s a choice we make daily, sometimes every hour. According to our human nature, typically when people treat us badly, we can choose not to be around them. Not so in teen adoption. We get to choose daily to be with our son, no matter what. And that is how God’s love is manifesting itself in us.

We realize that apart from Him, there is no good thing within us. We can’t fathom His love for us when we reject and grieve Him, yet He chooses to pursue us and love us, showering us with His grace and mercy, not so it can stop here, but so we can extend the same measure to others. As God is patient with us, we must also be patient with our son. Since my Father endured so much for me, surely I can muddle my way through this season of trials, in His strength. Lord, grant me the strength to daily choose to love, no matter what, and show me how I can be Jesus to my son today.

Whatever Wednesday

Each Wednesday we post links from the previous week that touch on special needs adoption. Our hope is that these small snapshots provide you with a glimpse of life after adopting through China’s waiting child program… both the long-term blessings and the challenges that come with parenting a child with special needs. We also hope to raise awareness about a variety of special needs.

Dealing with naive and foolish behavior in older adopted children
adoptive momma (Uganda) and missionary Mama in Uganda at Transformed From Glory to Glory… why this behavior happens and how to deal with it

Why there have been no developmental posts thus faradoptive momma (domestic) marydell at Torrefaction… while she enjoys reading others’ developmental update posts, she has yet to do one herself – here’s why

SPD Blog Carnivaladoptive momma (foster care) Hartley at Hartley’s Life With Three Boys… a blog carnival for parents with children who have sensory processing disorder

Getting by with a little help from my friendsmomma to a child with special needs Janis at 5 Minutes for Special Needs… on the maze that is navigating the pharmacy, insurance company, therapist schedules and on and on

new glassesadoptive momma (China) Cheri at Love and Laughter Enrich the Soul… Twink gets new glasses, and her sensory self doesn’t like them at all

Getting Ready for Sophia’s Surgery Tomorrowadoptive momma (China) Jonni at The Chronicles of Mommia… on tubes and a frenectomy

how do you know?

What will my child look like?

Will I recognize my child when I ‘see’ them for the first time?

These are questions that I think all adoptive parents ask at one time or another, especially in the special needs program. If you’re anything like I was, you manage to find sweet little faces, faces that need a mommy and a daddy. And as you pour over the pouty lips, round faces and somber expressions, you wonder, “Is that him?” or “Could that be her?”

There have been several times over the years that I could have sworn I was looking into the eyes of my child. And yet, I was not theirs. They were not mine. And while I’m not certain why this happens, I believe that God uses these children that capture us, if only for a time, as an opportunity to teach us something. To stretch us. To make us consider something bigger and often better than we might have imagined on our own.

Adoption isn’t easy. Adoption through the special needs program definitely isn’t easy.

And one of the hardest things a prospective adoptive parent has to do is determine if indeed a child is meant to be part of their family forever.

As parents to five children through the SN program, my husband and I have experienced the spectrum of referral scenarios. Isabelle, our first daughter, was referred to us after a mid-stream switch from the NSN program to the SN program. This was way back in 2004, when there really wasn’t a line in the SN program… and a wait for a NSN referral from China was only 6 months. Unbelievable, huh?

When we filled out the SN checklist, we had a very specific list of needs we were open to, more than a few, but certainly not the entire list. And we were very specific on the age range we would consider. My husband really wanted to stick with our original 6-12 month age range, despite my best efforts to convince him otherwise. We were backed up against a wall time-wise as well, and knew that if we didn’t receive a SN referral in a short amount of time, our dossier would be too far gone and we’d receive a NSN referral. Which would have been fine, wonderful really, except for the fact that my heart was telling me our daughter was SN.

So when, with just a few weeks to spare, we got ‘the call’, we knew she was ours. Without a doubt. When we finally looked into the eyes of the child we’d waited for… did we ‘know’? No, not really. It was the circumstances that confirmed to our hearts that she was ours.

And indeed she was.

Our second daughter, Sophie, came into our lives in a decidedly different manner. I saw her tiny, angelic referral picture in a newsletter, emailed to me by a small agency. And I fell hard.

Honestly, when I saw her cherubic face my stomach dropped, my hands started sweating… I couldn’t even think straight. It was a very surreal experience, to be sure. We had only been home for a few months with Isabelle, though, and I just could not fathom how she could possibly be ours. But I emailed the SN coordinator anyway… and God worked out every single detail. Even a husband who happened to be deployed to the desert at the time. I traveled to bring her home just 8 months later.

We started for Jude before we had a referral. In fact, when we started for Jude, all we knew was that he was going to be a he. My heart had been broken for all the little boys in China, and we agreed that a little guy would be the perfect caboose for our family (yeah, right!).

