I've decided it is time to resuscitate the ol' blog. It has been clear that for me, parenting 3 young children has not been conducive to regular blog posts. Now that a new adoption journey has started for our family, I want to be sure to document the story of Samuel joining our family.
To be quite honest, about 5-6 weeks ago the idea of a fourth child was not really on our radar. On any given day, at least half of my news feed on Facebook is about children in China who need families or about other adoptive families who are in the process of growing their families through adoption. It is hard not to have it at the front of my mind on a regular basis. In all of our adoptions, I've always been the 'gas' and Bryan is the 'brake'. We have always been unified in our decision to adopt but God seems to prepare our hearts at different times and at different speeds. This time, my heart was ready first and Bryan had agreed to have an open heart.
In March, a fellow adoptive mama (and thalassemia mama) posted about a little boy being called "Wyatt" whose file would be ready soon. I noticed how precious he was and began to research thalassemia to better understand what his needs would be. I spoke to Bryan about what I learned and about what life would look like managing this medical need. Bryan and I discuss medical needs (most often with him fielding questions from me) on a regular basis. He always knows I'm looking at a child's profile or researching when I ask him what something means and I butcher the pronunciation of the word ;)
By the end of March, advocates for "Wyatt's" adoption agency posted that his file was ready. I asked Bryan if I could ask to see his file. He agreed and I emailed to inquire about seeing the medical file of this sweet boy. I quickly heard back from the agency that several other families who were already signed up with the agency were in line in front of us. I assumed one of them would be matched with him and that we had no chance. I chose not to get my hopes up and put it in the back of my mind.
Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later I checked my email and see an email from the agency sitting in my Inbox. Included was a message saying we were next in line to review the file for "Wyatt" -- and his file and photos were attached. I was floored. This was the picture included with his advocacy posts and medical file:
We reviewed the medical file and while it was clear that this sweet baby boy had thalassemia, his development and health were otherwise on target. We had agreed that *if* we were to adopt a fourth child, it would be best if the medical needs were relatively clear cut. Based on our research of thalassemia, his needs would be significant in that they are life-long and frequent, but we felt like it was fairly clear what kind of care he would need.
It took us almost 2 weeks of thinking, talking, and praying about what to do. As we considered what to do, we could see many reasons to say yes and only one possible reason to say no-- and that all revolved around if we thought we were "ready" or not. This process felt so different from previous adoptions, where we decided to adopt, filled out paperwork and waited to be matched with our child (or birth mom in Joshua's case). To find our child first and then begin the paper chase caught us off guard.
We gave ourselves a deadline to make a decision and decided to seek out medical opinions. In the past we have paid big bucks for international adoption clinics to review medical files for us. This time, other thalassemia parents told us the Chief of Pediatrics at Johns Hopkins was a hematologist who would review the file for free. On a whim, I emailed it to him and to the top pediatric hematologist at Texas Children's on a Wednesday afternoon. Within 30 minutes, the Texas Children's physician had replied back with his (free!) assessment. I received a similar (free!) response from the doctor at Johns Hopkins within 2 hours. Unbelievable. Both physicians agreed that this little boy had beta thalassemia major, would need blood transfusions for life, and needed regular medical care from a hematologist. While the medical file didn't include every piece of information we wanted to have, it had enough information to determine his needs.
We prayed, talked, and prayed some more over the next few days. That weekend, we let our families know we were considering saying YES to this little boy. Our parents were surprised but, as usual, incredibly supportive of us. We are so blessed to always have their support and encouragement. At this point, I chose to give Bryan some time to think over the decision and feel certain without me talking his ear off. This took a lot of self control on my part but I did it! On Monday of that week (April 13) I realized I was preparing my heart to have to say no. I told Bryan that I respected his leadership in our family and would be ok with whatever decision he felt we should make.
When we had our final conversation and decided what to do, we both realized that adding a fourth child through adoption will certainly not be easy. We are not naive to the challenges that come with adoption, specifically special needs adoption of a toddler from a foreign country. But at the end of our days, we know with confidence that we will never regret giving this beautiful little boy a family. We know that the medical care we are able to provide will literally save his life. We feel confident that he will bless our family and are hopeful that he will form a strong bond to both us and his siblings.
We know that even at times when there is uncertainty, God always shows up in our adoption journeys. He shows us again and again that He is faithful to the fatherless, that He sets the lonely in families.
We are racing to complete our necessary paperwork to bring Samuel home. He desperately needs regular blood transfusions that he is not receiving in China. Our home study will hopefully be finalized by the end of May and we are setting our sights on bringing him home in September if all goes well.
We covet your prayers for Samuel- for his physical health, for his emotional well-being and for God to prepare his heart to join our family. We ask that you pray for us as we complete piles of paperwork and prepare for the joy and challenge of adding another child to our family. We ask that you pray for our 3 children at home, that God would continue to help them feel secure in our family as we grow yet again.
Thank you for the overwhelming support and encouragement we have received as we announced this big decision for our family. We are honored to share Samuel's Story with you and to have you be a part of what God is doing in our family.