It has been 4 years, 8 months, and 14 days since we first started this adoption process, which feels like the LONGEST bleeping pregnancy in the history of EVER.
Sweet, sweet people come up to me every day and ask about our adoption (thank you for caring!). I have finally just started telling them exactly how I feel. I am SO. DONE. with the waiting. But more on that in a minute...
I realized I may have never answered a few general questions about our adoption here on my blog, so:
- We are adopting from China. More on why we chose international adoption HERE.
- We do not yet know the exact child we will adopt. (Essentially, we are waiting on THAT phone call from our agency, saying they have a child for us.)
- We do know that she (yes, it's a girl!) will be somewhere between 12-19 months old. It is very rare to see a child adopted internationally from China under the age of 1. These aspects (age range and gender) are all things that are part of our family's specific request.
Side note: Did you know that currently in China there are more boys currently waiting on a forever home than girls? It's true! We were not aware of this when we first started and requested a girl (it is also possible to be open to either gender). If we would have requested a boy, he would have been home months ago. Our agency consistently has boys of all ages on their waiting children site. This is something we have battled with after learning, but we feel a peace about our current process and have decided to continue with our original request- at least for this current adoption. :) It seems that China's one-child policy of the 80's has trickled down to a (now outdated) Western mindset- including mine- that there are many unwanted girls available, therefore feeding the uptick in the request for girls. Here is a great article by Kelly Mayfield that explains this more fully.
- Our daughter will have some type of special need, and we do not yet know what that will be. Our agency is aware, however, of the conditions/needs that our family has decided we are "OK" with, and what we are not comfortable with- and they will not match us with a child who does not fit within our "OK" list. Much more on the special needs thing HERE.
- When we do get THAT CALL, we will have the opportunity to review everything that is currently known about the child, including a medical file which we will have reviewed by our pediatrician and international adoption specialist doctors (yes, this is a thing). We will have the opportunity to say "no" if we feel like her medical needs may be more than we can handle, or for whatever other reason- though we expect that would be a rare occurence.
- She will have a given Chinese name, which we are hoping to keep as her middle name if it has any connection to her biological family or special significance. If it is just a name given by the orphanage, we may not keep it. We DO have a name for her, but aren't quite ready to announce that yet. :)
- Yes, adoption is expensive. Adopting from China will cost over $30,000 by the time it is all finished. These fees go to pay our non-profit Christian adoption agency, social workers, the U.S. Government, the Chinese government, translators, notaries, document authenticators, doctors, travel costs, and all of the people who have cared for our daughter before she is in our arms. Our agency has been transparent about each and every fee and what it goes toward. Because of all of the paperwork and people involved, the costs are high. But I MUST tell you- the Lord has provided every cent we have needed. Yes, we have worked hard to save, and I have about broken my fingers off filling out grant applications- but we have been provided for SO WELL by the body of Christ that it has instilled a true passion in Shawn and I to give to others' adoptions in the future.
- Why has it taken 4, almost 5 years now? Part of that is our "fault" and some of it isn't. When we first applied to adopt, it was through our agency's Ethiopia program. At the time, adoptions from Ethiopia had been very popular and families were being matched quickly- within a year. But right about the time we got in, timelines started to slow down. At first we were told 18-24 months, and then it was 24-36 months, and the wait time continued to grow. This is a confusing matter- because agencies aren't able to predict wait times- they don't know when they will be receiving files of children. They are only able to state the trends that they are seeing- as in, how long families currently being matched have been waiting. So essentially, timelines were growing. That is when we decided it would be ok to have another biological child. Our daughter Liv's story began broken and ended beautifully. I am so deeply thankful God wove her into this process and into our family. After Liv was born, we decided God was asking us to China's special needs program. So essentially, we started over. We've been waiting on our China baby since March of 2016, so about 18 months now. Another thing that has lengthened our wait in the China program is that we have requested our Chinese daughter be at least 12 months younger than Liv. Because China does not refer out children younger than 1 year very often, we've also been waiting for Liv to get older. She needed to be at least 2 for us to receive the very rare referral of a 1 year old girl. Most children are around the 18 month mark when referred from China.
Those are the facts. Now here are the feelings:
I HATE that our process has taken so long, because I worry that it will deter others from pursuing adoption. I pray every day that we will see more and more adoption happening in our specific community- our church, friends, and family. I was discussing this feeling to a wise friend not too long ago and they responded, "Lissa, someone else's decision on whether or not to adopt is their decision- and however your story influences them isn't up to you- it's up to God." Essentially, Lissa- YOU CANNOT CONTROL THAT. Amen. I needed to hear that.
I want people to see that this process has been absolutely worth it- and we don't even have a baby home yet. God has refined our hearts and attitudes so much through our journey. One of the most consistent themes for me has been giving up control. Control of the timeline, the circumstances, my idealistic plan for my family- you name it, this adoption has likely impacted my perspective on it in some way. I'm thankful for that.
Literally all of my assumptions about how this process would look have been extinguished. I really thought we'd apply, wait a bit, decorate a cute baby room, fly to another country, get baby, come home, live happily ever after...and so far it just hasn't looked like that.
After we applied with our agency to begin the process in 2013, I scoured the internet for adoption blogs. I would read them late into the night, like a crazy Netflix binger. I was so hungry for others' real experiences. I wanted to be the EXPERT on how this would go. I remember reading one family's blog who had recently announced that they had a biological son while waiting on their adoption from Ethiopia to be complete. In my naivety, I thought, "Wow, they really lost focus. How could they possibly have another child without considering the one waiting for them in Ethiopia?" About a year later, I got to eat my presumptuous feet like a Thanksgiving meal. We were pregnant in the middle of an adoption. The pregnancy was an answered prayer and something I had hoped for for a long time. Wow- I'm so glad God knows my future and consistently writes a much better story than I do.
It's true. I am SICK of the waiting. But it has been refining. I am a better mom and wife because of it. At my most vulnerable, I'm also completely scared about what's to come. We are anticipating a lot at our household right now- and weirdly- we are full of peace. I know that this is because God's peace surpasses all understanding (Phil 4:7). I know it's because He hears the prayers of His saints and boy, do we have a lot of people covering this specific issue in prayer on the daily. I can't tell you what a blessing that is! I have many more thoughts to share, and I plan on posting more in the future. Thanks for reading. Stay tuned- greater things are still to come!