Celebrating Miracles

January 22nd had been circled in red on our calendar. It was a Friday, and like all Fridays before it during the past year, that meant an interferon shot for Cholita. Wednesdays meant blood work, Thursdays meant lab results, Fridays meant interferon; it was the rhythm of our weeks during 2009. But this Friday was different; it was her last shot and we planned to celebrate. Based on her past labs and based on conversations with her doctor, we were not celebrating treatment success, but instead celebrating Cholita’s amazing resilience, her patience, and her strength. When the nurse had told us months before that it was obvious Cholita had failed treatment, I fumed. My daughter had not failed treatment. The treatment failed her. It felt like an important distinction.

And so we’d celebrate Cholita’s triumph; labs be darned. And since this was her day, she was allowed a rare pleasure–she could wear any outfit of her choosing in public.

We ate pizza, we played games, and our little girl who’d had well over one hundred needle pokes in 2009 smacked around a syringe-shaped pinata. It seemed therapeutic.

Cholita blew out 12 candles on her cake, one candle for each month of interferon.
And we went home happy, refusing to acknowledge the nagging sense of disappointment. “I have no regrets,” I told my husband later that night. “We did all the research we could have done. We knew the odds going into it. We’ll find something that works.”
I thought back to a year earlier, a few hours after Cholita’s first shot. One minute she was fine and the next she had a high fever and screamed over and over, “My body hurts!” I thought of the first time I had to give her the injection. My husband, the shot-giver, was gone with our son’s Boy Scout troop canoeing near the Canadian border and I had no choice. I sat with her on my lap, my hand shaking as I held the syringe. “Just do it!” Cholita said, rubbing her leg with the antiseptic wipe. Soon the wipe dried up. “Ugghh,” she said. “Now I have to get a new one.”
Two wipes later, and still I couldn’t do it. We heard music from the next room; her sisters were watching a show and Cholita wanted to join them. She sighed and rolled her eyes. I breathed deeply. Finally, I looked away and dropped my hand down. The needle didn’t go in, just bounced off her leg, and a trickle of blood ran down her thigh. I wiped it off, angry at my own squeamishness and leaned in close to see the hole I’d already made. Determined to not inflict two wounds on my daughter in one sitting, I did what seemed logical at the time but what even my four-year-old could see was a bad idea. I set the needle down on the hole, closed my eyes, and pushed. By this point, months into her treatment, she had some scar tissue and it took more force than I’d guessed. I kept pushing until finally it went in, accomplishing what had to be history’s ugliest injection. Before Cholita ran off to watch her show, she patted me on the back and said, “I’m proud of you.” I dropped the syringe in our sharps container and prayed that this would work, that it wasn’t all in vain.
Two days before Cholita’s party we had her final blood draw. The nurses at our local hospital hugged her; we’d brought them flowers, one of them brought Cholita a serrated grapefruit spoon. An odd gift for a four year-old, yes, but in the course of their conversations throughout the year they’d discovered they shared a mutual love for a tart zing in the morning and Cholita was thrilled with the gift. It would take a week for her viral load result to come in. At last count it had been 27 million. I didn’t need the doctor to tell me that wasn’t encouraging.
I went to pick up the final results during Cholita’s preschool time. I’d accepted the fact that the treatment hadn’t worked, but I wasn’t sure I could completely contain my emotion when faced with the irrefutable evidence. Cholita, just happy with her grapefruit spoon and shot-free Fridays, didn’t need to worry about why her mother was crying.
The nurse called the lab for the results and soon the fax machine hummed and my palms went sweaty. The nurse handed me the papers with a sympathetic smile. I walked down the hall to an empty spot. I scanned the labs until I found what I was looking for: HBV VIRAL LOAD–the place that was always followed by a number containing lots of zeros. This time there were no zeros. This time there was no number.
I screamed and immediately started to cry. The nurse jogged over from the nurse’s station and fanned some papers in my face. I think she was afraid I would faint. “Is it bad?” she asked. I shook my head. “It worked.” My voice was barely a whisper. I said it again, more loudly than I anticipated, “IT WORKED!”
I went to my car and with my forehead on the steering wheel, said a prayer of thanks. Never have words felt so inadequate. It worked. I looked at the labs again. I checked the name on top. I read it again and again. And then I saw something else. HBeAG, the “e” antigen which shows that the virus is replicating, the antigen that has always been positive on Cholita’s labs. Now it said HBeAG: NEGATIVE. I cried some more.
When I told Cholita the amazing news later that day, she said, “Awesome…..can I watch a video?” She is, after all, only four.
And being only four, as she grows older she may not even remember her year of shots. But I will remind her, especially when she’s faced with trials, that when she was tiny, she went through something hard and she did it with grace. I will remind her that she’s strong and that she’s a fighter. And I will remind her that even when the odds seem insurmountable, God can accomplish miracles.

