Friday, November 29, 2013

More Jia In Our Lives

Jia's foster care organization has a Facebook page that I follow.  They often post pictures of the kids that they care for.  One day I saw a picture and thought, that looks a lot like Jia.  Then I looked a little bit closer and thought, that IS Jia, just not a picture that I've ever seen of him.  I clicked on it and it took me to THIS PAGE, where Jia was featured for Preemie Month.  It was like an early Christmas getting to see so many new pictures of our sweet little guy! 


HERE is a link to our only video of him.  

We've had a lot on our plate in November, I'm not just talking about our Thanksgiving dinner plates either.  Of course working on the adoption has been a lot.  Our FBI background check is taking much longer than expected and some of our paperwork has had to be redone because our home study agency and adoption agency have different expectations. We also had our tenants move out of our rental.  We've been hoping the rental would sell to help finance our adoption... but no such luck.  We had a very hard time finding new tenants because November/December is NOT the time of year that most people are moving.  (Also not the time of year we want to be paying two mortgages) After significantly lowering the rent we were able to find a family to rent it.  We've also had our daughter, Kaitlyn's, baptism to prepare for.  And the lack of white dress shoes in November is aggravating to say the least.  Altogether, it's been a pretty stressful month.  

Last week we had to see the doctor to have physicals exams for our adoption. Through routine blood work they found that I have Hypothyroidism.  So now I have an excuse for how tired and spacey I've been.  When the doctor went over the list of symptoms, I was surprised at how many I have but had just written off as getting older and being busy raising kids.  I've started medication, so maybe I'll be a whole new woman... or not.  

I just think I need more Jia in my life.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jia's 1st Birthday!

[I promise I will eventually work knitting back into my knitting blog, but for now, our adoption is kind of taking over]

Before we were even matched to Jia, I told Ryan I wanted to celebrate his first birthday... 
...just in case we were matched to him.  

Ryan didn't think it was a good idea to let ourselves get too excited... 

...just in case we weren't matched to him.  

Luckily we found out we were matched to him before his birthday so we could celebrate with out worrying about it.  We would have much preferred to have Jia with us to celebrate his 1st birthday, but it was fun to celebrate him all the same.  

 We had Chinese for dinner.  I busted out the bowls I bought in china and everyone attempted to eat with chop sticks.  Some with more success than others.

We sang Happy Birthday and everyone blew out one candle for Jia. 

 Hahahahaha!  Mason and his funny faces!

We love you and miss you Jia!  Can you miss someone you haven't met?  Yes, yes you can.  
Happy Birthday!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Our Adoption Story: The Miracle

After we were told that Luo was being adopted by another family, we were obviously sad.  Interestingly enough, I was also slightly relieved.  I had been wearing down.  Ryan and I were spending all of our time completing paperwork at a record breaking pace.  (Our social worker said she that if there were records for completing paperwork, we were surely breaking them)  I wasn't sleeping at night because my mind was too busy trying to think of any other possible thing that we could do that might somehow help bring Luo home.  Trying to do what everyone says is impossible is completely exhausting.  So I was sad, but slightly relieved, and also confused.  From the first time I saw Luo, I felt sure he was meant to be in our family.  Why did I feel that way if we couldn't bring him home?  And would I feel that strongly about any other child?  And if I did, could I trust myself knowing I had felt that way before and was wrong?

So when Luo was matched with another family we decided to relax a little.  Our new focus was on choosing the right adoption agency.  We struggled with that decision.  Although I had heard great things about them, I didn't really want to go with CCAI, the agency that had originally had Luo's file.  They serve a lot more families than the other agencies I was looking at, meaning a longer wait time to be matched.  And I was also slightly miffed that they matched children with families on a first-come-first-serve basis, rather than with the family that was best suited for the child's needs.  (Obviously- for selfish reasons) There were four other agencies that we were deciding between.  I knew who I wanted to go with, but didn't feel sure enough to turn in the application.  We decided to spend a day fasting and praying that we could make the right decision.  At the end of our fast, we decided we shouldn't count CCAI out, even if I wanted to, so we put them back on the list.  Then I decided to email them one last time to be absolutely sure Luo was going home with that other family. 

