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Friday, March 2, 2012

Pre-Approval or "PA" as the Chinese adopters like to refer to it

Yesterday we got Pre-Approval for our two boys in China!  Whooooohoooo! O my goodness, what a 3 years this has been!  This will be a loooonnnnggg post, but I just have to tell you the whole 3-year story.

Six months after we got back from China with our Eden (about November 2008), we started the process to adopt again.
Eden Lisha, December 2008
 We were in no way ready to adopt again (no one is after 6 months), but it takes so so so so long to complete the process that we just trusted that God would get us ready before it happened.  Apparently, we had a LOT of getting ready to get done.

For some reason, we decided against going back to China...oh yes, now I remember...DW was rapidly approaching 50 and I am not too far behind him and at the time China was taking about 3 years for special needs and we just didn't have that kind of time...Baaahhhaaahaaaa!  So, we decided on Peru instead, which we thought could possibly be 12-18 months start to finish.  That wasn't the only reason we thought we were choosing Peru, but it certainly was a plus. 

We completed our dossier and it was in Peru in about 5 months.  We started reviewing files of sibling groups in order to choose (??? I never did figure out how to do that) brothers we thought would fit into our family.  In March 2010, we sent a letter of request for two brothers.  Pretty soon after that, those two brothers were matched with another family :-(  After a bit, we half-heartedly started looking at files again.  While we were doing this, we got word from someone that they knew of two brothers the same ages as the ones we had just requested that needed a home, would we like to pursue adoption of them?  We saw some pictures and videos, prayed about it, and decided to try.  The boys were technically not available for adoption quite yet and still had some paperwork pending in Peru before we could officially request adopting them.  We understood all of this and still decided to wait for them.  I think that was around June, 2010.

We waited and waited, getting some sort of a progress report on the boys paperwork monthly.  Sometimes the news was that nothing had happened, sometimes it was a tiny spark of hope like a good meeting with a judge or another paper signed.  It was excruciatingly slow.  We learned a lot about patience.  We waited.  We prayed.  We sometimes cried.  Sometimes we got frustrated and vented to one another.  I hope we did not vent to too many of you, but we do thank God for those of you who made yourselves available for venting sessions ;-)  The waiting went on thru November 18, 2010, when there was a judges strike in Peru...and of course, we were waiting on a signature from...a judge.  The people we talked to had never seen a strike last more than a week or so because the judges need their income.  We got an email that the strike had ended on 12/21/2010.  One more month, gone.  And now it is Christmas break...more waiting with little hope of any progress.

There were meetings and promises of more meetings for the first several months of 2011.  I am sure there was progress on the boys files but there was just no evidence of it here in AL.  We were losing hope.  I think at this point, DW had lost hope but I was still hanging on (by a thread, maybe, but hanging on).  In mid-April, we started reviewing files again.  We were so exhausted by this time that we completely abandoned the thought of adopting two boys and began looking at single boys.  On June 30, 2011, we had a letter in hand requesting adoption of a single boy we had fallen in love with (through his file, of course).  Before we could send the letter, on the very day we intended to send it, we got a call with good news about the "original" brothers.  Also, the little boy we were about to request had been on the list for years with only a couple people ever wanting to see his file.  On THIS day, there were two families besides us interested in adopting him.  We released his file to another family.  sigh.

In all of this, we KNEW God was at work.  Mainly because we were being supernaturally patient.  That was not US, believe me.  Not in our nature (especially one of us...wink, wink).  We wanted it to be over.  We wanted SOMETHING to happen.  We didn't want to wait anymore.  But we knew we had to.  We have had Christmas stockings on our mantel for these boys since Christmas 2010...we would wait.

For the next several months we were cautiously excited.  We were getting weekly updates, progress was being made, steps completed, it seemed it was really moving forward and we were REALLY going to get our boys...

Then, randomly, right before Christmas, 2011, we were matched, by the Peruvian government, with two completely different brothers.  WHAT?!? This must be a mistake, we thought.  Their files said they should go to parents with no children...we already have 3.  Something was wrong.  And what about our "original" brothers?  We couldn't accept.  We very respectfully and delicately (thanks to our adoption agency) denied the match. sigh and sigh.

