Monday, March 19, 2012

stolen our hearts: {take 2}

Yesterday, a friend stumbled upon this post from last year and made a comment here on the blog.

Which caused me to go back and read it.

Oh my.

Tears rolled down my face late last night as I read this.  I have to post it again for anyone who hasn't read it.  And to think that the little boy I speak of in this post was asleep in the other room last night was more than my heart could bear.

Our God is good.  

Our God is mighty.

Our God is awesome.  

He literally delivered James from an orphanage into a home.  Into a family.  



stolen our hearts...

Disclaimer: this could be a looong post. :)

2nd disclaimer: I can't believe how God has moved our hearts from one place to another. He is so crazy-good to bring us where we are to be open to just the right child for us. But I say this because you may have noticed (as we have too) that we've been all over the map at times! We just thought we knew better what we needed when God's known best all along. I actually wonder if there have been times when He's just giggled at all our attempts to create this, when He knowsHe's the Creator. Including the Creator of families. Even this little family right here.

So here's the story of how this all unfolded...

As you probably remember, many weeks ago we learned that Ethiopia was putting the breaks on their adoption proceedings. We immediately started to re-evaluate the direction we were headed. All along, we were open to adopting a child whose deaf, however that wasn't our first priority (a sibling pair was) -- although deafness was in our home study. In our minds, we thought a great match for us would be a sibling pair, both children within the age range of infancy to 6 years old, preferably both girls (but a sister-brother pair would've been fine) and one or both of the children being deaf. This was starting to feel like a tall order, so we were fine with accepting a sibling pair without deafness involved. Then, when Ethiopia pulled back and we had to change course, we both felt led to pursue a child with special needs. A deaf child. It just felt like the natural progression. In a full-circle kind of way, it answered the question for us as to why I worked with the deaf for so many years; why I grew to love and appreciate this wonderful community of people; and why JD traveled alongside me during those years causing him to also be very comfortable deafness. So, off we went! China Special Needs, here we come!

So the last several weeks have been spent adjusting our home study from Ethiopia to China. In fact, at this very moment, our home study's not officially approved for China because we're waiting for background checks to come back from North Carolina and Tennessee. But once those come back -- hopefully they won't notice JD's extensive criminal record! :) -- we're ready to pounce!

Well, there is one other little thing we've been doing over these past couple of weeks...

...we've been gazing at the face of an adorable little boy on a webpage.

I stumbled upon his photo on an adoption advocacy website called Rainbow Kids. I registered with Rainbow Kids many months ago before we were even a client of Wide Horizons and probably around the time of us starting our home study. The great thing about Rainbow Kids is that in addition to providing support in the way of resources, articles and general advocacy, it brings adoption agencies together. Children assigned to many, many agencies are placed on Rainbow Kids' photolisting so these children have a greater chance of being 'found.'

I get regular (maybe once or twice a week) automated emails when a child is added to the Rainbow Kids' photolisting. One day, a month or more ago, I got an email about a little boy. His sweet little smile and sparkly eyes drew me in. This little guy isn't deaf and I had become pretty one-track-minded that we were to adopt a deaf child, so I didn't give it much thought. As has been the case at other times in this crazy, rollercoaster-of-a-process we've been pretty sure God was leading us one way (Ethiopia, siblings, girls, deafness) and then it turned out to be another...such a test of faith and trust!

I was asked not to mention his name on this blog, so again I bite my tongue, but one day I'll tell you his name and you'll chuckle. At least we did. It's kinda crazy...

Payton became enamored with him. She started asking for me to pull up the Rainbow Kids website each day to look at his picture. When she had her best bud spend the night a couple of Saturdays ago, she asked me if she could show his photo to her. She made comments here and there. Then one day, maybe ten days ago, I told JD that Payton's been talking about 'little guy' quite a bit and asked if we can adopt him. JD quietly confessed that he too has been thinking about this boy.

Oh, reeeally?

You have been drawn in?

Until this moment, he hasn't wanted to 'go there.' He hasn't wanted to look at children on-line. He hasn't wanted to discuss anything in regard to specific children until we're further along in the process. He just treads lightly. I love him for that. Ya wanna know why? Because when he steps or bites or buys in, I know it's big.

There was a situation a month or more ago when I found out that a little deaf boy who was on the Rainbow Kids' website was still on there by mistake and that he had actually been adopted (praise God for that!), but it taught me that perhaps there are occasions when kids could be posted by mistake. And around that same time, our social worker made the comment that Wide Horizons doesn't lock children's files as some other agencies do. Wide Horizon's position on this is that they want all the children registered with them to be available to as many families as possible to increase their chances of being adopted. None of this meant much to me at the time, but was about to...

I asked JD if he thought we should at least send an email and see if this little guy is actually available. He says with a small grin, 'Yeh, I think we should ask.'

I send the email to the social worker he's assigned to.

She replies back that he's available, but assigned to their agency and includes her agency's application, fee schedule, etc.


Does that mean she wants us to apply to that agency which means we'd have to start all over in order to adopt him? Not a wise option. That would be a deal breaker.

I felt heavy-hearted.

I forwarded her email to our social workers at Wide Horizons and asked them if they could locate him on the China Special Children registry meaning that he's available to all agencies.

And I replied to his social worker and explained that we're already on board with Wide Horizons and asked if that meant that we could not pursue him.

This was on Monday night the 11th.

