Eleven years ago, we requested information from Great Wall China Adoption to learn more about their adoption program. At that time we had no children, but we were praying we would become parents soon. Our hearts sank when we realized that you had to be 30 years old in order to adopt from China. We tucked that dream away. Life began to move quickly as life often does. Before we knew it we had a busy household with six children! Four of our children are biological and two of our children were adopted domestically at birth. We assumed adopting from China would never be part of our story.
One morning our oldest son came out of his bedroom and announced, “Mom, I had a dream that you and Dad told us you are adopting from China.” We thought his dream was precious but we knew our hands were full. We had not considered adopting from China in over a decade. Sometimes the Lord whispers in our ear and sometimes He has to yell. Our second son, not aware of his oldest brother’s dream began to pray fervently for another little sister. He prayed all the time! I thought it was sweet and wondered if down the road we would visit adoption again. I had a long list of reasons why now was a bad time. Then it happened. Those whispers became yells right into our ears. We jumped right on it. Trusting the Lord to work out the details. The word He gave us in regards to our adoption was “restore.”
When we began to research adopting from China we learned that most of the children being adopted had Special Needs. The word restore started to make sense. These little ones needed to be restored to health. Also, in China all adoptions begin with abandonment. These little ones need to be restored to a family.
We wondered who our child would be. In our past experiences we have given birth or adopted at birth so we had no clue what future issues could be present in our children. We just had faith that it would work out. In this case, we were asked to give our matching specialist a general list of special needs we would be open to. We talked and prayed about this thoroughly. We researched, spoke to other families and consulted our doctor. We had six children at home who needed our time and attention as well. We felt it best if we chose special needs that would not require frequent lengthy hospital stays or overwhelming therapy appointments each week. We also knew that a medically fragile child would not be safe in our crazy, busy house full of active children.
Please know that we recognize that life has no guarantees and any of our children could experience an illness or accident that would change the way our family operates. We would do anything to meet the needs of our children. We selected needs that we felt we could manage as a family. We have a loving, supportive extended family that steps in when we need them. They have helped us through emergencies, surgeries, and therapies in the past. They have also provided support through family transitions as we have welcomed each one of our children home.
The website nohandsbutours.com offers adoptive families a look at the day to day experiences of families who have adopted from China’s Special Needs Program. This website was an invaluable resource for us. Also, we connected with other families through social media groups. There is no better place to start than with the people who have actually experienced these special needs. There is also a documentary called “Find Me” that we found encouraging and helpful. That film follows several families through the adoption process and offers a touching look at the women who care for China’s orphans.
The matching process was very exciting. We reviewed files of several different children. First, we reviewed the files of children who were waiting on the website. This gave us experience in reading a file. It felt a little overwhelming at first. How would we know which child was ours? We prayed about each child. We asked clarifying questions of our matching specialist. We tried to be realistic about what special needs we could manage as a family. Believe me, I wish I could bring home all the children and give them a family. We waited for our daughter, believing we would just know when the time came.
When we were presented with Naomi’s file something felt different. She was found at the approximate age of 2 in a public place. Once in the orphanage they discovered that she had a heart murmur. She was in need of heart surgery. She endured that heart surgery without her parents by her side. It is hard for me to consider how scary that must have been for her. There was something about the story of this precious little girl that screamed out “restore” to me. There it was, that word again. I poured over her file and shared it with my husband. By the time he arrived home from work I was a mess. He found me weeping on the laundry room floor. I wept for Naomi’s birth mom. I wept for Naomi. I couldn’t get over this little girl. She was now 3 1/2 years old. Only a few months younger than our only daughter.
I tried not to get my hopes up just yet. I asked our matching specialist a lot of questions about her file. Next, we needed to have her file reviewed by a doctor. We contacted an international adoption doctor and we also consulted our local family doctor. All the professionals agreed that Naomi’s heart report looked great. The surgery had been a success. She also presented with a couple of other minor needs that we felt equipped to handle. We have a plan to manage those needs once she is home. We will also follow up with our pediatric cardiologist.
Once the medical review was complete, we were relieved. We wanted Naomi to be our daughter. We prayed. We talked. We prayed some more. A peace came over us and we confidently moved forward with Naomi’s adoption. We are thrilled to say that we are just weeks away from meeting our daughter! The day we meet her face to face cannot come soon enough!