Sunday, February 27, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: Ellie, Kara, and Ross' Story

We were already a family of six when our adoption journeys began. I had always been open to adoption, but after having our fourth child figured our family was complete. My husband had always been afraid to adopt for fear that he might view the adopted children differently. That all changed after going to a conference at our old church on the importance of family. Adoption was never mentioned, but my husband came away knowing that we would, in fact, be adding to our family that way.

We chose China, due to the stability of the process, as well as having friends who had adopted from China and could help talk us through the confusing process of putting together a dossier and understanding all the ins and outs. We started off in the non-special needs track, because we had been told by our insurance company (the rep over the phone) that they wouldn’t cover any pre-existing conditions. Once we sent off our dossier, we found out that adopted children must legally be covered the same as a child born to you, so we quickly switched to where we truly felt called; the special needs track.

Our first child through adoption was Ellie, in September 2007. She was 25 months old at the time of her adoption; just 8 months younger than our youngest daughter. It was certainly trying for a while, having two toddlers. One was used to being “the baby” in the family, and the other had always lived in an institution where she had to fight for attention, food, toys, etc. They were virtual twins, and loved and fought as such. Now, they like to clarify that one was born in Florida, and one was born in China! Ellie is loving, funny, and especially ornery...just like all of our other children. We were blessed beyond measure with her, and cannot imagine our family without her.

Before Ellie’s adoption was complete, we knew that we’d be going back to China to adopt a boy. Most people think of baby girls when they think of China, but the truth is, there are many, many boys who wait, and are never chosen...not because their needs are any greater or different, but simply because they are boys.

We fell in love with a 7 year old boy, and began working towards bringing him home. During the wait, we kept hearing about children who would be turning 14, at which point they would age out and no longer be eligible for adoption. After getting the go-ahead from our agency, we changed our dossier to reflect our decision to bring home two children. We were contacted shortly after that in April 2009, with a girl who would age out in just 5 weeks. Her needs were significant, and the family that had committed to her had just decided to not go through with the adoption. We had already prayed and decided that we would proceed with whatever child was brought to us, so it was an easy decision to say yes. Neither China nor our agency knew if we could get our paperwork there in time, since it still had not been approved here in the states. God, however, was not hindered by all the red tape and requirements that were new at that point, and we made it to the Civil Affairs Office in China on the last day our Kara would be eligible for adoption. We then were able to travel to adopt our son Ross in his province, and eventually made it home to become a family of nine.

Bringing two older, unrelated children home at the same time seems a little crazy, but it was actually good for them to have someone to talk to, and play with in their native tongue, while adjusting to being part of a large family and life in America. They have been home now for 20 months, and are doing fantastic. Ross is outgoing, talkative, and funny. He loves life and trying new things, like surfing and riding roller coasters. After suffering much while in China, Kara is slower to come out of her shell. She is doing well though, and beginning to make friends and enjoys playing, swimming, and having a full belly.

Our family is so different than what it was just 4 years ago. I never even saw it coming, but there isn’t a thing I would change if I could do it all over again. Any challenges we faced bringing older children into our home pales in comparison to the blessings of having them be part of our family.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9.

Bo and Dana

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