Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Harmony in a Single Step

I like to think we are about halfway through the time frame of this adoption. Already I'm forgetting details from the beginning so I need to write as much as I can before it leaves me and becomes replaced with more pressing matters.

Anyone who has adopted knows there is something highly spiritual about this process of bringing a child into your family from the other side of the world. It's mind boggling to think of all the details that have to fall into place in order for the new families to be formed. Not only are all the necessary connections made, and not only are we given the precious gift of a child to care for, but somehow we find that the child is perfect for our family, even in ways we could not have imagined.

It is my experience that this special magic happens when I am in complete agreement with my destiny. As I give up my feeble attempts to control my life, and give over to the flow of holiness in the universe, all my perceptions are altered slightly and I see and understand in ways that are only possible during the times I'm willing to cooperate completely with God.

There are many things I could do better, and many things I'm sure I leave undone everyday, but I am convinced that I'm doing exactly what I'm supposed to be doing with my life. I may not be doing it well all the time, but a small, still voice reminds me I'm on the right track. Knowing this, however, does not eliminate an occasional trembling terror. I'm not always sure I can follow this road. I'm not always sure I'm up to the journey. I'm not always sure I'm worthy.

My older children still need me and I want to be there whenever they need me and in whatever capacity they need. But as soon as I start to worry about this, I remember how adopting Cami multiplied the love in our family. Her sweet presence brought us together in a special way. The older ones see themselves in her toddler antics and they get to see, as if in an old movie, the tireless patience and snuggling love I have for them too, even if they aren't so comfortable with the snuggling anymore. Seeing my six foot son fixing breakfast for Cami or my daughter home from college, not only painting Cami's toe nails pink, but then giving her the bottle to practice painting big sister's toe, are the kind of Hallmark moments we've seen alot more of this year!

Then sometimes is seems so small....... wiping sticky hands, cutting up apples into bite size pieces, picking up toys, waking up and putting to sleep, and all these little jobs are repeated day after day. It doesn't seem like much, but every once in a while I catch a glimpse of how much these simple things DO matter in the lives of little people. And there is peace in the harmony of a purposeful life, no matter how small my purpose, I'm connected with a greater plan.

And so we began. (We were home half a year in March.) Not to adopt exactly. But to prepare. Cami has had a wonderful year. She had her palate surgery in March and she's ready for her 3rd birthday and to start going to pre-school a couple mornings a week. She's learned English at lightening speed and surprises us daily with the connections she makes.

April brought many changes to International Adoption with new regulations under the Hague Agreement. To begin with, it changed the process of requesting permission to bring a child into the United States. During the last week in March, we made the decision to apply with the immigration department under the old rules while we still had the chance. We filed the petition with our government This was our first commitment to another adoption and it went flawlessly.

In April we were fingerprinted and we started working with our social worker on our homestudy. Even though nothing of significance had changed we had to prepare new documents and present proof once more that we are who we claim to be.

In May I followed the story of a little girl in foster care who had a form of spina bifida. She was so full of life and when I heard she might be available for adoption I tried to find her. Later I realized that while I wasn't supposed to adopt this child, she certainly was a teacher for me. Because of her, I began researching some of the types of spinal birth defects.

The rules for China Special Needs adoption changed. Many children were being listed on a large list shared by many agencies. It was puzzling to understand exactly how to proceed. We had instinctively, or by divine guidance, started out doing the most important assignments. It looked like China was expecting families to be paper ready before allowing them to commit to a child.

Our first plan was to finish our homestudy and sign on with one of the large, reputable Chinese agencies and wait to be matched with a child by their special needs department. This was our plan, but something kept me from completely following through with it. We filled out the paperwork, but we hesitated committing to them further.. I was put off by the answers I was given to the few questions I had.

The shared list rules kept changing. First you had to already have your dossier in China to petition for a child. Then you had to have it close to being ready. They gave some children a 3 month window and some only one month. We kept watching and waiting. We never actually saw the shared list, nor did we ever review a file from the shared list.

The second week in July I saw an email to a group I'm a member of announcing that an agency called ASIA had received their very own list of waiting/special needs children. Now since the shared listing began, lists of children specific to one agency were rare. This is the way we were matched with Cami and it felt very comfortable to me. But I waited two days before contacting ASIA.

When I wrote to them, I received a list of the children who were available. The list had no photos. It was date of birth and special need only. I emailed and asked if I could review the file of the little girl with tethered cord syndrome. About an hour later, I was sent the medical file on Dang Nan, and two pictures of a baby girl smiling.

I knew this was our daughter. I knew we had been led to this moment, to this place, because we were willing to be led. And I knew that everything would work out. Mark worked until midnight that night so I got up early the next morning to show him the pictures and the information. I think he knew her as a daughter quickly too, but he was worried about working out the financial details. It was about this time that I told him of a great quote I had heard. "Sometimes you have to jump and build your wings on the way down". He said this wasn't one of the smartest ideas he had ever heard. But...... we did it anyway.

And our wings have been built for us.

First, we had our International Adoption Pediatrician take a look at the files and paperwork. He had some questions and concerns for us. Ironically, not the obvious ones. In general he felt this child would have minimal complications from her birth defect. We requested an update and received it quickly. We also received the current photographs which show a laughing and healthy little girl.

Even as we are saying yes to the agency and scrambling to provide the first set of documents, our leap of faith was being rewarded. Mark received an offer unlike any he'd had before in his work. Within two days of our committing to adopt Dang Nan, Mark was contracted for enough work next year to help him feel confident that we could move forward.

During the first week of August our homestudy was approved by ASIA and we sent our Letter of Intent to China. Two weeks later we had our answer. China approved us to adopt Dang Nan. The first part of the miraculous story had come together. Something had shifted, in the world, and in our family, and in our hearts. And now we are working everyday to bring Delilah Dang Nan home.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Please Welcome
Delilah DangNan McInnis
into our family and into your heart.

Dang Nan was born July 18, 2006.
She is eleven months younger than Cami.
She is currently living in foster care
in Inner Mongolia.
The reports we received describe her as a lovely
and smart little girl. She knows her colors and
can make herself understood among children and adults.
The report says,
"the child grows more and more beautiful with two pigtails in her hair now".

I think we knew,
even while in China with Cami,
that we would return.
We didn't know when, or how, or for whom,
but when we were given a chance to review
Dang Nan's file,
we felt comfortable with her and drawn to her,
even before seeing her pictures.

And so already we start to love her,
and to make a space for her,
a special place in our family
in the shape of Delilah.