Adoption Timeline

Friday, May 27, 2016

Special Needs Adoption

" I am fearfully and wonderfully made." Psalm 139:14

I went back and forth on whether I would write about this or not. But, maybe there is someone out there, considering adoption from China, and this post will help ease their fears and encourage them to step out in faith and consider a special needs adoption.

As I have mentioned in previous posts, China is no longer a country where orphanages are full of healthy girls.  In fact, the wait time for a healthy child in China is currently 5-7 years.  Most agencies don't even offer a healthy child program.  China is considered a special needs adoption country and the medical history and birth history of the children are not known. 

But, their definition of "special needs" is very broad, and not at all what I had thought.  This could mean anything from a birth mark to a child with more major needs that would require multiple surgeries, life-long medical care and even a shortened life expectancy.

Here is a graph that summarizes the special needs that one particular agency had seen when matching children. 
As you can see the list is quite extensive.  So, what exactly does this look like for an adopting family?  Each agency will have a Medical Needs List that you go through with your spouse, social worker and agency.  On this list are about 50 different special needs...again, anything from a birthmark to a terminal diagnosis.  This list is by no means an absolute, but it helps guide your agency in what is best for your family, what you are comfortable with and ultimately help them find the right family for EVERY child. To some families, the idea of having a child that would require surgery is very scary, to another it may not be.  That does not make one family better than's just a way to again find the best home for each unique child God created. 

We not only have met with a social worker to discuss various special needs, but we also met with Children's International Medical Adoption Team to go over the list and get a better idea of what our lives could look like in each scenario.  Another factor that families need to consider, is what their current family dynamics are, how much time do you have to take care of a possible physical need. For example, will you be working, will you need to stay home? What does your insurance cover?  I never even thought about insurance, but have ran across several families who ended up not accepting a referral because of limited health benefits. is the next leap of faith.  Medical history of each child is...well, lacking. So, you may read a medical review on a child and bring them home to find out there is a lot more medical needs than you knew.  But you may also bring that child home and find out that their health is much better that you originally thought. 

We will get a picture, sometimes videos, and limited medical information.  And then...I imagine, we will PRAY.

God, is this our daughter? Can we provide the best home for her?  God, is this your will?  I imagine these are some of the prayers that will flood as we review a potential match. 

So, I ask for YOUR prayers, as we wait.  That is were we are.  We are waiting for our agency, who knows our family, who knows are heart, to show us a referral.  Are there waiting children now...YES! Am I looking at pictures online and wondering...yes. It's's heart breaking honestly.  But, my heart and eyes are open.  God show us your will...we are waiting.

Finally, I just want to say, that it makes me sad that these precious children are considered "special needs."  I mean, in reality,  we all have something about us that makes us different.  I have a beautiful port wine birthmark that covers my lower left leg.  But, I can guarantee you, that no one else that God has created has that exact mark.  No one else, has my exact medical background.  Oh, but God created us....each one unique and PERFECT in his eyes. 

So let's not say anyone has a special need...let's say that God has created each of us uniquely and perfectly. We are all special. We are all LOVED. 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Be Near Oh God

One of the things that speaks to my heart the most is music.  No matter what my mood is, I can usually find the perfect song fitting for that day.  So, I want to start sharing different songs that have spoken to me. Maybe someone will run across one of these songs and be encouraged.

There are some songs that just stick with me...songs that the minute you begin to hear the intro, your mind and heart are drawn back to a particular place and time. 

I heard this song on the radio this week and immediately felt a flood of emotions that I had felt in May 3rd, 2014. 

Shane and Shane "Be Near Oh God"

That weekend was our annual "Friendcation."  Several of my bestest friends from highschool and our families pack up the car and head out to celebrate a long weekend full of fun and craziness! It was of course, an amazing trip because, well it just always is amazing when I'm with these girls.  But that Saturday morning, a little bit of darkness was cast on our trip. 

Without going into details, my heart was broken. 

Now, there is a CD that Wyatt listens to every naptime and at bedtime...a lullaby CD. Well, I remembered the CD player, but left his CD at home for the trip.  So, I pulled out an old Shane and Shane CD and put that in to play while he slept.  I have no doubt, that God planned for that CD to be with me that day.  As I sat laying on the bottom bunk bed, I was at a loss for words.  But no words were necessary...because in the background, Wyatt's music from his naptime quietly played...

For dark is light to You
Depths are height to You
Far is near
But Lord, I need to hear from You

Be near, oh God
Be near, oh God of us
Your nearness is to us our good

"But as for me, it is good to be near God.    I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge;
    I will tell of all your deeds."Psalm 73:28

"If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me    and the light become night around me,” even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. " Psalm 139:11-12

So, if you are feeling a little distance from the Lord, know that He is NEAR.  Even when you cannot feel Him...He is the darkness and in the Light.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Why China?

So how did we finally decide on pursuing an adoption from China?  That answer was a little more difficult. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, we have known for quite a while that we wanted to adopt, but my heart was all over the place when it came to actually choosing a country.

My first desire was, of course, Zambia. I had been there several times, I had been inside and held babies in their orphanages, and a couple from our Church had adopted from Zambia.  But, we quickly learned, after a lot of research, that many of the African countries are just very difficult to adopt from. That doesn't mean it isn't possible, many families do and I wouldn't doubt if the Lord opens that door in the future for us! Right now, even countries like Ethiopia, which over the past decade has seen a huge rise in international adoptions, has become more strict and changed their regulations.

Every country is different in their "requirements" to adopt.  And these requirements can change at any time. Ethiopia for example has recently changed their requirements.  Sometimes these changes are absolutely necessary to prevent child trafficking, and sometimes the hold-ups and difficulties of adoption are brought upon for ridiculous reasons.  There are currently hundreds of children within the Democratic Republic of the Congo that are "stuck". Though they have been legally adopted by American families, the DRC just stopped issuing exit visas.