Fitting In

You probably think I’m going to tell you that my adopted Chinese daughters are represented by that lonely red flower but if you guessed that, you’re wrong.

My girls are actually better represented by the two lovely yellow ones (no pun intended) in the upper left. Can you spot them? One is taller than the other and they’re both standing happy and proud right next to each other. Just as you’ll almost always find them here in the real world.

At first glance, the yellow tulips all look the same. But are they really the same? If you look closer, you’ll see that they have different sizes and shapes. Some bloomed sooner and are already starting to fade while others are still waiting for the perfect moment to show the world what they’re made of. Many have imperfect or broken or missing petals. Some are so tightly clumped together that they nearly disappear completely in a bright blur of yellow while others seem to prefer to stand all alone.

I thought about this photograph when Gwen and Maddy brought home their Kindergarten class photo last week. I quickly scanned all of the little faces for my two sweet girls and then I took a moment to stand back and examine the entire class photo in a bit more detail. My girls have been talking about most of these kids for months so it was fun to finally be able to put the faces and names together.

The first thing I noticed was that most of the kids were Asian. I always sorta knew this (since we researched the school before we moved here) but didn’t realize the ratios had grown to be this wide. I specifically looked for Caucasian kids in each class (my girls are in different classes) and I only spotted one. All of the rest of the kids were quite obviously Asian or Indian (one or two Black or Latino). Really, I’m not good at guessing but I’d say that the overwhelming majority (75% or more) were clearly Asian while the rest were Indian and a tiny fraction (like one or two kids total) were something else. Only one was unmistakably Caucasian and I couldn’t help but wonder how it was going to be for THAT kid growing up.

What does this mean to my kids?

I think it means that they are the ones who will have to be tolerant and open minded and accepting of classmates who are “different” (instead of the more common situation in International Adoption that it be the other way around). I’m glad my girls will fit in — in almost all of the immediately obvious ways — but I also hope they’ll be kind and compassionate and make the red flower kids feel like they belong and fit in too because some of those red flower kids will discriminate against them when the tables are turned. And the tables will turn constantly.

The world is much more multi-cultural than it was when I was growing up but that doesn’t mean that kids will automatically embrace all of those differences. My husband and I have a big job ahead of us because our girls won’t always be able to blend in. We need to prepare them for that. But we also have to prepare them for the reality that other people will feel like they’re unaccepted too. It’s a big job and I hope we’re up for it.

More about us at Double Happiness.

standing {out} for {something} good

Wanted or unwanted, being a transracial family means we attract attention.

Just today, my girls and I were eating lunch when an older lady sitting nearby asked, “What part of Asia are they from?” and then asked if she could give each of my girls a dollar bill. We kindly accepted the monetary gift even though it felt a bit odd. My daughters were delighted to get a treat but I was left wondering what motivated her actions. Would she have still done this if my children were white or if I were Asian? There was another young mom and her toddler that did not receive any attention from our fellow diner.

