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Posts tagged ‘Adoption’

China Said “No”, So Now What? 

For those of you not playing along at home we have five children. We have three biological children, and two kids adopted from China. We submitted paperwork to the Chinese government to adopt another little girl which was summarily dismissed by their authorities on the basis of our low vision. We appealed the decision to no avail.  For the last 2.5 years we have been working and planning to adopt again. My children  were super excited to have another little sister, and to go back to China. That door has been closed for our family, so now what? 

First, we are broken hearted for the daughter who is loved and desperately wanted, but will never know it. I pray almost hourly that another family will  step forward for her. She has medical needs that  are not being met in China. She very likely has a rare genetic disorder that her care takers don’t even know she has. It requires screenings that she is not getting in China. Knowing that God loves her, sees her, and knows what she needs even more than we do is the only thing that makes this bearable. 

We are shocked, and angry. This is straight up discrimination, and it would be illegal here in America. We were denied based soly on having a disability. They ignored our proven track record of TWO OTHER CHINESE ADOPTIONS. They ignored our glowing post placement reports for those two kids. They ignored our videos showing us to be capable parents. They ignored the letter our oldest  adopted daughter with spina bifida wrote telling them how she is now learning  to walk because of the medical care she received since being in our family.  They saw the diagnoses of low vision, and that was that.
Despite our heartache we will choose greatfulness. We are grateful for the two children we do have from China.  Both of our adoptions had someone in China try to disrupt the adoption when they knew we had low vision. With the adoption of our first son we were in China signing the final paperwork . The lady made a phone call, and was on the phone for a good 10 minutes. We thought nothing of it, but later our translator told us the woman took one look at my husband’s cane, and called  the social welfare people to ask if they were sure she should let us take Kai home.  With our daughter one part of the process was taking longer than it should. We found out later that a particular person was campaigning for us not to be able to adopt her. Apparently the same person is the one who rejected us this time. Every child added to our family, be it through biology or adoption, is a mirical of God. The last few days has been a sobering reminder of that.

We will choose love. It is tempting for us to harden our hearts against China, but we are going to choose love, and mercy. This is the first home of two of our children. If we reject China it would be rejecting part of our children. We loved our time in China, and hope to visit again some day. Telling my teenage daughter who was only adopted 18 months ago, and was really looking forward to going home agin, that we couldn’t was heartbreaking. We will continue to support other China adoptive parents, and agencies serving Chinese orphans. 

We are going to choose faith. The song “Trust In You” by Lauren Daigle conveys our feelings perfectly. Adopting a third child from China to complete our family has been a dream, and goal go ours for seems like forever. We did all the “right” things to make that happen. The reality of that not happening now was crushing.  BUT, like the song says, we will lay that dream at His feet. We also know that when God says “no” to a dream it’s either because it’s not for you, or because He has something better planned. Either way we trust Him, and will accept it even if we don’t understand. 

We are going to choose hope, and go where He sends us. China is closed to us, but we still have room in our hearts and home for another child. We are exploring other options to complete our family both international and domestic.  China was comfortable as we had done it twice, and know exactly what to expect/do. We aren’t sure what will happen next, or that we will even ever have a sixth child. But, we aren’t giving up now. We definitely know what James 4 :13-15means. If the Lord wills it we will add another child to our family. I am a planner, and don’t do well with uncertainty, or rejection for that matter. We are choosing to consider this a season of growth and refinement.  

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For At Leat One Child,No, Five Isn’t Enough

My husband and I have recently started telling our friends that we are ready to adopt again, and are actively searching for a little girl to round out our family. To be sure many of our friends and family have been excited and supportive. However, the most common response is a look of half confusion, half shock accompanied by the words ” What? Five kids isn’t enough for you?”.  They say it as if somehow we are being unreasonable or even irresponsible with our choice to add another child to our family.  It’s almost as if adding another child is like adding a luxurious accessory such as a sports car, or vacation home. I mean seriously, just how many of those do you need? Mostly I respond with a polite grin, and chuckle, but this is what I am screaming on the inside. 

For us, five is enough. It’s enough laundry, and meal prep, and homework, and after school activities, and, and, and……. 

But, for at least one little girl sitting in an orphanage half way around the world tonigh, five isn’t enough.

