Monday, March 24, 2014

Danny's Story

It's been remarked to me over and over that the story of how we found both our boys is fairly remarkable and I keep meaning to share, but both of them are long stories so I have been putting it off in favor of advocacy, but today I decided to get started.  They are too long to post in the same blog, so I will do two.  This first one is geared towards our oldest son to be, and the first child that we picked for this actual adoption.

We started out this journey inadvertently.  It was never our intention to adopt internationally.  It was always our intention to adopt, but only in America, and only from foster care.  In early fall of last year, we'd been waiting on a foster care placement for a little over a year, I think.  It was hard because we were only interested in children who were already legally free for adoption.  We do have a son, who is 13, who has special needs that make it extremely difficult for our family to have changes.  We spoke extensively with him and he was eager for more siblings, but a revolving door would never work for him.  So it was essential to find children who could definitely be a part of our family.  We were not worried about our chances of having a placement quickly, since we were looking for a sibling group of older children, above the age of five, just what most people DO NOT want.  The thing we did not bank on is New Mexico's policy for dealing with foster children.  They desperately need more foster parents and don't have the time or resources to deal with children who are legally free, as those separations take time and that means those children already have a foster home.  Moving them would take time.  Their focus is entirely on new foster homes.  Occasionally, they would approach us with children and we would ask to move forward with full disclosure.  In every occasion, CYFD would never offer up full disclosure.  They would not return our emails as a general rule, and then, after a couple of months, they would call and ask if anyone had gotten back to us.  We would say no, and they would say, oh, someone will get back to you.  Rinse and repeat for months and months.

Occasionally, we do respite for foster care, and we do enjoy that, but a legal risk sibling group was definitely not for us, so we were content to wait.  We have three lovely bio children and we love kids, but growing our family wasn't our primary purpose in looking to adopt.  Our purpose was to help give children a family, especially children we thought would be hard to place, older sibling groups.  If not for one "random" event, we'd probably still be there, just patiently waiting. 

In, what I believe was, September or possibly October, of 2013 I was scanning Facebook.  I have been a strong adoption advocate my entire life, literally.  When I graduated from high school, I sang in the senior recital.  The song I sang is a song about adoption told through the perspective of the birth mother, "From God's Arms, to My Arms, to Yours" and I cried all the way through it.  In retrospect, everyone in my school probably thought I was pregnant lol.  But really I've always been just that emotional about adoption.  So I like to scan FB looking for information about adoption that other people could potentially use as a resource.  A friend of mine, and for the life of me, I can't remember who that friend was, or which family the FSP belonged to, posted about a friend of theirs who was adopting and posted a link to that family's Family Support Profile on a site called Reece's Rainbow.

I had never heard of Reece's Rainbow and had never considered international adoption really at all.  I had known exactly two people who adopted internationally, and neither one happened while I was around.  One was a girl from China, non special needs, who had been adopted probably seven years before I met the family, whom I met in 1993.  The other was a family who had adopted two boys from Russia who obviously had FAS and were extremely hyperactive.  They'd adopted the boys probably five years before I met them, back in 1998.  Those were my only exposures to international adoption, and both families were extremely wealthy.  If I thought of international adoption at all, I thought of it as something that only the very rich did.

I scanned Reece's Rainbow, and had never heard of most of what they were talking about.  I tucked away the information and left.  But, I kept going back.  I kept looking at and thinking about those children.  I started to do little bits of research on the situation in other countries.  I started reading a blog here or there that illustrated the truth about the international orphan crisis.  Once I began to learn more, I started to think maybe it wasn't something I should ignore and assume was a problem for the wealthy to deal with.  I inquired after a sweet girl in Ukraine, who is now coming home.  The response I got was unbelievably complicated in my mind, and I said to myself, whoa, that's way too much! 

But I still kept hanging around, reading about families in process.  Reading about children who needed a home.  Reading about what these children go through.  I joined the Reece's Rainbow Facebook group and started giving money to families adopting and then started advocating for children who were waiting.  I still felt it wasn't for me though.  I read about the same kids over and over, but it was purely academic.  Then one day, I read, for perhaps the third time, the profile of a girl in Ukraine (not the girl listed above, a different child).  I won't tell her name because I am telling her country.  She has significant special needs.  She is non-mobile, she's non-verbal.  She has a brain difference, and there was no way for us to know what she would ever be able to accomplish.  But suddenly, it was like a lightening bolt.  I knew, without a doubt, that this was our future and this was what God wanted us to do.  I had absolutely no doubt that I was being commanded.  I had no fears and no hesitation.  This happened very quickly, without any warning.  I had already read this girls profile, as well as all the other RR children, many times.  I don't know what was so different about that time, but it was as firm as a testimony.  We were to rescue this child. 

My husband came home and discovered me crying, as I had been for maybe half an hour to 45 minutes, since the moment I read her profile again.  I said, "this girl is our child."  I think he was slightly alarmed at first lol, but he agreed that this was something we needed to do.  We knew we had no money really, and no clue how we were going to pull it off, but when God called so loudly, it wasn't ours to question, it was ours to go and do.  We started calling around and chose an agency to do our Ukrainian homestudy.  We had no doubt we would be approved.  We gave the homestudy agency a piece of information about a way we did not qualify to adopt from Ukraine.  I have a history of generalized anxiety disorder.  Ukraine says flat out that anyone with a history of anxiety disorder or depression is ineligible for adoption from their country.  The homestudy agency felt this could easily be waived, especially considering that I'd never had any real treatment, just a diagnosis.  However, once we paid our first amounts and got energetically started, it was brought to our attention that Ukraine had absolutely no intention of approving us, despite the lack of tangible anxiety issues.

