Saturday, September 21, 2013


This post is part two of our adoption story in country. You can read part one HERE

"And then...they brought us our son."

I will refer to our boy as "N" for the time being.

As we sat waiting in an entrance way, with our luggage stacked by the door, a nanny appeared with a little, 3 year old, grinning, blue-eyed, ball of energy! It is difficult to describe the thoughts and emotions swirling through me at that moment. There were other people there as it is the waiting area for the treatment side of the facility as well. The adults in the room were all smiles, and they were perfectly happy to let their children interact with N. 

N's caretakers kept trying to introduce us as "Mama" and "Papa," but N was too busy exploring to care. We had very few things accessible from our luggage, but I pulled out a container of bubbles. I was sure he'd be fascinated with them, but N just thought I was crazy. Why would he sit still and look at soap bubbles when there was a suitcase there? He didn't much care what was *IN* the suitcase as much as he enjoyed playing with the zippers. I just watched and chuckled as he would unzip and zip the suitcase and the outside pocket, over and over again. We grabbed a ball from the ball pit, and he discovered the hilariously fun game of, "throw the ball and watch Daddy go get it!" 

It wasn't long before they had to take him away for lunch. He didn't want to leave, but we promised to be back. We dropped off our luggage at our apartment, ate lunch and bought some bananas, cookies and juice to bring to the afternoon visit. When we got back to the orphanage (after only getting slightly lost), we were able to take N outside to play. That was where we discovered the slide. I wasn't entirely sure he could climb the stairs with his cp, so I helped him up. Each time he got settled on a step, I would say, "step" and he would step again. Then, he started repeating after me, "step! step!" and taking steps each time. I loved it. Daddy was catching him at the end. It was a pretty fast little slide and I worried that he would be scared, but he loved it and kept coming back to do it over and over again. 

We fed him the banana, and a couple little cookies, and gave him a juice box. He knew was juice was, but has clearly never had it in a box with a straw. Because N has a type of cerebral palsy, it was hard for him to drink the juice, but he sure gave it his best effort. We enjoyed our visit with him, and I began to feel an enormous calm about the situation. 

Now, for the way this all came about. 

Little N was born in a certain country that has recently banned adoptions by Americans. His parents, however, were not citizens of that country. When he was refused at the hospital, he entered a baby house there. In Eastern Europe, a person's citizenship is not so much based on where they are born, but on the parents' citizenship. There is also a law that states that citizens of other countries cannot be kept in the orphanages of other countries. And so, last year, all the paperwork was completed and little N was brought to this country and this orphanage. I do not know if his parents were from this region, or if he simply went where there was room. But either way, little N was given a chance. Had he remained in the other country, it would have been impossible for him to be adopted. In the year since he has been here, one domestic family came to see him, but could not accept his cp. And then, we came, specifically looking for a child with cp, and through the most excruciating, round-about process, ended up here. No advocacy groups come here. Most kids with special needs get foster families here...but certain disabilities are still very hard to place. The ones people can see with their eyes are the hardest. And so, little N waited. I never could have imagined how this process would unfold, but God knew. 

We attend a small branch of our church here, with English speaking missionaries. Last Sunday, a woman introduced herself, and told us that years ago, she placed her grandson for adoption because she could not care for him properly. He was adopted by an American family of our faith. He is now an adult, and is coming back here to serve a two year mission. She was so very proud, and so thankful for his family. She said the same family also adopted another boy who had problems with his legs. His future was pretty grim in this country, but after being adopted, he received two surgeries and is now an impressive hockey player! It's stories like this, and more importantly, the people sharing them, that have stirred my heart and strengthened my faith beyond what I could have imagined. 

Where I once felt anguish, I now feel hope....and joy. I cannot publicly show N's face until after court, but this one sums it all up. This was the first time I held out my arms and said, "N, hug Mama?" He thought about it a second, smiled, and ran into my arms. I am so thankful that my husband took this picture. It is my favorite. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013


This post is the hardest one to write. We arrived in Eastern Europe on August 19th, full of excitement and anticipation. We were just a few days away from meeting our little girl. We have her bed set up with polka dot sheets and a fluffy, soft, purple blanket. Her picture hangs above our 5 year old's bunk bed so that she can see her and pray for her every night. Everything we have worked the last year for has finally arrived.

And all flipped upside down. 

No matter how hard I tried, I could not find peace that lasted. We met Carolina. We had several visits with her at her facility. She is incredibly strong, determined, and physically well. She has beautiful, dark hair, olive skin, and dark brown eyes. We discovered her absolute love affair with candy...but not chocolate. Carolina is a white chocolate kind of gal. We began to make all the plans in our minds as to what kind of care she would need and what type of schooling would be best. And then we were finally left mostly alone with Carolina and were able to see the extent of her institutional behaviors. We know why she has them. We know that living in an environment with no education or nurturing is incredibly detrimental to a child's development. We know that she has had to learn survival skills as a necessity. We know all these things. 

And we know what life will be like for her for a long time to come.

And we thought we were prepared....and perhaps WE (my husband and I) were.

But our younger kids are not. 

 I knew if we continued on, we could help her....and I desperately want to help her. Oh the potential in that beautiful girl! She deserves a safe, happy, healthy home.  