 For the little girl who waits for a mamma to love her through the good times, and shepherd her through the bad ones, five isn’t enough.

 For the little girl who doesn’t get enough to eat, or have access to quality healthcare, five isn’t enough. 

For the little girl who even if she is lucky enough to get medical care doesn’t have a mom to advocate for pain management or even make sure her lunch is served in the hospital, five isn’t enough.

For the little girl who even if she is in a “good”orphanage still sleeps in a room full of cribs or cots, five isn’t enough. 

For the little girl who will be on her own after she ages out, and likely will have trouble getting a job due to her “orphan” status, five isn’t enough.

For the little girl who isn’t allowed to go to school because of her special need, five isn’t enough.

There is a little girl half way around the world who needs a FORVER family. A family to love her, protect her, and provide for her as much as they can for as long as they can. We have room in our hearts and our home for another little girl, so how could we not add another child to our family?  The saddest part is that six isn’t enough either. Neither is seven, or eight, or even 100. For that reason, my prayer is that every person who feels the tug of adoption on their heart would be able to overcome the fear and doubt to open their heart to “one less” little girl or boy who needs them. 

We Aren’t Awesome People, We Serve An Awesome God

I’ll be the first to admit my husband and I aren’t like all the other families on the block. For starters, we are visually impaired. This means we live our life using public transportation as neither of us can drive. Second, we have five children, and two of them are adopted from China.Two of the three of our biological children are also visually impaired. Our oldest adopted daughter has Spina Bifida, and uses a wheel chair. She is very independent, and a great kid, but there are lots of doctor visits to schedule, and medical bills to pay. Not to mention that with five kids there is more food to buy, more laundry that needs washing, several schedules to iron out, and some one is almost always in need of correction. But, that  also means there are more birthday celebrations, more laughter, its never boring, and there is almost always someone to play with.  We live crazy, super fun, super loud, and sometimes stressful lives.
We have great friends and family who love us, and support our decision to build a large-ish family through both birth and adoption. In an effort to be encouraging I often hear “Y’all are AMAZING! I don’t know how you do it. I COULD NEVER DO SOMETHING LIKE WHAT Y’All HAVE DONE.” While I know people say this with nothing but love and respect, it makes me cringe.

I cringe because it vastly diminishes the role of God in our lives. There is nothing extraordinary about us except when God called we said “yes”. We were just as scared about an unknown future with adopted children as anyone would be. Like everyone else we wondered where the finances were going to come from, and if we had enough emotional reserves to parent kids from hard places. We worried about the impact on our three biological kids, and what if we had a child with big hurts that led to big family problems.  BUT, we were more confident in God’s abilities than we were  not confident in our own.

You see, we are confident that God doesn’t ask for what He isn’t willing to provide for. We are confident in His Word, and His promises. We are confident that aligning our life with His priorities will always be more fulfilling, than living with worldly comforts. We are confident that He sees each of our children, and will provide them with hope and a future. We are confident that God is our redeemer, our healer, and our source of  strength in times of weakness. There are those hard, messy days that make me feel like a failure, and doubt my ability to shepherd this crew. I remember that I am not enough, nor will I ever be enough, but I am confident that He is. I am confident that  His grace fills in, and restores all of the cracks.

At the end of the day we are just as frail and human as anyone else. By thinking we are somehow better than average it kind of lets people off the hook. It says others don’t have to do what we have done, because somehow they have the mistaken belief that we are more equipped. Don’t get me wrong, I get that adoption is a calling that not everyone has. But, I’ve heard  1,000 times  “I’ve thought about/wanted to adopt/foster, but….”  My prayer is that all of those who have even the smallest seed of orphan care planted in their hearts will bravely say “yes” to that calling. Does it require sacrifice? Yes. Is it hard and uncomfortable sometimes? Yes. Do we sometimes mess up in even big ways? Yes. But, there is no sacrifice or mess up too big for God to heal, and redeem. I cannot tell you how amazing it is to be a active participant in a small piece of God’s redemption story in the life of a living breathing human being who needs you. 

“We adopt not because we are  redeemers, but because we are the redeemed.” Sermon by David Platt 

What if We Weren’t Brave Enough to Say “Yes”? 

