Archives for February 2013

We’re Off to China! Err, Our Dossier Is Anyway

We’re triple certified!  We found out yesterday that the Chinese consulate in San Francisco finally authenticated our dossier.  They sent it out Thursday Fed Ex overnight to our adoption agency Beijing just in time for the weekly package to their Beijing office.  Great Wall hand delivers to the China Center of Adoption Affairs, which is the Chinese government agency that oversees all adoptions in China.

The international adoption process involves a surprising amount of certifying this, that or the other thing.  You need many signatures notarized.  Your doctor’s signature on your physical needs to be notarized.  Your social worker’s signature on your home study needs to be notarized.  Of course, your signature needs to be notarized as well.  Then, you have the state government secretary of state’s office certify that the notaries your used are in fact notaries in your state.  Finally, you send it to the Chinese consulate so they can certify that the secretary of state is in fact your secretary of state.  That’s the simplified version.

What’s timeline look like now?  Our adoption agency estimates it’s taking between 2 and 6 weeks to get a “log in” date, which is confirmation they’ve received your dossier and put it in their system.  Then, it’s taking between 5-12 weeks for the “letter seeking confirmation,” which is the official Chinese referral of the potential child to us.  So, our current wait time is between 7 and 18 weeks.  After that, we’ll need travel approval from the Chinese government, our U.S. consulate appointment, our Chinese visas, and our tickets to fly!  Then, we’re off to China for real!

How Big is God?

“You don’t want a God so small you completely understand Him.”  Chris Brown, Pastor, North Coast Church, Vista, California

Wait, We Weren’t Supposed to be Doing This Yet!

For a couple who decided not to pursue another adoption until 2014, we were doing strange things.  Tricia never did stop looking at waiting children in China on the internet. I began looking for a new adoption agency, making some inquiries and asking others for recommendations. I looked at a few, and sent emails to a few.  But we remained committed to give it a year or longer before pursuing anything seriously.

By fall, thoughts of another adoption started to enter our minds.  After all, it’d taken us more than a year after submitting our dossier to China to find Rion on the waiting child list.  So we knew that it would take a while for an adoption to happen even if we did get started.  Meanwhile, Rion was starting to bond with our family and we were bonding with him.  He and Julia started to build an amazing friendship.  It was great to see him blossom and grow.

After our social worker recommended Great Wall China Adoption, we began to look at them more seriously.  They’re one of the largest agencies working in China, and they had private partnerships with six different social welfare institutes.  As a result, they have a bigger list of available kids than most agencies.

About six months after bringing Rion home, Tricia called Great Wall and spoke to someone in the China Waiting Child program.  They discussed the possibility of reusing some of Rion’s dossier which you can do if you adopt within a year.  (Dossier is short for lots and lots of documents regarding your life that take an endless amount of time and effort to gather.) But the child we would adopt would have to be a Special Focus child – a child with a more complicated special need, possibly an older child, definitely one who would be more difficult to place.  We were looking for a young (maybe 2 year old) girl, with minor special needs.  Kimberly, the woman from Great Wall, agreed that it would be pretty unlikely to find a child that would fit that profile, except, she said for one little girl’s file.  It had just come in that day.  She said she’d send us the file of this little Special Focus child.

We opened our email to find the cutest little girl just under two years old with medical issues that we definitely felt we could handle.  Our hearts just melted, and we almost couldn’t say yes fast enough.

Throughout our adoptions, God’s demonstrated that He absolutely works in the details.  We were not in any kind of hurry to pursue another adoption even though we were making preliminary inquiries.  We still can’t quite understand how Olivia was labeled “special focus”.  But there was at an error in her file that suggested she had a problem that she actually didn’t even have.  Tricia happened to call Great Wall before they made Olivia’s availability public.  Given her young age and her minor medical issues, it’s likely that another family would have quickly chosen her.  But we believe that God meant her to be ours and He just made all the pieces fit.

Adoption Fatigue

The Family Network

A year after bringing Julia home, we started the process again for a little brother or sister. It took longer than expected, but two and a half years after Julia we brought home little Rion.  We adopted Rion, our ever energetic second kid, from Taiyuan City in the Shanxi province of China in May 2012.  He was a little over 3 years old and brought with him a whole new set of adoption challenges.  Our social workers at The Family Network prepared us to deal with the feelings of grief and loss during the adoption transition.  After our relatively smooth adoption of Julia from China in 2009, we felt well prepared.

