Day 4: Waiting Children Challenge

If you’ve landed here, then you have at least some vague interest in adoption. Perhaps its something you haven’t really considered personally, but you’ve somehow found yourself following a few adoptive moms on social media and are interested by their stories. Maybe you’re ready to jump head first into the adoption pool, but your spouse hasn’t even put his/her swimsuit on yet. Or maybe you’re in the middle of an adoption or you’re an adoptive parent already. Whoever you are and however you stumbled here, I I have a challenge for you today!

My challenge is simple:

  1. Visit one (or all!) of the following sites
    1. http://www.nohandsbutours.com/children-wait/
    2. http://www.rainbowkids.com
    3. http://waitingchildinfo.com
    4. http://newdaycreations.com/foster/kids/kids_bj.htm
  2. Choose one child who (for one reason or another) catches your eye
  3. Pray for that child for the next 2 weeks straight

I want you to check out these sites for a few reasons. First, to see the sheer quantity of waiting children. Second, to see how minor (or sometimes major) the special needs of these children are. Third, and most important of all, to see their faces! I can throw out statistics to you left and right about how many children are left orphaned worldwide, etc. but no statistic could break your heart the way the faces of these children can. They aren’t stats, they’re kids! And every child deserves a family.

Perhaps adoption is not appropriate for you at this present time, but maybe it is. Maybe you just need someone to give you a gentle nudge towards the adoption path. Maybe you’re interested, but you don’t know where to start; start here! Maybe you don’t want to adopt, that’s fine too, but you can still pray for waiting children or share this post with someone you know who is interested in adoption.

So, if you’re ready to take the challenge with me, here are a few specific things to pray for:

  • the child’s physical, emotional, cognitive, and spiritual well being;
  • the child’s caretakers;
  • that the child’s daily needs are being met (warmth, food, water, clothing, basics!);
  • that the child feels loved and precious;
  • that somewhere God is preparing a forever family for that child;
  • that all obstacles between that child and his/her forever family would be minimal and that God would be glorified even through those obstacles!

One of my favorite adoption quotes is by a pastor named David Platt, it reads: Orphans are easier to ignore before you know their names. They are easier to ignore before you see their faces. It’s easier to pretend they’re not real before you hold them in your arms. But once you do, everything changes.

That’s it. That’s my challenge, please take it. If you choose to join this challenge, leave a comment below or let me know on Instagram (@leftylex) and let me know the name of the child and which site he/she is on.  Let’s commit to a full two weeks, so encourage and remind one another to be steadfast in your prayers. My son was once one of these waiting children, and I have received several emails from families who prayed for him for months on end. What an amazing gift!

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Day 3: Adoption Costs

Oh, adoption costs. The myths that grow around this topic! We always get the, “Oh, isn’t adoption really expensive?!” question. And I know that behind that question people are secretly wondering just how much money your family makes. Visions of celebrity adoptive parents come to mind, so they think that all adoptive parents must be rolling in the dough. Not in our case, I promise!  The answer in short is, yes, it’s expensive but it’s broken over many small (and some not so small) expenses. You aren’t expected to sit down a write a check for $30K at the beginning of the process. That would be rough and likely exclude 90% of hopeful adoptive families.

I receive so many questions regarding the cost of adoption and cost misconceptions, that I will do my best to post our ongoing expenses with our current adoption. I want to do this to encourage those of you who are considering adoption but are scared of the high cost. It’s not easy, but it’s doable. If you want something badly enough, you find ways to get it.

I hate to be insensitive, but I always laugh when people say that they’d love to adopt, but the cost is just too much. Yet, those are the same people who drop money on designer labels, getting mani/pedis weekly, can’t live without their daily Starbucks, etc. There are ways that you can cut lifestyle costs. It’s not glamorous and you may have to look like a tight wad for a while, but it’s only for a season and it is manageable. Don’t let the cost of adoption be a cop out. If you really want to adopt, then do it. There are plenty of grants and adoption loans that adoptive families are eligible to apply for once their home studies have been completed. And there are always fundraisers! You’d be amazed at how generous even strangers are when they find out that you’re trying to grow your family through adoption. Trust me!