But so do my daughters, M and E.  

My heart was ripped in half.

My husband and I sought out the missionaries from our church and we sat and discussed our situation with them. They were so supportive and caring. We prayed and prayed. For almost 24 hours, I cried and prayed, never leaving the bedroom of our apartment. Finally, my husband said, "If you had seen our videos before we committed, would we have committed to her?" The answer came quickly and surprised even me. "No, because I would have known she was too big and too rough for the girls." He looked at me and said, "I think you have your answer." I realized I had been so torn because I was fighting the promptings God was already giving me. I wanted an answer like my dear friend, Lisa, received HERE. I wanted the super moving spiritual experience.....basically, I wanted to tell God what to do. How rebellious and proud of me!

I felt the prompting telling me that my part in this plan was to bring an update so Carolina's family could see her and know she is theirs. I felt it...but Lord, I PROMISED to go get her! How can I do this? How can I leave her? How can I explain this to all the people who helped us get here? What a failure I am! I was ashamed.

I have no words to describe the pain and sorrow I felt as I realized that I couldn't do it all. I couldn't provide everything this precious child needed without sacrificing the safety and well-being of my other children. But HOW could I walk away? I was there. I met her. I saw her great potential, and I LOVE HER.

But I love her too much to just bring her home and disrupt. I love her and my other four kids too much to bring her in as a daughter and sister, with the intention to send her away. This is not pointing fingers at those who have had to disrupt their adoptions, but it isn't something one should plan to do, and has far reaching effects. 

We told our facilitator our decision and we were on a bus the next morning back to the capital city. Immediately, we were told some brief information about a couple of children that met the criteria of our home study. "I don't care." I thought to myself. The pain was so fresh, so raw. My heart could not feel any joy. Then the messages started coming in....the dreaded explanations. What will people think of me? I know I did not choose what some people would have, and there were some voices of harshness over it. But mercifully, I received an overwhelming amount of messages of support, most of which came from the people I would have expected to be upset. One by one, messages kept coming in, "I understand. No judgement here." These wonderful mamas, many of whom have children with heartbreaking issues, took time out of their days to show support to me. They knew how powerful my grief was. They understood the conflicting feelings. Most of all, they knew that I needed to be uplifted at just those moments. They knew how to help me shoulder this when all I wanted to do was hide, cry, and run home. 

I stayed in a daze for a while. I didn't really care about much. I missed my kids and considered running to the airport and jumping on the first plane home. I wanted to pretend I didn't know about this country and the orphans who wait behind closed doors and iron gates. 

And then it happened. It was just a flicker as I walked down the street in the rain. As I looked up at a sign that I couldn't read, I saw in my mind, a boy's face. It was the strangest thing, as I wasn't thinking of children at all. My facilitator had briefly shown us a couple of cell phone pics of some kids she knew or knew of from friends that might meet our home study criteria. I looked at them just to be polite. I'd just flown across the world for a girl I was SURE would be my daughter...and look where I was.

Why on earth would this kid's face come to my mind? We were still wanting a girl, if we could find a child at all. We got a call about two days later saying we had an appointment to go look at files and select a new referral. How the heck am I supposed to do that? 

A one hour appointment. A blind referral. This is so far out of my comfort zone, I cannot even begin to describe it. 

We went in to the office. I felt numb inside. My husband was my rock, assuring me we would know what we were supposed to do. They began to place files in front of me. We ended up with about fifteen files. The first one was the little boy I had seen in my mind. We read his file. "Uh-huh." was all I could manage to say. We read through the rest of them. We pulled out children with secondary needs that were beyond our abilities, ones who really didn't meet our home study criteria, and we ended up down to two. Both were boys. But I was prepared for a girl.... "This is your new reality." I heard in my mind.  O.k. we will have a new son. One boy I recognized from Reece's Rainbow, and I knew he had a family coming for him, but they read his information to me anyway. I began to feel uneasy about some of the issues there with siblings, and quick as a blink, my dear husband picked up the file of the other boy and said, "That settles that."
And just like that, we had accepted his referral. The psychologist who shows the files said, "I knew he was the one when you first walked in here." Apparently, there was a certain look on my face that I was not even aware of when that first file was placed in front of me. It's the little, they aren't little things, they are simple things, but they are
great big mercies and reminders of my Father in Heaven's love for me. He is mindful of my sorrow. He knows how hard that trip was. He knew I needed the decision to be obvious, because He knew I was doubting myself and my ability to hear His voice. 

Thirty six hours later, we were on a bus. We didn't know what to expect as we headed to a new region that doesn't process many international adoptions. But one thing had disappeared...fear. I felt a peace beyond understanding. This perplexed my brain as I was now completely out of my comfort zone, my plans had changed (and I do not like it when plans change), and I had no idea what was about to happen. I should have been a wreck, but instead, I was completely calm. When we arrived at the orphanage, my defenses went up....I can't take that heartbreak again. I was rather awkward and spent a lot of time looking like a deer in the headlights. I listened intently as the doctor read me the medical information. I nodded, put on my best brave face, and then.....they brought us our son.

To be continued.......