Living in a very homogeneous part of the country, we are used to standing out. Most of the attention we draw is from prospective adoptive families or fellow adoptive families. Then there are the well wishers that want to say something to affirm our decision to adopt internationally. Even if their wording may not be well crafted, I try to be polite and thankful in my responses. I’d rather affirm them for their ability to recognize adoption, which I hope is the first step to understanding the blessing of adoption. Our family can show the world that adoption is what we wanted… not what we ended up with as some still believe.

I didn’t always like being in the spotlight but now, like it or not, I am an ambassador for the adoption community. While most of the attention and comments are kindhearted, there have been some that were motivated out of banal curiosity or worse racial prejudice. Thankfully these incidents are few and far between, but now that my oldest is 5-years old, she remembers them with great clarity…more importantly she remembers how I handle myself in these situations.

While playing at our neighborhood park last year, a young boy called my daughter a racial slur directed toward Chinese which I won’t repeat. He also insisted she must be a laundry maid because her hair is black. Since he was maybe 5-years old, I’m guessing his poor opinion of Asians and Hispanics was taught to him by his parents. And because he was at the park with his less than observant nanny, I couldn’t even speak to a parent to address his terrible behavior (which wasn’t limited to his mouth). So I did the next best thing and spoke with the boy directly and told him that this is a place to have fun, not be mean, and that his comments were hurtful and cruel. I thought about leaving at that moment, but decided to put my daughter on the swings where she would be “safe” but still enjoy her special trip to the park.

I never had to deal with these issues when I was a child. I spent 30 years of my life blending in. With the exception of living in Japan, I have always been able to disappear into a crowd of Caucasians. Nothing about my hair color or height is remarkable, but when I became a mom of an extremely outgoing Chinese baby, I discovered I would never be in the shadows again. And frankly, I’m okay with that, because if one member of my family is going to stand out, I want to make sure she isn’t standing out there alone.

There are things that make each of our families unique. Some differences are visible, such as transracial adoption or a special need, but most are less visible, such as our values and our beliefs. Our family and our children will always be noticed in some way. When we do stand out, I want to stand for something good. I don’t want others to just see charity for an orphan (which may have prompted the $1 gifts). I want them to see the joy of adoption, the genuine love of a mother for her children and the blessing of those children. It is a message all parents can portray, but as we stand out in adoption we have more opportunities to say it.

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.

what’s black and white and grateful all over?adoptive momma (China) MAMA D at the life that was waiting… grateful to their school crossing guard after a conversation with her daughter, who has albinism, about melanin

Looking for answersadoptive momma (foster care) Julie at Not Just an Ordinary Life… a canceled MRI because of a last minute realization

Diagnosis: Stereotypymomma Janice at 5 Minutes for Mom… describing the condition stereotypy and how they came to diagnose it in her daughter

Problems with the Special Needs List
adoptive momma (China) the Rumor Queen at China Adopt Talk… describing what she’s heard about the inequities within the new system

An Update on Mr. Lukeadoptive momma (China) Sherry at Our Adoption Journey… a recent visit to the cardiologist yields some great news

Z. Is Z. Is Z.
an adoptive momma (China) at grrlTravels… an update about her daughter Z. after having a recent conversation with her husband

Memory Monday
adoptive momma (China) Sandra at The Daily Grind… looking back at the therapies first required after a cochlear implant surgery

let’s talk about talkingadoptive momma (China) BBMOMOF2BOYS at Baseballs and Ballerinas… a recent meeting with a private speech therapist leads to a diagnosis of verbal apraxia

The Past, The Present, The Future

Any good fiction writer knows that a character without a past is a cardboard cut out. No depth. No spirit. No life. An author can write all the angst and emotion she wants, but if her character comes from nowhere, her character will go nowhere.

The same is true of life. Without knowledge of where we’ve come from, we can never truly understand the direction we’re heading.