The next day was the day that we got Timothy's file, the cute little guy that we knew wasn't ours.  That same day I also got a response from CCAI telling me that the family that was going to adopt Luo BACKED OUT!  That rarely happens.  Not only that, CCAI was able to get his file back!  Still, we were told that there were others who needed to see his file before us and if none of those families decided to move forward, we would get to see Luo's file.  On top of that, there was still the problem of getting our dossier done fast enough to even be eligible to be matched with Luo.  But we finally felt at peace with signing with CCAI, even knowing that being matched with Luo was a long shot.  So we signed with them.  The next day I got another email that completely blew me away.  Luo's file was changed to "Special Focus"... meaning a family could lock his file without having their dossier complete.  That was HUGE!  I did a happy dance and felt like doors were being opened.  We knew CCAI has a lot of families waiting for children, so we assumed it would take a month or two before we would get the chance to see Luo's file, and that was only if every one of the families ahead of us decided to pass on his file.  Unlikely, but still, it made being matched with Luo more of a possibility than it had ever been before.

Then, only two days after we officially applied with CCAI, I got the phone call of my lifetime.  Pam, from CCAI, called to let me know that somehow Luo's file didn't fit with anyone else's Medical Needs List and we were next to get his file.  I started sobbing right there on the phone.  I could not believe it.  I told Pam that of course we wanted Luo's file and called Ryan who was shocked as well.  We got Luo's file.  There were lots of new pictures, and even a short video.  I was all amazement and gratitude while I looked though everything.  We have submitted everything we need to in order to lock his file, received our pre-approval, and everything from here on out should just be hoop jumping.  Luo, well actually we found out that Luo is his last name, his first name is Jia- Luo Min Jia- is going to be our son!   

And now pictures.... the agency said they have never seen a file with so many pictures:

Jia was tiny.  He weighed less than 3 lbs when he was brought to the orphanage.  Such a fighter.

 Oh my gosh, isn't he so stinking cute?  I'm so grateful he will be a part of our family. I can't wait to bring him home!!!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Our Adoption Story: The Process

I have to say that, in so many ways, the process of adopting has been much more heart wrenching that I had anticipated. 

Because of how big a problem human trafficking was becoming, China has pretty well limited international adoptions to special needs only.  I think that was a smart move on China's part and are happy to adopt special needs because those kids really do need homes.  One of the first steps we had to take was to fill out a Medical Needs Form.  It's basically pages of medical conditions, most we've never heard of, that we had to check "yes" or "no" to.  First we had to look up what each condition was, then go through and decide what we were willing to take on.  But thinking about your future child, and going through a list like that is hard!  Would you really want to say no to a child just because they are missing a leg?  Or have dextrocardia?  Or are an albino?  If we had a biological child with any of those conditions, we wouldn't turn them away.  So the first time through the list we starting checking "yes" to a lot of things... but then we remembered that we have four other kids to think about, and we knew we didn't want this adoption to have a negative impact on them... so we started unchecking some conditions, like albinism... we are outdoors people, and you have to keep albinos out of the sun... that would drastically change how we spend time together as a family.   We've gone back and forth on some conditions several times.  It's just so hard knowing that there are kids with these medical needs that need a home, all while trying to be realistic about what is best for your family.  It's heart wrenching to know that a good number of the kids with the most severe problems will never have a family.

When we were told that a family had decided to move forward with Luo's adoption, we were sad.  We were told so many times that it would be a miracle if we got him, so we weren't surprised when we didn't, but it's hard to feel so strongly about a child, and then have to forget about him and start thinking if not him, who?  We did start looking at other children's photo-listings.  There have been a few that have made their way into our hearts.  The first was a boy named George with clubbed feet.  Something about his picture drew me to him.  He was listed with an agency that we weren't interested in working with, but Ryan and I both liked George.  A few days ago his picture was moved to the "Angels" page.  Meaning, he had passed away.  Apparently George also had a heart condition that we didn't know about.  Sweet little George, whose picture we had gone back to, over and over, died without a family of his own to mourn for him.  Heart wrenching


