For those of you who listened to me cry tears of many different emotions, I'm forever grateful for your friendship and love. I think it's time to release it and share the amazing tale of how God tapped my shoulder and said, "I pick you for a very important job."
Before Dave and I started our home study,
When we stumbled across one little country, we couldn't stop researching it more and more. Not just for adoption, but for information. We were hungry to find out as much as we could about this amazing little world that we had never heard of that was so unique and different and amazing.
I inquired about adoption and got a nice response back that adoption wasn't a common practice, but we could put our names on a list if we'd like. If a baby every came up for adoption, they'd go off the list, but don't count on ever getting a call. So of course we didn't do that. But we were thrilled that someone actually acknowledged our email. How cool was it to think in this cute little country, we corresponded with someone. I never stopped looking at pictures of this country and even found myself finding their online news websites looking for a way to learn more about daily life there.
Then, our home study began and we struggled with choosing a country. If you're not in the international adoption world right now, you might not know just how many countries are closed for adoption. And how many of the countries that are open are only open for special needs children. We did loads of research (still researching every day) the different types of special needs that were commonly found trying to get a better idea of what we were comfortable with. We wanted to adopt a 3-4 year old, but we soon found out that in all likely hood, there were going to be big struggles with that too. This is all for another post, though....back on track. We picked S. Korea and went ahead with all that was needed.
April 27th was Wednesday, a day like any other Wednesday. Got the kids up for breakfast, kissed Dave goodbye and started out on my big job of gathering and mailing my i600a. I took a second to quick check my email before I headed out to make copies and mail the package and saw a name that looked familiar, but that I couldn't place.
Shocked, I read the email and it was from the contact I had made in this tiny little country that I fell in love with. A family was needed for a baby who had a special need. In the adoption world, it's considered a "minor correctable" need, but in reality, as "minor and correctable" as it is, it comes with a childhood of surgeries and doctor's guidance.
The email went out to 8 people in different countries. We were the only one who responded. The only people in the ENTIRE WORLD, besides the people directly responsible for the care of this child who knew about this baby girl needing a home. An honor and a huge responsibility.
We were in disbelief. We went to our Children's hospital - met with surgeons and nurses. We contacted our local doctor. We got the guidance of one of the most well known international adoption pediatricians for her guidance. We got our families thoughts and our social worker's thoughts. We talked, prayed, talked, researched, studied, prayed and talked some more.
The thing about international adoption is that many times if you get a "referral" of a child with a special need, if after you do your consulting you find that the need is greater than you can feel comfortable with and you decline, you can get a little comfort in knowing that the chances are good that someone else will look at the child's info and hopefully move forward.
That was not the case with this child. We were it. There was not someone who would look at her file after us if we declined.
So then I struggled with what God was doing with this. Was he saying, "Jen, Dave...this is your daughter!" or was he saying, "I know you have compassion and are someone who will move mountains to make this happen....GO! Find this little girl a family!!"
And I'll be honest, it was a really hard personal reflection time for me. If you know me at all, you'll know I have a heart for orphans around the world. I won't share this little girl's story, but let me tell you, it's heartbreaking. I know that my family could give her a future that she would not have in her "world", and the fact that I was struggling if I had the strength to walk her life with her was such a dark time. (Dark as in, struggling to shower. Struggling to get out of my sweat pants. My entire day that the kids were in school was taken up by this constant stream of research.)
Then, in this strange set of circumstances, I was introduced to this family who had adopted a little girl with this same "special need" less than a year ago. The mom walked with me down my path of self-reflection, research, doctors appointments and digesting. She didn't judge, she didn't make me feel bad for my feelings of uncertainty and she lifted me up. From the first second that we talked, there was this connection and sense of hope and peace.
Through a series of long thought and prayer and many tears on both of our ends, we gave this family the opportunity to consider this little girl as a new child in their family. They're living life with this need every day already and we couldn't help but note that adding a sister so close in age with the same need could make this whole special need easier for both girls. I'll be honest, during the time we were waiting for them to do their research and feel comfortable adopting from a place that is hardly considered a country people adopt from, I felt like I could hardly breath. Were they going to say yes? Or were WE going to be the ones who said yes? We were waiting in the background, ready to move forward if they didn't feel comfortable.
We waited for weeks, constantly in contact via emails and phone calls while they did their research and as of Monday morning, they wrote back with their commitment to adopt this little girl. They are moving forward and we are their biggest cheerleaders and will support them in any way we can.
And I won't lie and say that multiple times in the past 2 weeks while we waited we had moments of doubt, of fear and of peace. Mostly peace though. I realized that God was a part of ALL of this, and I could see it clearly being on the other end. God gave us the choice - and we could have done it! But God also placed this family, this amazing, wonderful family right in front of us. No choice would have been wrong! But the choice that was made, I do believe is the BEST choice for this little girl.
People, let me tell you how lucky she is going to be to be a part of this family. Oh.my.gracious. And to know that there is a woman in this little country who I have connected with, bonded with and saw this amazing thing through has really just ignited the hunger I have for this country.
Like, looking down on it all, I see that I have been a bridge, really, with this woman who emailed me a month ago. She saw beauty in the baby and a future if she could just find someone to help her. That someone was me. And when I look at the pictures of this sweet baby girl and imagine her in the arms of her new mother, I'm not one smidgen sad that she's not in my arms. It's ALL right and perfect and the way it is supposed to be.
This baby girl will have such an amazing life, and really, it's all because a woman cared and took a shot in the dark that someone would reply. God picked ME to reply. And I am honored at the role he gave me in all of this. Seriously honored.
So now I get to watch this family go and get this baby girl and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds. In my heart, I'll always have a little connection to her. (OK, OK, I still have tears...*wiping them away*) They could use your prayers, as could the baby and the baby's mother and family. Oh how they all could use your prayers. But, as I said above, God has been directing this all along. He's in this for the long haul.
I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!