Saturday, April 2, 2011

Our First Adoption Story

When I was just five years old, I knew in my heart and spirit that someday I would adopt a baby. The very idea of it captured the essence of my being. For me, even at this tender age, the thought of adoption felt as natural as breathing. As I reflect back to that point in my history I know unwaveringly that God was guiding my every step to fulfill my place in motherhood. God had a child for me whom He selected even before the very foundations of the earth, planting the seed of truth of her existence within my heart at a young age – to guard within my spirit her imminent eventuality and rightful place in this world - I as her mother and she as my precious child.

While still in my early thirties, I married. Looking back I can recall how often well-intentioned individuals would inquire as to when my husband and I planned on starting a family. Mothers and grandmothers alike would often recount to me their personal stories of pregnancy and what I could anticipate happening to my own body with my own pregnancy. How do I convey to the reader that even though I have always been open to becoming a mother “naturally” that deep within my core I held onto a distant memory that I was to adopt? Although I would have welcomed pregnancy had God intended that for me, when I discovered I could not conceive and even in the midst of a deep sorrow sprung a growing elation that my dream of adoption would and could come true.

I couldn’t help but articulate to these well-meaning folks my steadfast belief that not all mothers are to become so by giving birth. I couldn’t help but further impart my belief that God has many ways of bringing families together, children with their parents and vice versa.

Adoption is a critically important and viable means of providing homes of safety and security to so many children in our world who need parenting while fulfilling such a strong need in so many of us to parent. How can I convey now to the dear reader that when we as adoptive parents are brought together with our little ones of all ages that the union between parent and child has been foreordained and is as natural and meaningful as giving birth to them ourselves?

In the spring of 2001 my husband and I were vacationing in Sedona. While hiking out on the red rock trails I inquired of my husband for the very first time ever what he personally felt about adoption and if he would be open to our adopting a baby. Without any hesitation, he stated an affirmative and added he would like to adopt a baby girl from China. The reader may wonder why I hadn’t thought to pose such a serious question as this before marriage.

Had I to do it all over again, I would most certainly have made a point of it to find out his stance on adoption, however, God in His infinite mercy and grace made sure to choose a man for me who could and would fulfill his role and purpose as the father of my adopted baby girl.

I think back to that day out on the trails with my husband, with the hope and promise that a little baby girl from China could become our daughter as a seed planted in fertile ground needing only the nurturance of water and sunshine to grow to fruition. To me that day out on the trail, breathing in the fresh air and feeling the warmth of the sun on our backs, was in truth the very beginning of our journey together as a real couple turning to our Heavenly Father for direction and blessing upon us in starting a family.

From that moment on, my mind embraced a plan of conception to bring our daughter home. In June of 2002, I underwent a surgical procedure which was able to determine I would be unable to have children naturally. As stated previously, although there was an element of sorrow in knowing that what so many women take for granted was inaccessible to me, still I knew that the next step would be to begin at once the process of selecting the best adoption agency for us, feeling an internal urgency that there simply was no time to waste.

The morning following my surgery, I began the process of calling around to adoption agencies locally and even out of state. I didn’t know what to look for in an agency, and I didn’t know what questions to ask. I felt so vulnerable at this point for in reality, our future with our little girl felt like it rested entirely in human hands. Even though I can look back now and know God had his hand on the entire process every step of the way I, as a human being with such a strong desire to be a mother, was fearful that somehow I would not qualify.

I thought to myself, after all of this, could it really come down to some bureaucrat somewhere sitting behind a desk in some remote location deciding and sealing our fate that we would never be allowed to become parents? Would people “in charge” be able to see stamped on my forehead my inability to conceive my “own” and thus deny my destiny of motherhood? These fears and many like them began creeping into my waking state threatening to squelch my dream of someday holding my very own baby in my arms. How cruel a fate as this to never be allowed the great privilege and honor to fulfill my maternal instinct and longing to mother my own baby!