I had contacted several agencies and filled out as many SN checklists. Several weeks later, out of the blue, one afternoon we received a call: “I have the files of two very little boys. One with a cleft lip and palate, and one with clubfoot.” We asked her to send us the file of the boy with clubfoot… we were so anxious to see his little face!

When the pictures opened up we both. just. sat. there. Please don’t misunderstand, Jude is (and was) darling! It’s just we didn’t recognize him. There wasn’t that immediate familiarity that we had expected. And without the dramatic circumstances to point us toward a yes like we had with Isabelle, we just weren’t sure.

Was his SN manageable? Yes.

Was he cute? Adorable.

Did he need a family? Absolutely.

But was he ours? We just didn’t know.

So we waited and prayed and prayed and waited. I was so conflicted, I insisted my husband make the final decision. He woke up one morning a few days later and, after reading Hebrews 11, said “Let’s bring him home.” And that was it.

Slowly and steadily I fell in love with that referral picture. I slept with it by my bed and carried it in my purse. And now that Jude has been home for three years, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that we didn’t insist on fireworks when we first saw his face. He is our son. We just needed to wait on God to confirm it in our hearts.

Shepherd came to us through a series of events that was undeniably God at work. We had determined that we were open to adopting again, and most of all open to another child with uncorrected clubfoot. Knowing that being stuck on any particular special need might keep us from seeing His plan, we filled out a checklist for Lifeline with lots of ‘yeses’ and ‘maybes’, and ‘either gender’ circled. We were told it would probably be several months until referral, due to the long list of families already waiting.

Imagine my surprise when just a week or so later, I got an email from the SN coordinator asking me to give her a call. Turned out that all the families, of the 40 in all that were waiting, none were open to boys. And it just so happened that they had an 11 month old little guy with, amazingly, uncorrected clubfoot. Who very much needed a family.

We didn’t even have to think about whether he was ‘ours’ or not, God had already confirmed it by the circumstances, and in our hearts.

And the cherry on top? He was the cutest little bug we’d ever seen.

And then there is Vivienne. Who managed to find her way into our hearts before we really even knew it.

I had been doing some research for No Hands But Ours and had been in touch with WACAP about their Promise Child Grants. And, because I just am who I am, I checked in every now and again on their waiting child page.

One day I came across a picture that I sent along to my husband… and the rest is history. He knew she was our daughter from the first moment he saw her. He later told me he was so certain “because she needs us.”

Looking back I’m not sure who needed whom more… Miss Vivienne has certainly found her niche in our besotted family.

So, when I am asked, “How did you know they were yours?” I don’t really have a solid answer. None of our children came to us in the exact same way. What I do know is that God confirmed each child in our hearts as we waited to hear from Him.

Sometimes He speaks in a shout, and sometimes in a whisper. Our job is to be sure we’ve got our mind, our eyes and our hearts open to what He has to say.

“And as Elijah stood there, the LORD passed by, and a mighty windstorm hit the mountain. It was such a terrible blast that the rocks were torn loose, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was the sound of a gentle whisper.” 1 Kings 19:11-12

free book download

Realistic Expectations - The first year home (click to visit site)

A 50 page guide on a variety of subjects…

A Different Perspective
by Cynthia Hockman-Chupp

Strategies for Building Attachment
by Karleen Gribble, BRurSc, PhD,

Top Ten Tips for Successful First Year Parenting
by Deborah Gray, MSW, MPA

Why Grandma Can’t Pick Up the Baby
by Sheena Macrae and Karleen Gribble

What is This Thing You Call Sleep?
by Dr Julian Davies, MD

Alone No More…Recognizing Post Adoption Depression
by Heatherly Bucher

Adding The Oldest
by Terra Trevor

Creating a Fit
by Carrie Kitze

“When Do You Tell a Child he was Adopted?” And Other Secrets We Shouldn’t Keep
by Adam Pertman

Unexpected Special Needs
by Nancy Hemenway

Positive Outcome: How Can You Combat the Effects of an Orphanage
By Mary Beth Williams, PhD, LCSW, CTS

The Impact of Trauma on the Adopted Child and Ten Keys to Healing Trauma in the Adopted Child
by B. Bryan Post

How to Find a Therapist Experienced in Attachment and/or Trauma
by the Attachment Disorder Network

Sensory Integration And the Internationally Adopted Child
By Barbara Elleman, MHS, OTR/L, BCP

Facts About Parenting a Child with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder
by Teressa Kellerman

How to Avoid the Syndrome of Parent Burn-Out
by Harriet McCarthy

Being an Ally to Families Raising Children with Challenges
by Ellin Frank

Help Your Child Ward Off a Mad Attack
by Lynne Namke, EdD

Being with Your Child in Public Places
by Patty Wipfler

Strategies to Deal with Anger and Power Struggles
by Christopher J. Alexander, PhD

When Adoptions Fail
by Kim Phagan-Hansel