Thursday, April 15, 2010

Our Adoption Story

In light of recent news regarding the negatives of international adoption, I feel compelled to share our story. So here goes:

After the birth of our third child in 2003, we decided that our family was complete. We were content and didn't plan to have any more children; however, God had other plans. During the summer of 2006 we begin to think about adding to our family. We felt that it was not complete after all. We discussed adoption, and we prayed for God's guidance in this area. We both felt a tugging towards adoption, but we wanted to make sure that was the right path for our family. We felt that God was confirming this to us, but we were still unsure. We were looking for some sort of "big" sign. We got exactly that when we attended Winter Jam in 2007 in Mobile. It was our first time to attend a Winter Jam concert, so imagine our surprise when we discovered that it was sponsored by Holt International. As a video presentation of orphanages in China was played, we watched as tears rolled down our cheeks. When it was over, we looked at each other and said, "We're adopting. We're going to China." We had no doubts then, and , even if we had, they would have been erased as later on that evening we watched a performance by Steven Curtis Chapman. There was a clear cut answer for us that night. We requested an application packet from Holt the next week.
Like most people, we experienced both miracles and challenges during our adoption journey. We encountered both support and criticism from friends and family. We just forged ahead and claimed 2 Corinthians 5:7 as our adoption verse. It states, "For we walk by faith, not by sight." That verse came to mean so much to us during both the joyful and difficult times of our adoption journey. We started out in the standard process, but then we switched to the Child of Promise option. After only a few weeks in the Child of Promise program, we received a referral on March 27, 2009, for a beautiful little girl by the name of Shang Nan. She was listed as having vision problems. We read over the information and looked at her pictures, and we knew that she was the one. We fell in love with her instantly. The waiting became even harder as we now had an actual little girl matched with us! We watched as those ahead of us in the journey met the next milestone, and we drove each other crazy trying to estimate when we would receive our LOA, then our TA. We had to redo some of our paperwork, and we actually had to redo one form five times! Many nights we were up until midnight or later filling out forms. The paperwork was overwhelming at times, but we managed to get it all done. We were also concerned about the financial aspect of adopting, but our church family and other friends gave graciously to help support us. We also saved and budgeted, but we give God all the glory for providing the means for this journey.
Finally, on November 20, 2009, we received our TA. Words cannot express the excitement and joy that we felt at that moment. It was almost time to go get our little Shang Nan! We were headed to China. We left the United States on December 3. As our plane left Newark, we fought back tears of joy as it sunk in that the next time our feet touched the ground, we'd be in China. We met our daughter on December 7. We embraced her, but she stiffened her back and arched her head. She didn't settle in with us immediately. It was hard at first because we worried that she would never be comfortable with us or love us. Then, after two days with us, she really began to blossom. She let us hold her and rock her. She started smiling and laughing with us. We had so much fun in China with our precious little one, who now goes by the name of Rinnah Shangnan.
Rinnah Shangnan is doing very well now. She's had an eye examination, and it was confirmed that she is completely blind in her right eye. She has some vision in her left eye, but it is poor. She is wearing glasses now, and we can tell that using them is definitely helping her. We won't know exactly how much she can see in the left eye until she gets older and can communicate better. She is trying to stand up now, and she even does somersaults! She is a good-natured and happy little girl. She does not sleep all night yet, which can make for a very sleepy mommy and daddy most days. She loves her big brothers and her big sister. She likes to sit with them, and they love to make her laugh. Before we met Rinnah Shangnan, we anticipated that attachment would be her biggest challenge; however, she has attached and bonded remarkably well. Now our biggest challenge is helping her with the vision problem and developmental delays. She has regularly scheduled appointments with a vision therapist, as well as both a physical and an occupational therapist. Rinnah Shangnan has made a great deal of progress already, but we've still got a long way to go.
To those of you in process now, just remember that waiting provides you the opportunity to grow and to prepare for the changes and the challenges ahead. Even then, you will experience surprises along the way. Some things you just can't prepare for. We weren't prepared to make it to China two days before our luggage did. We weren't prepared for the mixture of joy and fear we felt upon first holding our daughter. We weren't prepared for the waiting to take so long, yet pass by so quickly. Sounds strange, I know, especially to those of you waiting now. Honestly, though, when you hold your child for the first time, the difficulty of waiting just fades away. The love that you feel is indescribable. We are so blessed to have Rinnah Shangan in our family, and we continue our journey - walking by faith each day.


Rita and John said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for sharing it. You are so blessed to have Rinnah in your life. I can't believe she's doing somersaults! What an amazing little girl she is.

Butterfly said...

What a beautiful story! Thank you for sharing! Blessings to you and your family.

redkitchen said...

:) We have been incredibly blessed by Rinnah. This story will be published in an upcoming Holt publication. We are honored to share our story with the world.

Symasek Family Circus said...

What sweet words of encouragement! Our kids still talk about the fun time they had with Hope and Joshua. Hope you guys are doing well!!

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