The Adoption Rollercoaster

I was warned adoption is not for the faint-hearted.  I didn't expect to become emotionally invested in so many children. Here's a rundown of the rollercoaster of emotions that I rode this past weekend.

While browsing a chat forum for China adoptions, I link to a blog on which the blogger advocates for waiting children in China.  I learn that once the children turn 14, they are no longer eligible to be adopted. They spend their remaining teen years helping out at their orphanage or being thrown out into the real world without family, support, or education to thrive.

I click from that blog to an agency's blog which highlights specific children that are waiting for their "forever" families. I read about a particular 11-year-old who was abandoned at an older age. She is considered "Special Needs" because of her age, but she is completely healthy. Her profile states that she's good at short distance running, gentle, polite, poised, and loves helping with the younger kids.  The blog can't show pictures of their faces, but a candid shot shows her wearing a lei as a crown at a luau party thrown by visiting staff of the adoption agency. So creative. She wants very much to be adopted and knows her time is short.

My heart aches. I long for her to experience Love. Family. Stability. Security. God's grace. I want her to reach her potential. I want her to know she has a special place and purpose in this lonely world.  
I want her to find a home.

I can't get this sweet girl off my mind. I tell Scott all about her and show him her profile.  We discuss how impossible it would be to take in an 11-year-old. We have no idea how to parent a child of that age. We're just getting started!
We pray for this girl. I shed tears for this girl. 

In my head, I start trying to make it work. Yes, I am only 30, and Scott is 35. It would be as if I had a child at 18 or 19.  I jokingly tell Scott that she and I could be like the "Gilmore Girls!" They had such a great relationship! Lorelai and Rory....this darling girl and I could be mom and daughter...best friends. (He warned me not to expect the fast-paced witty bantering of the Gilmore Girls given that she would just be starting to learn English!) :)  We decided to email the agency and request the password to access pictures and more info about this girl.

I lay awake until midnight, working through the details of having an 11-year-old. What would life look like? How would things change? Wouldn't Carter love having an older sister? Wouldn't she love to have a little brother? She'd probably love helping out. I could send her a Pottery Barn catalog so she can pick out her bedding!  We could shop for new clothes. What are the fashions for preteens right now??

I go to sleep thinking that I don't just want to find her a home.  I want her to find her home with us.

We discuss her throughout the day but always in a hypothetical sense. Scott doesn't realize (or maybe he does) how deeply I am considering this step. Can't we adopt her and then try to have a baby soon? Then we could go back to China in the next few years to adopt a little one? 

I ask questions and do research throughout the day. My parents surprisingly think it might be a good idea. Really??? My close friend encourages me that we could do it. My cousin (who has an 11-year-old) and older friend (also with older kids) assure me that support would be there. After all, even if you have a child from birth. you still don't know what you're doing when they get to their preteen and teen years! I expect everyone to tell me we're crazy.  Instead, they affirm our desires and strengths.

I check my email constantly even though I figure the agency won't return emails until Monday.

I sit in church, praying that God will direct our path.  I start to panic. What if this really is what God is calling us to do right now? I still want a baby girl from China. I start arguing with God. I rest in the comfort that if God wants us to do this, He'll have to change Scott's heart. I start to fear that He will.  When it was just my desire and idea, it seemed okay.  Now I realize how far out of our comfort zones this adoption of an older child would take us.

Scott and I discuss our concerns. How does the language barrier affect bonding? How do older children respond and adapt to a completely new culture? How would we assimilate her into school? 

When we get home from church, I check the China chat forum and see that someone has started a thread about adopting older kids. The answers to our questions are there, coming from families who've gone before us. Their experiences are hopeful and encouraging. My heart quickens. My faith strengthens. I realize I've fallen in love with this girl. And I've never even seen her face.

I check my inbox every 10 minutes. The email comes. I've got the password. I log onto the site. I see her pictures...her face. She's beautiful.

I call Scott. We talk. We pray. We don't know what to do. This random suggestion of mine has suddenly turned into a serious decision. We can't decide anything more without seeing her file. I email the social worker and request her file, butterflies swarming in my stomach. The social worker responds....her file is being reviewed already by another family, but she has put us on the list.  Are we next? No. There are two more families before us. There's chance we could still end up seeing her file. But I can't imagine anyone turning her down. 

My heart sinks. Ultimately, I just want her to have a family. And don't I want a baby girl? I expect relief. But I feel disappointment.

How did this happen? How did I become so emotionally invested in the life of an 11-year-old girl in just 3 days? My heart rejoices because families want this sweet and beautiful child.  I remind myself of God's providence. Maybe God is showing us that, in time, we are to adopt an older child too. And Virginia Grace still awaits us if we can just find her.

What I have discovered in the last few days is that my desire to adopt has grown to a burden for orphans throughout China and throughout the world.  Scott reminded me that lots of kids needs parents, and we can't adopt all of them. But I hope that by adopting one or two, we will at least educate and inspire a few more families to consider traveling this journey too.  Yes, it's quite a ride. But I know every second will be worth it. Not just to us, but to the children who will find the love they search for. 

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Lindsey said...

A roller coaster for sure. Thanks so much for sharing. Continuous prayers for the entire Brown family as the journey continues.

Andrea Young said...

Oh sweet friend. You have the most BEAUTIFUL HEART. I just treasure this post and have tears in my eyes!!! I can identify with this roller coaster all too well...mainly b/c this VERY thing happened to us. I fell in LOVE with a special needs Chinese boy and got his info, pictures...everything. When we finally started to really persue him just days later--we got the news another family did just before us and he was matched. HE HAS A FAMILY NOW! My heart ached and rejoiced all at the same time. I love your heart...your openness for the orphans of the world...and your desire to be open to ANY circumstance. God will honor this Kelley!!! What a beautiful, beautiful heart you have.

Ericka B. Jackson said...

Oh Kelley- I wish we lived closer and could spend more time together! I LOVE YOUR HEART! Tears in my eyes as I read this...I can't help but get 'emotionally involved' with every child I read about through our organization and meet when I'm overseas. 3 months into our marriage we saw pictures and heard the story of a 6 month old orphan in Swaziland, Africa. She only weighed 4 lbs and had NO ONE in the world. I cried for days and even asked Rusty if we could go get her (terrifying as the thought was with us as newlyweds and in NO WAY prepared for children!)

It is such a painful yet beautiful thing when God gives you a heart for orphans. I had someone pray over me once that I would be a 'mother to many'. I have to believe that the work I am doing now WILL provide the love and care so many children desperately need...but it's so hard not to want to bring them ALL home with me!!!

Ericka B. Jackson said...

ps- I love love love Girlmore Girls too! haha! :)

Carla said...

Oh wow...yes, this is all so true. I too went through so many emotions this time, thinking about all the possibilities of children who could enter our lives, only to be told they were matched when I called about them. God was leading us to our little Sarah.