It's strange how in the mere minutes of a short phone conversation so much can change. You can be bumping up and down in your little red wagon and then, WHAM......one wheel's off and the axle's broken!
I'm just going to come right out and say it because I am the kind of person that will rip the band-aid off, as opposed to the kind that gently works it off. The child we thought was our son? He is not. Or at least not in the way he was, and though we may help him get home, we are not bringing him home. And, we are so very sad about that.
As providence would have it our agency arranged to do a camp for the adoptable kids at HIS orphanage. His orphanage, out of the hundreds of other orphanages. What they did not expect was to get to see our son. Of course, I begged them to try, because what Mom wouldn't? But, since he was already matched it would be most unusual for him to be around and available during the camp. But, they asked anyway....just in case. And were excited to see him as his ayi brought him in the room. But, the excitement quickly turned to concern, as our agency director realized that that sweet boy, the child we thought was our son, is deaf.
Let that word hang there for a few minutes. Just as it did when I heard it come out of Diana's mouth.... Chelsea....he's deaf.
Surely there is some mistake, right? How could this happen? How did we miss this? There is NOTHING in his paperwork to indicate this.
But, it was not a mistake and his paperwork? Well, once we got to the bottom of that story, the gist is that an update with the condition of his hearing never made it to his file....
I realize that many of you are probably about to judge us because you are just now realizing that I have admitted that we are not going to adopt him. Because he is deaf. I'm sure some of you are appalled that we would turn our backs on this boy who has a great need for a family.
My first inclination was to say, so what! So our boy can't hear. We will be just fine.
But then you start to think about the overwhelming prospect of trying to learn an entire language AND teach this new language to a child as his only what of communication AND bond with this child at the same time. A child you have just removed from EVERYTHING he knows and loves. A child you have just taken from the only family he's ever known. And, your other children? They have to learn this new language too. Right. now. And use it all the time so the newest member of the family doesn't feel any more isolated than he already does.
And that is when you realize that everything is not going to be fine.
All of these thoughts and more came to me in rush during that one phone conversation. And then numb from that call, I had to make the next call. To the husband.
We have spent over two weeks reliving that phone call. Over two weeks researching our options. Over two weeks talking to parents of deaf children, medical professionals, our social worker, our agency directors, our family and most importantly our God. I'd love to say that I handled the whole situation with the grace of a prima ballerina. That would be a big fat lie.
But at the end of the day, one thing was glaringly apparent. We are not this child's family. We were never supposed to be. God's plan unfolded before our very eyes this week and revealed to us what we could not have seen before. We are part of this child's story, a chapter perhaps. But, that is all.
God clearly wanted the world to know that this child is deaf. And He used both us and our agency to achieve this. He lead us to look for a boy with a minor heart defect, and He saved this child and lead us to this child that was sitting for many months on the shared list, because He knew that Madison, our agency, would be working in his orphanage. Madison would have the only opportunity to discover that this boy is deaf. And, because his file was already on the shared list he would not be present at a camp for children whose files will be given exclusively to Madison. Which means he would only be seen if he had been matched with a family by Madison. Us. Because Madison would request to see him for us. Complicated stuff. But, not for our Father.
And at first I wanted to say that clearly God wanted us to adopt this deaf boy. That He lead us to him because wanted us to commit to a child that, truth be known, we would not have reached out to if we'd known he is deaf. A child our agency has admitted they would not have locked for us if they had known he is deaf.
So why aren't we proceeding with his adoption? Trust me, it is with a heavy heart that we admit that we can't. But, being part of special needs adoption means knowing when you can help a child, and when you probably won't. And this is one of those times. At least for our family. Is it just our fear talking? We have prayed about this a lot, and we don't think so. We feel that God has lead this adoption thus far, and we are going to leave him in the driver's seat. He has given us a peace about this decision and though that does not mean we are happy about it, well, it isn't about us. It's about a child that needs HIS family.
Oh, but what if I had a deaf biological child? Would I turn my back on him? No. But there are some fundamental differences here. With a biological child there is infant bonding that occurs. This is missing in the life of a child adopted at 3 years. This 3 year old boy has no bond with us. With a biological child there is a learning curve. That child would slowly learn sign language and possibly lip reading right along with us. This 3 year old child is raring to go and will likely leave us in the dust becoming more and more frustrated with us as we struggle to catch up to him so we can communicate. Am I saying that it couldn't be done? No. I'm sure some families have done it already. But, I have to believe that there is a better family out there for this child. A family in which one parent or some siblings are deaf and the family is already signing. A family where this child will not feel any more isolated than he already does.
And, we are not turning our backs on that precious child. In a way, we will always think of him as "ours" on some level. We are dedicated to advocating for him and praying for him for as long as it takes for him to find HIS family. And so is Madison Adoption Associates.
I read a blog post last year by one of my favorite bloggers, Karen of Always In My Heart, where she admits that they were just part of the story for one of their adopted children. In her post, The Next Chapter, she explains how they had to let her go, because that was the best they could do for her. Of course, that is another story and ours is obviously very different, but what I can relate to right now is being part of a child's story. A middle part. In our case, a minor part and not a staring role.
Are we still going to adopt? Yes. Why wouldn't we? When we first applied to adopt in 2006 a devoted adoptive mom said to me, "adoption is not for the faint of heart!" That is so true. And faint of heart is not a term anyone has ever used to describe me. Or Paul for that matter. Oh,yes. We still have a son in China.