Our adoption journey began many, many moons ago, in the cabin of Mike’s rusted out truck. Through initial conversations about life and our hearts in college, my future husband and I discovered that we both desired to adopt one day.
Yes! Two minds/hearts alike. I was so thrilled that we were on the same page. We had no idea when that would happen, but we knew that our family would one day be blended through the gift of adoption.
When we decided to start our family, we struggled at first, suffering a miscarriage followed by two plus years of infertility. During that time, although my heart was wrecked and I was consumed with baby fever, I was comforted by the knowledge that we hoped to adopt so if having a biological child was not possible, we would still be able to open our hearts and home to a child through adoption.
Ultimately, our sweet Caroline was born and then was quickly followed by four beautiful blessings: another baby we lost, Benjamin, Charlotte and Noah.
Our hearts and lives were full, as it feels with everyone that has a child, whether one or more, but the whispered call on our lives from an early age was now roaring in our ears.
We had to hit the brakes. It was time to close up shop. Our family was ready to grow in a different way now.
It was time! Time to begin the journey we dreamed about in my husband’s beat-up truck so long ago. Yes!
For years I had researched adoption agencies and spoken with anyone that I knew that had adopted so by the time we were ready to start the process, we already knew which agency we would be going with.
The bigger question was: which country do we choose? That was not really a hard question for us.
I was told by two agencies that domestic adoption was very unlikely for us because of our large family size. Most mothers who are putting their children up for adoption desire for their child to be the first, blessing a couple who cannot have children with the gift of being parents, or the second child, bringing the gift of a sibling to a smaller family. Foster care would have been an option but that was one path we never really thought about until after we submitted all of our paperwork for adoption. We now have great friends who do foster care and it has opened my eyes to how many beautiful ways forever families are knitted together.
So in what feels like a former life almost, I was a high school French teacher. In my French III class, we studied La Francophonie (the French speaking world), with the exception of France.
When we studied Haiti, I was smitten.♥
The culture, the language, the people, the history; everything about Haiti sprang alive to me with vibrance! My heart was set.
Fast forward to 2010, January, my first day home from the hospital after having our first son. I’m cradling him in my arms, nursing, and basking in his fresh sweetness when the coverage begins.
Devestation in Haiti; a horrific earthquake. The images slew my heart into pieces. The people that had already stolen my heart were suffering, horribly!
I bawled my eyes out and told my husband that we needed to adopt ALL of the children RIGHT NOW.
Though that was not to be, my heart was forever since connected to Haiti in a way that felt tangible to me, and I knew it was just a matter of time.
Fast forward again to 2015 and our littlest guy is not yet one year old, but we were READY.
I contacted All God’s Children and we were off with piles of paperwork.
Then something happened, a new friend, a simple conversation, one that would ultimately lead us in a very different direction. Life was changing course and at the time, we were none the wiser.
This new friend had just recently adopted two adorable boys, both five years old, from China. We started conversations about adoption and she told me the name of her agency, CCAI. I had never heard of it before.
Later that week, I was on our adoption webpage and for whatever reason, I typed in CCAI. Curiosity, I guess.
I knew they were a Chinese adoption agency, and so I was stunned to see that they had a few other programs as well, one being Haiti.
I was also thrilled to see that their program was not a pilot program like our agency was, but was an established program, with over 100 completed adoptions from Haiti. Hurray!
After some quick conversations with my husband, and both agencies, we decided that it made sense for us to switch agencies, affording us greater security in the process.
This detour was not expected but seemed right, in every way.
Before we actually had switched however, I had requested an adoption information packet from CCAI. They sent us a huge packet, teeming with information, and a book that still regularly plays in my mind (Bound By Love – The Journey of Lily Nie and Thousands of China’s Forsaken Children).
That book was so well written, achingly personal and thorough with details and description, that one could not come away from it unscathed.
Now Mike had the opportunity, through work, to travel quite a bit in China. Saying that he loves China in an understatement. He always came back from those trips saying how much he loved the people there and that one day he would definitely like to adopt from China if possible.
When adopting from China, you can choose which gender you would prefer. Haiti does not allow this. Knowing that we hoped to adopt two or more children, we decided that it made sense for us to adopt from Haiti first because whatever gender Haiti chose for us, we would just request the same gender when adopting from China in order to make room sharing easier. This plan made sense – it was logical.
- Fortunately, pragmatism is not the ruler of the heart.♥
But there we were, all set! We were with CCAI, we were going to adopt from Haiti, and then when ready, adopt from China. We had decided that if Haiti blessed us with a sibling group, that we would still adopt from China, and we would just figure out the room sharing issue as it came – knowing that it was so many years down the road.
We completed our home study for Haiti, which is an extremely lengthy and involved process that we actually loved because our social worker was so sweet and lovely to work with. Everything was ready to go! It was time to send our home study into our agency!
