Monday, August 17, 2009

The Thing that's Bothering Me

OK -- so it's been a week now with no word from China -- or the agency for that matter. So the high of the last few weeks is leveling out a little. And as it does, a few questions keep bugging me.

Why can't Wenxin stay in the foster home where he's lived since birth? Do they want him? Could they adopt him if they wanted to? Is he happy there? Will he be relieved to leave or will he forever grieve the family he's being ripped away from?

And the question that's really eating at me is how in the world can we really find the answers?

It's not like I haven't already asked. The lady at the agency says "all these kids know that they'll age out of the system at 14. They know they need a home."

I think I'm supspicious of the whole adoption business. It would be naive to think that everyone involved is looking out for the best interest of the child. I want Wenxin to be in a loving family where he's valued and where he's safe. Is he already there? I get that he's probably poor; that his foster parents are probably peasants. I know that if he stays there, he'll probably receive little education and grow up to be a peasant too. But is that really so bad? Is being ripped from the only family you've ever known and carried to a more affluent country to be raised by loving and kind strangers who will provide you a better education really the preferable option?

I'm trusting God to lead through China's response to us.

When this post was originally published, it did not include Wenxin's photo per China's pre-adoption requirements.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Sunday night we e-mailed a "Letter of Intent" to adopt Wenxin. Our agency (actually they aren't "our agency" yet, but will be if we receive approval to adopt him) will translate our letter into Chinese and log it into China's online system. We are seeking pre-approval to adopt Wenxin because we know that China may turn us down because of Mike's epilepsy. China would probably never approve us for a healthy infant adoption. But the agency feels there's a good chance we could be approved for a waiting child. At this point we've paid no money and signed no contract. If we receive pre-approval, then we begin this process in earnest.

So now we wait. And wait. And wait.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why China?

Why China?

Simply put – Because that’s where Wenxin is.

We’ve known we wanted to grow our family through adoption now for years. But there were so many questions. Boy or girl? Infant, toddler, or older child? Domestic or international? Healthy or special needs? Adoptive parents are called on to make decisions that biological parents never face. Those decisions can be paralyzing.

We tended to face those decisions that would alter our destiny (and that of all our children) late at night. There were many groggy, after-midnight conversations. Some options were ruled out. Others reconsidered.

Mike is a “possibilities” guy. Narrowing down options goes against his very nature. Exasperated, at one point I said, “Honey, there are millions of orphans in this world. If we have to consider each one individually, we’ll never do anything!”

My heart was drawn to waiting children. A lot of adoptive parents prefer girls – especially when looking at older kids. Our family seemed to be missing a boy.

And then we found him -- a sweet six year old Chinese boy on the waiting children’s list of an agency recommended by friends. Mike said, “Get more info on him.” After months of seeing things from different perspectives, suddenly we agreed on this child. I shot off a quick e-mail to the agency. So as not to seem too picky, I also listed four more kids we’d consider. The agency e-mailed back that the others were already being considered by other families, but offered to send Wenxin’s info. My heart leapt.

Suddenly we were holding photos, a video, biography, and the medical records of the little boy who just might be our son. But we were leaving town for two weeks in just two days, and we desperately needed our pediatrician’s input.

The receptionist was kind, but not very encouraging. This doctor is booked for months in advance. She also told me that the fee was $250 and definitely not covered by insurance. She took down all the details and left for a moment.

“Can you be here in 30 minutes?” she asked when she returned. Pandemonium ensued as we tossed our other 3 kids into the van and raced through rush hour traffic as fast as we could. It was kind of like driving to the hospital in labor.

Dr. Lagod reviewed his file. He looked healthy, but sad. She warned us of attachment problems that can occur with adopted kids. She pointed out that while his physical exam and lab work look fine, we know nothing of his birth parents. What about drugs and alcohol in pregnancy? This kid comes with a world of unknowns.

Dr. Lagod wished us well and refused to take payment for her services. She’s known us for a long time. She’s cared for each of our babies since birth. She was with us in 2001 when our daughter Sarah was born with a fatal chromosomal disorder. She fought for appropriate treatment for little Sarah, valuing her as a person, in spite of her severe handicaps. She attended her burial.

We felt as if God were sweeping us along on this adventure. Wenxin has some burn scars from an injury as an infant. The next evening as we surfed TV channels, we settled on the news show, 20/20. The main story was about amazing advancements in the treatment of burn scars. I didn’t dare look at Mike. When I did, we were both teary- eyed.

A Christian doctor we’d just met the week before agreed to have a plastic surgeon friend look at photos of Wenxin’s scars. No need for further treatment at this time. Another green light.

For the next two weeks, we traveled as a family to Alabama and on as a couple to Colorado. Mike and I prayed and talked. We tried to shock each other into reality by brainstorming “worse case scenarios.” We made phone calls to the agency with nit-picky questions. At one point I said, “This is either the greatest thing we’ve ever done, or the stupidest.”

But aren’t all acts of faith like that?

For me, I think what sealed the deal was realizing that as scared as I am of all the unknowns, the thing I’m most scared of is that we won’t be able to adopt him. Mike agrees and we are taking the plunge.

So China it is. Let the journey begin.

When this post was originally published in 2009, I did not include Wenxin's photo per China adoption regulations. I'm so glad I can include it now. That photo won our hearts!