It was one year ago this month.
Jerrel came home from work and said, “I talked to our agency today.”
In the past, those words had triggered apprehension, a tightening of my gut with ‘what’s wrong now?’ bobbing like a cork to the surface of my mind. In the past, talking to our agency meant going over paperwork questions or deadline clarifications…but it also meant getting verbally chastised because things (which were completely out of our control) were taking so long, hearing that they were being shut down, & hearing that the adoption of our girls was over. So you could see why talking to our agency didn’t stir up the fondest of feelings.
To be fair, we were on our third adoption agency by this point and, with the exception of Agency #1, most of the unpleasant circumstances had been beyond their control as well. Agency #2 had been extremely knowledgeable and supportive when the adoption of the girls fell through, and we were sad to say goodbye to our contact there.
But we felt a goodbye needed to be said, since the only two countries they worked with were Mexico and Poland, both of which were extremely difficult to adopt from at the moment. So, on their trusted recommendation, we moved on to Agency #3. This one represented a number of different countries – including Colombia and China – areas where Jerrel and I had both spent a considerable amount of time.
And so we had filled out the initial paperwork with Agency #3, intending to take it one baby step at a time, refusing to feel rushed into anything. Our thinking was that once we submitted the paperwork, we would tentatively look into the Colombia program, since Agency #2 had spoken well of their work in that country…and mentioned that Colombia tended to have more sibling groups needing families. We realized that a sibling group was something we wanted.
During the break between our failed adoption and signing with Agency #3, we had continued weekly processing with a trusted counselor. In one of our sessions, as we discussed how we felt about continuing the adoption process and our desire for children in general, she asked us, “What do you want? If you could choose any children to adopt, what would be most important to you?”
It might sound like the most basic of questions, but Jerrel and I looked at her like two dumb deer caught in the headlights.
Photo by Davide Foti on Unsplash
In our whole three-year process, we never really stopped to ask ourselves what WE actually wanted. We just knew we wanted children, both biologically and through adoption. As our struggle to start a family continued, we felt God nudging us to explore adoption. We didn’t really consider any specific desires other than international adoption.
We felt like this previous group of siblings had been dropped in our laps, so to speak, and that God gave us the green light to adopt them. Even though part of us was terrified of adopting five children all at once, we still had a heart for these kiddos that seemed unlikely to find a home all together anywhere else.
When the adoption fell through, we were so focused on asking all the questions and wondering why God led us to these children only to seemingly take them away that we still never paused to consider what we actually wanted.
So we took a few days and let that question simmer between us. In time, a few desires began to bubble to the surface:
- Siblings. We wanted more than one child, and would love to have boys AND girls.
- Children close in age to their cousins (4-10 at the time).
- Children from either a Spanish-speaking country (like Colombia) or China, since those were languages we were most familiar with. We traveled together to Colombia and fell in love with the country and its people, and I had dreamed of adopting from China ever since living and teaching there for several years. China, however, seemed out of the question because of our desire for siblings; Chinese adoptions are almost always one child.
We had just barely articulated those desires when Jerrel came walking through the door saying he had spoken with our agency. As I braced myself for what I was 75% certain would be bad news of some sort, I heard him say something about China.
“Wait a minute. What?”
“I know we had expressed an interest in siblings from Colombia, but they asked if we would be open to pursuing a Chinese adoption. They have a set of twins, a boy and girl – 7 years old, who were in the process of being adopted when things didn’t work out with the family. Since we already have a completed home study with approval for siblings, they thought of us.”
With the mention of China, my eyes sprung a leak. As Jerrel kept up the description, my eyes started overflowing.
Twins. Jerrel is a twin.
Boy and girl.
Seven years old, fitting right in with cousins.
China. A place that will always feel like a second home to me and that I had longed to incorporate into my own home. A spoken but buried desire for years now that had seemed unattainable.
The first two thoughts that popped into my head were:
- God, are you serious? Every single one of our desires checked off? That’s crazy-amazing and so like You.
- If THIS one ends up falling through too, that would be the meanest form of mean and I will. be. done.
Hope soared like an eagle, followed quickly by the tight reign of previous disappointments. What if this one didn’t work out and we had to start over with a new country again? What if, what if, what if? But even as the ‘what if’s’ clamored for attention, it felt like God was acknowledging the desires of our heart as well. Almost as if He was nodding His head, proud of us for allowing our dreams to take shape and form words once again. Saying ‘yes’ to this possible Chinese adoption felt like the next right baby step.
So, ever since that August afternoon, we have continued taking baby steps towards these two kiddos living half a world away, in a country that remains so close to my heart.
If I’m honest, our hearts have been guarded throughout most of the process. We haven’t spoken as openly about this adoption as we did about the first one. But as steps continue to be taken and paperwork continues to be processed (swiftly!), we find ourselves now on the brink of the unknown in the next few months. An unknown that feels both sudden and a very long time in coming. An unknown that God is reminding me He already knows.
Slowly, slowly, the guardrails are coming down and excitement is taking their place. We are expecting our visas to come in the mail today and waiting on a travel date from China. In the meantime, we are collecting toys and chore charts and picking out English names and fundraising for the final leg and I am teaching Jerrel Chinese (oh, what fun!).
And we are looking ahead with hope.