Friday, April 8, 2011

3 Months - Update

3 months ago yesterday Chris and I mailed our application to begin the adoption process. It has been 3 months filled with paperwork. This part of the adoption process is referred to the paper chase and for good reason! I feel like I’m constantly following up on paperwork and planning on how to get it through the next stage of the process. To date this is what we have accomplished on the paperwork front:

1/3/11: Opened adoption bank account

1/7/11: Filed our application with our agency

1/15/11: Ordered birth certificates

1/18/11: Sent request for certified marriage certificate

1/20/11: Hired Social Worker

1/25/11: Requested our personal references submit their Reference Forms

1/26/11: Police Clearances for Chris and Amy

1/27/11: Physicals for the kids

1/29/11: Submitted 22 documents and forms to our Social Worker

1/29/11: First home visit with Social Worker

1/30/11: Second home visit Social Worker

2/1/11: Completed Hague required adoption education

2/2/11: Cinnamon’s (the cat) Physical

2/5/11: Texas Background Clearances received

2/7/11: Took Passport pictures for our Dossier

2/8/11: Got Chris’ Employment Verification Letter

2/16/11: Compiled family pictures for Dossier

2/17/11: Got Amy’s Income Verification Letter

2/18/11: Made copies of Passports for Dossier

2/25/11: South Carolina Background Clearances received

3/2/11: Chris and Amy’s Physicals

3/2/11: Home Study draft sent to agency (all Home Study docs are turned in)

3/11/11: Agency approves Home Study

3/26/11: Finally receive hard copy of Home Study

3/26/11: Mail off I800-A (Request of US Govt to adopt from China)

3/27/11: Write Letter to China requesting to adopt from their country

3/28/11: I800-A receipt date(should take about 45-55 days to be approved)

3/29/11: Got all of our Dossier documents notarized

3/30/11: Took Dossier docs to Austin to be state certified by the SOS office

3/31/11: Mailed Dossier docs to courier in Houston to be authenticated by the
Chinese Consulate

4/8/11: Authenticated Dossier docs to be picked up and mailed back to us.

Impressive, huh! Well we aren’t done yet. Next week my Dossier documents should be back from Houston. These very official documents (they have been notarized, certified by the Secretary of State in Austin, and authenticated by the Chinese Consulate in Houston) will be complete. Then 18 of the 19 documents that make up my Dossier will be mailed to my agency in California. They will review them and wait for the final document.

The last document is our approval from the US government to adopt an orphan from China. This approval takes about 45-55 days to get. We are currently at day 12 in the wait for it. Hopefully we will have that approval by mid to late May. If the government shuts down, the office that processes this request will also shut down. So, that wait time could grow if the government budget issues do not get resolved. Once we get the approval we will get it notarized, take it to Austin for the Secretary of State to certify it and then send it to Houston to be authenticated. Then that last piece of paper will be sent to my agency and my Dossier will be complete and on its way to China!!!! We anticipate that that will be in early to mid June (barring a government shutdown or other unforeseen delays).

We will have other paperwork to do at other stages of the process, but nothing like what we have been doing. It is nice to finally have the bulk of it done and be waiting on just ONE piece of paper. It won’t be too long now!!!!

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Colossians 3:23-24

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How Do You Choose Your Child?

How do you choose your child? I’d never considered this until we ventured down this adoption road. I didn’t have to pick my 3 precious kids. I didn’t stand in the nursery window and choose the cutest one. I didn’t read a medical file and select the one who had the cleanest bill of health. Nope, God just knit them nicely in my womb and they were wonderfully ours. But, with our adoption, it just isn’t that simple.

We are adopting through China’s Waiting Child (or special needs) Program and the matching process is quite different than many other international adoption programs. With many other adoptions, a family will receive “the call” from their agency that they have been matched with a child. Then they receive the child’s file with pictures and all the important details about the child. With the Waiting Child (WC) program, because the children have unique needs, the family reviews a child’s file first and then decides if they want to adopt the child or not.

