Adoption Timeline

Saturday, July 8, 2017

A painful change...

It's no surprise to the adoption community, that changes happen. Rules change, policies change, programs open and close.  Some of these rules and changes happen to better protect the children, while others happen and seem to have no reason or purpose.

This week, in China, new rules for prospective adoptive parents were implemented immediately.  There were several changes, but I will highlight the major ones.

  • Adoptive families can have no more than 5 children in the home
  • Adoptive families can have no children less then 3 years of age in the home
  • Adoptive families can no longer adopt 2 children at once
  • Adoptive families have to wait 1 year in between adoptions

To an outsider reading this, you may not think these new rules sound harsh. In fact, you may be even thinking they are beneficial or positive.  But, let me tell you, this week, I mourned over these changes.  Like, I shed tears. I cried for the families that are no longer able to adopt a child they saw as their son or daughter. I cried for our family, as the reality of Ri being our daughter would not exist had these rules been in effect 1 year ago.  And mostly, I cried for all the children that wait.   

It may not seem that there are many families that will be disqualified from these new rules, but oh friends, that is just not true. I cannot even begin to count the number of families who plan to return to China who have 5 or more children, who have a child less than 3, who planned on adopting more than one child, or have only been home less than a year. 

Every family that is now denied = one more child that waits. There are families that were ready to say "Yes".... who now are being told "No". 

I am haunted by the images of children who were ready to be placed, had families ready to move and fight for them, who now are back...waiting. 

And let me be very clear and open on my opinion on a few things.  Do not tell me, that one particular child will "find another family".  Do not tell me "there is another family out there for them."  The facts are very very clear. There are more children WAITING then there are families. Period.  So, eliminating a large pool of families mathematically leads to only one result...more waiting children.

And friends...these are NOT just faces. These are lives. These are lives, that if not brought home, will either sit in an orphanage until they "age out" at 14. Or they will die. There is no sugar coating it. All of these children, regardless of the health condition, deserve a chance at life, they deserve a family.  They did not choose their circumstances.  But we, can ACT. We can speak and act on behalf of those who cannot. 

Let me also be very clear an another misconception.  You cannot sit here and tell me, that a large family or a family with a child less then 3, is automatically not capable or qualified to raise another child.  Do not tell me that it would be better for them to an orphanage with 800 other children, when they could be in a FOREVER home with a large family or a family with a younger child.  I know it may look crazy to some. I know you may think it would be crazy to come home from China and turn around and run back.  But you know what if it is crazy? What if that craziness led to one more child getting a chance at life? Or let's flip it around...the other scary horrific side.  What if our lack of "craziness" led to a loss of a chance at life? What if our fear kept us from doing one of the most beautiful things God had planned for us?

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline" 2 Timothy 1:7

So, tonight, I truly plead with you.  Will you consider where you and your family fit into this?  Does your family still qualify?  Could you, possibly be a forever family to a child who is waiting? Do you have room at your table? Do you have room in your hearts to say Yes?  Maybe it's not China...that's totally OK!! The need friends....spans the east to the west, in all countries including our own.  But please, would you pray? Would you consider where you can help? Would you take that first step?

As long as there are children waiting, our hearts should be burdened.  May we not let new rules stop us from being their voice. May they not stop us from fighting...because these children deserve our fight.

Monday, July 3, 2017

A special kind of friendship....

We all have those friends, the ones who deeply understand things that other people just don't.  I have been blessed beyond measure by so many friends in my life. Friends from my childhood, friends from work, friends from church, neighbors...and now...another community of adoptive momma friends.  Each friendship is so special and unique and God knew I needed each of these friendships for different reasons. 

Tonight, I'd like to tell you a little about one of Morrissey's best friends from her 1st year of life, the friendship that I was blessed with because of this, and the amazing work of our God, that brought our paths together. 

Shortly after being matched with Ri, I posted a question on a Facebook Group for adoptive families from China.  Let me just say, that this is a very large group. There are probably hundreds of posts a day.  And unless you are friends with someone in the group, you definitely have to be scrolling through the feed to see all the questions that post.  So I posted about Ri's name.  I asked about the possible meaning of her name and received multiple responses. In addition to the responses, I received a message from another adoptive mom named Melinda.  She had seen my post and noticed that my daughter's name was Ri.  She asked was there anyway that Ri was at Little Flowers in Beijing.  She proceeded to say that her daughter had been in that home her first year of life, and she had a friend name Ri. I quickly answered the question, that No, Ri was in  Quanyuan Children's Home and she was only 18 months.  Something in Melinda (Holy Spirit!!) pushed her to ask a few more questions.  I started contemplating the possibility, that not all records are accurate or complete in China...actually, records are rarely really, I had no idea what her past entailed. I had 3 pictures of her. And I did have a report of her current living situation and a few hospital reports. Not knowing anything about Little Flower (LF)....I asked Melinda, did she by chance see a scar down her chest? She said yes! Then she sent me a picture of her daughter with "Ri".

