I think the processes of deciding to adopt for us came from the realization that the need was great.
Our daughter lives, works and volunteers in the an orphanage of China. She told us of the need of the children with special needs, and though we felt a great deal of compassion for these kids, we couldn’t see ourselves going back that far in our parenting journey. Our children are 26, 23, 21. Most of the children with special needs we saw would have required a complete change in our lifestyle. We really couldn’t imagine it. We like to work on our farm, travel, hike, camp, kayak. We just couldn’t see how a child with special needs could ever be a part of that. Sounds selfish perhaps, but to us it was real. In reality, our biological children had just left home. We couldn’t see starting again, with a child that could need our care for the rest of her life.
Between the two of us, my husband was the one who was called the loudest. He knew we were supposed to do this when he was made aware of a little girl with Hep B named "Jessica" in our daughter’s orphanage. She was going to age out in a little less than a year. She was slightly behind in school. She didn’t like to go, as she had a slight defect in her eye and the kids knew she was an orphan, so they were less than friendly to her. My husband felt great compassion for this girl. He knew that her options in China were few, and her life would be hard. He couldn’t imagine this beautiful girl going through life without a family. He researched what the Hep B positive diagnosis meant and what that would look like for us. He realized all of us and most every young person we knew was vaccinated. There really wasn’t a problem. She was more than likely born with it, and was simply a carrier. She had never had any symptoms of the disease. It could someday become a concern, but anyone could have a concern “someday”.
He also learned that her delays were probably from years of institution living and her dislike of the harassment at school. He realized that bringing this child into our family would change everything for her. It would give her the chance to have a bright future. Most people would never look at her as "different." Just American.
The changes that would come to us for this little girl where none that we couldn’t see ourselves happily enjoying and living.
She was old enough to be apart of the life we have on our farm, the vacations we take, the outdoor activities we enjoy so much. These would be enhanced for us with another child to share them with. We prayed. My husband relayed this information to the family. EVERYONE, ALL our children were on board. All were happy and excited. We inquired and set out to be matched with this little girl.
With a heavy heart, and a sadness we did not expect to feel, we were told this little one was already placed. It was like we lost a child. We wanted to be happy for her. We did not feel happy. We were so sad. We prayed. Within a week we realized the call was still there, that there was a little girl out there for us. She was waiting for us. We knew we had to find her. We were so happy for “Jessica”. We knew she was going to have the wonderful life we had dreamed of for her. This little girl was just the catalyst to help us find our daughter. We changed our sadness into excitement again at the prospect of finding her.
We combed through all the list, the agencies, and online resources available. We talked with the many people we know that have adopted. We asked them countless questions. We went back to them and asked them more. We talked with them, we prayed with them. We prayed. We weren’t as afraid as we were before. We were even starting to feel ok with the idea that this child might live with us in our home forever because she couldn’t live on her own. We knew we were not looking for an infant or toddler. We knew there were lots of people that would be more likely to take them. We knew we were looking for a girl who was nearly “out of time”. So, we searched the “aging out list”.
For us the “age out child” made sense. We are in our 40’s, we have children in their 20’s. We have a 4 bedroom home, with just the 2 of us. We have resources more than we need.
My husband is very close to retiring from his career and has time, and a more flexible schedule than ever before. I was flexible and eager to have another daughter to love. We enjoyed our teenagers more than most of our friends. Our 20 somethings children are our best friends and we can’t imagine life without them. We even choose to hang out with 20 somethings from the local university. Most of them, Chinese, as we are very involved in the international student hosting program at the campus. This seemed like the perfect fit.
It really didn’t take very long at all for us to find our sweet “Lou”. Her health problems were things we could deal with, all the needs listed were things that seemed very easily remedied. We asked for her file. We prayed. Her file confirmed that she loved the things we do. She had even been a part of the hosting program which gave us an opportunity. An american doctor confirmed that her health problems were what was listed. The host family was able to tell us about how she interacted with them and her personality. None of this was something we expected. We were thrilled. It was a bonus. She was the perfect fit for us. She would be our daughter, we would lover her and we would all call her our own. She would have a dad and a mom, a sister and 2 brothers that would melt her into our family. We are so excited to be steps closer to bringing her home. One less orphan in the world.
The hosting program is a unique opportunity for prospective parents to hear about how their child did in an American home, and what the care for them looked like. It lets us see an American perspective of the challenges that might be there. It also answered some questions and even completely took out of play some thing listed in the file. For us, even if adoption isn’t on our radar again, hosting may very well be. Advocating for a child, could be the one thing that is needed to help find a child their forever home.
We think each home and parents will have different needs. I think that the life they have will match up perfectly with the need of one sweet orphan somewhere. I think doing research and talking to people who have done it is the most the second most important part of the process for us. Praying was definitely the most important part. We believe that this child was created knowing she was ours from the beginning. We believe that the journey to bring her home will just be a part of her story.
The ending will be the same as with our other children. “This is our Dad and, this is our Mom and they love us all very much.”
Great Wall China Adoption is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization based in Austin, Texas. Since 1996, Great Wall has placed more than 8,000 children with forever families. Between the headquarters located in Austin, Texas and the sister office in Beijing, China, we work on behalf of families each day to be experts at exceeding China’s requirements and adoptive families’ expectations by staying updated on aspects of China adoption.