This type of mental and emotional anguish stayed with me the entire day as I made my way down the list of adoption agencies in the yellow pages. The agency I liked the best was located in a nearby town located less than an hour away from our home. No matter how many times I called them back that day and no matter how many questions I asked, the woman on the other end of the phone treated me with such warmth and humanity. How could she have known my life as a mother hung in the balance and what I needed the very most was a soft and gentle voice tone extended to me as a person so that I could keep a grip on reality and not perish in my own cruel imaginings?

In July of 2002, I asked my husband to attend our first adoption meeting at this particular agency to gather information about the entirety of the adoption process. While at the meeting, we found out how much various international adoptions cost. I reluctantly raised my hand and believe that I, judging by the head nodding going on in the room, asked a question that many people would have liked to ask but couldn’t. My question,"How will we ever be able to come up with such a sum of money?"

The husband of the director of the agency, who along with his wife had adopted five children of their own, answered my question with a profoundly simple question posed back to us. His challenge to all of us present that evening, “How many people would not hesitate to take out a car loan for $20,000.00 yet shrink at the thought of doing the very same thing for a baby?” When thought of in such simple terms, why would money ever be an issue?

On the long drive home I nervously sat in the passenger seat and prayed that Randy would make a commitment then and there to this process called adoption. I knew instinctively not to push him in to anything as it was critically important that this be a mutual decision. What came out of his mouth next literally astonished my senses as Randy wholeheartedly and unwaveringly articulated to me an agreement to begin the adoption of our baby right away. As the hair on both his arms stood straight up, we both laughed and I cried. I knew the presence of the Holy Spirit enveloped our car, and something of sheer goodness and beauty transpired between us. I can barely describe in mortal words the elation of spirit that encompassed every fiber of my being in this solitary moment forever transfixed in my memory.

Much later, we discovered that our daughter had been conceived shortly after the decision we made as a couple to adopt her. I am convinced with every ounce of my being and with the very life-sustaining air I breathe that the Lord God on High, the Creator of the heavens and the earth and all things good and beautiful, waited for that particular moment in time to hear from my husband’s own mouth that he was completely and unequivocally on board with the decision to adopt our daughter before our awesome and mighty Father would come to form her in her mother’s womb.

In my human frailty and inability to impart at times the depth and scope of emotional Truth that transpired between us in the ride home that night, allow me to at least impart the knowledge that God’s good and perfect will for our marriage and the future promise of being united with our child had been set in motion. Are there any words that could ever encompass a mother’s anticipation of some day holding the baby God promised to her so many years ago while still in her tender years?

In the following months, Randy and I found ourselves immersed within a mountain of paperwork necessary to fulfill the requirements of a China adoption. While the task of completing every stipulation imposed on us felt cumbersome and at times overwhelming, we managed to trudge through it understanding all the while that if we did not dot every “i” and cross every “t”, we would never get our baby. Such urgency enveloped me that I managed to inspire my husband to work exceedingly hard at writing his autobiography in a short period of time because I knew in my soul our baby needed us to move on this with no time to spare.

Through this entire process my husband and I often marveled at how if parents who could give birth naturally would have to jump through as many hoops as we were made to do many would fail to qualify. I look back at that time in our lives and recall sometimes with a feeling of humiliation at some of the intrusive questions asked of us or even the psychological evaluation we were made to undergo, and I know it was worth all of that and more to be with our daughter now. I would do it all over again if I had to - willingly, gladly, gratefully - all for her.

By November 2002 we finally completed and turned in our paperwork to the adoption agency with a great sigh of relief. Then on March 14, 2003 we were officially “logged in” to the China adoption which meant the process of matching us with our baby girl could begin. In April 2003 we moved into our new home in preparation for welcoming home our new and very tiny family member. Immediately, I set about stripping three layers of wallpaper from every wall in Sonya’s bedroom. Little did I know that while I was busy creating a beautiful space for her to come home to, Sonya was readying herself to be born. Praise the Lord from whom all blessings flow!

