But to continue...
While we were living in KY, we began looking into adopting a child. We were fairly certain that we didn't want an infant, though we wouldn't have turned one down. We first looked into the state run foster/adoption services. There are so, so many children in this system. What tore our hearts more than anything was to see so many older teens looking for forever families. There were kids as old as 17 who have probably been languishing in the system for years.
After going through the processes, and actually applying to adopt children, it never seemed to work out. Several times we had gotten to the stage of being considered among several parents, and another set of parents were chosen. Our age was a factor that we had to get used to. A couple of times, we were even given the opportunity to adopt through a private agency and the birth mothers either chose to keep their children (We pray that this was even a greater blessing for the child) or chose a younger couple.
After a few of these heart wrenching episodes, we decided to pursue international adoption.There are trade-offs for everything. The paperwork is about the same volume or more than foster/adoption, though each country has its on criteria. The cost can be significantly higher and each country has their own costs. After much prayer and looking at the criteria, costs, and length of processes for each country, we settled on China. One other country's system turned us down because we were a bi-racial couple. (Can you believe that?).
We found A Helping Hand, an international adoption agency in Lexington KY. We then began the "Paper Dragon". Wow it absolutely boggles the mind the amount of paperwork and the amount of hassle it takes. You have to provide a thorough background, which for us was a little involved because we'd moved around so much in our adult lives. You do a home study which combines, the background, character references, job references, financial status, health history and status, and self evaluation. Then a social worker visits with us at our home and at their office a couple of times. They then put together a report and give their opinion on our viability as parents. All this paper work must be signed, counter signed, notarized, and then sealed by the Secretary of State. (I'm sure Condolessa Rice is sitting down signing all these documents - NOT. Rubber stamped).
Because we were adopting from China, we were assured that we would be adopting a girl and we asked for child as young as available. Everyone takes it for granted that a Chinese adoption will be a girl because it seems about 95% of the orphans are girls. As a lesson in culture, it is not that the Chinese value girls less, it's because they have no retirement system like we do here in the States. It is the responsibility of the child to care for their parents. If you are only allowed one child - as is the law currently throughout most of China - and that child is a daughter, she will grow, marry and live with her husband. He will care for his parents, but will be ill prepared to care for hers as well. So the parents want a son - to care for them in their old age. That's the general sense of it.
One week we visited family in the DC area. It just so happens that it was on 9/11 when we returned. Yes, that 9/11. Because Pam and I happened to be listening to CD's the whole way we knew nothing about it until later. There were a bunch of phone messages on our machine when we got home that afternoon. We had apparently gone around DC not too long before the one plane crashed into the Pentagon. There were frantic voices asking about our safety and well being. We were clueless; probably a good thing at the time. We had thought it was odd that the flag at the KFC headquarters was at half staff. When we got home our water was off and I saw some men working in the street so I went out to ask how long it would be. Outside one of the trucks I overhead a radio announcer say something to the effect of "...no one has claimed responsibility for the attack". I went home and turned on the TV. When I saw the image of the plane going into one of the Trade Towers, I thought it was just a commercial for some stupid movie. That was until I figured out the video was on every channel and they kept showing it over and over. We figured out that at time that this happened, we were probably somewhere new Quantico. So ten years from now when people ask "where were you when..?", we can shiver in the thought that we just missed being eye witnesses.
When we picked up our mail at the post office that day, we received a letter from A Helping Hand that included a photo list of Waiting Children. These children were those that the agency was trying to strum the heartstrings of adopting parents. They are generally older and/or had medical problems of some sort. In the adoption world, healthy babies are first choice. As Pam and I were looking over the pictures of these little ones, we saw this little cherub with the cutest tiny pout and we both instantly pointed at him -him! FujianLo, a little boy about 2 years old. He was born with a cleft palate. We found out that he'd had the first surgery to close the lip by a Surgeon from Operation Smile. (More about that later) We thought that he was so cute, and the letter had been sitting in the post office for so long, he was probably already "taken". We called A Helping Hand the next day anyway. God is great!! He had not been chosen yet and we told them that he was ours now.
To be continued.....................