So in addition to meeting requirements to adopt, there are also issues with country stability, child trafficking, cost, length of travel to get your child etc. 

We thought and prayed about several African countries, but it just kept having closed doors. Then we looked at Haiti. They also recently became part of the Hague convention, which is in place to prevent child trafficking, and they had some changes in their requirements.  We thought after looking over these changes that this would be a good fit for our family.  But earlier in 2015, that door seemed to close also, because there were many families now waiting to adopt from Haiti and the length of time to bring them home was very uncertain.  One particular agency I had been watching and interested in, stopped accepting applications to Haiti and that was the final door shut for me.

China and South Korea...honestly I had ruled both out.  Again, they had specific requirements, that we did not meet, so I hadn't done a lot of research.  If you have read some of my earlier blogs, you might know that depression and anxiety have ailed me at times, and there is quite a stigma around depression and anxiety within China and South Korea.  Basically, with my history, I did not meet their "medical requirements." 

But, God must have had something else planned.  Ironically, the week I heard that the Haiti program I had been looking at was no longer accepting applications, I also get an email that China has changed their requirements! After speaking with the staff at different agencies and researching it some more, it seems, that as long as you have a medical letter from a physician stating your overall health and well being, that China would consider you. Yippee!!!! I was, and still am pretty nervous to see if we have any hold-ups along the way...but for me...that was an OPEN door, when another door was shut!

China. I started researching. The only thing I knew about Chinese adoptions was the "One-Child" policy that led to lots and lots of girls sitting within Chinese orphanages.  Well, come to find out, that policy slowly started phasing out a while back and actually is no longer in effect as of this past fall.  10 years ago, the orphanages were full of healthy little girls, waiting for a family.  That image is long gone. Now, Chinese orphanages, which are still overflowing, are filled with special medical needs children who have been abandoned in hospitals, on sidewalks and in front of orphanages.  Why are they abandoned? Either because of the stigma of having a child with a special need and/or the financial burden that a medical need is to an already struggling family. So, children, without mommies and daddies, who by society may be viewed as imperfect, but in God's eyes...they are perfect...fearfully and wonderfully made. 

Here is an excellent blog that details the changing face of Chinese adoptions.

Adoption from China

So, again, after much prayer, this is where we are being called! we come!!

Friday, May 6, 2016

Why International Adoption?

One of the first questions and probably most common questions we have received since talking about possibly adoption, is why international adoption?

So...I will try my best to give an answer. 

Why would you adopt internationally when there are over 400,000 children within the U.S. Foster System, with over 100,000 needing to be adopted here? 

First, I have a hard time separating an orphan in one country from an orphan in another country.  UNICEF recently reported that there are 150 to 200 MILLION orphans worldwide.  MILLION!! The U.S. population is just over 300 million to give you a rough idea of what this number means. 

Friends, this is not an issue that just lies within 3rd world countries...the orphan crisis is one that is worldwide. And so I ask, what makes one child's life more valuable than another? Their age? Their color?  Where they live? God's eyes, we are all equal.  He made us uniquely and perfect in His image. 

So why then would we fly half way across the world to adopt??...Because that is where we believe our child is....God's child for us is. 

Our hearts break equally for the child without a mommy and daddy that lives in the U.S. as it is does for the child without a mommy and a daddy that lives across the world. But after much prayer and time..this is where God is leading us.  And where He calls us, we will follow.

International and domestic adoption are both a beautiful image of God's redeeming love...but it is His plan, His redemption.

Do I think we are all called to adopt? No. But I think we are all called to care for the orphan.  Maybe that means you adopt internationally, or domestically. Maybe that means you become a foster parent. Maybe you help with various children's shelters and orphanages around the world or even here locally.  Maybe this even just means reaching out to a neighborhood child who needs a little extra love today. 

Where is God calling you?


Monday, May 2, 2016

Jewelry with a Purpose

Over the next 6 months or so, we have planned several different fundraisers to help raise funds for our adoption expenses.  Right now, we are working on a jewelry sale, t-shirt sale, garage sale in addition to our main fundraising site for general donations. 

The first project is a jewelry sale! It is really a small world how this project fell into place.  I am a member of various China Adoption Groups, and a fellow adopting family posted about a fundraiser they were participating in.  It was beautiful hand-crafted jewelry that immediately caught my eye.  Here is what I read when researching this Etsy shop... 

"Humble Bee Project was created with the sole purpose of crafting jewelry to represent and further the Kingdom of Christ.

We do this by serving not only the poor, orphaned, and widowed all over the world with a portion of sales, but also serving those that are called to go out from their own home to pursue such as these.

"She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy."
Proverbs 31:20

Humble Bee Project uses coin currency from a diverse set of nations to create customizable rings, necklaces, and bracelets that can serve as a "stone of remembrance" and reminder that God is a faithful and good keeper of His Promises. He takes care of those in need and will not forget the orphans or the widows."

Little did I know, after reaching out to Melissa, the owner of Humble Bee Project, I would find out that she not only lived in my town, but she attended my church and we had a couple of mutual friends.  Her heart and desire for the nations mimicked ours and I was so excited to hear about how God was using her talent. 

Not only did a portion of all her sales support a ministry I was familiar with and also supported (Naomi's Village in Kenya) but she had recently started monthly adoption sales which would be used to help families who were adopting raise these funds. 

So, she graciously offered to work with our family this month and help us create a few jewelry pieces that would help spread the word and meaning behind adoption, but also help our family as we start fundraising.