Now as it is with everything, things change while we’re busy getting stuff done. And while we had been busily getting our home study completed, Haiti’s adoption process had been slowing down … a lot … like to a standstill.
Haiti became Hague certified in April of 2014. This is a WONDERFUL thing for many, many reasons, but the only unfortunate consequence is that it caused the process to become exceedingly slow as the IBESR struggles to figure out how to implement new processes and be Hague compliant.
We were completely ok with the slow down though because we already had young children, and the thought that it may be 2-3 years down the road before we adopted a child seemed perfect for us.
Again, this was our minds being rational, logical, and thinking about adoption in an ideal situation for what we knew, and yet…at times, as we all come to discover, God’s plan (or some would say Fate) is not always in line with our plans. Thank goodness, right? Think about the amazing opportunities, lessons we’ve learned, and people we’ve met that were NOT a part of our “original plan.”
So you can see where this is going, right?
Our journey was about to take a turn again, and would be changed forever.
As I said earlier, CCAI is primarily a Chinese adoption agency. (Actually they are the #1 rated Chinese adoption agency in the world and to date they have placed over 11,700 orphans into forever homes.)
Occasionally, I would go to their website to login for our Haiti adoption or to look up some information.
I quickly discovered that they had a Waiting Child page full of children that they profile for adoption.
- PSA: if you visit this page and take the time to see and read about these beautiful children, there is a likely chance you will fall IN LOVE. I’m just trying to prepare you folks.😊
All of these children have some degree of special needs as China’s healthy child program no longer really exists. The needs may be medical or developmental in nature, and range from minor and/or correctable (cleft lip, hemangioma, club foot, cosmetic issue like a noticeable birthmark, being considered an “older child” – school age, etc.) to more significant needs (cerebral palsy, spina bifida, down syndrome, etc.).
Medical Needs Pie Graph
*Why are you adopting a boy? Aren’t they hard to find?
The first thing that shocked me when I visited CCAI’s Waiting Child page was that it was overwhelmingly full of – Boys! According to CCAI, who continuously takes information from the past 12 months to quantify their information, 56% of Waiting Children in China are boys.
From all that I had read about Chinese adoption, I thought that the orphanages were primarily comprised of healthy girls who were given away mostly due to the 1 child policy and/or to the culture’s preference for boys. While that was the case a decade or so ago, the adoption situation in China is now quite different.
Now, healthy girls are typically scooped up domestically right away and they are in HIGH demand, while children with special needs continue to pour in, often because parents lack the necessary resources to care for their medically fragile children.
I was stunned to discover from several adoption agencies that over 80% of ALL adoptive families request to adopt girls, including in China. So although the abandoned children coming into the orphanages are about 50% girl and 50% boy, the ones being left behind, are mostly BOYS.
I forget where I heard this a few months ago, so I cannot give credit where credit is due unfortunately, but the sentence that stuck with me is: in regards to Chinese adoption, “families wait for girls, and boys wait for families.”
Well on one fateful day, probably my 2nd or 3rd time ever visiting the Waiting Child page, I stumbled upon ONE face that seemed to somehow reach through the screen into my very being. The RED THREAD was pulling…
I watched his little profile video oh, about a thousand times that day. His smile undid my heart and brought instant tears. Not tears of sadness but of pure sweetness.
Later that evening I showed his profile to my husband. Little did we know that, although our path was set in our Haitian adoption, this little sweetheart was about to turn our path EAST.
Long story cut very short … (after many discussions, medical consults, etc.), we said – YES!
Saying yes. That moment. Hands down. One of the greatest feelings in my whole life.
I could literally feel my heart bubble up and explode with joy like a geyser, and a heavy load slip right off of my shoulders as all of the deep conversations (where we analyzed what our lives may be like, what was best for our family, how profound his needs may be, etc.), were left behind. We were committing to him with our lives, to love him, care for him, and graft him into the full being of our family. Whatever may come, we would face it together.♥
We showed his pictures and video to the children. They were exquisite in their response. They squealed, oohing and ahhing, and declaring him the cutest ever. They wanted to watch his video on repeat (like their mommy), touch his face on the screen, and talk about what he liked, disliked, what he was doing now, when he was coming to be with them, etc.
And so we took a beautiful detour from our intended path.
Our new plan is to adjust to life with our new little guy, and then when we feel that everyone is ready to adopt again, that we will reinitiate our Haiti adoption as the long term plan is still intact.
China and Haiti are forever intertwined for us. Our hearts are all wrapped up in them like tangled threads in a vibrant tapestry.
But this part of our journey, this amazing, complicated, tedious, heart wrenching part where we file one million government forms and wait, and wait, and wait, is almost complete!
It will end in about one month when we go to China to scoop up our sweet boy. 😊
We are busting with excitement and gratitude that our son will possibly be in our arms in just a few weeks!! Hurray!