When we started this process we talked with our coordinator about the types and severity of the special needs we are most comfortable with. Based on our input our coordinator will search for a child that may be perfect for our family. Many children are already available on China’s “shared list” – a list of kids available for adoption through any agency. Beautiful kids, boys and girls, of various ages with a variety of special needs. Some of the kids on the list don’t have any medical problems, but are older children and therefore more difficult to adopt out. While we are compiling our Dossier, we can be matched with a child from this list as long as they have been on the list for 30 days or more. More kids are added monthly and the younger kids and the ones with mild or correctable special needs are matched with waiting families very quickly. We have to have our Dossier in China (hopefully by mid June for us) to be matched with a new child.

So as we wait, it is an option for us to look at the more than 2000 children that are on the shared list that are currently waiting for a family to choose them. We can see a picture and read a brief description of their need(s). If we want to know more, we can request the child’s file and review a detailed account of the child – their birthday (often times estimated) circumstances of their abandonment, medical issues, personality, daily routine, and additional pictures. Then you choose - yes, we want to adopt you, or, no, you’re not the one, and they return to the list to continue to wait.

I can see why this is necessary. A family needs to make sure they can meet the needs of the child they bring into their family. But, I must tell you, this is one of the most unsettling things I’ve ever done. These files are real children that are waiting for someone to say “yes.” They have faces, names, personalities and in many ways they aren’t much different from the 3 kids we already have. So, it’s hard to say no – No, you’re not the one. No, your needs are too much for us. No, we won’t be your mommy and daddy.

We recently reviewed a file of an adorable angel that just turned one. To say she is beautiful would be an understatement! She is absolutely precious. I’ve poured over every word in her file so I could learn about what has happened in her first year of life. She was abandoned at a railway station when she was 2 weeks old. Her orphanage felt like her need was too severe and transferred her to a Christian hospice facility to die. The hospice facility realized a surgery would restore her and raised the funds to pay for her surgery. At 2 months of age she spent 2 weeks in the hospital for her surgery. No care taker was able to travel and stay at the hospital with her, so she was there alone. Wow - what a tough start in life! I read about her routine – like what she eats and when she sleeps. I love knowing that she likes music and she smiles and laughs when spoken to. She is wonderful, but sadly I don’t think she is ours. That is hard to type.

It isn’t her special need or anything about her that makes it so, it’s just that after praying and praying and praying about it, we think God has softly told us no. I’ve cried and cried over this sweet darling. I’ve prayed that God would lead the perfect family to her. I’ve prayed that if we’ve gotten this wrong, that he will make it undeniably clear that she is ours. But, for now, it’s no.

This part of the process isn’t talked about much. It’s a tough thing to go through and, in all honesty, it makes you feel awful and uncomfortable. I don’t want to do the choosing. I want to leave that one to God. I believe the choice has already been made and that it was long ago. He knows her and he knows how this story will unravel. Oh, how I want to glorify him through every twist and turn. I must believe that these heartaches along the way are for a purpose. They are to grow my faith, they are to remind me of the MANY children that need a forever family, and they are to prompt me to PRAY for these sweet children. God may not have picked me to be this baby’s mommy, but I KNOW he has picked me to pray for her. I may be the only one doing so right now. I may be filling in the gap until her forever mommy knows her and can pray for her. What a joy it is to do that!!

This process of saying no has left me a weepy mess the last few days. Poor Chris! It has left me with feelings I can’t explain and has re-broken my heart for the many kids that wait for a family. I don’t like the heartache I feel, but I’m thankful God is engaging my heart and aligning it more each day to be like His. One of my favorite lines in Matthew West’s song, My Own Little World, is “Father break my heart for what breaks yours.” I want to care about what God cares about even when it requires my heart to break a little. So, tonight I’m praying for all the orphans who need a family and I’m praying specifically for 2 – my daughter and the sweet angel I know so much about.

The LORD hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the LORD comes to the rescue each time.
Psalm 34:17-19