The first time I saw Quinn’s advocacy video I couldn’t stop thinking about her. We decided to adopt again from China, and honestly thought we were looking for a young girl with vision issues. Low vision is something we have lots of experience with, and are comfortable living with. Quinn didn’t have thick glasses, or a blind cane: Quinn had a wheelchair.  I saw a remarkable child with such resiliency, intelligence and kindness, but that wheel chair scared me. I prayed for her mother to find her. I knew in my heart that she needed a family if she was ever to have a real chance at life. But, that wheel chair scared me.  Over the next month or so I looked over hundreds of kids’ advocacy files, but Quinn was always on my heart. I just kept going back to that website, and back to her video. I must have watched it a dozen times.

Over time I started to wonder if she could be our daughter. We even contacted her adoption agency and asked to review her file. But, she was an older child? Could we deal with the emotional needs that sometimes come with that? But she had spina bifida, and used a wheel chair. But, we live in a two story house, and have no ramps or bathroom bars? But we don’t drive, and use public transportation?  But how would we pay for the medical bills? But…..but…..but?  We weren’t brave enough, and sent her file back.

A week or so later we still couldn’t stop thinking about Quinn or watching her advocacy video. The fact is, she was a real human being who needed a family. We are both firm believers that God doesn’t ask for what He will not provide for. Although we weren’t sure how it would all work out we took a running leap off the cliff of faith trusting that God would be there to catch us. We called the adoption agency back, and signed the first documents on the long road to make Quinn our daughter.

We brought Quinn home on August 1, 2015. Turns out we haven’t made any adjustments to our home. She can pop her wheel chair up to get through the threshold of our house. She doesn’t need any bathroom bars or bath stools in the tub. She scoots up and down the stairs on her bottom. She went to school in China so we started her in school here with our other kids. She is doing great. Our school has bent over backwards for her, and she is a very self motivated English language learner. She is a nice likable child, and has had no trouble making friends. Especially now that her conversational English is good. Have we had our issues? Yes. Have we had our fair share of meltdowns, and rages? Yes. But, all in all she has melted into our family. It’s almost as if she was always here. She has taught us so much about choosing joy, and determination.

About three weeks ago she needed a major spinal cord surgery. She had a tethered cord and lipoma meaning her spinal cord was attached somewhere it shouldn’t be near the base and it was covered in a type of fat. It was causing a whole host of problems with her body including scoliosis and really tight leg muscles. Her bladder was also affected.  Turns our her case was more difficult than the doctor thought, and a 3-4 hour surgery double into an almost 8 hour surgery. The next three days were very painful, and she had lost all of the functioning in her legs ( her right leg she could temporarily stand on, and used it a lot to get round).  She was afraid that her body would never work the same again, and that physical activities would be even harder for her than before. She was over the extreme pain and having to stay perfectly still in bed. I could see the light that fueled her determination and resilience starting to flicker and burn out. I was over it too. I was doing my best to stay strong and be encouraging for her, but I started to doubt my decision to have the surgery. I went in the bathroom and cried.

I looked up into the mirror with my mascara streamed face, my lipstick and hair a big old mess. I hadn’t slept more than an hour or so at a time in days.  At that moment a Bible verse flooded my heart. It was almost as if the Holy Spirit spoke it too me. It was 2 Timothy 1:7 “God didn’t give us a spirit that makes us weak and fearful. He gave us a spirit that gives us power and love…” It reminded me that fear always boils down to a lack of faith. I cleaned my self up, brushed my hair, and decided then that no matter what I was going to trust God. I was going to trust that He placed this child in our family (Psalm 68:6). I was going to trust that He knows ever last hair on her head, and sees what she goes through (Matthew 10:29/31). I was going to trust the plan even if I couldn’t see it. Even if it didn’t look like what we expected, or seemed harder. I was going to trust that it was good. (Jeremiah 29:1)  I was determined to cast out the doubt and fear in my heart, and replace it with trust.

Fast forward three weeks, and she is doing great! She gets more strength and movement in her legs every day. She can now use her legs in ways she couldn’tdo before the surgery. We celebrate with joy and thanksgiving every sign of progress. The hard parts were very hard, but they are over for now. Her body is healthier, and will continue to get stronger. She faces one more surgery later this summer to fix her knee. The tethered cord caused her left leg to bend and get stuck in a bent position. This will be a long 2-6 month recovery, but by Christmas she should be good to go. 