It was devastating.  I won't pretend that our hearts weren't broken.  I couldn't understand why Heavenly Father had lit such a powerful fire under us, only to have it be an impossibility.  People suggested to us that it was to get us geared towards thinking about international adoption, but I just couldn't wrap my mind around that.  Why not just give us the message that this was our calling, and not specifically call us to bring this little girl home?  After a few weeks in agony, we received conformation together that it was true.  That without a child to focus on, I would never have had such clarity, and that international adoption was our calling.

But that left us in a situation where we planned to adopt, but we knew very strongly that Heavenly Father would tell us which children were right.  If this was his will for us, he would guide us to find the child or children that he meant for us to rescue.  We pulled away from our homestudy and it was put on hold.  Without a country to focus on, it was useless to work on the homestudy, which are country specific and can easily been done incorrectly if you don't have a specific country in mind.

We set out to find the right child or children.  We knew they were out there.  We had literally no guidelines from which to work.  We had no age level we wouldn't accept.  We had no special needs we refused to consider.  We had no genders in our mind.  We didn't even have a country in mind!  In case you're curious, that's a lot of potential children.  We looked at literally thousands of children, in dozens and dozens of countries.  I knew that if the child was the right one, we would know, with the power of lightening confidence, the way we did with the girl from Ukraine.  I can't even explain to you how many profiles I went through.  None of them were the ones.  Occasionally, I would find one and put it aside, but a second reflection still didn't bring the feelings I had felt with the girl we had hoped would be our daughter.

Eventually, I began to despair that we'd ever find the right children, but we refused to move forward with a child that God wasn't directing us to bring home.  We had felt it before, we knew it would happen again, when the time was right.

In late November, or early December 2013, I saw Robert Molloy, a wonderful advocate for Chinese children, especially older boys, who works for two huge advocacy and orphan groups, Defend Me and Bring Me Hope, post about a group of aging out boys.  Tragically, nearly all of those boys have now aged out, but I have never made a secret of the fact it's older children who really touch my heart.  I sent a message to Robert asking how I could help.  We spoke for a long time.  He asked if I was adopting and I said, indeed, I was not.  But that we hoped to.  We would when we found the right child.  He engaged me in a conversation about our family and asked what our children were like, what we were like.  What we enjoyed doing, where we liked going.  What we considered important.  I really just thought it was a conversation.

However, at the end, he said, here's a child for you.  Then he posted a link. 

I thought he simply meant, here, I'd like you to look at this child.  I almost overlooked the link.  We'd talked about dozens of children I could advocate for, but none that regarded me in particular.  It took me a few minutes to remember he'd posted it and scroll back up to read it.  Really, though, he was right spot on.  He had a child for us.  The singular suggestion he offered after listening to what I said about us was exactly the right one.  I read this boy's profile, whose advocacy name was Daniel, and it was instant recognition in my soul.  He was the one.  Finally, after all of that time, and all of those countries, and all of those many, many children, there was finally the reinforcement from God that here was the right child.  I was so excited I could hardly wait until Mike got home.  I called him upstairs, had him read the profile and he knew instantly too.  This time he was the one with tears.  Like the girl in Ukraine, there was no doubt or hesitation.

Daniel, or Danny as he came to be known, because there was another Daniel or two on Reece's Rainbow when we set up our FSP, is about 11 years old (within a few weeks) and has been on shared list for a long time.  He's been sitting and waiting, looking for the day when someone would finally notice him and make him a son, a brother, and a grandson.  It's so hard to be noticed on the shared list.  He's far beyond the age where people are even going to scroll down the shared list just looking.  And his file is a hot mess.  It's years old.  Last updated when he was FOUR!  He is eleven years old!  I'm guessing that's about when they gave up on his ever being adopted.  His file was full of frightening brain issues.  But I didn't have to panic, because I had already spoken to Robert at length about him.  Basically, without advocacy, this boy would have had no chance at all!  

We were so excited that we moved forward without even telling Robert!  He was totally shocked to discover we had submitted our LOI for Daniel after I asked him to say hello to Daniel while visiting his orphanage over Christmas!  While he was there, Daniel asked him if he had found a family for him yet.  Robert wasn't able to tell him about us, but it was a sad commentary on how aware these older children are that their time is running out and that they have the potential to age out without ever knowing the love and safety of home!

It would have been so easy for Daniel to be lost in the shuffle if not for the advocacy of a lone young man, only just turned 21, trying relentlessly to find a home for these children.  That's why I spend so much time trying to find homes for other people's children.  I am so thankful that Robert does what he does and so thankful that Heavenly Father gave us the endurance to wait for the right child and the confidence that he would whisper to us the truth. 

So, that's the story of our sweet boy, Danny.  And after that epic novel ;) I will wait to write about how we found "Wayne" until another day!


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