Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Hearts of Kings

"The King's heart is like channels of water in the hand of the LORD;  He turns it wherever he wishes."  Proverbs 21:1

By the time we found our boy again (see previous post), I had spent plenty of time researching and gaining recommendations about various adoption agencies.  I had complete peace that God was leading us to a specific agency.  The only problem was that our boy was listed with a different agency.  It was most likely I would have to go through his agency to adopt him.  The agency that had his file is a good, reputable agency.  They do lots of China adoptions and their process is very streamlined and reliable.  They are also more expensive and I had been told that they were less willing to work with families who would need waivers, as we would  need for our income which is lower than the traditional Chinese requirement.  The local home study partner for this agency was also at least $1500 more expensive than other options.  While I knew it was a long-shot, I decided to see if it was possible to go through a different agency.

As I talked through this dilemma with a friend, she reminded me of the above verse.  God holds even the hearts of kings.  Certainly he holds the hearts of those in charge at the adoption agencies, especially since many of them love the Lord!  I had to have God turn hearts in AT LEAST two ways (truly, with all the paperwork and approvals required for adoption, it will be many more!):
  1. The agency I wanted to work with had to be willing to request our boy's file from another agency BEFORE we signed on with them, as I did not want to lose fees if we had to switch agencies
  2. The agency who had his file had to be willing to transfer it  (I had been told that [Agency] does NOT do that often.)
When I called our desired agency, the social worker listened to my story about our love for this boy and how we found him listed with another agency.  She heard our hearts, and she agreed to act as my social worker even before submitting our application.  That way, if the other agency was not willing to transfer the file we would not lose any money.  This was incredibly generous of her.  

So I called the other agency.  My story was received with absolute friendliness.  They did not have any families currently reviewing his file, so he was still available!  And to top it off, his file was scheduled to go back to a shared list (accessible by any agency) the NEXT DAY!  Apparently these file transfers do not happen as "scheduled", so she was willing to speak with my social worker about a transfer in the case that it did not return to the shared list.  A few days later, when his file had NOT been returned to the shared list as scheduled, I heard that she spoke with my social worker and was going to transfer the file!  From what I understand from friends who are much deeper in adoption knowledge than I am, this was no small miracle! 

About two weeks have passed now since I found him and the file transfer has taken longer than I expected, but I received a call from my social worker this morning and right now as I type, she has received his paperwork and is preparing to email it to me later today!  

God turned our hearts toward this boy; He turned the hearts of "kings" to make him accessible to us.  We pray now for the rest of our process to go as smoothly, and the God begins to prepare this little boy's heart for all that is ahead for him.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Where's Waldo? Finding Our Boy

Once Eric gave me the go ahead to lay out a plan for our next steps, I went in to hyper-drive.  The first thing I had to do was figure out HOW to start the process when we already identified our child.  But first things first, I had to find him.  When my friend had shared his profile in the fall, he was on China's Shared List, meaning that any adopting family working through any agency could view his file.  This was no longer the case.  "Shane" was not on the shared list any longer.  My friend connected me with a  number of people who could help me look for him.  One contact had his medical file and photos and was able to send those to me.  She let me know that since he is not on the shared list any longer, any of these possibilities may have happened:

  1. He died over the winter.  
    After looking at his file and seeing that he falls ill easily when the seasons change, I was beside   myself at this thought.  Too many orphans... too many children, die every winter for lack of medical care.  Not all orphanages have heat and simple colds can turn quickly into deadly pneumonia.  
  2. He has an adoptive family!
    If this was the case, I would be thrilled!  My heart would be relieved that this boy had a home and we would regroup and decide whether to continue pursuing adoption of a different child now.
  3. He was assigned to a foreign agency to be promoted among their waiting families.
    If this was the case, it would be very difficult to track him down.
  4. He was assigned to a US agency.
    We prayed this was the case.  It would take a lot of work to find him, but it was more likely.

I knew in my heart he had to be listed with a US agency.  I contacted advocacy groups asking if anyone had seen his file with their agencies.  Now I had his full Chinese name and DOB, which made looking for him easier.  I began calling and emailing a variety of adoption agencies, just shooting in the dark at who may have his file.  Many emails returned without any trace of Shane.  