Rion had lived in one foster home since he was an infant and he had been spoiled and loved!  While the spoiling wasn’t so good, we knew the love he had experienced would give him the ability to love us too and it was a great start for his life.  But the transition was HARD!  Imagine taking any 3 year old from the only family he knows and handing him to strangers who don’t speak his language, don’t look like him, and in an instant he has lost everything he knows and loves.  He has the clothes on his body and that’s it.  It was tough!  The first days and weeks were filled with Rion’s grief and anger at being taken from his foster parents. And despite our training, and the obvious grief he was dealing with, it was hard for us to love him when he was so difficult.  We felt protective of Julia who was dealing with jealousy issues.  We ourselves were tired, jet-lagged, living out of suitcases in a foreign country, and just having a rough time.

The second day with Rion, we ‘d reached our wit’s end.  At one point late that afternoon, Tricia and I sat for a brief rest on a park bench in China with Rion throwing a terrible tantrum.  The deafening noise caught the ear of a police officer who stood across the walk and stared at us.   Of course, our guide and interpreter had the afternoon off.  Tentatively, we started walking to the Pizza Hut at the park edge for dinner.  Thank God, the officer didn’t follow us, even with Rion screaming at the top of his lungs.  And trust me, we found out early, the boy’s got lungs.

It didn’t get any better at Pizza Hut either.  Rion kept screaming at the top of his lungs inside the Pizza Hut.  Quickly, we decided we couldn’t torture the other diners with his noise.  So, I took Rion outside and sat on the steps with him, holding him and listening to him screaming.  Trish sat inside with Julia and ate pizza.  Then, she came outside and took her turn with Rion.  Tricia and I struggled mightily to keep it together with the help of a lot of prayer.  By night’s end, after we’d finally put the kids to sleep, we just wanted to take Rion, go home, and not think about another adoption.

Even after we got home it was hard.  Rion threw insanely long and loud tantrums when he didn’t get his way.  We had to try and put aside our desire to discipline and instead to focus on helping him through this complicated grieving process, but it was so hard.

We’d dealt with adoption, the adoption paper chase, the home studies, the waiting, the praying and the agonizing since May 2008.  We’d had one failed international adoption attempt in Kyrgyzstan, one joyful adoption in China in 2009, and, so far, one challenging adoption.  We needed a break from it all, period.

We agreed not to talk about adoption again until 2014.  Then we agreed to talk about it in 2013, but just not do anything until 2014.  However, despite all our plans, throughout the summer God was moving in us….

Our First Adoption

2009-10-12-DSC_0104

October 12, 2009.  We sat in a room, decorated in red and black and white.  We were surrounded by couples and families.  We, like the other couples, looked around anxiously, hardly able to contain our emotions.  It was probably not the maternity ward most of you experienced.  No labor pains.  Those had taken place in the months and even years leading up to that day.  But tears and smiles from moms and dads.  And yes, crying, very loud crying from babies, toddlers, and pre-schoolers.  Most of the parents were Americans.  All of the little girls and boys were Chinese, and their lives were suddenly changing in a huge way!

Our guide Simon, walked up to us and said “she’s here”.  We stood up and walked to the middle of the room.  A lady came out of a side door with a tiny little girl walking beside her.  She had a cute little pixie haircut, yellow bunny shoes, black Mickey Mouse pants, and a red and white striped top.  Tears were in her eyes and she looked so scared and sad.  She had no idea that the two people in the world who loved her more than anything were about to hold her for the first time.  That first day, our hearts were full to exploding with love for our sweet little girl, but Julia was sad and scared.  She had already experienced way too many upheavals in her little life and had no idea what this one meant.

But the next morning we got our first shy smiles.  And the morning after that we heard her laugh at us and she burst out of her shell.  This silly little bundle of joy was the child we’d always dreamed of, full of energy, laughter, and love!  Over the past 3 years we’ve watched her blossom into a sweet, smart little girl, who fills our house with her creative and fun energy.  She is kind and compassionate and already shows an amazing understanding about the world around her and the God who loves her.  We couldn’t ever imagine not being her parents.