Our family story in a nutshell:
Paul and I met in 1993 and married in 1994. I wanted a large family, and before we married, he agreed we could have 6 kids. We started our marriage with a 2.5 year old, and the kids came quickly after that. At one point we had a newborn, an 18 month old, a 3 year old, a 4.5 year old, a 6 year old and a 10 year old. We thought we were done. (Cute, right? God laughs at us, I'm sure.)
God was good to us in the early years. We went from living paycheck to paycheck in an 800 sq. ft. apartment, even rolling coins from Zach's piggy bank once to make the rent, to better jobs and living on my grandmother's 5 acre farmland.
In 2003, we had a surprise pregnancy. I knew Paul would be less than thrilled, so I didn't tell him until the second trimester. During this pregnancy, we moved from Santa Rosa to Elk Grove, buying our first house. We welcomed Jack (Furby) in 2004, and Paul took steps to ensure there were no more surprises.
When Furby was 4, we were at a totally different place in life. The kids were much bigger, and we felt like we had a better grasp on things. One day I was reading a link about adoption that a friend (http://lifeaccordingtothechristians.wordpress.com/) had posted to her MySpace page and was called away from the computer. I came back to find dh sitting in front of the computer, and he looked up with a funny expression on his face. "Sorry! Sorry! I wasn't trying to say anything, I was just reading something Ashley linked to!" I hastened to reassure him. His startling response was, "I've been thinking about it lately." You could have knocked me over with a feather. Although I'd brought up adoption several times during our marriage, he'd never taken me seriously or expressed any interest.
That was in August of 2008. Over the next couple months, we explored the 3 types of adoption and settled on fost-adopt because it was the cheapest option, and because we felt like we would be helping to meet a need. We signed up with an agency (http://www.families4children.com/) and began our paperwork and classes. And I started to read everything I could get my hands on about foster care and adoption.
We finally finished the homestudy and received our license in April of 2009. Then we started to wait. And wait. And WAIT. In July, we got a call. I said yes! we'd take the little boy who was being treated for burns and needed a family willing to learn to care for them. Unfortunately, another agency secured the placement before ours did, so we didn't get him. Then we had a long dry spell of waiting again. Our eldest son, Zachary, turned 18 during this time, and was fingerprinted in accordance with the rules for foster care. Finally, in December, we received another call. Can you take a 3 month old baby girl with broken bones? I said yes again, heart breaking for this tiny child. They called back an hour later and said she was taken by another agency. 2009 was a dry year for foster placements because the County had laid off so many social workers due to budget cuts.
January 26, 2010, I was once again looking at photolistings online. Many areas have a Heart Gallery of photos of adoptable children waiting for families. http://www.heartgalleryofamerica.org/Galleries/default.asp Here is a listing, if you are interested. I cruised the listings regularly, looking for 2 little girls to add to our family. On this night, however, I clicked a link and found myself here: http://www.rainbowkids.com/ This was a site that listed "hard to place" kids, both domestic and international. I plugged in our search criteria, and up popped several photos. One of them stole my heart, so I showed her picture to Paul. Now I had shown Paul pictures from the photolistings several times before. Some serious, like the twin 1 year olds and the baby brother that we inquired about in Oregon. Some, less serious, like the sibling group of 6 in Texas. Usually, I got a grunt. Sometimes he would go so far as to agree the child/children were cute, but that's it. This time, he asked questions.
Would we qualify? I was surprised to learn that, while China only allowed small families to adopt their healthy babies, their Special Needs program would allow larger families to adopt. Our income level, net worth, health history, and criminal history were all within China's rules. It would mean changing our homestudy. It would mean travelling to China. It would cost thousands of dollars. She had special needs we had no experience with. But as we prayed about it, the thought of leaving her there... we just couldn't do it. We contacted the agency that had her file, and within a couple of weeks had decided to move forward. 2010 was spent paperchasing, and on Thanksgiving day, we landed in Beijing.
Now, one year after our adoption, I know this is something I want to do again. Not right now--we just bought another house--but eventually, I'd like to adopt 2 more.