The one thing that haunts me is what if we had said no? What if we hadn’t been brave enough to say yes, because we almost weren’t. We knew nothing about wheelchairs or spinal cord surgeries. All we had to go on was a love in our hearts for this child, and an unshakable belief that God doesn’t call the equipped, but He absolutely equips the called. It haunts me knowing she would have never received these surgeries in China, and would have likely lost functioning as she aged eventually going from an orphanage to a nursing home. The beautiful, determined, intelligent, kind, helpful, joy filled light that shines so brightly within her would never been given the chance to fully develop. Today, because we said “yes”, that won’t happen. Plus, turns out, wheelchairs and tethered cords aren’t nearly as scary and unmanageable as it once seemed.

If God is speaking to your heart about something do it, say “yes”. Even if it is scary. Even if you have no idea what you are doing. You will, and although there will be had spots, it will be an amazing journey. I am happy to talk with anyone considering adoption, or about parenting a child with special needs. It really isn’t that scary, and you really can do it! 

 

STUCK, Coming To A Theatre Near You!

Almost daily someone asks me about our adoption. The most frequently asked question is “When will you go get him?”. Their jaw almost always drops when I have to say “Not for another six to eight months..” Yes, our home study showing we are fit parents is complete. Yes we have completed our required 12 hours of training, and have read several books to prepare ourselves. Yes, we have gathered all the necessary legal documents. Yes we have completed a finger print back ground check. Yes, we have prepared our home for the addition for another child. We have been declared fit parents, and that we are a safe and loving home for this little boy. So….what’s the hold up? BUREAUCRACY!!!

I shouldn’t complain too loudly. Our adoption should take about 12-15 months. That is much shorter than the average time of three plus years. There is a disconnect between the many families available for adoption here in the USA, and the children waiting for them in orphanages around the world. This has been one of those situations where you just shake your head in sorrowful disbelief, but you don’t really know what you can do to change it. Wellll……..a new nonprofit has popped up to address this issue. The mission of Both Sides Burning is to raise awareness about adoption as a viable option, and to facilitate a change in the current system of international adoption. In an effort to raise awareness of the problems engulfing international adoption they have developed a full length documentary titled “Stuck”.

The film will be available in select theaters across the country! It is comming to my city, and I could not be more thrilled! In fact, I have even volunteered to help get the word out to faith based organizations. You can find the dates and city listings here just scroll to the bottom to find the calendar. All proceeds from the movie go back into the campaign. If you cannot attend a showing here are some other ways you can make a difference.

First, sign the petition to congress.
Second, share this blog post on your Facebook page. Or, add a link to their website to your Facebook or twitter account.
Third, if you do live in a city where Stuck is showing you can be part of their volunteer core. They have jobs for people from involved to very simple. I am sure there is something for everyone.
Last, you can become a “Member” of the organization for a donation of $35 or more. Members get special access to the progress of the organization as well as a wrist band identifying you as a supporter of children and families.

It only takes a minute to sign the petition and hit the share button. I hope that if you agree that all children should be given the basic right to be nurtured and loved by a family that you will take a few minutes to help create a positive change in the international adoption machine.

A Simple Book Of Stamps

After my mom’s death I found a book of stamps in her wallet. The receipt was next to it showing she had purchased these stamps just a couple of weeks before the cancer diagnosis. As I placed one on yet another envelope I wondered what she was thinking when she bought them. Was she excited about visiting for Keegan’s first birthday? Maybe she was irritated that the line was too long, or overwhelmed with the number of errands she had to accomplish that day? The point being that I am sure she wasn’t thinking that in a few short months her daughter would use them to mail her death certificates. The day she bought those stamps was like any other of the thousands of days before it. In fact she had 55 years 10 months, and 4 days to live her life. Once it was over it was over. No take backs or second chances.

