"Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase."
Martin Luther King Jr.
These past few months have been a roller coaster ride for me in many ways, and it is that roller coaster ride that has affirmed my faith in God. Let me give a little recap. When we began the adoption process for Mylee, we had enough money in our account for the application fee and the home study. That. Was. It. We had no idea how we were going to finance the rest of the adoption. We called on our Church, our families, and any other community organization that we thought may be able to help us. With every turn we were hit straight on with a brick wall.
For those who know me well know that when I get something in my head there is no stopping me. For years I had dreamed of adopting a little girl from China. That seed was planted long ago even before I met Matt. But with obstacle after obstacle, I felt like this was a sign that in fact this was NOT our time. I shared these feelings with Matt and he was quite upset that I was willing to give up so easily. It is just not in my nature. The word Faith was brought up several times in our conversation. Matt kept telling me "have faith, if it is meant to be, our faith will see it through."
It is moments like that that I love my husband the most. This was my dream, not his. But because he knew how much adopting from China meant to me, he was the one who pushed me forward and said "this is what you are supposed to do, don't look back now." And for that, I am so grateful because I cannot imagine our life without Mylee in our family. From the moment I saw her picture to the moment she was handed to me, I knew she was my daughter. As with all of my children, I have an incredible bond with her and a heart that is overflowing with love. Mylee has been home with us now for almost eleven months (has it really been that long) and she is truly a blessing.
I was certain that our family was finally complete. Or was it? Shortly after returning home with Mylee I could not get this nagging feeling that we were not done building our family. The more I tried to push these thoughts out of my head, the stronger they got. I remember thinking I was crazy because of the conversations I was having with myself. "There is no way I can handle 5 kids, let alone the cost of another adoption." I really tried hard to bury these thoughts deep within my head, but He wasn't allowing it.
I love blogging and following other blogs, especially those who have adopted from China. Not only is blogging a way for us to keep family and friends in the loop of what is going on with our kids, but it also a bit therapeutic for those of who have adopted. Anyway, one of the blogs that I really enjoy is about a family with four biological kids and their four, soon to be five kids adopted from China. Stefanie and her husband have managed to adopt four SN children from China in the last four years and are currently paper chasing for their beautiful daughter Vivi. I e-mailed Stefanie privately and asked her to please fill me in on how they could financially afford FIVE consecutive adoptions from China. I wasn't sure she would reply. I mean come on, would you reply if a complete stranger wanted to get nosy about your finances. So, you can imagine my surprise when she did reply. She simply told me about an agency that awards certain special needs children with large subsidies to cove all or almost all of the cost of adoption. After reading her e-mail I quickly high tailed it over to WACAP's site.
To say I spent a reasonable amount of time on there would be a lie. In between my homework, the kids' homework, making dinner, cleaning, and any other task us domestic engineers do on a daily basis, I was checking WACAP's site for newly added kids. One afternoon while the kids were napping I came across the cutest little boy. Something about this little boy caught my eye, was it his eyes, his chubby cheeks, or the smile that went from ear to ear? Whatever it was, I remember looking at his picture several times a day. I kept this to myself for several weeks before I tested the waters with Matt. I approached him in a joking manner one day about adopting again. He was pretty straight forward with his reply, "NO." I knew by the way he said it there was really no need to further the conversation anymore. A few more days passed and I was still looking at this little boys picture. I waited until just the right moment and I brought it up again. Again, Matt said "no, I am not ready, we don't have the room for another child, nor do we have the money for another adoption." I couldn't even get him to look at the little boys picture. Then, one afternoon while the kids were outside playing Matt brought up the subject of adopting again. This is what he said, "I think it is me being stubborn more than anything, and if God is calling you to adopt again, then who am I to stand in His way?" I was really shocked that Matt was saying this. After discussing it some more, he wanted to see the picture of the little boy. As soon as he saw his picture, he chuckled and said, "he is cute, go ahead and call the agency tomorrow and ask for his file."
Not wanting to waste any time, I e-mailed the agency that night so they would have my request first thing that morning. We got his file and did not see much in there that raised alot of questions, but sent his information to our pediatrician and to a specialist that dealt with his special need. Within a couple of days we were e-mailing our letter of intent along with other pre-approval information to our agency. Now all we had to do was wait to see if China would approve us to adopt him. The very next day we got a phone call from our case manager saying that unfortunately for us someone else had sent in their paperwork before us so this boy was no longer available. I think at that moment time stood still.
Faith Part 2
To say that I was devastated is putting it mildly. As I was on the phone with our case manager, I was also in the middle of packing to take Mylee back to the hospital for her sedated cast change, Matt was just getting home from work, and the kids were getting off the bus. I was only half listening as she suggested that we look at a couple other files she had. I remember her saying that she would e-mail me what she had and that on Friday a new list of kids would be added to the list. At this point I was just ready to get off the phone, I was so tired of looking at files of kids, and get on the road. Matt was just walking in the door and immediately asked if I had sent in our LOI. I explained to him what I had been told from our case manager and he too was upset.