As an adoptive mom, I go days and weeks without thinking about my daughter’s past. She has transitioned so beautifully, fit so perfectly, that I’ve had little reason to question what came before. When I have thought of her past, my mind has only gone to what I know – that Cheeky’s foster family loved and cared for her.

But there is much more to my daughter’s past than that.

There are things my mother’s heart does not want to know, but that it must know if I am to help Cheeky process her life story.

Last night, I recieved the second installment in the story of Cheeky’s life before we met. It was as painful to read as the first. In it, China Mom describes an extremely delayed three year old who was so terrified that she wet her pants each time China Mom approached. She did not interact with the adults in the home. Nor was she able to feed or dress herself. She could not verbalize her needs and was so weak she could barely stand. Just fourteen days shy of her third birthday, she was developmentally on par with a twelve month old.

I felt sick when I read that Cheeky did not smile for nearly a week after arriving in the home. My girl never stops smiling.

I felt sick when I read that Cheeky was so desperate for food she cried when meals were finished. My girl enjoys eating, but she’d much rather be playing or singing.

I felt sick when I read that Cheeky would sit by herself for hours and never seek out companionship. My girl loves to be with others.

I felt sick when I thought of that neglected and scared little girl. That terrified and delayed child. That little one who would be mine.


Soul sick.

I do not want to know, but I must know. I do not want to believe, but the truth is before me.

I have been up at four the past two mornings. I have walked into my girls’ rooms, and I have looked down at Cheeky’s pale face, I have touched her soft cheek and I have cried for the baby she was. My heart has bled for what she didn’t have all those years ago. It would be so easy to turn my back on what I know, to hide it away and never reveal it to Cheeky.

One day, though, she will ask what her life was like before us and before China family. I know this as surely as I know that I will sit her down, I will look into her bright blue eyes and I will explain all that I know of her life.

The neglect.

The hunger.

The lack of affection and love.

The miracle of China Mom discovering her in a corner of the orphanage that long ago day.

The miracle of our adoption agency spotting her on the shared list and choosing her for us.

The miracle of us coming together and becoming a forever family.

Cheeky’s life is not a one sided story. It has its darkness and it has its light. Her character and strength come from all that she has experienced. Good and bad. Ugly and beautiful.

When the time is right, when she is ready and seeking, I will explain that to my darling girl.

For now, I hold her story close. It is not the lens through which I view her, but when it seems that she needs more cuddles than my other children, when I sense in her a quiet desperation to belong, when she comes to me with bags of candy that she’s hidden under her bed, I remember it.

Adopting an older child does not mean the past is gone. It simply means that it is hidden. It is our job as parents to reveal what we can of it, and then to remember. No matter how painful remembering may be.

our incredible boy

by a mother of a boy adopted from China with a SN of ambiguous genitalia

I first fell in love with his photo. I saw it on a Waiting Child listing. When I read the paragraph of background information and saw the words “ambiguous genitalia,” I didn’t really know much about the condition. At the time, we weren’t planning on adopting, so I just casually read a little more on the topic. Two months later, we requested his file.

It contained very little information. We knew he was healthy. We could see from photos and read from the description that his genitalia was different from that of other boys. We started thinking about adoption.

I contacted several doctors, including a pediatric urologist and a pediatric endocrinologist. The endocrinologist filled in a lot of gaps, explaining several possible diagnoses that would have led to his condition. Both doctors told us that they would do further testing after our son arrived home. After we accepted his referral we received the results of a chromosome test that a previous prospective family had ordered. The test revealed XY chromosomes that matched the gender in which he was being raised. But our endocrinologist explained that a lot more goes into gender than chromosomes or organs. She explained how a person’s brain “feels” male or female based on in-utero exposure to hormones. We learned that we could not rely on his chromosome test or his internal/external organs to completely determine gender. Our doctors told us that they would work with us to make the best possible decision on his gender after he arrived home. (Based on what we learned, I now believe that pre-adoption testing for children with disorders of sexual development (DSD) is rather pointless. Sending countries do not have the resources to adequately test children and invasive procedures subject children to unnecessary trauma. Our son was definitely traumatized by endless blood draws—requested by earlier prospective families—that really told us nothing of consequence.)