My parent’s deaths has made me acutely aware that my life will end one day. Days have a way of trickling into weeks, winding through creeks of months, and emptying into a sea of years. Someday God will call me home. I am no Biblical scholar, but when I leave this world, and stand before God He is not going to ask me how large of an inheritance I left for my children or how updated my kitchen was. I even have a feeling that we won’t spend that much time talking about my sins or shortcomings as a human. After all he sent his Son to be a sacrifice for my sin, and make me clean once more. Instead I think He’ll ask me what I did to serve others, and make a difference in the world. He’ll probably talk with me about the missed opportunities I had to serve others, or the excuses I made when I felt His calling me to do something. Excuses like ” I’ll do it later when….I have more money….more time….my children are older…I retire.”

I now realize that ” someday” will be my day, and my time on earth will be up. No matter how much money I had, how smart I was, or how much stuff I accumulated my life will forever after be measured by the memories of others. I better start figuring out what impact I want to make on this world. I am only one person, but God can accomplish much through one person. God is preparing each of us for a journey. For me, adoption has always been in my heart. It wasn’t until after twelve years of marriage, three biological children, and the death of my parents that I became financially, and emotionally stable enough to pursue an international adoption.

Before my parent’s death I would have been much too fearful of the unknowns to adopt; especially a child pushing six years old. I would not want to disrupt my life meeting the possible emotional needs of an adopted teen. I would have felt like it would put too large a financial burden on my other three children. I didn’t realize this at the time, but my highest priority was making as comfortable and easy a life for myself as possible. I was pursuing the great American dream, and serving others along the way as long as it didn’t require any real sacrifice on my part. Once my parents died I realized people and relationships are sooooooo much more important than “stuff”. We had talked about a third child , but decided against it. Not because we felt complete with two kids, but out of fear that it would mess up the nice little life we had going. Now I know there is nothing more that you can give your children than each other. We took a leap of faith, and was blessed with Ainsley.

Now we are taking another leap of faith to adopt Kai. I know that the journey to morph Kai from a Chinese orphan into a Chinese American with parents and siblings will be a huge challenge. But, now I know that God has made me strong! I also know there is a greater purpose here than our family gaining a fourth child, and Kai gaining a stable family environment. Through this little boy God has given me a heart for the Chinese people, and a sympathy for those who abandon their children that I never expected. I have no idea how, but I am sure at the very least we will continue to donate to the orphanage that raised our son the first 5.5 years. I already feel completely blessed and overwhelmed that God is asking me to participate in this amazing life journey of this little boy!

In the Bible God commands us specifically to care for orphans, and he has put that burden on our hearts. To be sure my husband and I are not super human altruistic beings. I am sure there will be those “What were we thinking?” moments. However, with much sacrifice comes much personal growth and blessings. This may be only one child, but like I said you’d be amazed at what God can do with a relatively simple act of kindness and love.

On The Other Side of the World

Somewhere on the other side of the world there is a four year old boy. He lives in an orphanage in China. It is about four or five in the morning, and he is probably still asleep on a mat in a room full of young boys. What separates him from the countless other orphans in the world is we are in the process to adopt him. We are two months into a year long journey to make him our son. We have never met him, but he has already found a place in our hearts. We think of him and pray for him daily. There are many people hard at work to bring hin home to us.

One of the many things I find amazing about this process is he has no idea we even exist. He’ll get up today, eat breakfast, and generally go about his day never knowing how hard we are working to give him a better life, or how much we love him. Even when we bring him home he won’t fully understand why his life has to change so completely or how this change will give him a far better chance at life. To him it will seem that we are simply pulling him away from EVERYTHING he has ever known. It will take years for him to realize that even though he had to endure the loss of his former life that the blessings of being part of a forever family, and being an American will far outweigh any hardships he’s endured.

Yesterday I was thinking about all this, and Jeremiah 29:11 just popped into my head. It says ” For I know the plans I have for you, declaires The Lord. Plans to prosper you, not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” Just like this little boy’s transition from China to America is a difficult but necessary part of a bigger plan so are the dark times in our lives. I clung to this Bible verse when I lost my parents. I have no idea why God decided to take my parent’s home so soon. I miss them daily, and am heartbroken that my children have lost them as grandparents. However, I know that God has a plan. Just as this little boy has no idea what plans we are making or how they will prosper him I have no idea the plans or knowledge of the Lord. I just have to have to trust that those plans are to give me hope and a future even during the times that are difficult.