To give a more detailed picture of what adoption expenses look like, here is the actual breakdown of what our family’s adoption expenses were this week:

Kai’s 6 Month Post-Placement Visit: $400
Passport Photos (3 sets): $39.12
Livescans (2): $170
Homestudy Fee: $1000
Agency Fee: $2383.75

As you can see, not all adoption expenses go directly to your adoption agency and even fewer go to the country that you’re adopting from! I’ll throw out some real numbers here and say that our orphanage donation for Kai was about $6K and our total adoption was over $30K. These countries aren’t getting rich off of adoption, folks! Most of the adoption fees go to your agency (of course, your social workers deserve a salary too!), training, the US government (!), and other miscellaneous third parties (livescan, etc.). Checks get sent to many places, not just one.

Hopefully this helps clarify the misconception about adoption costs a bit. And hopefully this helps shed some light as to how adoptive parents can actually afford adoption; many little fees, not one giant fee.

*Note: I’m speaking strictly from an international adoption point of view. The fees to complete a private domestic adoption or a foster-to-adopt adoption differ greatly! If your income isn’t great enough to satisfy the international adoption qualifications, then adopting through the foster care system might be a great option for you.

Day 1: Why China?

The one question I get asked about our adoption, more than any other is probably: why China? It’s a simple answer really.  Chinese food has always been my favorite! Kidding.. but not on the “favorite” food part, I do love me some Chinese food, yum!

When Ryan and I initially decided to build our family through adoption, we thought that we’d adopt through the local foster care system. We attended 36 hours of education/training over 6 weeks to complete the PRIDE course offered through the County of San Diego. The information was great, but it just wasn’t our path. Fostering just didn’t “feel right” for our family. Now, I would absolutely never discourage anyone from pursuing that path, it just wasn’t our path. It might be yours, but it just wasn’t ours. There is no “one size fits all” adoption road.

After deciding that foster to adopt was not for us, we settled on domestic infant adoption. We opened a savings account for our adoption and started shopping for adoption agencies. I’m pretty sure that I “liked” every single US adoption agency that had a Facebook page and soon my feed was flooded with nothing but adoption related posts. So, it was no surprise when my Facebook ads and suggested “likes” became entirely adoption related. One particular day Facebook suggested that I like “Stuck”, a documentary about international adoption by Both Ends Burning. International adoption?! No thanks, there are kids here in the US who need families. I hid the ad and went along. The next morning the same blasted ad popped in my feed. Again, I hid the ad. Then a couple of days later, there it was again! That stupid ad and the 1:59 trailer would not leave me alone! Fine, I’ll watch you! Click. One minute and fifty-nine seconds later, every preconception that I had surrounding international adoption was shattered. I felt my heart break and spirit move all at the same time. This. Was. Our. Path!

I’ll link to it here and warn you to either grab tissues or a paper and pen to write your Congressmen!

That documentary in a nutshell is “why China?”. Only it’s not. China is not one of the countries featured in Stuck. They show families adopting from Haiti, Ethiopia, and Vietnam, but not China. But for some reason after downloading and sobbing through the documentary, I knew my baby was waiting for me in China. I can’t explain how I knew, but I just knew. To be fair, I also thought a sweet little baby girl (who we would’ve named Jia Evangeline) was waiting for me, but we’ll save that for another post!

So my only explanation for “why China?” is because God ordained it to be so. He knew our deep desires to be parents and he knew that there was a little pint-sized, chubby-cheeked, flat-headed toddler on the other side of the world who needed us to be his parents. I am so glad that I was not responsible for writing the story of my amazing adoptive, transracial family. Our story is more heartbreakingly beautiful than I could put into words. And that my friends, is why China.

Boomerang

I suppose it’s not much of a secret, but it’s official as of today. China adoption #2 is officially in progress. We are on the hunt for our Lok!

We don’t know who exactly Lok is yet or where in China he is, but we do know that we already love him and can’t wait for him to come home! We aren’t starting this adoption off with as much of a savings as we did with Kai’s adoption. In fact, we probably only have enough to cover our home study, BUT we are firm believers that God will provide whatever resources we need to bring Lok home. We’ve seen it happen time and time again. This adoption means truly trusting in Him to supply our needs.

So, if you’re sitting on an income tax refund larger than you know what to do with, I have an idea! Click here and go for it. https://www.youcaring.com/lovinglok What could you possibly buy that’s better than building a family?! 😉

So if you were thrown off by the title of this post, let me explain. A boomerang family is what the adoption community refers to as that special kind of crazy family who completes back-to-back adoptions using the same (albeit updated) dossier (adoption paperwork dissertation). I have seen many boomerangers go before us and I hope that we proudly carry the torch while we journey to Lok.

Let’s go back to China!