Was that her????? Remember...I only had 3 pictures of her, and they were all 12-18 month pics.  Babies change a lot over 18 months! I then sent a picture back to you think this is her??

Melinda was confident! I was speechless. I sat there as my eyes filled with tears and my heart started racing.  I kept flipping back and forth between the pictures.  How could this be? They told me she was at Quanyuan??

Then Melinda sent me the 1st picture Little Flower had of "Ri". This was a link to their Facebook page. I was able to suddenly search "Ri" in this group....and there she was. The date that they posted saying Ri arrived, matched my paperwork of when she got to Beijing from her providence orphanage. The picture of her coming home from the hospital 6 weeks later, matched my paperwork on one of her hospital discharges. It was her.  There was my a baby. My baby. I literally was shaking as this became a reality that I was staring at my daughter...only 3 months old.  Pieces of her story slowly came together over the following weeks. I was still in a little denial, so I emailed my agency and asked if they knew of this home. They said they would look into it, but I never heard anything. So, I reached out to Little Flower directly. I provided them with private information that only I would know and they would know. They quickly emailed me was her. And better yet, they sent me over 900 photos over Ri's 1st year of life.  WHAT?!?!?  I just went from 3 pictures, to over 900!!!  This huge chunk of her past...was suddenly visible in pictures.

And sure I scrolled through the pictures, one after another, after another, of Ri and Ying (Morrissey and Jaelyn).  Best buddies. They arrived around the same time in Beijing, both had CHD requiring immediate surgery, they were in the same hospital, at the same time, operated on by the same surgeon and both returned to care at Little Flowers for their care. 

Jaelyn (Ying) was brought home to her forever family when the girls turned one.  At that time, we think Ri was medically stable enough, to be transferred out of this home, into another home..the home she lived at until October 2016, when I brought her home.

Do you see God in this??? I mean, the chances that Melinda would see my post. The tug in her heart to just ask (by the way...she was currently staying out of state, with her family, days away from Jaelyns open heart surgery!), the tug to keep pursuing the possibility even when it seemed unlikely. 2 little girls, with an undeniable similar background, and an unknown bond that will be interwoven in their hearts and stories. 

This...this story...gave these 2 beautiful girls a chance to connect. They get a chance to talk one day with someone who can truly "get it". They walked in the same shoes. They shared the same room, the same nanny, the same surgeon, they were essentially sisters. They may not remember each other now, but one day...they will have each other. And I have no doubt, that this was God's plan. For these girls to have each other.

This story...gave me a HUGE piece of Morrissey's background. Without Melinda reaching out, I would still, to this day, know nothing about her prior to 1 year old. I have pictures now that I can one day show Ri. These pictures even provided huge insight to her medical background. (Pictures of her on oxygen, feeding tubes etc).

This story...gave me Melinda. I wish I could say she lived right down the street from me, but she lives WAY north!! But, even so, thanks to technology, we have been able to communicate and support each other in so many ways. 

So I will once again give all glory to God for this. Thank you God for working in the details, for giving Morrissey and Jaelyn each other. Thank you for being their Father, for being our Father. Thank you for the gift of miracles, and thank you for the gift of peace and hope even when our days are dark and miracles don't seem possible.

Morrissey and Jaelyn....I think it's about time we get you reunited. But I will save that for another night...

Until then...sweet dreams our little heart warriors.

Friday, April 28, 2017

If I'm being honest

If I am being honest, the past few months have left me asking God "why?" more often than not. Maybe some would call me sensitive, maybe some would call me crazy to cry for a stranger or a child I have never met. But, that's my heart, that's where I am at. Some days it has felt like weights on my heart. The pains of this world just seem to be like a flood.  Stories of pain and brokenness seem to be at every turn. 

Cancer. Why?
Orphans. Why?
Death of child. Why?
Addiction. Why?
Broken Homes. Why?
War. Why?

I get discouraged that I ask why. Does that mean that I am weak in my faith? Does that mean I am questioning God?

I think not. I think that just like an innocent child asks his parents why, it's ok for me to ask my heavenly Father why too. Sometimes Wyatt will ask me questions, and I try to explain. But there are some questions, that no matter what answer I give...his sweet little mind, just can't understand. So, maybe I will rest in that...That some things I just won't understand until my eyes have seen beyond this earth.

But then what do I do with this heaviness of my soul? What do I do when my heart stings?

The Lord brought an old friend into my path recently.  This week, he gave me some words of encouragement that I had never heard before. First, he reminded me that our prayer should be to break our hearts, for what breaks His. But he also said, that maybe my gift, to give to others, to give to the kingdom, is prayer. Maybe the Lord is burdening my heart, to the point of tears and sleepless nights, so I will pray on behalf of those too weak to pray. Maybe if I turn my tears and questions into prayer, then not only will this bring me closer to the Lord....but maybe someone somewhere needed those prayers. 

This friend, who just buried his 2 month old, knows heartache. But what I learned this week, was he has Hope. And even in the depths of his sorrow, God was using him to speak truth to not only me, but to so many others.

