Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Referral Day

I still remember the day like it was yesterday. It was early September, my senior year of college. For some reason that I don't remember anymore, both of my grandmothers were at my parents' house, so after class that day, I went over to see them. When I walked in the door of the living room, they were both sitting on the love seat facing me, huge smiles emblazoned on their beautiful faces. At the time, I thought they were just happy to see me. (It's what I get for being a firstborn. I generally and commonly mistakenly think everything's always about me.) "Have you talked to your parents yet?" they asked. My parents were out somewhere at the time. I hadn't. "Why," I asked, confused. "No reason," was the reply. We chatted for a while, about what I can't remember, but the huge smiles and side glances to each other continued. Soon, Mom and Dad came bursting through the doors. "We have a referral!!!!!" The screams of joy resounded in the room as we all hugged each other.

A referral is when you finally get the word from China that you have been matched with a particular child. At the time, it also meant you would travel in the next couple of months to get said child. Later that day, we received a package with her picture and all of the information about her that was known. We finally knew where she was and a little bit about who she was. Best of all, there were pictures.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Aunt, Uncle, Niece

Here's Grace, Micah, and Els at Thanksgiving this year. (Note the matching bows.)


While we were beginning to pray about adoption in Georgia in late March and early April 2002, on the other side of the world, near Bengbu City in the Anhui province of China, a girl (lady? woman?) became pregnant. Was she excited? Scared? Nervous? Probably all three. The only thing I know with certainty about this woman is that she is most likely very beautiful.

What circumstances drove her to leave her lovely 3-day-old daughter at the steps of the old orphanage in Bengbu City we'll never know. Was she too poor to take care of her? Did she give in to familial pressure about her only child being male? Was this child not her first? The thing I have to imagine is that she loved the baby she carried for 9-10 months very much as evidenced by the fact that she didn't abort her and ultimately left her in a place that she would easily be found. Whatever her reasons, I know that I am eternally grateful to this woman who gave up her child who would become the joy of our family a little less than a year later.

When the baby girl was found on December 30, 2002, the policemen took her to the orphanage and the nannies there named this baby "Fu," which means good luck or happiness because one of them had won some money in a local lottery that day. She was given the same last name as all of the other children there, which was the orphanage director's last name, "Song." Fu grew quickly during the coming months, as she was a good eater and vivacious, always demanding of the nannies' attention. For the first eleven months of her life, she was well loved by the caretakers at her orphanage.

But she was still not home.

Friday, December 04, 2009

The Rest of 2002

April 6, 2002 was one of those epic days. It was a Saturday, the day after my 20th birthday, and I had met up with the rest of my family to attend the wedding of some friends of ours. After the wedding, we all headed back to our hometown and went to my favorite Italian restaurant for dinner. Over meatball and onion breadsticks, I worked up the courage to tell my parents about the SCC concert and that I had been praying that they would adopt since then. In my heart I knew the answer would be a very patronizing, "Well, that's nice. We'll certainly think about it." And I was right. (Other fun fact about that day, earlier, during the wedding reception, I had been introduced to the friend of a friend. I remember that he had longer hair and a goatee that day. Twenty-seven months and four days later we would attend another wedding reception together-ours!)

Skip to summer time. The whole adoption idea had been put on the back burner of our minds and hearts as we prepared for trips and summer jobs. One of my roommates from the previous year was traveling to Cambodia for the summer to visit her aunt and uncle who were missionaries there. During her stay, she would write emails describing her travels, what she saw and experienced. I always got excited when they came because Cambodia was so far away and exotic. In mid-July, one such email would change the course of our lives forever. My roommate's uncle had taken her to an orphanage and she not only shared the heart-wrenching stories of babies and children there, she shared precious pictures of them. I can remember weeping as I read the email in the reception area of the accounting office where I worked. Quickly, I forwarded the email to my mom. I wasn't there when this happened, but the story goes that my parents both read the email together. When they finished reading, with tears streaming down their own faces, my parents decided that although they could not rescue every child, they could help at least one. I have a very special memory from family vacation that year. We all sat on the back porch of our hotel room in Montana, looking up at the millions of stars (the sky really is bigger there) and praying our hearts out for the little girl who would join our family one day.

Mom and Dad attended a meeting at an adoption agency the next week. A lady who had adopted a little girl from China spoke at the meeting and the deal was sealed, so to speak. We started the paperwork to adopt a baby from there. This is where I get fuzzy. If you want to know the details of paperwork and dossiers and home studies, ask my mom. She is a pro. (She even went so far as to call Zell Miller's office everyday for a period of time for their help with the paperwork.) All I know that there is A LOT of paperwork involved in adoption. We all had to get fingerprinted by INS and have family dinners with the social worker who did our home study.

Then, after many long hours of crossing t's and dotting i's, the paperwork was finished and it went to China. After that, we waited and prayed, prayed and waited, waited and prayed.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

The Very Beginning

Last month was officially National Adoption Month. Last week we celebrated Grace's 6th Gotcha Day. And since I'm nothing if not a day late and a dollar short, I'm writing about all of this today. I've been ruminating on writing about my siblings' adoptions for some time now, so here it begins, here it happens.

And why not start at the beginning? (It is, after all, a very good place to start.)

Before I met B, I dated a guy with the same name for a little while. (My family still refers to him as the "Wrong B.") While not the right man for me, this guy did something of monumental importance in my life. In March of 2002, he took me to see Steven Curtis Chapman at The Fox in Atlanta. We had broken up a while before the concert, but I had always dreamed of seeing SCC, so I went. That night, SCC talked about the first little girl that he and his wife had adopted from China. And then he sang a song about her. There was not a dry eye in the place by the end. The strangest part in this was that I was prompted to start praying that my parents would adopt. What? Did I mention that this was a few weeks before my 20th birthday? My youngest sibling was 14 at the time.

So, for the next couple of weeks, I prayed, albeit half heartedly and with little belief that anything would come of it. I'll go ahead and say here, that I don't believe that I am the reason that my parents ultimately adopted. God used me to birth the idea in them, but more importantly, God used these events in my life to increase my faith. You see, Grace's adoption is the biggest miracle I've ever seen with my own two physical eyes.

I have decided that this story will be a series because there's so much to tell and so many details that I don't want to leave out.

"And like the rain that falls into the sea, in a moment what has been is lost in what will be."
-Steven Curtis Chapman