3 Months a Mom

On January 12th, 2015, Ryan and I sat in a drafty room in Guangzhou, China alongside 5 other families who were all awaiting the arrival of their babies. Mind you, these babies ranged from age 2 to 13 and had been more loved, prayed for, worked for, and cried over then they will ever, ever know. The first family was called to the center of the room and a beautiful 13 year old girl in a wheelchair was brought out to them. My heart broke! Until that moment, I had remained uncharacteristically calm, but seeing that little girl united with her family just did something to me that I could never put into words on a blog post.

My heart began racing a mile a minute when I heard them call out “Chen family”. We were up next! Out waddled the sweetest little man you could ever pray to lay eyes on. There he was, in the flesh, our Kai! This was the moment I romanticized and dreamt of for nearly 17 months. We had our son! As we walked, with Kai, back to our little corner of the room, I was struck with the reality that we were FINALLY a family! That little Mandarin/Cantonese-speaking boy was OURS. No one was going to take him from us, no one was going to parent him for us. For better or worse, this was 100% on our shoulders now. It was a very beautiful and scary thought.

If you follow me on Instagram (@leftylex), then you know that life has not been an endless unicorn ride since bringing Kai home. Nor did we expect it to be. Kai spent the first 22 months of his life in an orphanage and over 2 years with the same foster family. We would be naive to think that his life experiences before us would not affect him. Of course they had! Some times its easier to pretend that Kai has always been ours and that he has always known the love and warmth of a family. But that’s not true and it’s not fair to Kai to create such a story. There are emotional and physical scars from Kai’s life before us. Every time I lay Kai down, put a hat on him, or wash his hair, I am reminded that he was not held as an infant. The back of his head is flat from laying in a crib all day. Stop and think of your son, daughter, niece, nephew or any other little one who is near to your heart. Can you imagine them crying as an infant and not immediately running to them to tend to their needs? Kai had no one to tend to him immediately; he shared a nanny with dozens of other kids in the same room. There simply was not enough (wo)manpower to hold all of those infants as much as they should have been held. But, the Lord protected our baby and made him a survivor.

It has taken an insane amount of coddling, kisses, tickling, and wrestling to slowly break down Kai’s walls so that he can truly trust and love us as his parents. Over the past three months, we have learned to love and trust together, as a family. There have been moments of complete emotional exhaustion and moments of ridiculous bliss. I have been hit, punched, bitten, hugged, kissed, and cried on more than I ever dreamed. It is not all sunshine here, nor do I want it to be. I want Kai to know that he is allowed to be angry and grieve for the people and things that he has lost in his short life. Most of us will never know that amount of loss. But there is such beauty in seeing him laugh, and smile, and learn to truly love. Ryan and I are in constant amazement at how much Kai has changed since that cold “Gotcha Day” in Guangzhou. It’s beautiful to witness the healing that has taken place in our son’s life.

Three months with Kai, three months a mom. They’ve been the most challenging and beautiful months that I’ve ever known.

Left: Kai's referral photo (2012) Right: Kai enjoying his first Easter egg hunt (2015)
Left: Kai’s referral photo (2012) Right: Kai enjoying his first Easter egg hunt (2015)

The Ride has Begun

The process of adoption has often been compared to a roller coaster. And if we stay with this analogy, then Husband and I have just experienced out first dip.

After months (between 7 and 8) of adoption agency research, waiting children profile browsing, and loads of praying, we finally settled on adopting through Lifeline Children’s Services. Our application was submitted and received on Monday, with much excitement. (Excitement might be a slight understatement). The following day we received an email response to our inquiry on a 3 year old boy who I fell in love with a few weeks ago. I was over the moon to find out that he was still available for adoption! We were even more excited to read through his entire medical file and learn all about his life story. And then we were told that we could place a “hold” on him if we were truly interested and met China’s qualifications for adoption.

Wow! Yes we were extremely interested (if you could only see our smiles!) but I was a bit worried that my being only 29 3/4 (not China’s required 30) might be a factor. I immediately emailed back that we would LOVE to “hold” the little guy bit wondered if my age would prevent us from doing so. I prayed that it wouldn’t, dove even further into his file, and fell even further in love with him.

This morning, while sitting in an all-day training, the dreaded email came in: Unfortunately, we are unable to place XXX on hold until you are 30 years old. Dagger to the heart. Our first roller coaster dip.

Our agency rep was quick to say that if XXX is still available come 1/10/14 AND if his file is still with LL, then we can place a hold on him and submit an LOI (letter of intent… to adopt). For now, as much as I wish I had some control here, this little boy, his file, and his future are in God’s hands. Soli deo Gloria!

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