If we say that our story is that we believe God gives second chances, then one might wrongly assume that our message is about giving kids from hard places their second chance at a “better life.” And whereas we certainly hope that we are providing a better life for all of our kids, the point of adoption for us is that God showed us that family is not about blood, but about love.
Indeed, over twenty-six years ago a divorced man and a divorced woman with a seven year old fell in love and became family. Three more biological children over a span of eight years would seem to be enough by most standards. But even before our now 18-year old son was eleven, we felt God telling us that our family was not complete and that we had a child waiting for us in China. For various reasons, but primarily due to expediency, we elected to accept a waiting needs child. In 2007 little two year old Adriana joined our family and instantly became the darling of four older brothers. Although we thought we were done, we saw Aidan’s picture in 2008 and his gotcha day (2/23/09) was celebrated this weekend.
The desire to stay connected to the adoption community and either help or learn from another family by sharing experience introduced us to Ava. We saw her picture on AAC’s website in late 2011 and felt the tug. “Really God, another child?” yet the answer was “Yes.” Love is not like a blob of jelly that, as needed to cover the toast, it gets thinner. Instead, love is like yeast which leavens bread and makes it grow through its own self-multiplication. The second that we said “Yes” our love starting growing and the journey started developing.
My wife describes the journey as “alphabet soup” as each milestone is completed. LOI (the letter of intent showing China that you would like to be considered for this child.) PA (hopefully, you receive your pre-approval that China thinks you will pass muster IF all the paperwork is in order when submitted.) DTC (the date your dossier is sent to China and a BIG DEAL for all parents who have gone this route, including us “old timers.”) LID (the date that China logs in your dossier. This is the date that you start counting from. You memorize it and it becomes the date you refer to again and again to see where you are in the wait.) Then comes your LOA (that precious paper that China sends asking if your will accept this child. We find this ludicrous, as you have just spent months and countless dollars seeking this amazing child. But, this paper is like gold so it is signed.) Finally TA (after this beautiful paper arrives your agency makes your consulate appointment, visas are obtained and travel arrangements are set. You are ready to get that child that your arms have been aching for.)
That’s right, our arms were aching for number seven. Our arms were aching during the trip – more of a statement of poor conditioning rather than the emotional high that was to come. First to Hong Kong Disney and then Beijing (Great Wall) to allow Adriana and Aidan to have some fun before the arduous “in province” part of the trip. No longer than 30 minutes in our hotel room that a knock on the door told us that our family was growing again. Last (?) but certainly not least, Ava was in momma’s arms. Four o’clock in the afternoon in Nanchang is two o’clock in the morning at home, yet two of our older sons were on Skype to join the celebration. Did they really have to ask why Mom was crying (as she has done at the “birth” of all our children)?
Our arms ached as we played in the hotel room in Nanchang and as we stayed active in Guangzhou to complete Hague / US requirements. Our arms ached now largely because our child was younger than what China had indicated. We got a baby, not a toddler, but indeed it was the child that we had fallen in love with. Our arms ached until we reached home – one day later than planned due to a missed connection in Hong Kong. Finally, our arms ached as we hugged our other children who waited until midnight as our flight from Chicago to home was delayed five hours due to a snow storm.