During our wait, I worried a bit. What if we got “him” home only to be told that he should really be a “her?” What would we tell people? How would people treat him?

Worry was a waste of time. The moment we met him, we knew he was “all boy.” Further testing revealed that he was born without testicles; they’d “vanished” in-utero, giving him the brain of a boy. His small phallus will grow with hormone supplements and he should lead a relatively normal adult life. Best of all? He is an extremely happy, healthy child who loves life and his family.

I’m aware that many consider this a “mental health” condition, assuming that children with DSDs will grow up to be unhappy adults. Previous generations of adults with DSDs were raised in an era where children were often surgically altered at very young ages to force them to look like one gender or another. As professionals and parents understand the importance of waiting to make irreversible surgical decisions, the future looks different for those with DSDs. Professionals estimate that 1 in 1000-2000 births are affected by some type of DSD. It’s common.

The number of waiting children with “ambiguous genitalia” is astounding. They are healthy children who just happen to have a difference in one part of their body. I can’t imagine life without our beautiful son. If we adopt again, we will adopt a child with a DSD.

Support groups for families of children with DSDs:

Yahoo Group for Intersex Kids from China

Yahoo Group for AIS/DSD Parents

Consider reading:

Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience by Katrina Karkazis

DSD Guidelines, a project of the Consortium on Disorders of Sex Development.

The Shirt and Her Finger: Self-Soothing Comes Full Circle

I was scrolling back through the photos … photos I was given by someone, someone who cares about our daughter.

I saw a detail I never noticed before. I think I have always stopped at her face. It says so much, too much for a little girl of 2 years old to understand. So much heartbreak, so much hurt, so much fear, so much trauma.

At the time this photo was taken, we were still awaiting our LOA for her adoption, and she was living out the most unimaginable over there. She had been in the hospital for weeks at this point, though we would not find that out until months after we came home. I have many more photos that I will not share, but one can piece together so much from them. Photos do tell stories.

You all are probably wondering what is the detail I noticed? It is jumping out at me now. Notice her little index finger on her left hand, tucked just inside her shirt.

I am filled with a mixture of deep and soul-aching sadness over this detail, because I now know what this action on her part means. I now know that it is a soothing technique for her. I now know that she does this still, except now she tucks her little index finger on her left hand inside my shirt. It used to be that she would tuck it just inside her blanket, but recently she started laying her head restfully on my shoulder and tucking her finger into my shirt.

The attachment process has been a journey these past 15 months with her home; it still is a journey that we don’t expect will ever quite reach a stopping point.

She has endured so much, so much I just can’t bear and do not ever care to share. She has endured more than most of us ever will in a lifetime: so much loss, so much pain, so much grief, so much fear, so much of this ALONE.

I can’t blame her for keeping her guard up for so long. Why would she not? I nearly cringe when I see other blogs of APs who come home to big parties and pass the child around just days after coming home. Or reading about how the child won’t sleep and how long should parents let them cry it out. Or reading about the child’s need to eat all the time, and how this is just not going to be allowed. Or wondering if they should disallow their child from sucking their thumb or using some other sort of self-soothing technique. We never even thought of discouraging our daughter from sucking on her 3 fingers on her right hand or from holding on so tightly to her own little shirt and blanket with that index finger. How could we have done that? It was all she had for so long.

It is no wonder she has taken this journey to allowing us all in, and one that continues to this day. It is no wonder she will take out one of her brothers if he playfully attempts to snag one of her gold*fish. It is no wonder that she wanted to soothe herself for so long.

What other choice did she have for 3 years? She had to fight off others for her food, she had to brave it out in the hospital for weeks on end with no Mommy or Daddy there to hold her hand as they inserted the adult-sized needles in yet another place on her tiny hands and feet. She had to longingly tug at her own shirt with her little index finger as she drifted off to sleep alone.