Then there was Timothy.  His pleasant/mischievous/happy smile completely won us over.  Ryan was especially taken with Timothy.  But information on Timothy was limited to a few photos, a 16 second video of him playing peek-a-boo, and a reference to the fact that a second CT scan was not needed.  What the first CT scan was for, we didn't know.  We requested more information, but the woman in charge of his file was in China and we had to wait for her to get home.  The days we had to wait for his file, Ryan and I watched those 16 seconds of peek-a-boo over and over with silly smiles on our faces wondering if Lou doesn't get to be ours, could Timothy possibly be?  When we finally got his file and read through it, we knew right away that Timothy's needs would probably exceed our current abilities.  We knew it wasn't right (heart wrenching), but we will always remember and love darling Timothy and pray that another family will love him and adore him too.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Our Adoption Story: Telling The Kids

We are still moving along in the adoption process.  Because everything takes so loooooong and we really didn't know for sure who we were going to adopt, we decided to hold off a while on telling the kids.  But Ryan and I had to be fingerprinted at the police station so we could have FBI background checks done.  I was able to go with just our youngest, Mason, while all of the other kids were in school, but in a time crunch, Ryan ended up having to take the three older kids with him because it was on the way to his parent's Halloween party and I was home with a throwing up Mason.  The police officer doing Ryan's prints saw on the paperwork that the prints were for an adoption.  He said something like, "Adoption, huh?" and Ryan tried to quickly signal to him to shut it.  But Maddie's ears are always listening and she started asking questions.  You would think that her Dad getting fingerprinted at a police station might have had her wondering too.  When Ryan got back to the car, he called me and told me what had happened and asked if he should just tell the kids.  I told him he had to wait.  I wanted to be there!  So he told Maddie that they would talk about it later, and it wasn't until the next day that we had time to sit down with the kids to tell them we are adopting. 

9 year old Maddie's reaction:
"YES!" -fist pumps-  Maddie couldn't be happier.  She's made it no secret that she would love for me to have a dozen kids.  Then she let it spill that she knew she had heard the police officer say "adoption", but she wasn't sure if we were adopting someone, or putting one of our kids up for adoption.  What?!  The poor kid had that on her mind for a whole day. 

7 year old Kaitlyn's reaction: 
Tears.  Not happy ones.  I was really surprised by Kate's reaction.  I thought she would be as thrilled as Maddie.  She too has requested more siblings.  Every time the girls have asked if we could have another baby, I've told them, "Nope, our family is perfect the way it is".  I had probably said it enough times that Kaitlyn was confused by my sudden reversal.   Also, I think she was in shock.  And honestly, she had just slept over at Grandma and Grandpa's house with her cousins and was extra tired.  Really bad timing on our part.  Since then, Kaitlyn has told me that she's okay with the adoption, still not excited, but okay.

5 year old Enoch's reaction: 
Huge smiles.  He was really, really happy. 

3 year old Mason's reaction:
...okay Mason didn't have a reaction.  He doesn't comprehend what's going on and that he will soon be loosing his position as baby of the family.  If he did understand, he might have reacted a little bit more like Kaitlyn.  He loves his being the baby.

I wish we hadn't felt so rushed to tell the kids so we could have told them in a better way, but I'm glad they know now.  It gives us something to look forward to together.  The kids all pray that the adoption can work out and we can find the child that is supposed to be a part of our family.  And speaking of "that child"... we found out that it won't be Luo.  He was matched with another family.  Then we were told that the family might not move forward...  and then we were told it's a done deal.  It has been a bit of a roller coaster, but we've felt at peace the entire time that whatever happens, the right child will be coming home with us.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Big News: We're Adopting!