We received a phone call from the adoption agency on November 18, 2003 letting us know we had been “matched” with our baby girl and that we could come into their office as soon as we were able to view her pictures and file and take them both home with us. That very next day, Wednesday, we headed to Albion, Indiana to see the pictures of our baby. I was so excited I could barely contain myself. All day Tuesday and into Wednesday I could not stop crying. The day Sonya and I would finally be united was fast approaching, and just knowing I could look at pictures of her beautiful little face while awaiting that moment brought me such joyful anticipation I could hardly stand it.

The moment finally came when we were sitting down at the adoption agency and handed to me was a folder with Sonya’s pictures. As I opened the folder to look at my baby, I immediately burst into tears and thought instantly that she was the most beautiful baby girl I had ever seen in my entire life! God is so good! Thank you, God, for Sonya. My dream was coming true, and the revelation that I was looking at my daughter, my very own daughter, who would soon be with the two of us, her father and me, was almost surreal.

As I stared at her precious little face, I wanted to be with her right away. I wanted to go get her right then. I wanted to be with her so I could protect her and keep anything bad from happening to her. But the red tape of the adoption process prevented this mother’s desire for another six long, arduous weeks.

Starting out our journey on January 2, 2004 from Fort Wayne to Chicago to Los Angeles we finally made our way across the Pacific Ocean to touch down in Guangzhou, China on January 4, 2004. While Randy remained behind so that he could care for Sonya for an entire month upon our return to the States, I traveled to China with three other couples who had been matched with infants from the same orphanage in Foshan, China. As God would have it, one of the babies adopted named Lucy lives only ten minutes from our home. Would it surprise the reader to know that these two little girls, Sonya and Lucy, are like “two peas in a pod” when together and when separated share a close bond that no distance or time could ever diminish?

After having traveled for nearly 36 hours we finally arrived safely in our hotel rooms, exhausted yet excitedly awaiting the phone call that would inform us of when we would finally get to hold our babies in our arms for the very first time. I got cleaned up and tried to rest, but sleep eluded me. I just wanted my baby that is all. Finally the phone rang with the anticipated news. Instead of traveling to the orphanage that day, we would instead meet in the Guangdong Province at a government building. In truth, it mattered very little to me as Sonya’s mother where we met as long as Sonya was given to me that day.

Upon arrival at the designated government building, we were finally taken into a room where we began what seemed to be an endless wait. We were all, both fathers and mothers, filled with so much joy and excitement waiting for our babies to arrive. The long and arduous process we had all endured finally culminated in this moment, the anticipated moment, where we could at last touch our babies, hold our babies, kiss and hug our babies!

The moment was finally here, and as each baby was carried into the room for their parents to greet, all of us crying or laughing at the same time, Sonya was the very last baby to be carried through those doors. When I saw her little face from across the room, I rushed to her and grabbed her from the arms of Mrs. Tang and held her close to me, silently weeping. Although the adoption agency warned of rushing to get our babies too quickly as it might frighten them I saw in Sonya’s face an immediate recognition of who I was, and I knew instinctively she would be alright with my forward nature. Sonya knew me and I knew her. My daughter and I were together at last!

What could be better than this? I thought to myself, This is what heaven must be like! All of us were so happy for one another. It was a beautiful time, one that I will never forget. Praise God! Praise His Holy and Righteous Name! Praise the Lord for bringing us all together to share in each other’s joy!

So much has happened since then. As Sonya is preparing to turn eight years old, Randy and I are preparing ourselves to receive our second China-born child into our home very soon. I am glad I had previously written down the account of Sonya's journey to us for it poses as a clear reminder that God is completely in charge of the adoption of Cassie Mei as well, and no man anywhere has the final say. God is the final Authority, "the author and finisher of our faith". Amen and amen! "And we know that all things work together for the good to them that love God, to them who are the called accroding to His purpose."
Romans 8:29

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