Though we have talked about this for years, it is only in the last 14 months that we have been actively walking down this path, searching for the direction we were meant to go. First, we explored fostering or adopting through the foster care system. We were starting from a stance of whole heatedly supporting reconciliation, and if it were ever possible, we would adopt. We took classes, and prepared our home for welcoming one or many children into our home, one at a time. And then I got a new job, with much different (and later) working hours. The case worker that was working with us was very clear with us that we needed to wait. I was starting a new job. Palmer was starting kindergarten. The phrase "it sounds like we're too much for you right now" was spoken. She told us to check back in with her in the Spring. I thought this was the direction we were going, but this felt much like a door closing for us. A couple weeks later, we were heart broken, as a letter came in the mail that "we had been taken out of the foster care system." It felt like the door slammed shut.
I started my new job this past Fall, and in reality, adding Foster Care to that was probably too much at the time. We were learning new routines, we were helping our son thrive in Kindergarten, and there was more on our plates than ever before. But the longing to add to our family didn't completely go away. It wasn't the right time, but the calling never left. Many, many Sundays we would leave church, and adoption was on our minds.
Throughout the Fall, we explored other options for adoption. Domestic or International? Ultimately, we felt that International was the best fit for our family. We decided to adopt from China - my sister has two wonderful girls both adopted from China, and if we, too had a little girl, they would all have each other. We applied to Holt, and specifically to the China program. That was it. We'll adopt a girl from China. We started paperwork, we completed 7 (!!) background checks, got fingerprinting done, more paperwork, multiple doctor appointments, ran down documents from our work, ordered extra certified birth and marriage certificates... and when we thought we were done, we did even more paperwork. We were set to do our home study, except we were waiting on a few background checks to come in. It had seemed that the China program was changing, where it was once 12-18 months from application to bringing a child home, it was now 12-18 months from home study to match. It broke my heart thinking of that wait. We knew it was worth it, but nevertheless, brought anxiety. I prayed and prayed for our child to have just one person that loved them. Just one person (or more!) that were forming bonds of love with our child. We thought a lot about the needs we could add to our family. Most international adoptions are considered "special needs adoptions" of varying levels, but we were told that China was more "moderate needs" that it had been in the past. All of these things caused me to lay awake at night. Thinking. Praying. For whatever reason, even though we felt firmly called to adoption, I was not feeling peace over it.
And then I saw his face. One day, I was looking up waiting children, and I saw "Jagger." (His Korean name can't be shared) I knew Ross had his heart set on a girl. When I had mentioned Chinese boys in the past, he still had his heart set on a girl. How great would it be for all the girls to go back and see China together? How great would it be for Quinn to have a sister? (I love having sisters!) I wasn't sure his heart would change on this. But then I shared with him this little boy, in Korea. It felt like maybe his thoughts and heart were changing. I shared with him, that many of these children have lesser or resolved special needs. They live with a foster family - building bonds, and being loved on in the time before adoption. (Just what I had been praying for!) Though there will always be loss and heartbreak as a part of adoption, these children are able to have (at least some) information about their birth families, and have potentially have the opportunity to meet their birth families some day. How amazing is that?! The greatest thing that came after seeing "Jagger's" face? The peace. Ross and I talked about how, for many different reasons, this program could be a good fit for our family, and how we could be a good fit for one of these children. It just felt right. Ross said "so we're not adopting from China?" and I said "I can't go back. I don't think our child is there."
Last week, we received "Jagger's" file. A little boy, who will always mean a great deal to us, especially in steering us to adoption from South Korea. We saw more pictures of his precious face. We learned about his background. We watched a video of him. We still don't know if we are the family for him, as there are many hoops to jump though, medical evaluations of his file, home study appointments, and a psych evaluation to complete before we even know if we are ready to be matched with a waiting child (or another child!). But we do know, that Jagger was the turning point for us. He played a large role in our adoption journey, and I strongly feel that God placed him in our lives to direct us down the path we were meant to go down.
A year ago we turned in our huge stack of paperwork, and had our first, of two, home visits. This weekend we hope to finish up the psychological evaluation, to be turned in at our last home visit next week. We strongly feel God's hand in this journey, and we could not be more excited to watch where this journey takes us.
On April 8th, we got an email from Holt. It was right in the middle of bath time for Palmer and Quinn, and from the hallway, Ross says “we got an email from Holt!” Of course, we open the email sent to us, as the title was “Children in Need of Homes.” Everything stopped. We see this sweet face. (One we wish we could share fully, but can’t just yet!). This face of a little girl, who although she lives across the world, she looked familiar, like we just knew her. Like we were meant to be with her. It is this little girl, who we have been pursuing every day since then. We have filled out pages and pages of questionnaires, had interviews, delays, read and responded to articles, more phone calls with social workers, and more delays. Really, there is nothing we would not do for her.
On Wednesday, May 22nd, I got a phone call at work. I was in the middle of teaching, and all of a sudden a call comes in. It is from the social worker we have been talking to since the beginning of the process. I just knew. This is good news! I pick up my phone, and answer to Cindy saying “This is a good day! You are matched with “your girl!” (She actually said our girl’s Korean name, but we can’t share that just yet!). On my way home I picked up Palmer from school, and when I let him know, he was overjoyed! (And then a little upset that it would such a long process! Me too, bud!). We decided, since your birthday is coming up pretty soon, that we would surprise Ross with a birthday balloon, hats, and decorations! Ross was so very surprised, as we thought we would not be hearing back until next month! We had an amazing evening of calling all of our family to share the news, starting with calling Quinn to tell her (out in Salt Lake City with Mimi) that she is going to be a big sister!)
We have spent the 9+ months since, sending care packages, receiving medical and other updates, getting little glimpses of who our daughter is. We cannot wait to bring her home, and to be a complete family forever!
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