The adoption process is often called a "paper pregnancy." So I'm guessing that my social worker is my OB/GYN, my local notaries are my lab techs, and our adoption agency is our healthcare provider. I sure hope someone will give me an epidural for the flight home.
You'd think that at this point I'd be able to pee in cup without getting it on my hand, but at my adoption physical . . . no such luck.
Our homestudy is now complete so I'm guessing we just finished our first trimester. Yes, I've been a bit tired, but no morning sickness thus far.
This is our early ultrasound photo.
We don't know yet if it's a boy or a girl, but we do know there's a little person waiting for us in China!
This adoption pregnancy has already been so different from Daniel's. His adoption was an emergency situation. We were shown one photo and given 24 hours to make a decision to adopt a child we had never met. The circumstances surrounding our commitment to adopt him made all the pieces fall into place. We never needed to pick a country or an age range or make a list of special needs. We never searched through photolistings or researched medical conditions. God had already filled in the blanks that our child was Daniel, waiting in Guatemala, ordained to be our son since the beginning of time.
So when Brad gave his blessing last June for us to adopt again (it was my 40th birthday present), the joy of starting another adoption soon turned into an overwhelming list of questions. What country? What age? What gender? What special need? I'd look at photolistings and just weep. There are just too many precious children who need families.
We were so torn regarding what country to adopt from that we ended up finding a local agency to do our homestudy who doesn't have an international program. That enabled us to get started allowing us flexibility to choose an international program later and select an agency that specialized in whatever country we decided on.
If you had asked us in July where we were adopting from, I probably would have answered, "An HIV positive child from the Ukraine." Although we feel a great burden for this special need and many particular children we saw through the amazing ministry called Reece's Rainbow, it became clear that this is not where God is leading us at this particular time. (But if you are feeling led to adopt a special needs child, please take the time to visit their site and see the precious children desperately needing a family!)
So in sharing about our first trimester, I'll just list our most frequently asked questions and give the answers. (Feel free to ask other questions in the comments and I'll answer in a future post.)
If Guatemala was not currently closed for new adoptions, we would have gone back there. We love the people of Guatemala and grew very close to many children from Daniel's orphanage--two little girls in particular that we will always love as daughters. (I shared about them here.)
So we looked closely at the adoption programs and needs in the US, China, India, three African countries, the Ukraine and Russia. We kept coming back to China. We actually tried to adopt from China in 1995 before we had any children. We started the paperwork only to be told that we weren't old enough. (At the time, to adopt from China you could not have any other children and must be at least 30 years old.) We are well-qualified in the age criteria now (I don't think there's a minimum age anymore) and very grateful that they now allow those with children to adopt.
But perhaps the seed was planted in my heart for China when I was a little girl. I remember reading books about Hudson Taylor and Gladys Aylward. What a profound impact these missionaries to China had on my life. If you haven't already, I encourage you to read their biographies to your children.
Other factors that kept pointing us to China are that we knew we wanted to adopt child with special needs and there are currently close to 2000 special needs children waiting in China today. It's a list that unfortunately grows each month.
But perhaps the deciding factor was Daniel. Right now it doesn't bother him that he tans better than the rest of his family, but some day it might. We want him to have a sibling that looks a bit like him, with his silky black hair and beautiful dark eyes. When we asked our kids where they wanted us to adopt from, Daniel always leaned toward China. (Actually, they all did.) We could tell he was excited when we announced that's where we were going.
Thus far, the only drawback in adopting from China is its location on the world map. I hate air travel (I would honestly rather travel by unicycle than get on a plane) and China just isn't easy to get to by car. Mapquest wouldn't even give me directions so I knew I was in trouble. God was merciful to have our first adoption in a country that required only a three hour flight. I know He will help me overcome turbulence and the airplane bathroom (I can hold it 3 hours but not 15), but I must admit that God has a great sense of humor in calling this aviation-challenged gal to international adoption.
Have you been matched with a child?
Not yet. With the non-special needs program in China, the Chinese government matches you with a child (and the wait for a healthy infant is now 4 to 5 years). But since we are wanting a child with special needs, there's no wait. We can review files at any time and choose a child who has been waiting more than 3 months. Once our dossier is complete, we are eligible for any child on their shared listing--even those who were recently added.
We will most likely choose a child who has been waiting a while, but thus far haven't asked to look at any files and probably won't for a few more weeks. Primarily because we just don't wait very patiently. As soon as we know who our child is, I'm going to want to hop on my unicycle the very same day and go get him/her. After waiting two and a half years for Daniel to come home, we've taken the "horse before cart/paperwork before referral" approach and it has made this whole process stress and drama free. I haven't stalked a postman, badgered a notary, or cried on my social worker's shoulder . . . yet.
We don't care what gender and have been approved to adopt a child with special needs that range from mild to severe (we filled out a long list of needs we would consider). The only thing we do know about this next child is that he or she will be younger than our 5 year old son. All four of our children have requested a younger sibling and we are thrilled about having a little person in our home again. (Ava has made a special request for a child with chubby cheeks.)
When do you think you will have your child home?
(Insert laughing here.) This is not really a question I can answer with any accuracy considering Daniel's adoption (that was supposed to take nine months to one year to complete) ended up taking two and a half years. With that disclaimer noted, it looks like our second trimester will be pretty quick. We are about to submit our 1-800A. Then we will get our international fingerprinting appointment and wait for our approval. I have already finished our other dossier documents so once we get that "golden ticket" we just have to get all the documents authenticated at the county, state, and Chinese consulate levels and we're done with the paperwork. (I'm thinking this will all take about 6 to 8 weeks.)
Once we are matched with a child and the Chinese government approves us as adoptive parents, the estimated wait to travel is 3 to 6 months. (I guess this would be our third trimester.) So, it's possible that we will get our child this spring, but (with our track record) we'll be thrilled to bring Williams Baby #5 home by next summer.
Thanks for joining us on this journey again. I can't tell you what a blessing it was to be covered with prayer and given encouragement this time last year when we were trying to bring Daniel home. We are so grateful for your love and support as we welcome another gift from God.
Grateful to Be "Expecting" Again,