I'm back to having very little time for knitting and I thought I'd explain why.  My husband and I have decided to adopt a child from China.  The story is continually evolving, but I thought I'd start from the beginning:

Well, actually I don't think our adoption story has an actual beginning point.  The "beginning" was really just a compilation of experiences, thoughts, and impressions that seem to have been preparing us for what was meant to be.  There was the time when I was in China, visiting a local hotel for their delicious American breakfast, and saw a large group of adoptive families that were there meeting their beautiful new family additions for the first time.  I know that made a impression on me, but I definitely didn't think, "That will be me someday".  There was also a dream in which we adopted a child.  I can't remember all of the specifics of the dream, just the feeling it left me with.  The overwhelming feeling of how good it would be to give love to someone who otherwise might not have it.  That dream has stayed with me.  Often, when hearing of other people's adoption or foster care stories, I've felt a little tug on my heart.  My husband, Ryan, and I have occasionally talked about the possibility of adopting or providing foster care, but it was always just a maybe... and far, far away, in the distant future... if the right opportunity were to present itself.  Because honestly, we're very comfortable with the size of our family right now.
But on October 8th, after the kids were all in bed, I was looking through my Russell-Silver Syndrome parent group and saw this message from a Russell-Silver parent who now does all of Dr. Harbison's screenings for her now:

Is anyone interested in adding an adorable little Chinese RSS 11mo-old boy to your family? I recently did an evaluation on a little boy that I think is so cute, so alert, so bright, and absolutely adorable. At 50 years old, adding a one-year-old to my family is (contrary to my daughter's wishes) impossible.... His name is Luo.
Luo was found abandoned several days after birth on a bridge in China in winter. Luck was on his side, because he was immediately brought to a center that hospitalized him due to concerns about his "large head." Testing of course ruled out any problems, and here is where his luck continued. He was placed with an American foster family in China.... who had experience with RSS through a prior child.... and self-diagnosed him....The first possible adoptive family is the one that contacted me, but they don't feel they can handle a child with medical needs. So I am reaching out to any of you. You all know RSS and that is isn't as "horrible" as people who are inexperienced think. Would any of you consider adding Luo to your family?

This time I didn't feel a little tug.  My heart jumped.  I told Ryan he needed to come see something.  I couldn't even explain to him what I was thinking or feeling, I just sobbed.  When I was able to regain my composure, I was able to tell him that I thought we needed to try to adopt little Luo.  Ryan was just about to leave to play basketball and said he would think about it.  When he got home, he let me know that he also felt that we needed to look into it.  

The next day I was on the phone with the adoption agency trying to find out if it would even be a possibility.  Guess what?  Adopting a baby internationally isn't nearly as easy as wanting to adopt a baby internationally is.  We do actually meet all of the qualifications.  Unfortunately for us though, Luo's file is categorized as "LID-only", meaning only families that have already completed their dossier (paperwork sent to China) can be matched to him.  Also, the agency can only keep his file for 90 days before it goes back to the CCCWA (Chinese adoption office) where it will most likely be reassigned to another agency.  His 90 days were almost up and I was told that once his file moved on, we'd have a very hard time tracking Luo.  And chances are, he would be adopted before we could possibly get our dossier to China. (It takes about 6 months) Basically, it would be nearly impossible to pull off.  

Ryan and I had a ginormous decision to make. Were we ready to invest our time, money (lots of it) and efforts into the adoption process even if we might not be able to adopt sweet Luo?  We agreed that we couldn't deny the feeling that we should move forward.  So we've been working like mad to get all of our paperwork started (piles, heaps, mountains of paperwork!)  We've started our homestudy (where a social worker comes to visit us a bunch of times to see if we're fit parents)  I reached out to multiple people, including former Governor Huntsman (he was the US Ambassador to China and has adopted out of China) to see if they, or any one of their contacts, might know how to petition for a change in Luo's file's status, which would allow us to be matched to him without having ALL of the paperwork complete.  We didn't receive any responses, by the way.  But we decided to give it 110% of our efforts, and if Luo was adopted to another family, we would be slightly heartbroken, but happy that Luo would have a home and family.  We also realize that he may have just been the catalyst to make us finally pay attention to the thoughts we have had about adoption.  Either way, we are commited to adopt, a special needs child from China, in the very near future.

Stay tuned for Part Two: Telling the Kids