We have finally arrived at the 6 month mark from our logged in date. This was supposed to have been the timeframe that we could expect our referral. Chances are that our group won’t receive referrals for another 6 months. Although our adoption process has inched by very slowly for me, this cloud hasn't been without it's silver lining. In fact, I may have actually needed this extra time. I believe God has been using this period of “adoption limbo” to bring about some changes in my ideas, attitudes, and desires.
When I think about where I was mentally at the beginning of our adoption process (October of 2004), I can't even recognize any of the scenery. I remember wanting another baby to hold and love and make a part of our family. That may be the only part that remains unchanged today.
I had a mental photograph of my new daughter that looked very different than it does now. I pictured my daughter as a newborn (about 2 days old), American (blond hair, blue eyes), beautiful, healthy child that blended well with our family in physical appearance and interests. Then I waited on God for the "...happily ever after" part.
Fast forward to April 2005. God seemed to be urging Steve and I towards adoption from China. It hadn't really occurred to me to adopt from China. That would mean a long plane trip and a two week stay in a place that I really had never even desired to travel to--ever. And what about my newborn? (I can still smell the sweet little smell of a newborn's soft little fuzzy head!) The babies available in China range from about 8-18 months old. And what about blending in? A baby from China would look really conspicuous with our family. Yet, still the gentle prodding from God continued. I can honestly say that I really didn't have a heart for the beautiful girls of China, but we obeyed God's leading.
Fortunately I was not called to a circumstance that God wasn't prepared to equip me for. Last spring and summer God began to change my heart. Amidst the endless paperwork and waiting for fingerprinting, I started to read everything I could get my hands on concerning China and adoption from China. The more I read about the situation and conditions in this culture, the more I wanted to know. I even made a new friend who had adopted her daughter from China. Before I realized what was happening, God began to give me a real love for China's daughters. My mental photograph had transformed into an image of a dark haired, almond-eyed beauty. And not long after, I saw in the picture not one, but two lovely China dolls. I realized that after having experienced this journey once, we will be forever changed. I may need to return to China to bring home another daughter or son. Steve agrees with me, but prefers to take the "Let's finish this adoption first" approach.
My mental snapshot had undergone some drastic but wonderful changes up to this point. However, God didn't seem to be finished. Once again he began performing some difficult work on my heart. And as always seems to be the case where God is involved, He brought Steve and I into complete agreement. We had always considered adopting only a "healthy" child. During our homestudy we were given several pages of special needs to consider. It was truly quite overwhelming at the time. We weren't sure that we were well equipped to handle many of those special needs. Rather than explore the possibilities, we chose to receive a child that was healthy and without any special needs. Even before our papers were sent to China, we began to second guess our decision. Months after our dossier had been sent to China, we still wondered about taking a special needs child. After much discussion and prayer, we decided that it was too late (for this adoption) to change our minds. It did, however, give us a desire to seriously consider a child with special needs for our next adoption.
In the last several months we have been considering cleft lip/ cleft palate children. What a difference a couple of simple surgeries can make in their lives! Recently, God has been placing this condition on our hearts through television programs dealing with this condition and its surgical treatments, as well as some of the adoption journeys that I have been following on the internet. In April, the boys and I met a woman and her adopted Chinese daughter who had only been home from China for 1 week. Her daughter had an unrepaired cleft lip and palate. She was absolutely beautiful. I was actually excited to imagine myself and my family with such a child. Of course, when the time comes, a cleft condition may not even be the special need of the child that God chooses to bless our family with. Still, it has given us cause for prayerful consideration...and perhaps opened up some new and exciting possibilities for my mental family snapshot.
God wants to give us the desires of our hearts. All along God has known the child that belongs with us--the child that He made especially for our family. So God used this perfectly timed wait. With His gentle direction, He has broadened my view and allowed my desire to be transformed to include His best for our family. I can hardly wait to meet her!