We tried to adopt here. We made the decision to adopt in August of 2008. One of the first things you have to do is choose your path. Domestic newborn felt icky to us. There are 10 families waiting for every baby. I didn't want to have to "sell" our family to a birthmother. And we felt we had too many kids to be chosen anyway. International, we pretty much wrote off because it was too expensive. So we became licensed foster parents, hoping to adopt from the kids who really needed a home right here.
We got our license in April 2009. Unfortunately, the county laid of HUNDREDS of social workers that spring, due to budget cuts. Suddenly, there were more foster homes than children, and kids weren't coming into care except in the most dire circumstances, because there were no workers to supervise placements with monthly visits. We waited, and waited, and waited.
During our wait, I started cruising the Heart Gallery websites, looking for kids all across the nation that matched our homestudy parameters: 1 or 2 kids, 0-4 years old. But the wheels of the system grind slowly, and most kids are older by the time their parental rights are terminated, or they're adopted by their foster parents, and never make it onto a list like these. We did inquire about a few kids, but were not chosen to be their family.
It wasn't until I happened upon Rainbow Kids that we found our child. I got there from a link on one of the Heart Gallery websites, and I plugged in our search criteria. Up popped some kids. Only, RK lists both domestic AND international children waiting for families. When we saw Hannah, we looked into what it would take to change paths and adopt her, even though she happened to be in China, instead of "here." And even though she had special needs we had never considered.
Looking back, I remember thinking we were sooo enlightened as PAPs (prospective adoptive parents) because we were open to a few special needs. That somehow we should have an easy time of it because we weren't waiting and waiting for a perfect, healthy, white newborn. [picking myself up off the floor, where I rolled off my chair laughing] Yeah, it's a process. You go into adoption one person, and you come out the other side seriously altered.
We did some research. I joined a couple of Yahoo groups for limb differences. We had serious talks. Yes, we lived in a 2 story house, but if we needed to accommodate a wheelchair, we could move people around so she could be downstairs. We were optimistic and took a leap of faith.
We saw her face January 26th of 2010. February 8th, we decided to pursue her. Thanksgiving Day, we landed in Beijing on the trip of a lifetime. December 11, we brought Hannah home and began teaching her how to live in a family.
Somewhere along the way, California changed the rules for foster families. Currently, they only allow a maximum of 6 children total in a home. Well, that leaves us out, since we have 7 at home already. So when we began talking about another adoption, "here" wasn't an option for us any more. And honestly, we wanted Hannah to have a sibling who shared her heritage. Someone who looks like her.
We'd been talking about adopting again quite a bit in April and May of 2012. Kind of in a future, not quite yet, sort of way. May 28, I woke up to an email from one of the directors of our agency. They were in China doing a camp for the kids, and she'd met a child and thought of our family. She asked if we wanted to see pictures when they got back to the states.
Of course I fired off a YES! email and then told Paul. We started talking about moving up our timeline a bit and getting started again now, so that in 2-6 months, when her file got to our agency, we'd be ready to be matched to her.
Annaliese, our eldest daughter, had gotten chicken pox on a school trip to Disneyland, and needed to use her ticket before it expired, so I took her, and her friend, Naomi, and Jack to Disneyland on a quick trip in June. I saw our first pictures of the child our agency was calling "Jessica" standing in line for Soaring Over California. Her special needs are similar to Hannah's, with an additional one I felt like we could handle.
Once we got home I started
begging and pleading having rational conversations with Paul about pursuing her. June 23, Paul took me out to lunch, and sitting across the table from me at a little hole in the wall fish & chips place, took a deep breath and said, "Yes."
In a nutshell, that's why we're adopting from China, and not "here."
Thank you for reading, and if you have any questions about adoption or about our journey, I'd be happy to answer them.