Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Decision to Adopt Again

The reasons why people decide to adopt vary widely and its a very personal decision. We are not adopting because we are trying to save a child or because we are saints or because god told us to. Trust me I am not judging anyone if those are their reasons for adopting, they just are not our reasons. For us adopting is purely a selfish decision; we want more kids. We always knew that we wanted three or four kids and we were very blessed to be able with the assistance of drugs to conceive Jake. However, after much heartbreak, additional biological children were not in the cards for us. So we decided that adoption was the way we would expand our family. We looked at many different adoption avenues and for reasons that could fill up another entire blog post, adopting from China was the way to go for us.

John and I have been flirting off and on with the idea to adopt again for the last four years. We would talk about the idea of adopting another one, however a huge concern for us was Madison. We have always said that she would be a ideal only child or first born given her personality, but as luck would have it, she ended up as our baby. We were both, extremely concerned about how she would react to being dethroned as the baby. Add on to that, Jake wanted a brother who was older like him. And while, we agree that our kids should not be the deciding factor in whether we adopt again, their feelings and concerns do and did weigh into our decision on when and the type of child to adopt. In the Spring of 2013, I had been bitten by the adoption bug and even started compiling the stack of paperwork that we would need to begin our process. However neither John or I was overly motivated and I was worried about trying to adopt and finish school. We decided to table the discussion until mid/late 2014.

So imagine my surprise when in Jan 2014, John began pushing hard on the idea that we should adopt again. After much discussion we decided in April 2014, that we would officially begin the process to adopt again. We knew that we wanted another girl, or rather we were told by Maddy that we were going to get another girl, one who looked like her but with shorter legs (meaning younger). Maddy who previously was resistant to the idea of another sibling and who previous answer to the question "Do you want a sister or another brother?" was "I have a brother and I am the sister, we don't need any more" Suddenly was the biggest champion of getting a sister, as she liked the idea of having someone littler around that she could boss around. I began the process of collecting the required paperwork and by early May we were paying our fees and starting the home-study process. We were shocked that within weeks of paying our fees, we received a file to review. Our china program coordinator had locked the file of a little girl with albinism who according to the file was born in Jan 2011.

We were excited, but also nervous as we had not expected to be reviewing a file so quickly. As we reviewed the file, it was apparent that this child was delayed and that there was major questions about her actual birthdate. The file showed the child had been abandoned in late Nov. 2011 but her birthdate was listed as Jan 2011, making her tens months at abandonment, which would be unusual for a child with albinism to be abandoned at that age. The file also showed that they believed she had hearing loss in addition to albinism and was not walking unassisted or really talking. These were major red-flags as according to her file she was almost 3 1/2 at this point. We started questioning the file and asking for updates, all along terrified that this child had more needs than we could handle. Our agency worked hard to get updated information and videos, but there was a lot of unanswered questions still, but we needed to make a decision. Adoption is a leap of faith into the unknown and that leap can be terrifying and the worse thing any family can do is say yes to child's file and then be unable to handle the needs and at worst case situation end us disrupting the adoption. I feel like our family is open to a lot of needs, as we have two special needs kids, but given what we knew and with me feeling completely overwhelmed by the unknown, we had to say no the file We were both heartbroken and I know everyday, I questioned our decision to say no and wondered was she suppose to be our and I was just too frozen by fear to say yes.

I am not overly religious and would probably be classified best a non-practicing catholic (raised catholic, believe in, pray, baptized my kids, but never go to church). However, I prayed every night that this child would find the family that was meant for her. I was thrilled when I saw online (thanks to the wonder of Facebook groups) that another another family with our agency was reviewing the file and truly hoped she would find her forever family. We continued to move our paperwork through the required U.S. steps and by August was ready to send our paperwork to China for processing. We knew that to be matched with a little girl under two with albinism could take some time and did not expect to see a file until after our paperwork had been logged in with the Chinese government.

As we were preparing to hand over our paperwork to our agency so they could send it to China, our China coordinator informed us that the other family had passed on the little girls file, as they had been waiting for seven months for another child's file to become available and it finally had! Our coordinator stated that she had additional videos and information. She asked if we would like to review the file again with the new information and videos and told me that she honestly felt like this child was meant to be ours, but that she would understand if we said no again. Before even reviewing the information John said "You know she is meant to be ours, right?". I also knew deep down in my heart she was our daughter and that we would be accepting her file regardless of what the information was. I knew that we would get her the services she needed to excel and that with some love, a little bit of luck and the right therapies she would be okay. Our biggest worry was potential hearing loss, however we were pleasantly surprised to open the video and see her singing along and mimicking her nanny.

The previously family had a international doctor review the file and shared the information with us, including that her CAT scan and head measurements looked normal. It was obvious that she had some development delays, however that is very common in children in orphanages. Her blood work also showed signs of being malnourished, again another common adoption related issues. It also became apparent that she may actually be younger than originally stated as the orphanage admitted that they made up her birthday and have no clue how old she was at abandonment. It seems clear that she was not a newborn when she was abandoned, however we may never know how exactly how old she really is. If you look at her development and figure that she could be 6 mos or more younger than stated, then her development is more on track to what you would expect of a younger child.

We were thrilled to accept her referral in August and truly believe she was meant to be ours. The process was a great reminder that adoption is truly a leap of faith and I always use to say plan for the worst case scenario and hope for the best. However a friend recently told me that instead in life you should plan for the best case scenario but be prepared for the worst case. Either way we are thrilled to be welcoming a new child into our family!!!

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