Sunday, January 25, 2015

Party of Five?

We have big news!  We are in the process of adopting from China...  ...and it looks like some exciting things might start happening with that very soon.  So, I wanted to capture the events that led us to begin exploring adoption...   I want a record of how it all came to be so that she and we can look back on it and remember :-).

...We had "decided" two kids were enough.  Before marrying, I had negotiated with Andy that we would have two children with an option for a third if the two were same sex :-).  I always wanted three children.  Andy wanted two.  But, Cooper's birth and first year wore me out.  I was approaching 40 and worried about having a healthy pregnancy anyways...  So, despite my having the "option" with Andy to have a third, I resigned myself to the fact that we were going to be a family of four.

Our boys are precious (I'm not biased at all ;-)).  I have never felt I had to have a girl to complete our family like so many moms seem to have.  I honestly feel so lucky to just have what I have.  I have a wonderful husband and two amazing boys - things I wondered if I would ever have.  I also really wanted private schools for our boys - and where 2 kids in private school is doable, 3 is a lot.  So, I thanked the Lord for our blessings and was content.

But, around a year ago, someone asked me if we were done having kids.  And I responded "Yes, unless we end up adopting..."  And that got me thinking...  Wait, Cooper is about to be two.  Adoption takes 18 mo - 2 years.  If we want to adopt and have our children close in age, we are already behind the curve ball...  So that got me started on investigating adoption.

I brought it up to Andy and asked him what he thought.  He surprised me by saying, I always thought when I married you that we would end up adopting...  That was not what I expected to hear from him!  But I went with it :-).

I had also been praying to God about how he wanted to use us.  I am big on purpose and having one.  Don't get me wrong - being a wife and mother to the guys I have is a big purpose.  But, reality is, our family is blessed beyond belief.  We don't consider ourselves "rich", but did you know, that most people who are rich, don't think they are?  That is all of us in the U.S.A.  We are all rich!  If you are middle/upper class in the U.S.A. you and we are the 1% of the 1% of the world.  I would ask "God, why have you blessed us so?" and He clearly said to me "I have blessed you, b/c I know you will bless others with your blessings...".

Andy and I were both blessed with good parenting.  Parenting that has taught us how to fend for ourselves, live independent lives, good educations, the Gospel, etc...  And, so, it all came together that look, if we can take one child that doesn't have a mother and father, if we can raise and provide for her and help her to have a productive life - what a way to bless others...    And, we get blessed in return by getting another child to love and raise.

Around this same time, a friend from church hosted the IF Gathering Conference at her home.  As you can tell from the name a the theme is/was "If God is real then...."    That's a really powerful question...  If God is real, then...  Am I prioritizing my time and resources correctly?  If God is real, is sending our boys to private school more important than providing a home to a child that will have none?  Whoa.  And, if God is real, do I not trust in his ability to provide for my family?  If we who have so much, think we don't have enough to be the ones to care for the orphans, then who do we think will?  

And, honestly, then and there I felt like God was kicking me in the pants, telling me to get off my bottom.  I felt an urgency that there was a child out there that needed Andy and me as their parent and we were supposed to go get that child - and we needed to start now.

So, we started doing our research.  I knew that in the U.S. children to be adopted are in demand and there are a long list of infertile couples who wait a long time for those children.   We don't want to compete with infertile couples for a child.  We want to provide for a child that needs a home and might not find one otherwise.  

When I was 30 and single, I had made a plan that if I didn't meet my husband by age 35, I would adopt a little girl from China because I knew they allowed single women to adopt and little girls needed homes because they were abandoned because they were not boys.  We also have two boys and thought if we are adopting a child, it would be nice to have the opposite sex so that she felt special and not competitive with her siblings.  So, we were led to China.  We were shocked to find out that the wait to adopt a healthy child from China was 7-8 years, now, for a variety of reasons.  But, we were introduced to the special needs program where the wait was 18-24 mo for a minor special need like cleft-lip/palate, club foot, etc...  

Honestly, the special need thing really stressed us out.  Heck, to be honest, it still does  But, we also began to see the beauty of it...  How wonderful that not only could we provide a home, but we could provide medical care that would help a child to live a completely normal life...  How many people are in a situation to do that?  ...and yet we are!

God kept working in our lives...  I was still stressed about being able to provide what we wanted for our family, and at that exact moment God provided us with three instances of unexpected financial blessings...  Just to show us - have faith.  I will provide.  We had just bought a home with 5 bedrooms  - so more than enough room for another child - and across the street from an amazing elementary school in a neighborhood where the boys would have friends who were also taught to love the Lord....    I randomly saw a sign in a store that said "what God leads you to, he will lead you through..."  Just so many things that all pointed towards God's plan for our lives...

And, we started to see how the Lord had been working all along to bring us to this point.  First, Andy and I didn't meet and marry until we were 32.  We wanted two years of being married before having kids (actually Andy did - I wanted one - but I didn't fight him on it. ;-))  It then took us over a year to get pregnant with Mack despite us having no infertility/physical reasons for this to be the case...  ...and it took 16 months after having Mack to get pregnant with Cooper..   ...And all that left me having Cooper at 37 (but two months from being 38)...  Cooper's birth was hard - he was 10 lbs and they had to cut my uterus in a 'T' to get him out where Mack's was a breeze.  I hemorrhaged for an hour after birth and they kept me in observation because they were worried about how much blood I had lost.  Then, Mack got pneumonia and was hospitalized for a week the day we brought Cooper home...

I don't know what your version of hell will be, but mine will be my sick child in a hospital trying to sleep with an oxygen monitor on him throwing off an alarm every time it goes under 90% - because you know waking up a deathly sick kid is probably what's going to help him get better.  So, instead of getting sleep, I watched the monitor all night long so that anytime it dipped below 90%, I could hit the button so the alarm wouldn't go off and he could actually sleep.  Keep in mind, I had just had a horrible labor that turned into a c-section.  I could barely get up and get down because I hurt so badly.   I was completely exhausted because of the birth, surgery and newborn feeding.  And, since I was in the hospital with my son who has pneumonia and Cooper is at home because the only thing that could make this worse is Cooper coming down with pneumonia too - so, I am pumping in the hospital every 2.5 hours.  My poor mother-in-law was home with Cooper who wouldn't take a bottle because he wanted the real thing and I am sure Cooper's birth was as much a nightmare for her as for me.  (Have I mentioned I won the mother-in-law lottery?)  In general, it pretty much made the whole birthing a baby process an absolute nightmare and not something I ever wanted to do again...  Plus, even if I miraculously felt like going through that again, even if I had gotten pregnant 6 months after having Cooper, I would pretty much have been 40 before having another child...  

...and I had always had a heart to adopt...

So, Andy and I talked and both agreed, we weren't ready to adopt at this moment...  But since the timeline of adoption was 18-24 months we thought we should start the process and see where it led us...  So we started the process..  It very much has felt like we have been building an ark on faith seeing where it takes us...   ...and, all of a sudden, it looks like it is about to take us somewhere wonderful!  :-)