July 6, 2017 will be forever imprinted on my heart.
But let me take you back to August 2003… I was minding my own business, listening to a radio broadcast, which had been my habit since becoming a Christian just two years earlier. Little did I know that day would mark a change in the course of our lives. As I listened intently to the testimony of an adoptive family, something changed within my heart as I heard of the plight of the orphan for the first time in my life. Seriously, in all my 39 years, I’d never known there were children all over the world whose greatest need was a family.
So with all the joy, fear, naiveté and faith we could muster, our little family of five embarked on our first journey to adopt from China. At that time, the length of the process was 15 months, and we hadn’t planned to tell anyone for nearly as long. We had to be sure this was truly from the Lord, because in our reality it simply didn’t make sense. We had built our home, just the right size for our three children. We were far from wealthy. We only knew one other adoptive family and, speaking of family, ours weren’t very supportive of the idea.
Still, we forged ahead, and the Lord affirmed His plans every step of the way.
Eleven months later we landed in China and met our beautiful 14 month old daughter. We traveled during the Mid Autumn Festival and spent three weeks in our daughter’s birth country. During this time, we fell in love with China and her people. But we also were awakened to the truth that this adoption was not about us. We realized there were millions of orphaned children, most living in less than ideal conditions, lacking care, from the most basic emotional to lifesaving medical. We returned home, forever changed, and with a resolve to do whatever the Lord asked of us in regard to the orphan.
2005 brought unexpected changes in the China adoption process, which delayed the journey to our next daughter, but in 2007 we traveled to bring her home. Then, in August 2007, we sensed the Lord calling us to consider adopting a child with a medical special need, and we soon found our son’s file, which led us to another adoption agency. This agency would ultimately facilitate our family bringing home seven more children from China.
It wasn’t always easy. In fact, there were months of fundraising for each process, arranging care for our children while we traveled, constantly looking to the Lord for affirmation as people tried to discourage us. We always got the strength we needed to create one more fundraiser, complete one more grant application, schedule another post-placement visit, and start another round of adoption paperwork.
In 2017, we had been home a year with our youngest little guy. We were busy with physical therapy appointments, evaluations and follow-ups for various medical needs, and we thought our family was complete. Then we saw him. A precious little boy whose needs left many questions, but in our hearts there was no doubt he was our son. We weren’t certain if China would grant our family approval as my husband and I were older than the newly regulated age limit, but our agency was willing to ask. The file transfer took precious time, but as soon as it was available, we submitted LOI immediately on July 3.
On Thursday, July 6, 2017 at approximately 7:30 a.m. I received one of the most devastating calls of my life. China had instituted regulations regarding family size, and our family was denied PA for that reason alone.
This precious little boy whom we had chosen, had prayed for and were willing to lay down our lives for would in fact not be joining our family.
We were shaken to the core. We already had teams in place to meet his medical needs, and our hearts were positioned to meet every other need, including loving him forever.
Through the tears we asked, “Why?” We had 14 years of favorable home studies; we had completed every post-placement report; and there wasn’t an agency between the two governments which didn’t know every single thing about our family. But the answer was no.
For months, we prayed and continued to ask our agency if there was any chance we’d be able to bring him home. Still the answer was no. And while we are heartbroken as a family, we are more devastated for him. Because he still waits.
As I write this, he is waiting for a family, ten months later.
The fall of 2017 brought a glimmer of hope to our family as we learned of another little boy whose medical needs were significant enough that it was believed China would allow a larger family to adopt him. In December we committed wholeheartedly to bring him home. We submitted the necessary paperwork, identifying our qualifications to not only parent him and meet his medical needs, but to love and cherish him.
Then we waited. And we prayed. We asked a few of our prayer warrior friends to join us in prayer. And we waited some more.
Then in March 2018 our hearts were again crushed to get the news that we could not adopt this little boy… due solely to our family size.
And still he waits.
These are only two of the thousands, maybe millions, of lives impacted by the sweeping changes in international adoption. Every life is precious, and every child deserves to be loved.
While our family is seeking our role in caring for the orphan, we live by the words of Mother Teresa, “Give yourself fully to God. He will use you to accomplish great things on the condition that you believe much more in His love than in your own weakness.”