I’ve been avoiding this. I knew when I publicly announced our desire to adopt that this could happen but of course I hoped it wouldn’t. I pride myself in being a very open and honest person but sometimes I need to protect my heart. So, I’ve waited to share this. I think, I hope, you’ll understand why.
Two weeks ago, in the midst of painting every last square inch of every nook and cranny of our new home, I got a call. At first I thought I had accidentally called CCAI. I saw my phone trying to connect to our Chinese adoption agency and thought, “Oops,” then promptly hung-up. Back to painting. Thirty seconds later, CCAI showed-up on my phone screen again.
“Great,” I thought, “They’re checking-in because we haven’t done much for our home study since we bought the house.”
“Hello, this is Jaclyn” I answered hesitantly.
“Hello!” The voice on the other end rang with the most joyous of tones, “Jaclyn, I am calling with CCAI’s waiting child program! Is this a good time?”
My heart took a leap. Could this be it?? THE call?? No way. It’s way too early.
“Um, sure” I said while putting down a dripping roller of paint.
“Well, Jaclyn, I have some very exciting news for you! We think we have found a match for your family!”
Heart is leaping, tears are coming, anxiety is through the roof, confusion spinning, joy abounding.
“Wha..?! Wow! Oh my gosh! Really??” I sit down.
“Yes. His name is (can’t share for security reasons) which means (something lovely like peace and wisdom) and get this… He is EXACTLY two days younger than Luca!”
Ok, now I’m freaking-out. Ok, so it’s a boy. Oh man, he’s only two days younger?? Is that good? Is that crazy? What a wonderful coincidence! Is it??
“Wow!” Is all I can reply.
“Yes, now I know you wanted someone younger than him but you also said you’d be open to someone the same age so I thought we’d see what you think.”
“Yes, yes, ok.” My head is still spinning.
She gives me more information about where he is residing. She says he is in a foster home and seems to be very happy there. Then she gives me the diagnosis. There are multiple.
My heart sinks.
I had totally forgotten for a moment that our precious one would have a medical issue. That’s what we signed-up for.
“Now,” she instructs,”We highly recommend that you share his medical file, which I will send you shortly, with a cardiologist. I will also send you all of his updates, photos, and videos. We have to return his file to China in 7 days so please let me know as soon as you can what you have decided.”
We hang-up. My hands are shaking. I immediately call Caleb and he is super freaked-out. The timing seems all wrong. We’re knee-deep in renovations. We JUST bought a house.
I call CCAI back and ask what a realistic travel date would be, given that we haven’t even finished our home study. It seems that we would have about 8-12 months of waiting before we could go get our little boy. A mixture of disappointment and relief wash over me.
I let Caleb know and we think, ok, maybe we can do this! I was still nervous about the “twinning” thing but you better believe I was googling and reaching-out to other parents like mad! That night, I asked Caleb right before bed, “Do you think he is our son?” “Probably, ” he responded happily. I smiled and fell asleep with dreams of bunk-beds, twin Halloween costumes, and matching lunch pails in my head.
While we were contemplating and dreaming, a cardiologist- a friend of a friend- was looking over our little guy’s file. He called us two days after we received the referral but it felt like weeks had passed.
He started by asking us what our expectations were. We responded that we willingly signed-up for the special needs program and we expected that our lives would be changed somewhat by this decision. I jokingly said that I was perfectly fine with having a son who couldn’t play football. The doctor was kind. He informed us that this situation was beyond a life style change, this situation was dire.
I can’t quite remember all of the terms he used, but I can tell you that as he spoke, a dark cloud surrounded me. I became increasingly aware that we weren’t looking at an adoption, we were looking at being hospice. We both felt completely blind-sighted.
It turns out, adoption agencies aren’t always aware of the level of medical severity that a child may be facing. In addition, when we said we’d be willing to take on a child with a “major heart condition” we didn’t realize that we could be looking at a fatal condition. This was so unexpected, so agonizing.
That is the perfect word, we sat in agony for days. We wrestled with our conscience and our expectations. We cried out to God and lamented. Was this our calling? Was this for us?
We received more opinions and they were still dire. It seemed there was a chance that this little guy wouldn’t even make it by the time we could get him. Even if he did, I struggled with the thought of taking him from his foster family, whom he seems so happy with, to bring him here with only a short time to live. It seemed cruel in so many ways.
Ultimately, with broken-hearts, we told CCAI that we would not accept the referral. They were incredibly gracious and understanding. They thanked us for all of the hard work that we had put into the process of making this decision. Their kindness didn’t make either of us feel any better about the situation.
* * *
Now, weeks later, it still hurts. God has given me a peace that we made the right decision for that little boy and for our family but I’m still sad. It’s funny how we think that sadness must mean something is wrong. Well, something is wrong, there’s a little boy in China who is going to die from a congenital heart condition and there’s nothing anyone can do. That’s what I’m sad about.
I’m also sad about the loss of a dream. I had gotten so excited, admittedly nervous too, about having “twins.” I had fallen in love with his little photo and watched his videos multiple times a day. I was preparing to be his Mama. My heart broke when I realized this would never happen.
We’re contemplating where to go from here. This experience has made an international special needs adoption much more real to us. We don’t feel specifically called to international adoption, I just felt passionately about what was happening in China. We do however, feel called to adoption. Specifically, as Caleb puts it, we feel called to help “the least of these.” (Matt 25:40) We want to help a child in need and we want to grow our family. It would be nice if this was relatively soon so that we could still have another biological child later if we wanted to. China’s non-special needs program has a 7 year wait time currently. Obviously, that won’t work.
So, we’ve been exploring other options. Like: FosAdopt. Unfortunately, we’ve learned that we’d have to be willing to adopt out of birth order for us to adopt a child who has already been through reunification efforts with their birth parents. In other words, if we want to adopt from foster care without being foster parents first (which we do because the reunification efforts can be extremely long and stressful) then we would get a child older than Luca. We feel very strongly about maintaining the birth order in our family so that option is out.
At this point, I’m feeling frustrated and somewhat hopeless. The dark cloud that emerged a couple of weeks ago while talking with the cardiologist is still lingering. It’s not as dark but it’s still there. I know cognitively that when God calls us to something, He will see it through in HIS time. I just need my heart to trust that. I am praying for patience and peace on a daily basis. He certainly has been providing. I have been enjoying Luca now more than ever. I am so thankful for our son.
Thank you all for your support. Unkind comments will be deleted, my heart can’t take that right now. Prayers much appreciated as always.