An Answer to Prayer

I shared a couple weeks ago that we had gotten some unexpected news from the foster home at which our daughter-to-be resides. It is common practice in China that children return to their orphanages before being adopted – sometimes this is because paperwork needs to be completed (generally a physical and a passport application), and other times it is because of the (mistaken) belief that a child will react better to their adoptive parents if the orphanage removes the child from the foster home and the parents are taking her out of the orphanage than if the parents are seen as removing her from the foster home. However, there are significant challenges inherent in caring for a child with osteogenesis imperfecta, and because of that, as well as the good relationships that our little girl’s foster home has generally maintained with the orphanages from which their children come, usually children with OI who are coming from our daughter’s foster home are cared for by the foster home right up until their adoption day.

We’d believed that would be the case for our little girl, but after we received our travel approval, the orphanage told the foster home that they’d be coming to get her. The foster home tried everything they could to attempt to convince the orphanage to reconsider, but they insisted that she return. We asked at that point that you all pray with us that she be allowed to stay, and we submitted (through our agency) a request that the orphanage allow her to remain with her foster home and her caregivers there as long as possible.

We didn’t hear anything – which, honestly, is exactly what I expected – but neither did the foster home. I praised God for each day that no one heard from them, because that was another day that FangFang would get to stay in this foster home, receiving loving and expert care.

And yesterday I received a message from the foster home that they heard from the orphanage, and the orphanage is willing to do 99% of what we asked them to do! FangFang will be allowed to stay at her foster home until the middle of next week, and someone from the foster home will then travel to her province with her and take her to have the physical and the passport application process completed. They’ll stay with her in the city in which her orphanage is located until the morning of the 12th, when FangFang will travel to Nanning with both the orphanage staff and the people from the foster home. The orphanage is insistent that the people from the foster home cannot come with them to bring FangFang to us, which is too bad. I’d really like for FangFang to have that continuity of care – it’s so helpful for kids in establishing relationships with their new families to see their former caregivers and new families together and all on board with the transition. I expect that morning of the 12th to be very hard for her as she says goodbye to the people who have loved and cared for her for the past 9 months and leaves with the orphanage staff to be handed over to strangers (us). But that’s the only thing we’ve asked for to which the orphanage hasn’t agreed, and I’m so thankful that they are agreeable to most of what we requested. I’m counting it as an answered prayer! Thank you so much for praying with us!

An Adoption Update

I haven’t posted much about our current adoption journey since our announcement, but rest assured, that does not mean that nothing has been happening!

On the contrary, in the last couple months, we have completed all required home study visits, obtained all of the financial and medical documents necessary for our home study and our dossier, done psych evaluations, watched and discussed 12 hours of required adoption parent education videos, driven all over town to obtain required signatures, and e-mailed back and forth with both our home study and placing agencies more times than we could count. And now our home study is ALMOST done! Last weekend our social worker from our home study agency sent her draft of the home study to our placing agency, which then reviews it to make sure it meets their criteria and will satisfy all of China’s requirements.

This home study step is a BIG one, and it will feel like a huge milestone once it’s out of the way. Not that it will mean we’re done (or even close), but we’ll be much closer to getting our little girl! Once our home study is complete, we can get all of our documents certified and authenticated and file our I800A form, which is our request that the United States government approve us to adopt a child in China and classify her as an American citizen upon her arrival back here in the States with us – and the approval of that application is the very last document we will need for our dossier!

And while we have been working hard here in Missouri to make progress on all the requirements for our adoption, life has been moving right along for our little girl in China. In an unexpected turn of events, we learned shortly after we received our pre-approval that her orphanage had transferred her to a wonderful foster home in China that specializes in providing care for children with OI – what a blessing! She’s now able to be with people who are informed about her condition and able to help her grow and develop. It wasn’t long after her move that we saw photos of her sitting independently – something she had not been able to do prior to that point! They’re also teaching her about God and His love for His children. In the photos her foster home posts online, we’ve seen smile after heartwarming smile. We were so sad to see that she broke her femur a couple weeks ago, but fortunately her foster home has a good relationship with a nearby bone hospital, and she was able to have surgery there. We’re so glad that she’s able to spend the time until we can get to her with this wonderful group of people who are better equipped to provide care for her than most orphanages are and will truly love and care for her.

One other aspect of this adoption journey on which we’ve been working has been gathering the funds we’ll need to complete the adoption. In addition to our savings and the extra hours I’ve been working, Matt has put together a collection of recent art works for the final show at Imago Gallery and Cultural Center. All works have been discounted significantly (generally around 75%), and honestly, we’d love to sell out the show, with all proceeds going toward our adoption costs. The closing reception will be this Friday evening, June 10, starting at 6:00, and if you’re in the area, we’d love it if you’d stop by. Matt will be giving a talk, and we’d love to see you!