Your blog comments and emails have meant the world to us. We never imagined that family and friends would celebrate with us in such a heartfelt manner. Thank you for making this journey even more special for us and for our entire family.
I will try to update often with little tidbits because several of you have shared your interest in adoption. Hopefully this will give you some insight and perhaps even lead you to adoption as well. Feel free to email me at any time with questions!
Now on to some FAQ:
What is her special need?
Virginia Grace had a mature teratoma (basically a benign tumor) removed from her tongue several months ago. She will need speech therapy, but her need is presumed to be very minor and manageable.
Why doesn't she have any hair?
It's easier for caretakers to care for and clean the children when their heads have been shaved. It's also hot there. I am really hoping they will let her hair grow at least a month before we pick her up. I mean, I have BOWS!!! Yippee!!! :)
Why does it take so long to pick her up?
Red tape. Government. Get the picture? It takes time for the adoption office in China to process paper work, review our dossier, set travel dates, etc. Here are the steps we're waiting on:
PA: Pre Approval (This could come tomorrow or a month from now. My friend Emily just got her PA for Lia Kate yesterday after only 5 days!!! I hope we follow that pattern!)
LOA: Letter of Approval (This is the approval you receive after they review your dossier. It typically takes 3 months. Ugh.)
TA: Travel Approval (This is the last step, allowing you to start booking airfare! This can take 2 months.)
Gotcha Day: The day we finally hold Virginia Grace in our arms. (This is a term used in adoption circles.)
Now, you would think there's a system to all these approvals (as there is a definite waiting list for healthy children), but the time between each step differs so much for each family. We have some friends that are traveling in a few weeks after waiting only 3 months total! Amazing. So, please don't think your prayers for our process are in vain... we're praying for favor and expediency! :) It's apparently happening for some!
How far apart in age will our two kiddos be?
Ten months. (Ahem...did I hear snickering??)
When did we start the adoption process?
We began in October of 2008. Both parents have to be 30 to adopt from China...otherwise we probably would have started the process several years ago. You can read more about the story here.
Why did we switch to special needs?
We changed plans in early September...read about it here.
Is the process easy?
No. Every time we reviewed a file (and had to turn it down), we felt like we left a piece of our heart with each child. I was extremely attached to a baby girl last week who had a very severe need. I am not sure what details I am allowed to share, but let's just say that one of her limbs was completely limp and unable to function. She would need countless surgeries (if doctors decided the surgeries would help), occupational therapy, physical therapy, etc. At first I wasn't sure about it all. There went my dreams of my daughter dancing, playing sports, playing piano. I shattered the (unrealistic) shield and expectation of perfection for our children, and I discovered that I didn't feel the urge to cling to "normalcy" as I would have felt the day before. I began to fall in love with her and realized that at least we could give her a better quality of life. We would deal with her need. We would adjust. Scott felt that the demands of such a severe need might be too hard to handle with another toddler in the family.
With tears and restrained panic, I submitted to my husband's decision and we released her file. Thinking we had to wait another month (or two or three) to be matched with another file, I was beside myself. Scott kept feeling like God was telling us to wait. I didn't want to wait. But God wasn't asking us to wait months, or even weeks. He was telling us to wait just hours.
The next morning, we received Virginia Grace's file. I wasn't sure I was ready to look at another file, but Scott immediately felt she was the one. I grieved that day for the other child, but as I stared at Virginia Grace's pictures and read about her personality and need, I began to feel a strong connection to her. I fell in love with her sweet face and her contagious smile. I began to believe she was indeed the child meant for us. God put Scott and me on the same page, and we rejoiced in His sovereignty and faithfulness. (and I rejoiced in Scott's wisdom and discernment!) We were also happy to hear that the other child's file was already being reviewed by another family.
So no, the process isn't easy. It's very emotional. It's time consuming. And yet the decision must be made in 24-36 hours. It's nerve-wracking. It's unpredictable.
But it's worth it.
Virginia Grace is worth it.
And every child who needs a home is worth it.