Sunday, March 16, 2014

12 and 14

Today was a very special day.  We celebrated Maizie's 12th birthday (a couple of days early) and gave all the kids a present they'll never forget: news of #14.

12 candles!  Is it possible?!

Cutting the cake.  It's pink!  What could that mean?
We told the kids that they were going to be big siblings again (except Beck, who's a first-timer!) and asked them to guess whether they would have a brother or sister.  They were split about down the middle, but one guess what the boys were hoping for!  ;)

The first glimpse
When Maizie opened up her first present, she thought at first that she was looking at old pictures of Thalia, but nope!  That's not Thalia!  :)  The kids were all screaming and laughing and talking and asking questions at the same time.  It was delightful madness!  
Nope!  Not Thalia!  
A monster collection of loom bands from Grandpa and Kathy T

A new iPad case from Mom and Dad
Our kids had a thousand questions, so maybe you have a few, too.  Here's the story...

While we were in Shenzhen adopting Thalia in February of 2013, we met a little boy with Down syndrome who was very sweet and charming - so much so that when we got home, I tracked him down and was able to determine that he was available for adoption.  With our adoption so recent and our funds so lacking, bringing him home wasn't an option for us, but I did advocate for him and tried for a while to find him a family.  Because I had inquired about him and a couple of other kids over the past year, the China adoption program director of the agency he was listed with sent me information a couple of times.  I looked again at this little boy, as well as another darling boy with Down syndrome, but they just weren't "our" kids, and realistically, we just don't have the resources to be considering another international adoption.  The 9 adoptions we've done have completely wiped us out!

In spite of our financial circumstances, I kept having this nagging feeling that we needed to be open to another child with Down syndrome.  It wasn't something we were actively pursuing by ANY stretch, but the thought was there, just kind of floating around in my brain.  I started praying about it, and I essentially told God that I was willing to do whatever He wanted me to do, but that it would have to be a situation that would basically fall into our laps because we didn't feel we could look due to the cost.

So after getting the information about these two sweet boys and telling the agency that neither boy was right for us, I was asked what the "right" situation would be.  I replied that if I could hand-pick, I would want a girl (for the trivial reason that we wouldn't have to rearrange bedrooms yet again.  I'm really tired of rearranging bedrooms!), I would want her to be between 5-10, and I would want her not to have serious cardiac or other health issues because our distance from a children's hospital.  But even if we could find a child who met all these criteria, there was still the matter of our seriously battered financial circumstances.  It seemed completely hopeless, at least for a few more years.

This all happened on Monday of last week.  On Tuesday, I got yet another email from the agency that said that they had just had to return the file of a just-turned-6-year-old girl with Down syndrome to the shared list because the family that was working to adopt her had to withdraw for personal reasons.  I saw the girl's picture and was surprised to see that I remembered her from when she was first listed on Reece's Rainbow.  She was adorable and looked so much like Thalia!  I was definitely interested, but the money issue held me back from getting too excited.  It was frustrating not to be able to just call Curtis up and say, "Hey, what do you think?" and jump on it!

A little while later, I got on Facebook and was surprised to see the same little face staring back at me on my computer screen.  A friend who adopted using this agency often posts pictures of available children, and this was the child she had posted that day.  I scrolled through the comments, noting that most of them said things like "So sweet!" or "Adorable!" or "I wish I could talk my husband into adopting her!"  But then another comment caught my eye - one that said that this child had a substantial grant available to go toward her adoption.  I was immediately spurred into action!  I checked to be sure the grant was real and found that it was, so I called the agency, and said (and I quote), "Lock that file!"  The program coordinator was so sweet and so excited that there was already a family available for this little girl who had just lost a family, but as we talked and she worked to get the file locked, she discovered the key code she was supposed to use wasn't working.  We both started to panic knowing that because she was on the shared list, any agency could snap her up at any moment.  Finally the coordinator said that she was going to call "an agency [we're] friendly with" and have them lock the file so that it would be safe, but we could transfer it back later.  I waited 30 agonizing minutes to hear back from her, and when I did it turned out that she had called their in-China staff person at 1:30 in the morning, woke her up, made her FaceTime with the agency, and that they were able to get the file locked!  Whew!  I was so relieved I was practically in tears!

So from that point, we had 72 hours to make a formal decision, and the clock was ticking.  The first order of business was to share all of this with my husband, who had no idea what was about to hit him. As it turned out, he was working only a couple of hours that day, so when he got home from work I showed him the pictures and told him the story.  Curtis has always been awesome about embracing my crazy ideas about adding to our family, but often he needs some time - sometimes quite a lot of time! - to pray and research and consider for himself before we make a decision together.  On this day though, tears filled his eyes and then he laughed and laughed and said, "What in the heck are we doing?!  We're crazy!"  We hugged and laughed and decided to celebrate by going out for lunch and then to get passport photos that the agency required as part of our application.