One Friday night we decided to share with our Bible study group and ask for their prayers in finding him.  I browsed agency "waiting child" lists all day Saturday.  On Sunday I spoke with a friend at church and asked for her prayers too.   That afternoon I sat down at my computer, weary of trying to find him.  I decided not to look for him that day, and I settled in to reading some adoption-related articles.  I was reading an article on a particular agency's website and at the bottom came to a link.  "See [Agency]'s Waiting Children".  I thought I'd give it a try, just in case.  I clicked the link and quickly scrolled through the names looking for the two English aliases I had seen him listed as.  Nope, nothing in the "Sh" category for boys under 5.  

Then I felt convicted.  I had scrolled past all these faces, each of them a child who needed a home, without even looking at them.  I started back at the top and began looking into their eyes, praying for them to have a family.  

Then I saw him.  In a tiny thumbnail print.  In a picture a year more recent than any I'd ever seen of him.  With a completely different name.  I really shouldn't have recognized him from it, but my heart knew instantly.  I clicked on the thumbnail and confirmed his date of birth and special needs from the profile.  I HAD FOUND HIM!!!!

In an instant I was up from the couch to get my phone to tell my best friend, and at that moment I received a text from my friend at church.  

            Can you send me the little guy's picture 
            so I can put a face with our prayers for 
             you to find him? 

I FOUND HIM!!!                                        

            Wait... you actually FOUND him??  
            Since we spoke like 2 hours ago?  
            How is this even possible??

People... God hears prayer.  What are you praying about today?

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Journey Begins

Our adoption journey's beginnings stretch far into our pasts and God's work in our hearts over many years, so choosing a starting point to tell you our story is more difficult than it might seem.  But we will begin with a bright, sunny day in October.  For several weeks I had talked with my friend through their adoption journey and the process of choosing a child.  At the same time she was looking at children's profiles and medical records, I was exploring the medical needs of my biological son who had been born in April 2013.  Zane was about six months old and we finally had some answers. Jamie and I had spoken several times about children with craniofacial anomalies as I tried to identify my son's needs, and she prayerfully considered referrals to choose a child with special needs.  From among three profiles, they chose their darling Katie Grace.  A while later, that day forever etched in my heart, she decided to advocate for one of the other children whose file they reviewed, thinking that maybe someone would see him and become his family.  Social media can accomplish wonderful things!  His face imprinted on my heart that day:
sI believe "Shane" shares a condition with my biological son that causes one side of the face to be under developed.  I saw his picture and thought, "He looks like Zane."  And in the still, quiet moment that followed my heart leapt and said, "He looks like MY SON!" Somehow in that moment it was motherhood at first sight.  Deep down I knew he would be ours.

But on the surface there were so many doubts and obstacles.  We were dealing with figuring out our baby's needs, not to mention the simple fact that we had a baby, and had just begun homeschooling. I was not thinking about adding to the family.  And we most CERTAINLY didn't meet the income guidelines to qualify to adopt.  Case closed.  He couldn't be our son.

By my heart knew.

Fast forward many months later, and Shane's face was STILL in my heart daily.  I prayed for him and wept for his family to find him and take him to his forever home.  I signed up on a special needs grant sight to be his official "prayer warrior" so that I could get updates if he had a family, and support them in his adoption.

By this time God had blessed Eric with an opportunity to work an extra part-time job with a friend's husband doing construction.  Its hard work (especially in the Arizona summer), but he enjoys it and the extra income made a huge difference for us!  I realized that we could meet the (modified for special needs adoptions) income requirement.

But we weren't thinking about adding another child to our family for a while.  Plus I had never spoken to Eric about Shane.  I was loving him silently, holding on to a delicate hope.  I had also just contracted to be a tutor in our homeschooling group next school year and asked Eric to agree with me that a fourth child would NOT be in our plans for at least a year.  I did not want to add the fatigue and exhaustion of pregnancy to our finally successful homeschooling efforts.

His face was still there.  Every day I prayed for a family to adopt him.  I wept that it could not be mine.  Then our son turned 1 and Eric started making joking comments about the "next one".  One day I told my best friend that IF I was ready to have another child, I really felt like it should be Shane.  After talking through it with her, I was ready to break my silence and expose the delicate hope I had kept safe in secrecy.  I exposed my heart to my husband, and asked him to pray with me.  I told him that if after he prayed about it, he felt like God was saying "no", I would never mention it to him again.

A few days later, he told me he showed the Starbucks baristas Shane's picture.
God had opened our hearts and began opening doors, and so we prayed forward.