We did everything backwards.
After watching our best friends adopt two girls from China, my husband and I were very open to adoption. However, we are both “take it slow” kind of people so it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I felt ready to build our family through adoption. My husband? He wasn’t quite ready.
I started looking at the waiting child photo listings, researching adoption agencies, and reading blogs. Here and there I would show my husband the short paragraph of information about a child saying, “We could handle this need,” or “Would this work for our family?” He would not even look at the photos – he had not been able to look at the photos of our friends’ girls until China approved their match. He just couldn’t bring himself to see the face of a child and then not see that child come home.
Fast forward a few years to when we had just bought a foreclosure home, which was in terrible shape. The ground floor had no running water because of the mold remediation that had been started. It was during this time that I saw a picture of a sweet little boy….I almost didn’t say anything to my husband because, if he hadn’t been ready before, there would be no way he’d say yes in the middle of the chaos of remodeling a home. But, that face in the picture nudged me forward….
“Um, Honey, the small bit of information on this sweet boy says he’s been on the shared list for 2.5 years, that his need sounds scary, but it’s really no big deal at all…”.
I tried to sound casual (I’m fairly sure I did not end up sounding casual). I almost didn’t believe what I was hearing when he asked me to find out more. I immediately emailed the advocate. The advocate sent me more pictures of this sweet boy and a link to a Chinese news program about him and a little girl in his SWI.
My heart melted the first time I saw his shy smile, and again….when my husband told me to request his file.
We had not even signed with an agency yet (remember, backwards), so we quickly applied to the agency our friends had used. We knew the agency was ethical and our friends were very satisfied, so why not? I think the folks at the agency were a little surprised at our application….we just wanted see one specific boy’s file, and an older almost six year old child at that.
We received his file and read the diagnosis: schizencephaly. Scary. Especially after researching it.
It is a congenital malformation in the brain’s structure. We held our breath and sent the file to our local International Adoption Clinic. The doctor reviewed the file, watched the video, and told us that the child in the video is walking, talking, writing, and overall functioning as a child should at that age. She said this is a child who is doing well, and that she would not be scared to bring him home. The doctor added at this point, she would treat him based on symptoms no matter what his diagnosis. And lastly, we should be prepared for possible seizures which are very common with schizencephaly.
After talking with the IAC doctor, we emailed the agency our letter of intent to adopt. I think our agency was even more surprised than we were. A few days later we received PA. That is when my husband saw our son’s face for the very first time! Now it was time to start our dossier, but our house was a mess. We had walls with no drywall, no kitchen, no downstairs bathroom. We combined working full time with dossier prep and did most of the home improvement on our own to save money. To this day I still have no idea how we did it.
Later that month, I went to a local adoption support group and the speaker was from Bring Me Hope camps. My older son had gone to one of their camps, so I was excited to learn more. Imagine my surprise when the speaker personally knew my “soon to be” son. And she had photos and videos of him on her laptop!
It was there and then that I was blown away by God’s hand in our adoption, and just knew from that point on, that this was what we were supposed to be doing – even if we were doing it backwards.
Eleven months after receiving PA, we were in China adopting our son. By then, we knew our friend’s easy adoption experience was not guaranteed. We had read everything we could, educated ourselves, and were prepared for anything (I thought). Our son walked into the room, was introduced to us, and never looked back. He proudly took our hands and walked downstairs with us to get our first family photo for the adoption decree. The funny thing is, I had not prepared myself for our son to join us so easily. My husband had to remind me to relax and let myself cuddle and tickle our son….because our boy? He was soaking it up.
Eventually his diagnosis was changed to mild cerebral palsy, and the advocate was right – his medical needs are no big deal at all.
So. If you are sitting there thinking about adopting, but holding back because you don’t seem to be following the usual route, go for it anyway…..
Sometimes backwards is the best way forward.
(We still do things a little backwards, but this little soul that was missing from our family is now here doing it all with us!)
-guest post by Bethany