Yes, unwinding that defensive little solitary person inside and helping and encouraging her to be the little child God created her to be … helping her learn to trust and to love unconditionally and to accept unconditional love … it takes time … and understanding … and tears … and steps forward … and a patient heart when she needs to take a step back. And a soft place for her to lay her head and tuck in that little index finger … knowing that finally she’ll never have to face the storms of life alone again.

This post is really not one that is neatly finished and tied up with a pretty bow, because life sometimes just isn’t neat or pretty.

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.

3rd Eyelid Surgery Tomorrow
adoptive momma (China) Jenn at Love Like Crazy… a momma worries before her daughter’s third surgery

Two ears are better than one
adoptive dad (China) Glen at Our Journey to Norah… discussing his daughter’s upcoming second cochlear implant surgery

A Year Ago Tonightwaiting to adopt (China) the Wilx Family at Everyday Miracles… describing the past year, watching their future son grow and thrive in New Day’s foster program

Cleft Issues You Deal Withadoptive parents (China) the Straights at Straight Talk… why cleft lip/ cleft palate is NOT a minor need because it is an everyday need

Sharing all I learned from the Denise Best conferenceadoptive momma (Haiti) Christine at welcome to my brain… sharing tips and tricks she learned from the “Thereaputic Interventions for Traumatized Children” conference

Top Ten Reasons to Get Your Tonsils and Adenoids Out
adoptive momma (China) Steffie at Never Too Many… having fun in spite of a recent surgery

older child adoptionadoptive momma (China) Lori at JOY Unspeakable… sharing her heart about adopting an older child

Update on Joel: Open-Heart Surgeryan adoptive momma (China) at Room For At Least One More… waiting to travel, they receive a medical update about the son they will soon adopt

adopting SN step two: the paperchase

This is the second post (read first post here) that attempts to answer the oft asked question:
“How do I get started? We have decided we want to adopt a child from China through the special needs program, but what do we do next?”

Once you’ve chosen an agency, the real work begins.

It’s time to start the mind-numbing process of collecting paperwork for your dossier.

And as ridiculously long winded and painfully difficult it might seem at times, believe me, it’s totally worth it in the end.

Whether you’ve ‘found’ your child yet or not, you still must complete all the necessary paperwork to be approved both by the USCIS and the CCAA to adopt from China. This phase of the adoption is knows as the “paperchase”. Each adoption agency has specific guidelines to follow for compiling this paperwork, which is one of the reasons it’s generally recommended to sign up with an agency before starting your paperchase.

Shortly after applying to and being accepted by an agency, you should receive a very large binder, or something similarly gargantuan, that will spell out in great detail how to compile your dossier. Expect this binder to be the place in which you will spend every spare moment for the next several months.

I’m not gonna lie. This phase of the adoption process is no fun. But, like I said, every ounce of effort is totally worth it when you are holding your newly adopted child.

The *key* component to a dossier is the USCIS approval, also known as the i800A. It is so important because firstly, you can’t adopt an orphan without it. And secondly, it’s generally the most time consuming portion of the dossier compiling process.

The documentation required to apply to USCIS for your i800A is as follows:

1. Proof of U.S. citizenship
2. Proof that you are married and that any previous marriages ended legally (ie. divorce decrees)
3. A complete and current home study
4. Proof that you have complied with the pre-adoption requirements of the state in which you will live with your adopted child, if necessary
5. The required filing fee for your application
6. Fingerprints for all household members over the age of 18, collected by the USCIS
*more information here

Because a homestudy is required to apply for USCIS approval, the best and most expeditious way to get started on your dossier is to get started on your homestudy. Generally, four or more visits with your social worker are necessary. And that takes time. Also required are state clearances, financial information, autobiographies, reference letters, physicals and, depending on the state in which you reside, various and sundry additional information.

