Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Beginning of the Wait

Since we signed our contracts with our adoption agency, I have had a standing appointment with our case worker every other Thursday afternoon for a phone call together. It's just a way for us to connect, ask questions, hear about what's going on, and make sure we're on track. When I had my call this past Thursday, she informed me that we've graduated! We're so done with paperwork (for now) that she no longer feels a need to check in with each other so often. We talked about our timeline, and she thinks (no guarantees of course!) that we could have a referral within about 3-6 months, but to be prepared for anytime. Our dossier is currently in D.C. and once our immigration approval comes back, our case worker expects to be logged in about 5 weeks after that. Again, no guarantees, and we've certainly had delays up to this point, so I'm not holding my breath. We still have not been fingerprinted, and I've been hearing from other adoptive moms that the immigration process took a good 2 months.

In the meantime, we mostly just wait. We could receive a special focus referral, or we could receive a referral from the orphanage our agency has a partnership with, which isn't very likely at this point. So we wait. And have fun with the little sweeties we have at home. This is my favorite time of year, and the next several weeks are going to be very full, with holiday celebrations, shopping, crafting, baking, a special birthday party, travels...

I am ready for this next part of our lives, where we hold our sweet Chinese baby in our arms, but I am also thrilled for the months ahead of loving on my two little ones who are getting big way too fast. I think some quality time with them and enjoying our days of being a family of 4 is just what the doctor ordered.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

On Special Needs Part 2

For the past several months, I've been feeling like an imposter about alot of things. There have been the moments that someone has mentioned how "patient" I am with my kids and I want to laugh out loud. Or how creative I am, or how clean my house is... I'm not even going to get into why that makes me feel like a fraud, but I think you can figure it out. Then I trained all summer and ran a half marathon in September. But I still feel guilty telling people that I run. I always feel like it should come with a disclaimer that I am super slow. Like I need to explain.

And then there is the adoption. For a while, I refused to even add the "special needs" part when we talked about the adoption. I worried people would get the wrong idea. I didn't feel worthy of the title of special needs mom. The needs we are open to seemed insignificant and not even like special needs anyway. I just didn't want anyone to think I considered myself special just because we are adopting a child with special needs.

Then, life happened. For the first few weeks, I lived in denial. I assumed God would take it away. Or that there was a mistake. After the second opinion and a few weeks of watching carefully, I woke up and realized it was true. My child, one who lives at home already, was diagnosed with a special need. I realized that adoption isn't going to make me a special needs mama. Because I already am one.

A friend told me "___ is still the same kid. A diagnosis doesn't change who he/she is". Oh, it's so true. That little darling of mine is still the person God created him/her to be. He knew. That little person is still my baby. I don't love him/her any less. There are unknowns. Our sweetie may deal with extra challenges for a long time, or he/she may overcome them quickly. Meanwhile, our lives are filled with therapy and praying for healing, but preparing for a long road. I just keep remembering this need is one part of him/her. That kid is so amazing in so many ways. Just like those babies waiting for families. I feel so positive that we are on the right path.

I've heard before that God doesn't call the equipped, but He equips the called. That's what's happening in our home. Before Jared and I knew that we would adopt a child with special needs, God knew that He would make us special needs parents whether we followed the call or not. Suddenly, I am much less afraid of the unknowns in adoption or the "special needs" our children may have, because I know I'm not the one in control of it all. And I know, without a doubt, that love is much more powerful than any need. I know that our family is so capable of love and we are ready to love whichever child is coming to us.

I don't feel like an imposter anymore. At least not with the adoption. We are adopting a special needs child. Their needs may be great, they may be minor. As we've learned recently, we can do all we can do, but ultimately we don't get to decide these things. I know we'll love him either way. And I know he'll fit right in. This journey has taken us places we didn't expect. Sometimes those places are hard and there will be more hard places ahead. There is going to be so much joy though. I know it. I'm ready. So bring it.

Just another day closer to you, Baby.

Friday, November 1, 2013

On Special Needs...

When we tell people we are doing a special needs adoption, especially family, the reaction usually involves some fear for us. Most friends and family, and even strangers, wonder if we know what we are getting into. Honestly, no, we don't. When we first started talking about adopting, we never considered special needs, and when we think about it now, we don't really know when we decided to pursue a child with special needs. But here we are.

In China's program, we were able to fill out a checklist of needs that we are open to. Our case worker, who will place our child with us, has that list, and she will use it as a guide for helping us find our baby. As I've posted about before, after we receive a file from her, we are able to share it with our pediatrician and accept or decline. So in some ways, we do have control over the needs our child will have. However, we have been warned to expect greater or lesser needs than what we think we are getting. We know there is no guarantee.

That checklist is difficult. To complete it, we googled, researched, prayed, considered our lifestyle, and had a long consult with an international pediatrician. Filling it out was a bit of a rollercoaster ride. We started with very, very few needs. But then you start to feel like saying no to certain needs is the same as saying a child with that need is unadoptable. Which is not true. But emotion gets in the way. So our list grew quite a bit. Then we had the consult with the pediatrician, and the list decreased again. Because you have to have compassion, and we want to be open to as much as we can, but we also have to be wise. There are certain needs that are just not compatible with our family right now. For instance, we live in an older home with all bedrooms upstairs. It is likely not possible to add a wheelchair lift. So a child in a wheelchair, or a child with a condition that may lead to mobility issues would not be a wise decision. (And probably wouldn't have been approved during our home study anyway). There are other conditions that are not as easy to make a decision on.

Let me add that the list is very personal. Please don't feel bad if you've asked about our list. But know that the decisions that led to the list were not made lightly, and that prayer and tears went into that list. We feel pain over some of the needs we had to say "no" to. So be aware that many families do not wish to share their list with everyone.

We ended up with a list we feel very confident with. It has needs on it that we knew at the beginning would be there, it has needs that we never thought would be there, and it has some "no" checks that we thought would be "yes". It's been amazing how we've been stretched during the process. How our hearts have changed and how excited we are to bring home our child. How things that seemed like a big deal at the beginning feel like of comfortable to us now and how aware we now are that a person's "special needs" are just one aspect of that person and don't define him.

So, no, in some ways we don't know what we are getting into. But we feel like we have been given discernment and we are as prepared as we can be (for now) for whatever our baby brings. We probably won't be able to handle it alone. But together with God, our family, and our pediatrician, I think we'll all be just fine.