As my friend and I drove to Indy I kept telling myself that as upset as I was, the important thing to remember was that he was going to have a family, and that he was not meant for our family. I knew from our journey to Mylee that this was all in God's hands and He had a plan for us. Maybe it was to adopt again, maybe not. The one thing I was sure of was that I had faith and absolute confirmation that He was in control.
At the same time I was "grieving" that we were not going to be his family, a part of me was also relieved. I remember the first time I opened Mylee's picture, I knew without a doubt she was our daughter. But with this little guy as much as I wanted him to be ours, I just did not have that same connection. I even spoke with some other adoptive moms of boys thinking that maybe it was because he was a boy. Whatever the reason, there was nothing I could do about it now.
After vowing NOT to look at anymore files for awhile, Matt and I did decide to move forward with submitting our paperwork and getting our home study updated. A few days later it was Friday, and I remembered what our case manager said about getting updated lists of waiting kids. All morning I literally forced myself not to go to their site. But by mid afternoon, my curiosity had gotten the best of me. I logged onto WACAP's waiting kids list and began scrolling down. There were few new faces on there, but mostly girls or kids with special needs more than what we felt we could handle. (We were certain that we wanted a boy around 3 or 4 this time. With an eight year age difference between Blake and Gabe, we really wanted a boy closer to Gabe's age). About half way through the list I came across a little boy that was about to turn three and was just adorable. I quickly read through his short bio and called our case manager at WACAP. I expressed my interest in him and she said that based on the information we shared with her about what special needs we would consider, that he was probably too much for us to handle. I was content with that and told her not to worry about it.
All weekend long I could NOT get this little guys picture out of my head. He was absolutely adorable. And although I did not know the extent of his special need, I felt that I just HAD to review his file. So, after discussing it with Matt, I e-mailed WACAP on a Sunday evening asking for his file (I wanted it to be in their inbox first thing Monday morning). In my e-mail I explained that although she felt we were not equipped for his special needs, I had this overwhelming need to pursue his file. Words cannot express how strongly I was being pulled to this little boy.
On Monday afternoon(they are 3 hours behind us), I received an e-mail back saying that she had attached his "short file" and that she would have his entire file pulled and e-mailed to us later that day. I opened the file to two very large pictures of him. Have I mentioned how cute he is? Anyway, as I read his file over and over, I was not finding a whole lot that would indicate that what the agency had suspected was one of his special needs. Later that afternoon I received the whole file which stated that he was in foster care in Beijing, that he was about to turn 3, and listed several medical issues that he had/has. He had several issues that I was not familiar with so I Googled those that were foreign to me. I was waiting for this big red flag to pop up to confirm that he was more than we could handle. Nothing from what I was seeing. I called Matt and work, shared with him the information I was able to get and he said it was okay to gt his files sent to some doctors. That same afternoon I sent his medical file to an adoption specialist at Riley Children's Hospital, our local Pediatrician, and to some family and friends who are in the medical field. Then I waited....
Faith Part 3...
"Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring our endurance and steadfastness and patience." James 1: 3
So, I waited and waited and waited for what seemed like forever when in reality it was only a couple of days. During the wait to hear back from the doctors I was still researching any and everything regarding his special need. As most adoptive parents know, the medical reports we are given are pretty vague in some cases. His was no exception. He medical file indicated that he had multiple special needs (5 to be exact), some of which I could not find much information on. On Tuesday nights Matt leaves work and goes to teach a class to new electricians. So, after getting the kids settled into bed, I decided to see if I could find any more out about his medical needs. It was so frustrating to me that I was not getting much information.
So, as I sat in bed with my laptop doing searches on one of his needs in particular, I decided to look under Google Images. But first I asking God to give me some type of sign that this was indeed our son, and that his medical needs were not more than we could handle. Are you ready, because this is where it starts to get really exciting...
After spending about half an hour looking at page after page of images, I was just about to log off for the night and get some much needed homework done. I told myself to goon to the next page and then I was done. I was at the end of the page and just about to close out of the screen when a picture of an Asian boy caught my eye. I clicked on his picture and began began reading the information on him. I got about half way through it before I realized that the little boy I was reading about was the EXACT same boy that we were considering adopting. How could this be?
This precious little boy had many medical challenges – a rare and dangerous umbilical polyp, a heart disease, a lung deformity, and two other issues of sensitive nature. He came to the foster home on October 26, 2006, and at the time, we did not know about his heart or lung problems, nor did we understand the severity of the umbilical polyp. The heart problem healed without surgery, but he needed 4 other surgeries to treat his other medical challenges. To look at him now, you wouldn't know that he has had such a long road! He is a happy mischievous little boy, and a source of much laughter in the foster home.
