A year ago our faith-based journey became a reality as we sat in the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China with our “pseudo” twins: two children who are not biologically related, but are within nine months of age and are raised together.
This is the story of how we became their parents, a story of simple faith that began with an email.
Early in our adoption process we made contact with Amanda de Lange, founder of the Starfish Foster Home in Xian, China, and a truly remarkable individual. Amanda explained the adoption process mandated by the Chinese government and recommended a few International Adoption Agencies for our consideration. After our initial contact, we then began to receive email updates about her orphans, documenting their young lives, their individual challenges and amazing achievements.
One such email contained pictures of a girl and boy (below), two beautiful children stricken with spina bifida and abandoned at birth. Their story took a hopeful turn as the Starfish Foster Home had secured approval for them to receive much needed surgeries in Hong Kong.
Their images were pasted on my laptop screen. I researched spina bifida and contacted our adoption agency to see if we could request specific babies.
I was told no.
I have witnessed miracles. If these two babies were to be ours, I was confident that they would be.
As we were nearing the completion of our written home study report, our social worker asked if we wanted the document to reflect a desire to adopt one child or multiple children. Being novices, we hadn’t realized the necessity to specify, yet with these babies in mind, we agreed to consider adopting more than one child.
To say that the international adoption process is arduous is an understatement. It required months of preparation and documentation—physicals, blood work, finger prints, back ground checks, educational courses, and mountains and mountains of paperwork.
These Starfish babies fell off my screen and, honestly, out of my mind by the time we were finally approved by the Chinese authorities to be “matched” seven months into the process.
With this conditional approval, our adoption agency began sending files for individual children, based on criteria we had given. Our role was to review the dossiers and agree to accept or deny their “match.”
The first file described a 4-year-old little girl with a congenital heart defect that had been surgically corrected. We were given 48 hours to make our decision.
These files are heart wrenching and to send this one back with a “no” was a decision fraught with tears.
Our next file was a little boy (pictured below), Jin Meinan.
To back up a bit, China has a “master” list of thousands of special needs children who need placement. Every 6-8 weeks they update their lists with “new” children and most placements come from these new additions. Jin Meinan had been on the master list for several months without successful placement. We had a week to accept or reject.
His file read “estimated birthdate October 28, 2010; complicated congenital heart defect.” We had cardiologists from highly respected hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio and Tianjin, China review his limited file, and their feedback was less than encouraging – even bleak.
Within our allotted week, I “happened” to shake the hand of an older Asian-American gentleman whom I met for the first time, a distinct impression came to my mind “this is your son.” If Jin Meinan was to be our son, faith was required. This experience brought an assurance that we would be privileged to raise him to adulthood. We returned his file with a YES!
Now came more paperwork, more appointments, and more waiting. The waiting is difficult. We knew he was ours and just wanted to bring him home; we were powerless.
A few weeks passed and our agency inquired, “Your home study states you are open to multiple children – is this still the case?” Again…months had passed, and the darling babies had left my memory. C and I happened to be together, so I was able to call them back in a few moments with a “yes, we are open to consider more files.”
In just a few days, we received a file with a requested 24-hour turnaround. The document read Dang Guonan: “estimated birthdate October 25, 2010; giant facial hairy nevus.”
The time table threw us: 24 HOURS! My mind raced; could we do it? The two children were only days apart in age; it would be like raising twins. But twins at the end of four kids already? Meinan will potentially need surgeries and lots of time in the hospital; can we realistically manage this?
Amid the doubt, the continued thought was “they need each other – and we need them.” Faith prevailed. We were matched with Dang Guonan, our daughter. If you’re wondering…YES there were added mountains of paperwork. And YES our waiting restarted.
Faith is a step into the dark with a desire that the light will immediately come on. I wish I could say relief was immediate after accepting Guonan. It did come, days later, as I put her picture with Meinan’s picture on my laptop screen and my mind went immediately to the pictures of those two sweet babies with spina bifida – a girl and boy. We had been prepared early on in the process, only to have forgotten near the end. I am grateful for the individuals and experiences – small miracles – along the pathway to adoption and for the simple faith that brought our “pseudo” twins into our lives.