I decided that night that regardless of whether this little boy was meant for us, we needed to be praying for him: praying for his family to find him, praying for peace in his little heart until then, praying that if we're the family God has for him that all barriers to him will be removed. I printed four photos of him -- one for JD, one for Payton, one for Avery, and one for me. (In hindsight, I probably should've included Brooks and Jackson too? hmm. I find myself still thinking they're too young for this and that, but they're not! Wow...our big boys!). I gave the photos out and explained to the girls to put hers somewhere where she'd see it regularly and each time she sees his little face to say a prayer for him.

Tuesday came. It was a busy day -- all the kids to school, errands to run. All morning as I ran around town, I wondered if the much-anticipated email from his social worker was waiting in my inbox. It would be a tipping point. Yes or No. You can pursue him or no, you can't. I just wanted to get home to know.

I got home around 2:00 that afternoon and...nothing from his social worker. But there was an email from ours in response to my question about whether he's on the shared registry:

Hi Heather,
Thanks for message. This little boy is adorable. I have just checked on the CCCWA website and he is not available there. It seems that another agency has locked his file as is possible with Special Focus children. It looks like there is a contact below to request additional info which I would recommend if you are interested in following-up.

I sink.

'Lord, bring him the family you have for him -- even if it's not us. But, Lord, I wish it were us.'

I talk to JD and he asks if I've heard anything. I fill him in and we talk about how we wish we could have access to him. We just felt like there was something about him. He said, "Honey, be patient. His social worker didn't reply to your email until late the other night so she must be on a different schedule than us." God building patience in me. Again. The story of this adoption journey's life.

Payton and Avery were asking if we're adopting him. I told them we have no idea, we've simply asked if he can be made available for us to try.

Waiting. Checking email. Waiting. Checking email. Waiting.

I fix dinner and feed the kids because I'm supposed to head out right when JD gets home to meet girlfriends from my former MOPS days for dinner. He walks in and the kids maul him. Love that. :) But before I leave I have to check my email just one more time.

And there it is.

This is what it reads:

Hi Heather,
He has been assigned to our agency, however I am so anxious to place this little guy and if you feel you are the family for him, we would consider releasing his file to your agency. Please have your agency contact me with regard to this if you are serious and in the meantime, I will go ahead and send you his file. Since he is specific to our agency you may take longer than 72 hours if necessary but I cannot place him on "hold" if another one of our families comes forward. Please keep this file confidential except to share with a doctor.

A surge goes through my body! I am relieved. I am elated.

'JD! We can have him! She says we can have him if we want him!'

'Huh?! What?!' he yells from the other room.

Right then, he turns the corner and we lock eyes. The look on his face matches mine. His eyes are smiling. He's smiling. We're in disbelief. We know this is it. The moment we've been waiting for.

And then there are five emails from his social worker. Bam. Bam. Bam. One after the other.

You guys, they're full of photos, a video and information on our little guy. And I cannot wait to share them with you!

The kids are feeding off our excitement and feel the joy! They start asking with anticipation, 'We can adopt him!? We're adopting him!?' I call everyone over to pile onto the couch so we can lay our eyes on him together -- all eyes, all hearts at the same time. I start opening the emails one by one.

He's awesome. He's precious. He's perfect. Just the way God made him.

He was abandoned. Found on the street. At four days old. Left.

John 14:18
I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (NIV)

Good gracious.

I fired off an email to our social worker asking that she contact his social worker as soon as she can to request that his file be transferred to our agency and locked with us. Locked.

That's where we are now. His social worker has spoken to their contacts in China and explained that his file is being transferred to another agency and our agency will take it from there. Because it's not officially locked with us 'yet' we can't share his photos and name, etc. But he's been removed from Rainbow Kids' website and his file should be locked any day.

Guess what, guys? In our conversation with our social worker yesterday, she told us this rarely happens. Rarely are files unlocked and transferred to another agency, but his social worker clearly felt like a family had come for him. We have come for him. God is moving mountains for this little boy.

We will not leave you an orphan; we are coming for you, little guy.

Back to the couch...

We all look at the photos and video. I wipe a few tears. JD squeezes my shoulder. He's moved too. We all ooh and ahh. And I go down the line and ask the children, 'So do you guys think we should try to adopt this little guy?'

I point to each child.











Then, Avery asks in the most sincere voice, 'Mommy, what about when he goes to school one day? What if the kids tease him?'

I say, 'That, honey, is why he needs a family. That's why he needs us to tell him we love him just the way he is. Someone to remind him that God made him just the way he is. And that's why he'll need us in life to stand up for him, to encourage him, to be there for him.'

She has an ah-ha moment. She gets it.

Then, Brooks cocks his head to JD and says, 'Daddy? Will we need to get him acrate?'


'A crate, Daddy? Won't he need a crate?'

JD and I look at each other above the children's heads. Uhhh? And then it hits me!

'A crib, buddy? Do you mean a crib?'

He looks at me and says, 'Yeh, Momma, a crib! He'll need a crib!'

'You're right! He will need a crib! We'll get him a crib.'

'Can he sleep in our room?' Brooks and Jackson are already working out sleeping arrangements.

'Maybe. Maybe he can be on the bottom bunk with bed rails?' I suggest.

'Yeehhh. He can have the bottom bunk!'

This little guy will be two in August. It could be a year before we bring him home. But we're going to persevere like crazy through the paperwork we have to get done. We have a new motivation! We're doing all this for someone. Our someone. A little boy on the other side of the world!

(Thanks for hanging in there with this ridiculously long post).

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