But this time, it was different.
This little one was familiar...so very familiar. I said to myself, "This child looks like my family." My heart felt such a pull toward this sweet one that I cannot explain.
I sent an email to my social worker to see if this child had paperwork in place to be adopted, and she asked if we could talk the next day. When we spoke by phone, she explained that although she would look into things, she said not to get my hopes up. The orphanage may not be getting together the adoption paperwork - this is true for millions of orphans in the world. My social worker added that even if paperwork was being prepared that the orphanage might partner with an agency in another part of world. If the orphanage partnered with an adoption agency in Italy, for example, this child's file would go to that agency. I understood that the chance was very small that anything would come of my inquiry, but I needed to know if this sweet one's file was being prepared.
Every month I wrote to check in and always received the same response. The question had been asked to the representative in China, but no response had been given.
....all went by without a word. During that time, God continued to grow an amazing love within our family. Tucker adjusted so well with each passing week. Our bonds with one another were all growing deeper, and our foundation grew stronger and stronger. We celebrated the boys' birthdays with family and friends. We went to Florida for our first family vacation since Tucker had been home and had the time of our lives. I remember sitting on the deck outside our room, overlooking the ocean, and thinking about the little one across the world who I wished was on vacation with us, too. I thought about all of the children in China...all of the orphans in the world...who had no family to take them on vacation. No sandcastles. No jumping in pools. No splashing in the ocean. No mom or dad to rub sunscreen into their skin. These are the thoughts that plague a person whose heart longs for the fatherless - every single one - to have a family to call their own.
We came home from Florida and sent an email to our social worker to see if she had heard an update about the little one. I really just needed closure because it had been several months without any word, and I knew the chances were very, very small that this inquiry would lead to anything.
On June 30th, I received the most unexpected surprise. This child's adoption file was being prepared by the orphanage...AND...our agency had a partnership with the orphanage, meaning that once complete, the file would come to Lifeline.
SHOCK and AWE quickly came on the scene.
Was this really happening? I had just quit my job the month prior. We always knew we would adopt again, but we did not have immediate plans to do so.
To say we were in shock is an understatement. Over the next week, we did a lot of praying, reading God's Word, talking to our social worker, talking with one another, and asking others to pray for us. On the one hand, starting an adoption process for the first time is a HUGE step. It is a leap of faith. You are like Peter, getting out of the boat, and walking to Jesus.
At the same time, ignorance is bliss. The first time around, we had never experienced an adoption process, so we are oblivious to the paperwork, the longing, the waiting, the adoption process, the aching, the loving, and the emotional roller coaster. We just took it one step at a time, and with each step, we learned a little bit more.
This time, we were facing an adoption decision KNOWING what would lie ahead. We knew how much we would long for our child. We had experienced the delays can inevitably happen. We thought about the money it would require - hello, didn't I just quit my job? We wondered how our family and friends would feel, knowing they had just walked that road with us. How would the boys feel? Were we ready to climb the adoption mountain again? The possible attachment challenges, the issues with food, the second language acquisition, the medical needs, the developmental delays due to life in an institution? Were we really ready to go through that all over again?
Then came the selfish desires.
Did I want to live on a super tight budget for the next 1-2 years? We had just done that! Did I want to leave our children again for 2 weeks or more? Did I want to start saving for another child to go to college? Did I want to be a mother to four children? Did I want to give up our finally-achieved "normal" and "easy" for another period of transition? Did I want to stay home from work another year? Did I want to invite another child, who might reject me, into our family ?
But you know what? It's not about me. It's not about Ryan. It's not about our selfish desires. It's not about going on our 10th anniversary vacation. It's not about wanting to drive my CR-V instead of a mini-van. It's not about living an "easy" life. It's not about hoarding my money and buying things that will ultimately not bring me real joy anyway.
You know what does matter?
What matters is that there are children living in the US and across the world without a family. We are a family. We can be the family of another child. We can give up our selfish desires to live out a life that God has called us to live. Even with difficult beginnings, God can and does grow the love in our hearts. The bond does form, and the foundation becomes strong. A new normal is achieved. God restores and redeems everything.
So, after many, many prayers, much seeking, and countless conversations over the Fourth of July weekend, WE SAID YES!!! Can I just say how much I love my husband and admire his courage? He is the love of my life, and I am so thankful that he loves God so much and is willing to follow Him and invite children into our family. Love that guy!
On Monday, July 7th at 8:30 p.m., once again we submitted our application to the China Special Needs Program through Lifeline Children's Services.
Please know that there is NO guarantee that we will be able to adopt this particular child that my heart fell for that February night. Yes, the file is being prepared. Yes, the orphanage partners with our agency. Yes, we are rejoicing that these miracles have taken place. We truly stand in awe. God showed us His hand yet again! However, when this child's file arrives, our agency will strive to match this sweet one with the best family for him. And in the end, that family may or may not be us.
And you know what? We are ok with that because we trust that our sovereign God loves this child more than any of us. He knows the heart of our family, the personalities of each of us, the parenting style we have, the silly three boys who live here. And God knows this child, too. He knows what this child needs to thrive. He knows what family is best for this child.
And when you love someone - really love someone - you want their happiness more than you want yours. You want better for them than you want for yourself. You want their outcome to be the best it can be, even if it means you don't get to be part of the story. You make sacrifices for that person, and sometimes that sacrifice means loving someone and then saying goodbye.
Our prayer is that whatever family is chosen will lead this child to Christ and provide this little one with the best outcomes. And while we do hope that our family can give this sweet one that life, only God really knows. So we trust Him and His ability to lead the China team when they make their decision. Our peace comes not from our circumstances but our full trust in the Lord and His great love for us.
It is true - we would not be going back to China right now if this little one's file was not going to our agency. Yet, we are choosing to believe that if this is not our sweet one, that God is using this child to get us back to China because there is someone waiting to be loved, held, and cherished for the rest of his/her life. We may never be part of this child's story, but this precious one will always be part of ours. Only time will tell. Thank you for your prayers as we witness the glorious unfolding of God's plan for our lives.
And this is going to be, a glorious unfolding.
Just you wait and see and you will be amazed.
You've just got to believe the story is so far from over.
So hold on to every promise God has made to us.
And watch this glorious unfolding.
-Steven Curtis Chapman "A Glorious Unfolding"