I did not know in the summer of 2006 when the desire to be a mom again crept into my heart that it would lead me to adopt a child with a heart condition.
My desire to be a mom again had been growing, but my husband and I had already decided together that we would be a family of three. But the ache in my heart just couldn’t be quieted. I kept it quiet and I prayed. Not long after the stirrings began in my heart, our daughter, who was about three years old, began asking for a sister. Each time she asked, I responded with “Well, you pray about that, okay?” I wanted to scream and jump for joy when she asked each time, but instead, I stayed quiet and I pointed her to pray.
Fast forward to a little over a year later in the fall of 2007 and Chloe, our four year old, has stepped up her asks for a sister and I continued pointing her to pray. Then one day, she asks when my husband is around. If I remember correctly, I froze in place and tried to not let my face give away what was in my heart. But my face couldn't hide my desire and we began having conversations and praying together…and in late November we jumped in to our second adoption journey!
We began the paperwork chase for adopting a healthy baby girl, between 6 months to 18 months. I very much wanted as young as possible baby. Our paperwork got sent to China in June of 2008 and the wait began. We knew going into this adoption that our waiting time was going to be longer. Adoptions had slowed down considerably with the increase in families wanting to adopt from China and with the Beijing Olympics coming. And so we waited.
As we waited, and waited patiently, we lived our lives. Chloe began kindergarten and as a family we made a decision to go on a mission trip to serve orphans in the country of Myanmar. It was an amazing time and the children in the orphanage grew in our hearts. We followed that mission trip with Wayne and I each returning on our own in the following two Decembers. When Wayne returned from his trip, Wayne’s heart had changed. His heart had seen the children with special needs and those that were older that needed a family. He began talking to me about our considering adopting an older child or a child that had minor special needs. This could not have surprised me more! Wayne had not ever been open to this! We began to talk and pray about it, contacted GWCA, and began researching the Waiting Child program. Our own conversations, and talking with GWCA led us to decide to apply for the Waiting Child program while still staying in the healthy child program.
Our process involved looking at the waiting child lists, but after a few months, and after talking with GWCA, they sent the file of a little three-year-old girl for our review. We looked over her paperwork thoroughly and also sent the file to a doctor specializing in reviewing children’s files with special needs. The doctor we used was so great and encouraging and was himself an adoptive father. He gave an authentic and realistic perspective with wise counsel from a medical and adoptive parent standpoint. After a time of thinking and praying, we decided to pursue adopting her!
In our daughter’s case, she had a minor correctable heart condition that had been repaired in China already. I’ve often thought about how her heart condition brought her to us. Her heart plus our hearts equaled forever family!
We traveled to China in May of 2012. When we arrived at the Civil Affairs Bureau, Haddie was hesitant and kept her distance and resisted coming to us. Her caregivers encouraged her and coaxed her, but she kept drawing back. We continued to try to get close, playing, giving her gifts, blowing bubbles and even a bit of bribing with some candy! She was determined to not come to us! Finally, the nannies just placed her in my arms. She protested, cried, wailed, and tried to get out of my arms. We said a few Chinese phrases (which mostly seemed to escape me) and tried to comfort her, but nothing worked. Comfort did not come for her. I know she was so frightened and she eventually fell asleep in my arms, worn out from the emotion of it all. I had prepared my heart for a tough time for gotcha day. I’m honestly glad that I did. I think because of that heart prep for me, I was able to focus on comforting and easing Haddie’s trauma. Haddie needed to grieve and for that reason I had to let go of my needs for the immediate bonding and connection so I could meet her needs with care, love, and comfort.
Fast forward to the present and we have been home with our daughter for a year and a half!
That year and a half brought lots of adjustments, learning, tears, laughs, but mostly love. It was tough, really tough at times, but love won and continues to win each day.
What love did for us is bring bonding and connection and completeness to our family. In the months leading up to adopting Haddie, the number four became such a symbol of how our family would be complete. Interestingly enough, the number four also is important to our Haddie. Each time she sees a group of four, she associates our family to that! This picture below is our “family picture” from left to right there is Daddy, Momma baby, Chloe baby, and Haddie baby!
I will close with one other post-adoption story. In the days following our arrival home, Haddie noticed our several family pictures from when Chloe was little. Haddie would point and say "Dong Shuang," her Chinese name. At first I was correcting her, but then I thought, “What if this puts it in to Haddie's heart that she has always been with us? That she forms in her heart that we've forever been family?” How cool would that be to help her with the bonding and attachment! Know that it is in both our hearts to keep her Chinese heritage alive and that Haddie’s foster family be always remembered. But for that short time post-adoption I stopped correcting her and let her cement in her heart that we have been family forever.
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.