I may not know the answers. I may not see how any good could come of the pain.  But I have to fix my eyes on my one constant. May I have eyes to see His face in the fire. May I have ears to hear His voice in the storm. May I not let fear be a reason to stand still. May I not be concerned over what the world thinks, but simply walk in obedience. One step at a time, even when I cannot see.

" As I walk this great unknown
Questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?
I don't want to live in fear
I want to trust that You are near
Trust Your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy
I have this hope
In the depth of my soul
In the flood or the fire
You're with me and You won't let go"

Monday, April 3, 2017

Morrissey on 28 Days of Hearts

This past February, I had the opportunity to share Morrissey's story on 28 Days of Hearts. This is an awesome website/blog dedicated to children adopted from China with Congenital Heart Disease. February is Congenital Heart Disease Month, so every year, they have different families share their stories. Take a look at Morrissey's story below, and if you have them all! There is so much beauty in each story! :)

Morrissey on 28 Days of Hearts

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Birthday Letter...

Morrissey Ri...

Words can't even describe what all has happened since you entered our life.  Where do I start? How do I begin?  When people ask me how you are doing, or how I am doing, or to tell me about the trip to meet you in China...I stumble over my words.  Your story is so much more than just words.

October 17th...nothing could have prepared me for that moment. The pit in my stomach, my heart beating out of my chest, my trembling hands, the buzz of a foreign language ringing all around me, and I sat waiting.  I tried to soak it all in.  Everything led up to this moment. I loved you, I yearned to hold you finally in my arms....and never let you go. I knew you were in the other room, on the other side of that curtain...and I sat waiting.  Before I know it, I hear my name.  And within seconds, I had knelt down on the ground overcome by the thought of you coming through that curtain. 

And were there. Suddenly, the picture I had stared at for months was alive.  Your caregiver, Sean, carried you into the room, with the orphanage director at his side. Your eyes glanced across the room, gazing at each person...and then our eyes met.

Terrified...sweet girl, you were terrified.  My flood of tears from seeing you for the first time ceased as I quickly knew my emotions could be scaring you more.  On my knees, I reached for you.  My daughter...I reached for you. "I love you, Ri." "Mommy loves you."

The orphanage director quickly pulled out the book of pictures that we had sent you. We started showing you...."Mama" "Baba."  You were overcome with fear and sadness.  "I love you Ri, Mommy loves you." Then I did only what I knew I could do...I held you, I rocked and swayed you, I made a shushing sound in your ear, just like I did with my newborn sons.  And I prayed. 

I didn't know it was possible to feel so much love and relief and joy while all at the same time, feeling so much heartbreak and helplessness.  

I wanted to be able to ask Sean questions about your care, your needs, how to soothe you. I wanted to ask about your living tell me where you had been living.  But the tears and emotions were just too much.  I asked a few questions and then Sean and I decided it was best for him to leave.

They gave me a journal with your schedule, a flashdrive of priceless pictures and videos of you, a sweet panda backpack, bottle, formula and diapers. I was very lucky that for the two weeks I was in China, my guide was able to help me communicate with your foster home when I had questions. 

And, so our journey began. After hours of tears and heartache, your body finally gave in, your soul finally softened, and you fell asleep on me.  We rode back to our hotel and I rocked you and played soft Chinese nursery rhymes. I looked at each finger, each sweet toe, I found your first freckle on her head, I ran my fingers across the soft scar down your chest.  I pushed your long sweaty bangs out of your eyes.  "I love you Ri" "Mommy loves you."  I examined the scratches on your face, I gazed at your dark eyes and long eyelashes.  "Momma, Momma" I would say. 

And our journey continued. Some days we danced through, other days we crawled.  Some nights we were covered in peace, and other nights we were helpless and cried through the wee hours of the night.  You were scared. In time, you trusted me enough to take your first steps. In time, you felt safe enough that you let me put you in a stroller. Just like a newborn, some nights you could go an hour of sleeping, other nights 3 hours. 

I can't imagine what was going through your mind. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all new.

China was anything but easy...but in everyway one of the hardest but greatest weeks of my life.  I wanted you to love me. I wanted to be able to soothe you. I wanted to take away your fear.  I wanted you to know I would never leave you.

How do you show someone that?  You just keep loving them.  Slowly that love soothes your little heart, and you trust me. I am your safe place.  By the end of the trip in China, you knew I loved you. You clung to me.  My heart could explode, but that is just the first step.  The journey now, was showing you, I will not leave you. I am your mommy, this is your family. I will not leave you.

So today sweet girl, I looked at my daughter, on her first birthday home, and I am still overcome with emotions. I still can't put into words the past 3 months. Just like in China, some days we dance, and some days we crawl.  But, one thing is certain, I am a better person because of you. God has taken my weak heart to a deeper level of love and trust then I have ever had before.  You are perfect. You are my daughter. You are loved.

And one day sweet girl, you will see just how much not only we love you, but how much our Father in heaven loves you.  He knew you before you were formed. He created your innermost being.  He has never left you, and He will never leave you.

I love you Morrissey Ri. Mommy loves you.  Happy 2nd birthday Princess.