I don't know what happened over Christmas break. I lost my hope.  All of it.  It was just gone.  Not to be retrieved.  I couldn't find it, no, it was worse than that...I didn't even want to look for it.  I grieved.  I let it go.  I was done.  When DW realized what was happening, he tried to encourage me with "Don't lose hope on me now!  We still have a chance.  You've held on all this time, don't give up now."  I just had to reply, "It is too late. It's gone."  And I knew it was.  In my heart of hearts, I knew.

Our Immigration paperwork was expiring (3/15/2012), we had to decide whether to renew in Peru or at all.  By the end of January we knew...we would not renew in Peru, but in China.  What a crazy circle we had made.  Let me see, how many trips around the sun?  Was it 3?  Hmmmmm.  Seems like we didn't have that kind of time.

Mid-January, 2012, DW texted me that he had seen a pic of a cute little boy in China on our agency's website and I should take a look at him.  I didn't know that DW had not actually gone to the website but had just seen a little thumbnail pic and was drawn to him but didn't have time to look.  Well, I had time.  I went and looked at every video and then asked for his file.  I can only describe what happened when I saw him for the very first time as this overwhelming feeling of, "I have to go get him...NOW!"  That was "Gideon".  DW was out of town sitting by his Mom's bedside.  Now he had time, so while he was reading through "Gideon's" file, he noticed that the orphanage listed was the same orphanage that Eden was in (2008).  No...don't tell me. It was true...he was the same time Eden was there.  It was like a kick in the stomach at first.  Why did we not see him before?  He has been there this whole time?  The Holy Spirit quickly quieted me by telling me "The time is now.  He is ready now.  You are ready now."  DW sent me a picture we had of Eden at a birthday party in China right before we went to get her in March 2008...there he was, in the picture, eating cake in a blue sweater.
Gideon, far left...Eden, far right
 I got out the picture book Eden's orphanage had made of her life and started scanning looking for him.  Eden said she remembered him!  They were friends!  And then I saw it...

There they are, Eden on the right, Gideon on the left...coloring.  What are the odds?  I don't even think you can figure odds like those, can you?

Eden says she had never heard the name of God or Jesus in China.  And yet, I know He had a hand in this picture being taken. 

AND, this story is not done. (I told you it was long.)

After we started digging into Gideon's background and asking questions of Lilly in China, she realized that Gideon is in a foster home with another boy on our agency's list.  The name our agency gave him is "Galvin".  As soon as our agency realized it, they sent an email out to the mailing list requesting prayer and "gushing" about how great it would be if both foster brothers could be adopted into the same family.  Remember earlier I said we had given up on the "brothers" idea and were paring it down to one boy.  Remember that?  Remember me saying it?  I did!  Paragraph 6...I said it.  So when I read the email from our agency, I thought to myself "Yes, that would be nice, but we are requesting Gideon and we are only asking for one boy, so maybe someone else in Alabama could adopt him and we could be friends."  Doesn't that sound like a good plan to all of you?  ha.  not.  Watch out, my husband was fasting.  We didn't stand a chance.  I knew before the fast was over what we were going to do.  Because, while he was fasting, the Holy Spirit was telling ME to go get them both.  The morning after DW finished fasting, I gave him an impassioned speech in the kitchen about how "Waverly just doesn't understand why we would NOT get them both.  They are brothers...they have been together for years.  We were planning to get brothers from the beginning.  It doesn't make sense not to get them both.  They need each other.  We can't have them grieving the loss of each other in a strange family where they don't speak the language...", on and on I went while he stood watching me with a bemused (amused?) look on his face. When I noticed the look, I just stopped and said, "You already decided we were getting them both, didn't you?"  "Yes."  "Why did you let me go on and on then?"  "I just wanted to hear what you had to say", he said.

This is the email my DW sent me when we requested Galvin's file to review..."My logical mind says don't do this.  But if I had listened to that I would have missed so much in life."  (Jan 31, 2012)  
If you look closely at the "birthday pic" above, you will also see Micah Jude ("Galvin") in the background behind Gideon...we just discovered this a few weeks ago.  This story just gets better and better.  So, of the 5 children in the photo, taken years ago on the other side of the world...3 of them are ours.  I can't wrap my mind around it.

We have thrown logic out the window long ago.  It's pretty freeing actually.  Did I tell you the boys ages (in context)?  Eden Lisha: 01/08/2005;  Micah Jude ("Galvin"): 04/25/2005;  Gideon Eli ("Gideon"): 07/12/2005.  I am sure I mentioned that we are pushing past 50.  See what I mean about the logic???