Soooo, the sooner you can get started on your homestudy, the sooner you can apply to the USCIS for your i800A.

Typically, a homestudy takes 4-6 weeks to complete, but much depends on your social worker and your homestudy agency. A good question to ask when interviewing a homestudy agency is their timeframe for a completed homestudy. I made the mistake of not asking this question with our first adoption and our homestudy took a ridiculously long four months to complete. Believe me, once you’ve seen your child’s face, four months waiting on your social worker will be way too long.

While your homestudy is in progress, you can begin to collect the other documents required for your dossier.

Dossier documents you’ll need to collect are:

  • Birth certificates for each parent (less than one year old)
  • Marriage certificate (less than one year old)
  • Physical for each parent
  • Employment verification and, if necessary, non-employment verification
  • Letter of Intent to Adopt written to CCAA
  • Financial Statement
  • Police Clearances for both parents
  • Passports ~ copies of photo pages of each parents’ passport (so if you don’t have a passport yet, apply for one right away)
  • Photos ~ depicting family life, number varies by agency
  • I800A approval from USCIS

Some agencies require a completed dossier before you are allowed to review a child’s file, while others will allow you to review files before you’ve even begun your paperwork. So if you’re committed to bringing home a child from China, even if you haven’t *found* your child, it is the perfect time to start climbing that mountain of paperwork. Yes, now.

I promise, it will be totally worth it in the end :)

Next post up in the series ‘adopting SN: the process’…

Finishing The Paperchase: Authentications, Certifications and Notarizations.


**This post is not, in any way shape or form, intended to be the difinitive guide on compiling your dossier. It was composed under the influence of a faulty memory, mothering many small children, and extreme jet lag. Your opinions, comments and corrections are greatly appreciated.**

Choosing Your Child…SN Adoption…My Thoughts and Experiences

This post originally ran on my blog last August. The response to it was so strong that I felt I should post it here as well.

I am writing this post because I have been contacted by several Moms who were in this place in their journey. The place where you are looking at the file of a child and you have to tell your agency whether or not you accept him or her by 5pm tomorrow. Sometimes you don’t even get that much time. Sometimes you are being pressured that if you don’t accept this referral, it may be a long time before you get another.
You are looking at the face of a beautiful child. You were so sure you would know instantly when you saw your child’s face…but you don’t know for sure with this one…you look for any clue, any sign that this is the one.
You read every word in the referral over and over. You forward the referral package to your pediatrician and any specialist you can find. You are typing medical conditions into google search that you cannot even pronounce.
The little face is tattooed in your brain. This is a child living somewhere in the world who needs a family and their fate is in your hands. You could be their mother. All you have to do is say ok.
The anxiety creeps in. Is the file accurate? Can I handle this SN? How will this condition work with our family?
You cannot eat, your stomach is in knots. You cannot sleep…you toss and turn all night long. Is this my child? What should I do?
You pray…literally fall on your face before God begging Him to tell you…give you a sign.

Sophia was the fifth file we reviewed. I had no peace and God was quiet while I suffered through the first four files and let the little girls move on to their forever families. It was hell. That is the only way to describe what I went through. Emotional hell. I questioned my faith, had I not been strong enough to accept the child meant for me? Had I missed a sign from God and let my daughter pass through my fingers?

File Number 1: Beautiful little girl with repaired spina bifida. Her birthday was my Grandfather’s birthday and she had the double cowlick that runs in our family. We thought for certain that this was our girl. Many people fear spina bifida children, but I know through my relationship with Amanda at Starfish that these children can be healed and live wonderful lives and they deserve families. We sent the referral packet off to our pediatrician and he thought some things needed clarification.