The above information is more than what was in his file, but I also found information regarding each and every surgery and how each one was as success.
What I didn't realize when I clicked on to his picture was that it redirected me to another website. I was searching the site of a place called New Day Foster Home located just outside of Beijing. By this time I was overwhelmed with everything that I was reading and seeing. I was still trying to figure out exactly what New Day was when it hit me, this WAS OUR SON. At that moment I felt this huge amount of emotion come over me and I just started crying. This was the feeling I was missing with the previous little boy. I was experiencing the exact same set of emotions as I did when I first saw Mylee's picture. I didn't know what to do. I knew I couldn't get ahold of Matt so I called a friend who is also a fellow adoptive parent (in fact, her husband and I traveled together to her our daughters last May). Tara was in just about as much shock as I was when together we figured out what New Day is. New Day Foster Home is just that, a foster home, with a twist. Their mission is to provide life saving surgeries for orphaned children throughout China. Once these children receive the care they need, they are then taken back to New Day to live until they get a family. Once they reach a certain age, or when the New Day staff feels they are ready, they are then placed in a local foster family so they can get all the feelings of having a family. The children that live with foster families attend pre-school five days a week at New Day and go home at night with their "families." How cool is that?
Okay, I can into more detail about New Day later. As soon as Matt came home I explained to him how everything had played out earlier that night. Together we read through his medical information on New Day's site, and sifted through tons of pictures and even watched a couple of videos of him. I asked him what he thought and he said, "send in whatever amount of money you need to to lock in his file, he is our son. But, please don't get your hopes up until we get PA. I don't want you getting hurt like before. And we both know that until we get PA we are guaranted anything." Have I mentioned before how much I love my husband?
So, the very next day, I waited for confirmation from our pediatrician as well as from the international adoption specialist at Riley before I submitted out LOI (letter of intent). On March 20, 2009 we submitted our LOI and our pre-approval packet to WACAP to adopt this little boy.
Faith Part 4...
"The One who calls you is faithful, and He will make it happen" I. Thes. 5:24
Once we submitted our LOI, we were told that it could take anywhere form 4-6 weeks to hear a response from China with our pre-approval. What? Our case manager also said that the pre-approval are coming in at about two weeks though. Okay that's more like it.
So, while we waited we filled out tons of paperwork, faxed and e-mailed even more forms. On Monday I was doing some much needed cleaning when I heard the phone ring. I went to answer it and saw WACAP's number on the caller ID. Could this be the call we have been waiting for for two weeks? I answered the phone trying not to sound overly excited. It was our case manager and she wanted to know if we had receive the e-mail she had sent to us on Friday. I explained to her that we were at the hospital with Matt's Grandma, but I don't think we got any e-mail from them. I think I would have noticed. Anyway, what I thought was going to be a joyous conversation about us getting PA was quickly turned into one of complete disbelief.
We all know how badly our economy is hurting right now and because of that, the donors that helped with the funding to help reduce the costs of some of these SN kids was having to back out because of the economy. At that moment I remember going over to the chair and sitting down with my head in my hands. This could NOT be happening. But, it was. She then went on to say that this particular child was being given a $2000 grant towards his adoption fees. I know I should have been grateful, but $2000 would not even cover a plane ticket. Okay, now what? She did say that they had already heard back from several families that were having to pull their applications due to the lack of funding. I told her this is something that I would obviously have to talk to Matt about, but that we would probably be pulling out as well.
As soon as I got off the phone with her, I quickly went over what the costs were going to be now with out the help from the donors and knew in my heart, that this journey was over. I was crushed. But, looking at the numbers and knowing that there is no way we would be able to finance another adoption without the help from WACAP's donors, I had my answer.
Once Matt got home he asked like always, "how was your day?" I couldn't even tell him, so I just handed him a copy of the e-mail our case manager had re-sent. I watched him read the letter as I folded laundry and once he was done, I waited for a response. Nothing. Not a single word. Matt is more of the quiet, think everything through type, so I was not too surprised when he kept silent. I wasn't sure what to do, so I continued doing housework. Finally after about 20 minutes, Matt spoke. This is the conversation that transpired...
Matt "I really think he looks like a Drew, don't you?"
Mandi "Matt, there is NO way we can do this. Trust me, I have gone over and over the numbers and there is no way we can afford it."
Matt "I know this is going to sound korny and cliche`, but hear me out please. This is what you are supposed to do. For whatever reason, you have been called to adopt. We are NOT giving up now."
Mandi "But the money is simply NOT there. The only way we were able to afford Mylee's adoption was because you had tons of overtime last year and some side jobs. This year we are lucky if you get your 40 hours in. It's not going to happen."
Matt "Faith, that is what we have. We had it with Mylee, and we will have it with this adoption. Now, where are the papers I need to sign so you can get them mailed off."
As I showed Matt where to sign, he looked over at me and said "FAITH."
"God does not call the equipped, He equips those that answer the call."