Last week our friend Janell shared about the beginning of her family’s long journey to their little girl – here we get to meet her! If you didn’t read part one – Read about their decision to start an adoption journey here
I remember when I was in the beginning phases of our adoption research. We had kinda’ settled on Ukraine as the country program we liked and so I was reading anything I could find on how the process worked in that country. At some point I came across a blog or article about a family that had adopted from Ukraine and their story took 5 years. I remember thinking that was ludicrous and there was no way my adoption would take that long! Yeah…my adoption…that was my first misstep-making my plan and God laughed. Here is the rest of HIS adoption story for our family…
In the year after our baby boy was born we had a decision to make. To be fair, I had to make it unbiasedly and with fresh eyes-do we finish our adoption.
Through tears, searching for wisdom and much prayer we both broke down one day in the same church service. I have no idea what the actual message was about but God used it to speak the same thing to me and my husband’s hearts. Just because we had 3 children did not mean our daughter evaporated. God had set us on a path to find her knowing He would give us another son to hold. She was still out there waiting for us to find her and bring her home to the place she has always belonged. Not only that, but not everyone has the ability or desire to be a parent to a child without them. God made us in a way that we could be parents to the fatherless and how could we turn our back on that call?
We had our epiphany nearly at the time of our baby’s 1 year birthday. I excitedly called up our agency to let them know we were all set to go as soon as they would let us. This is when I got the news that the Ukraine program would be shutting down and would likely re-open in such a way that we would not be able to adopt the daughter we were looking for. Talk about a let down! Still, we might have been disappointed but not discouraged. This set us down a new, exceedingly exciting path…
The research began again in full force. Our agency did not have another program that we would fit the prerequisites for and their programs didn’t fit our requirements either. It was finally clear that we had to let go of the thousands of dollars we had invested into our old agency and begin to seek out a new agency along with country program.
With the ability to pick a new agency, we decided to pick an agency that was in town to limit some of the hiccups that came with communication. Once we narrowed down the agencies close to us we looked into the country programs that were offered. The original plan for what my husband felt comfortable adopting was very limited. Over the years, he started to become more open to different options and during the new research phase-over 3 years into the process-he decided he wanted to look at special needs in Asian countries.
Oh, my heart! It skipped a beat when my husband came to me with this news. I had always secretly wanted an Asian daughter and we certainly didn’t have the genetics for that. As I honed in on which countries we met the qualifications for, Hong Kong kept fitting in.
We signed with one of the few agencies that is permitted to work in Hong Kong to accommodate American adoptive families. We started scouring the waiting child list to see if our daughter’s sweet face was looking back at us. We did put our names in the pool for a little girl that was placed with another family. Still not discouraged we pressed on looking at faces and inquiring if they were from Hong Kong and if the needs would be manageable for our family. Then our agency called us with a file!
Our case worker knew we were open to a little girl with special needs and were fairly open to what those needs might be. Since our search in Hong Kong had stalled out, she thought we might be open to a special situation with a mother in a domestic infant adoption scenario. We had chosen international adoption for a lot of reasons, but we felt God didn’t place this opportunity in our lap for no reason. We researched and familiarized ourselves with the domestic process in Tennessee while we prepared a quick family profile for the birth mother to review-she wanted to meet!
We went through meetings and she chose us to place her child with. We quickly tried to prepare our home and hearts for such a change in situation with our adoption when the birth mother and baby girl disappeared off the face of the planet. We were devastated-especially me! At year 4 of our adoption journey my husband decided we needed to take a few months off to recover and reset from this disappointment.
Around the new year, I decided to take a peek at the waiting child list again to see if there were any new faces and I noticed one. Me and the family were at my parent’s home and I showed my husband and Mom. They both said it couldn’t hurt to ask about her, so I sent off an email.
At the end of January in 2014 we were FINALLY unofficially matched with who would be our daughter. It took an unprecedented amount of time for us to be officially matched with the Hong Kong government to our daughter, to get through all of our paperwork with our agency worker and receive our travel dates in September 2015.
When we finally got the okay to travel we actually weren’t sure if we would be able to bring our daughter home with us as scheduled because there was a hiccup with her visa paperwork. We left anyway, as we were anxious to get to the daughter that had been waiting for her family for nearly 6 years.
We were horribly jet lagged, anxious, excited and nervous as we checked out of our hotel the first day we were in Hong Kong (we got in late at night) and waited in the lobby to meet our daughter’s case worker. We met her in the lobby of the hotel with bags in hand and made the 1 hour MTR ride out to the “country” where our daughter’s orphanage was. We stayed at the childrens village the first few days, so we settled into the guest house and waited for H to get back from her last day of school. They moved us to a small room in the office building to await her arrival. I remember fidgeting nervously and not knowing what to expect after 6 years of build up to this moment in our lives.
They couldn’t contain my daughter on the other side of the door when she knew we were in the room. She came in before everyone was ready and bounced over to us! She showed us the photobook and present we had sent her and she gave me a bracelet she had made on Mother’s Day for me that spring (along with her matching bracelet and one for her big sister). The rest of the week was whirlwind of moving and meetings and getting to know the nearly 6 year old daughter God finally allowed to be in our lives. At the end of the week our feet where back on American soil with our completed family of 6 all together.
Adopting our child older has been a challenge in so many ways. We have been stretched to points we didn’t know we had within us as parents. We have tried nearly everything and then realized God made us to be more creative then we knew was possible. Some days I brood jealously in a corner, thinking how much easier those people have it that adopted their toddler from overseas. Then God gently reminds me that our daughter was always ours and if we hadn’t been so stubborn to adopt the daughter WE thought we needed then maybe He would have been able to bring her into our lives sooner.
The road was long and hard but so worth it! 11 months later as we prepare for her first day of American Kindergarten I am not sure what the year will hold. I do know everyday she is more “ours” then she ever was before and she is learning to love in a way she never knew. We still get firsts and milestones and these moments make my heart ache for all I missed but see how blessed we are that God would save us moments like these.
OK, who else is crying sweet, happy tears?
Thank you again to my friend Janell – make sure to check out her website Janell Creative and tell her here how much you loved hearing her story in the comment section!
Would you like to share your adoption story? I would love for you to share it with our audience! As most of you know, we are an adoptive family and I love opening this blog up for regular old families just like mine to share how about their adoption journey. I feel like when we share our stories (even just a peek of them) we not only encourage and inspire others to consider adoption, we also normalize adoption stories a bit too.
Until Next Time ~ Kate
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