The file stated she was standing and walking. He wanted to know if she had bowel control and if she could walk unaided. We contacted our agency and asked them to call the orphanage and ask these questions. They did. IF YOU HAVE A MEDICAL QUESTION THAT NEEDS TO BE ANSWERED IN ORDER FOR YOU TO FEEL COMFORTABLE ACCEPTING A REFERRAL, HAVE YOUR AGENCY CALL THE ORPHANAGE. THEY CAN AND THEY SHOULD.
We found out that this little girl was completely paralyzed from the waist down. The information in our referral packet was incorrect. We sadly turned down the referral. We had decided early on what SN’s we could handle positively and at what severity and this was too severe for us. BE HONEST WITH YOURSELVES ABOUT WHAT SN’S YOU CAN HANDLE.

File Number 2: Almost the same situation as file number one, except we could not get the information we needed to feel comfortable accepting the referral back from the orphanage. They would not cooperate with us enough for us to feel comfortable moving forward, so we turned down the file. IF YOU CANNOT GET ENOUGH INFORMATION TO FEEL COMFORTABLE MOVING FORWARD WITH THE ADOPTION, IT IS OK TO SAY NO AND LET IT GO. All of the children whose files we reviewed found their true forever families. It was never us.

File Number 3: This one was the most difficult. Absolutely darling little girl with a heart condition. Thank you thank you to my friend Kelly who gave me the name of a fabulous cardiologist. We believed with all of our hearts that this was our daughter. I will always carry her with me. I sent the referral to my pediatrician who said that she would definitely need a second surgery (she had already had one in China), but that he thought it looked ok. I also sent the file to a pediatric cardiologist who called me within an hour to tell me that this little girls situation was grave, she wouldn’t live past her teens. I have an excellent pediatrician, but he is not a heart specialist. FIND A SPECIALIST WHENEVER YOU CAN TO REVIEW YOUR REFERRAL. If we had not sent our file to a specialist, we would be the parents of a child who would pass away much sooner than we would be ready for her to.

File Number 4: This file never seemed right to me. I got the call from our agency and they sent over the file of a little girl with an eye condition. Her eye would need to be removed. We had asked for the referral of a little girl younger than Eli. We did not wish to adopt out of birth order. Our agency misread this little one’s birthdate and thought she was a year younger than she actually was, she was truly older than Eli. I just knew in the pit of my stomach that this wasn’t my daughter. We turned down the file.

Sophia’s File: I got the call from my SW. She sent the file. I opened it up and refused to fall in love. I just didn’t have it in me. I was afraid of investing in another little girl, I was afraid of the anguish again. I sent the file to Tim. He was instantly smitten. I sent the file to our pediatrician and to the same cardiologist who had given us the terrible news about the other little heart girl whose file we had received. It was 2:30pm and I was told I had until 5pm to decide on whether or not I would accept this little girl and that they had other families who they knew would take her. Thank goodness the cardiologist’s office called back within an hour. They told me that this little girl’s condition was much better than the last and that they thought she looked good and that if they were in our shoes, they would accept the referral.
I had been praying to God to please help me, to please give me a sign. I didn’t need a burning bush (although that would be great). And then I noticed the red maryjanes. I know it sounds random, but it was not random to me. I knew it was God and that He had heard me all of those times before and that His silence was my answer regarding the first 4 files. Those girls were not mine.
But this girl was meant for me. I had peace. I had no sleepless nights. There were no knots in my stomach. Every obstacle in our path was removed. Our daughter came home.

IF I CAN GIVE ANY WOMAN WHO IS GOING THROUGH THIS COMFORT, PLEASE FIND IT IN THIS: I do not believe that God will allow you to miss your child. It’s too big. It just is. He will let you screw up a lot of things in your life, but I do not believe this is one of them. God has a purpose and plan for your life and for the life of your child. He is not going to let you adopt the wrong child who was intended for another family and He is not going to allow another family to adopt the child meant for you. I truly believe this. It’s just too big.

I also want to say that I am here if anyone needs someone to talk to. You don’t need to worry about how well you know me or whatever. If you are going through this time in your journey and you need someone to talk to, e-mail me and I’ll get you my phone number