These are questions we are often asked. We have four beautiful, healthy children and we should be happy, right? Well, we are! We feel that we have been extremely blessed, and that is exactly why we are on this journey!
We have always known (okay, I have always known, but it didn't take Paul long to realize it too!) that we would have a large family. We have been discussing adoption since the beginning of our marriage and through the years we have researched all the options numerous times. We felt certain that at some point we would adopt and in 2006 the Lord made it clear to both of us that it was time.
We had done so much research on the topic that we pretty much knew that we would go the international route. Yes, there are children in this country that need homes too. But, there is not a shortage of parents waiting in the line for healthy American infants and we knew we were meant to provide a home for a child that might not otherwise have one. When we looked into the Social Welfare system we found that most of the children only needed a temporary home. We also knew of foster families that were not allowed to adopt the children they fostered and had become attached to. So, for these reasons and more, we felt that our child was out there somewhere in a country other than ours. Now, to find her. Yes, her. That was also something we felt pretty certain of, our next child would be a girl.
After much prayer, I got online again and this time I came across an agency I had not seen before and could not take my eyes off now. No matter how many agencies I looked at I kept coming back to Children's Hope International. I just knew that they were going to help us find our daughter! They had five programs at the time: Columbia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Vietnam and China. I had had an inkling for a while that China was our country but I was trying to stay open minded and wait for God's confirmation. Suffice it to say we were given plenty of confirmation over a short period of time and it made us certain that our daughter was waiting for us in China. Thousands of children are abandoned in China each year with the majority of them being girls. China has a "one child policy" making it illegal to have more children. Boys are preferred over girls due to the fact that it is culturally believed that a son will provide for his parents in their old age. Girls are abandoned in an effort to try to have a son and many of the children are abandoned due to medical need or economic reasons. They are usually institutionalized until they are adopted and have little hope for a "normal" childhood without families to come forward and bring them home. So, our journey began!
During our home study we discussed possible special needs that we might be open to. We leaned towards considering the mild and correctable special needs. Our thinking was that if these children needed a family then we could certainly provide for a child with mild needs without disrupting our other children. Our agency gets a list of special needs children every few months and so for the past year and a half we have looked at the list and put our names in for young girls with mild needs. But we have found that we were one of many families that would jump at the chance to parent a mildly affected child. When the list began to include some harder to place children, I began to find myself considering them. If no one looks at their files then they will not get a chance at a life with a family, right? I began to think, "is it too much to ask to have us step out of our comfort zone and think about parenting one of these children?" What if I had given birth to a child with a major disability? We know we wouldn't turn our backs on that child so why were we limiting ourselves just because we had a choice?
Once we removed the limitations we had set on God's blessings we found our long wait over, for God has blessed us again!