The next order of business was to be certain that we would really be able to use the funds that were available for this child's adoption.  We knew from Thalia's adoption experience that when you sign up to have a fund with Reece's Rainbow, you sign a contract agreeing that any money that is raised for the child stays with that child in the event you decide you can't continue with the adoption.  We knew this was the case, but we wanted to get the official word before submitting the formal adoption application.  We didn't get an immediate answer, but the next evening (which happened to be my mom's birthday), we got word that the money was indeed staying with the child.  I cried and cried and prayed and cried some more.  I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, and felt so certain that somehow, my mom had a hand in what happened the way that it did.  The timing could not be coincidence.  If I hadn't asked about those boys when I did, and if the agency wouldn't have told me about the girl, or if I hadn't seen her on Facebook later that day, none of this could have come together like it did.

For those who may not know, my mom died rather unexpectedly after a month-long bout with complicated pneumonia.  She died the very day that Curtis and I were supposed to be flying to China to get Thalia.  It was such a heart-wrenching experience, and because of the timing, Thalia's adoption and the death of my beautiful mom are forever linked in my mind.  I fretted that my mom never got to meet Thalia, but I came to feel that she watched over Thalia over the month that we put off our trip to go get her.  Now I feel so strongly that my mom is not only watching over our sweet new daughter-to-be, but that she actually had some hand in bringing this all about.  Don't get me wrong - I know this is my Father in Heaven's doing, but I think of her as being on the sidelines cheering for us.  Getting this amazing news on her birthday was and is such a blessing to us.

So that's the story.  This wasn't planned, but it feels so incredibly right.  We've had so many staggering expenses over the last year that I really didn't let myself even think about another adoption.  But God has no limits, and He knew what He was doing.  I am so grateful to Him for providing this miracle to our family.  At the same time, I pray and grieve for the family that I'll never know who must be absolutely devastated for having to walk away from a child they thought would be a part of their family.  I don't know what happened in their lives to prevent their being able to fulfill these plans, but I know whatever it was, their hearts must be aching.  I pray that they will be comforted and somehow know that we will love this sweet child without end.  I will tell her that there is another family who also loves her from afar.  I love that she has been so valued and so wanted.  She deserves nothing less.

Now for the practical info.  ;)

Because our homestudy has been continually updated as part of Thalia's post-placement visits, we have two more visits with our social worker scheduled for Friday and Saturday, and then our homestudy is DONE!  This shaves a substantial amount of time off of our process.  We'll have to get background checks and driving record checks for the homestudy, but once those our received, our I-800A application can go to the USCIS office.  In the meantime I'll work on getting our dossier documents gathered, notarized and authenticated.  I really think that it's reasonable that our dossier can be on its way to China in 3 months given how much time we're saving with the homestudy.  From there, it's about a 6 month wait.  We could have her home before the end of the year if all goes smoothly.

The number one question our kids are asking is what we're going to name her.  We have no idea.  Her Chinese name is YunLi.  Her birthday is in February 2008, and she's cuter than sin.  As soon as we have our pre-approval from China, which should be this week, we'll post pictures.  We're supposed to be getting an updated social history and medical information too because her file is more than a year old.  She's tiny for her age, like Thalia, and has no known heart issues.


  1. Congratulations! I saw your precious daughter-to-be's photo when someone was advocating for her and oh, how I was smitten! While I knew we weren't her family, she certainly tugged on my heart. So thankful she now has a family who will cherish her forever! And you're right.....she's absolutely cuter than sin.

  2. SCREAM!!! So excited for you guys... AMAZING.

  3. What the what?????? I'm so happy for you guys!!!!!! Truly beyond awesome! I remember running into Curtis sometime after graduate school...I can't even remember when or where. But I asked how many kids you had and his reply was something like, "Don't even ask..." or "You don't want to know"...or something like that. And I think you guys were up to 4 at that point. Haha. Now look at you! It's seriously beyond awesome! And how fun for your missionary son to come home to a new sibling! Congrats a million times over! What a lucky little girl and what a lucky big family!

  4. congratulations! wonderful how no.14 came to be! I love how you're open to God's leading and so He entrusts you with more gifts

  5. I am ecstatic for you all! Congratulations!!

  6. Love this post! You know how excited I am for your family and for her! I am happy to be a small part of her story through advocacy and also love how you met our son at Bao'an while getting Thalia...only God.