How do I keep this brief? I have two journals almost completely full of adoption stuff and Super T isn't even home yet. [He came home in Jan. 2010.] The journals have been wonderful ways to remind myself of God's faithfulness, to remind myself of what He has told me, to remind myself not to get sidetracked or worried...do you see the pattern here? They have been invaluable in those moments of confusion, decision, and impatience. Much of what I have written in the journals are scriptures that spoke to me at the moment of scribing them. You would be amazed at the number of scriptures that speak of adoption both directly and indirectly.
When God dropped it into my spirit to adopt from Hong Kong, I got very excited. I had researched HK adoption in my period of adoption research a couple of years before (back before I was content...see part 5.) I knew that HK was VERY economical, as far as adoptions go; that they accept single mothers; and that it was a special needs-only program. Now special needs has a very wide interpretation in adoptions, but all HK special needs available for international adoption are moderate to severe; no minor or correctable needs are typically available.
I felt from the very first that God had a specific child for our family and the child was a boy between the ages of LOTL and Little Pud. My homestudy agency has a policy against changing the birth order, therefore only would approve me for a child ages 6 and under (I had to even request this concession...originally my social worker had written age 4 and under because Lilly was 5 1/2 when my homestudy was done, but I knew she would be 6 by the time my new child came home.) There was a form (actually 2 or 3) that I had to fill out that specified the special needs I was "accepting" of. I was very drawn toward blindness and cerebral palsy and was accepting of most physical special needs, but not mental ones. I really felt that the child would not have Down syndrome (a high percentage of children adopted from HK have DS ). I am not entirely sure why I felt that way...I have a several theories and it probably is a combination of those theories and maybe some I haven't even thought of yet. I have a couple of friends who have adopted children with DS and the kids have been tremedous blessings to them and to me.
I started the adoption paperwork early in the fall of 2008. My home study was finished in February 2009 and was sent to Hong Kong and U.S. immigration. The gory details and dates are interesting only to other people "in process," but suffice it to say, there is a LOT of waiting. Unless you have been through this or something similar, you cannot imagine the mental energy expended during the waiting periods...also known as opportunities to learn to trust God in all things.
The rules have changed recently and I was not able to find out information on individual children until my immigration paperwork had been approved. I received my immigration approval in the mail on April 11, 2009, almost exactly 6 years after Michael passed away. According to my placing agency (in CA) there were no children available that met my criteria so I had to wait some more (actually there was one little boy, but I just knew that he wasn't the one for my family.) On April 30, my worker, I'll call her W, told me she had just received an updated list of available children from the agency in HK. Would I like to see it? Ummm...YES!!!!!
Upon receiving the e-mailed file with very basic information (date of birth, gender, major diagnosis, a two sentence or so description) I quickly perused, not even looking at anyone born before 2003 or girls or with DS. I was very disappointed that my son was not there. Later that night when I had more time, I thoroughly read all the entries (23 children). One child absolutely leaped off the page at me...but he didn't fit my "requirements." He was 8 1/2 years old and he had Down syndrome. I did some internet research that night to get up to speed on raising a child with DS and prayed prayed prayed. I decided that if I still felt that way in the morning that I would ask for more information on him. Well, I still felt that way in the morning, so I asked and W sent me his latest child study. I immediately knew he was my child...even before seeing his picture. It was a bonus that he is so cute! This was on a Friday, so I had all weekend to pray about it while waiting for more info that W had requested from HK. The knowing that Super T was my child just got stronger and stronger.
There is so so much more I could write (2 journals worth!), but to make a long long story short, I had to contact my social worker and convince my home study agency to approve me (against their rules) for a child up to age 10. She also had to include DS as an acceptable special need. I am so thankful for favor (and for the fact that Super T is very tiny and Little Pud is large for her age--he will really be the "little" brother.) By mid-June I had my amendment and new immigration approval and everything was in the court of the HK adoption unit. I was notified that they had officially matched me with Super T on October 8, and now I am waiting for U.S. immigration approval, which I expect to receive this week. I am believing to bring Super T home before Christmas. [He came home Jan. 26, 2010.]
I am learning so much about trusting God, hearing His voice, the value of worship, God's love for the orphans and widows, and so much more. It is not easy, but God's grace sustains me. It is shocking just how much I can love someone I have never met in person. In my heart, he has been my son since May. I could not possibly be more excited about adopting Super T. Sometimes it is hard to sleep at night because I am so excited about him. LOTL and Little Pud are very excited as well, and already consider him their brother.
I really appreciate all the support I have received from my friends and family. People have been so wonderfully supportive! I know adopting an "older" child with Down syndrome is not an easy thing for some people to understand, but I feel wonderfully blessed to be called to do this. Super T is not the one who is benefiting the most...I think I am.