I think I always knew that I wanted to adopt a child someday. I think of it as a calling because, like my decision to become a graphic designer, it just felt like it was part of me. I didn’t have to mull it over or lay out all of my options. I didn’t have to make a pros and cons list. I just knew that I wanted to do it.
Within months of my giving birth to our “Little One”, Evangeline, people began to ask me about our future children.
“Will you be having any more children?” they would ask curiously. “Are you going to be making Evie a big sister any time soon? How many children are you planning to have?”
I found myself telling people that we would be adopting our next child. Don’t get me wrong; my pregnancy was uneventful and healthy. It was a huge blessing, but I simply wasn’t interested in doing it again on purpose.
My husband Joel had never really thought much about adoption. When we were dating and in our early years of marriage, we talked about it, but I think he thought my adoption talk was a bit like when you talk about your dream job or your dream home—something you might do someday, maybe, if everything lines up.
After Evie was born and I started talking about adoption more intensely, Joel started to take a serious look at our finances, our debt from school loans, our mortgage, and our savings. He takes a very logical approach to decisions, doing hours and hours of research before making his best recommendation. He said no a few times. I kept telling him that it wasn’t that I wanted to adopt; I needed to adopt.
So, he researched some more. He prayed a lot. He listened to my impassioned speeches and came with me to orphan care seminars. Then one day, he said, “Okay, let’s do it.” And that was it. He was in.
Within a few weeks, we had submitted our application. We first applied to a transracial domestic infant adoption (DIA) program because, several years prior, I remembered that an adoption agency rep had told me that they didn’t have enough families that were willing to adopt a child of a minority race. That didn’t sit right with me, so I knew that was the program we needed to be in.
We started with $750 in our adoption fund in March 2012 and began working hard to raise the funds we needed. The estimated $15,000-20,000 we would need looked like an insurmountable number, but we started chipping away at it. We started with selling homemade peanut butter eggs and raised $350. Then we did an online auction of donated items and raised $800. I started two Etsy shops and began selling handmade nursery linens and microwave heating pads online, which brought in $2,000.
After a few months and a few hundred dollars spent, Joel and I both felt unsettled about the DIA program. The issue was that they didn’t need families after all; there were hundreds, even thousands of families waiting for an expectant mother to select them to raise her child. There was heavy competition between families to have the best profile book or website to show expectant moms who were considering adoption. That wasn’t what we had meant to sign up for; it wasn’t what we had been called to do. (It’s the best or only option for a lot of people; it just wasn’t for us.)
We started researching international adoption programs, which we had originally ruled out due to their cost. We both felt drawn to the China special needs program, but, with $35,000 in estimated fees and expenses, we didn’t think it would be possible for us to do it. We resisted, citing to each other all kinds of potential obstacles, but The Lord didn’t give up on His call on our hearts.
In the end, we gave in, threw our concerns at the foot of the cross, and dove into the China adoption program. It was October 29, 2012.
Once we had switched officially to the China program, we knew we would need more help than our peanut butter eggs could cover. People kept asking us how they could help, so we wrote a letter to all of our friends and family members, explaining what we were doing, why, and how they could help us bring our child home.
It was intimidating to write and send out that letter, because it put our adoption process out in front of everyone. I took my private adoption blog public, switched from pseudonyms to our real names, and included the blog URL in the letter. Our mostly quiet journey to our “Little Two” became everyone’s journey to our Little Two.
Responses were overwhelmingly positive, but we did receive some negativity from people who did not understand our call or felt it was inappropriate to “ask people to foot the bill.” That was hard to handle, but it wasn’t the last or the harshest negativity we would face along the way.
Within a few months, people began to send us money for our adoption fund. We watched our little fundraising thermometer skyrocket past $10,000 within three months. We sent in our application to the China program as soon as we met the minimum age requirement in May 2013.
We trudged through our home study, gathered all of our documentation, attended hours of online adoption training seminars, read books about adoptive parenting, and continued raising funds.
We started collecting donations of children’s clothing to have a small sale and ended up with a giant sale that raised $1,800. Follow-up garage and consignment sales brought the total raised past $3,000 from the clothing.
In October 2013, we were finally home study approved and officially waiting to be matched with our new son or daughter in China.
I continued selling my handmade items on Etsy and at local craft shows, which brought in $4,000 in 2013. We sold off anything from our house that we could spare using Craigslist and flea markets on Facebook. We added up the interest paid by our adoption savings account every month and added it to the total. By the end of 2013, we’d raised up more than half of what we needed.
After a very fundraising-heavy 2013, I needed a break. If you haven’t ever tried to raise money, allow me to let you in on a secret—it’s emotionally exhausting. You spend hours upon hours strategizing the best way to spend your money to turn it into more. You are constantly updating people on your financial situation, constantly feeling judged for stopping at Starbucks once in six months because, shouldn’t I be saving money to bring my child home and not buying a $4 coffee? Is it okay for me to get a haircut? Or should I grow my hair out and save the $30? What about new socks? If I buy this fabric on clearance, I could increase the ROI of my Etsy shop, but will people want to buy this color? I could take this extra web design job, but that means that I will be up every night for a week until 3 am. The barrage of judgment from my internal critic was incessant and increasingly difficult to ignore.
I resolved to do only one large fundraiser in 2014, rather than many separate little ones. It seemed that those around us were a bit fatigued from all the nickel-and-diming as well.
On January 10, 2014, we got word from Show Hope, an adoption and orphan care ministry, that our application for an adoption grant had been approved and we had been awarded $5,000! It was an amazing blessing to fill in $5,000 of our remaining need so unexpectedly.
On February 21, 2014, our completed dossier was sent to China. An adoption dossier is a packet of official papers that tell the story of your family in legal documents and notarized interviews. Our dossier was logged into the Chinese government’s computer system (LID) a week later. Though we’d been officially waiting for a match since the previous October, being LID was a whole new level of “ready.” It meant that it was even more likely that our match would come soon.
With nothing left for us to do but wait, I turned my attention back to planning our fundraiser, a virtual 5K event run through Pure Charity. We called it 5K for 6k for the 6,000 miles between the US and China. The event allowed for people all over the country to participate without needing to attend a specific local event; they could run, walk, jog, bike, skate, row, etc. whatever distance they chose, from wherever they were. As I planned the event, I was able to keep myself from wondering too much about when we would be sent a child’s file to review.
In April, we got a call. An 18-month-old boy named Xin needed a family like ours. Would we agree to adopt him as our son?
You’d better believe it!
Within a month, we were officially matched with our future son, Theodore Xin, and waiting to receive our Letter of Approval from China (LOA). The typical wait at the time was 60-90 days. Our wait ended on July 28, 2014, after 82 looooong days.
Our 5K fundraiser came together in early August. We had 20 participants all over the eastern US, and, together, we raised $2,500 toward our adoption fund! It was the most successful ask-only fundraiser of our entire fundraising campaign.
As we closed in on the end of our process, we received several anonymous gifts of $500 or more. One was $1,500! It was truly a blessing to watch the Lord work through our friends, family members, our church, and members of our local community.
We received our Travel Approval (TA) and confirmation of our Consulate Appointment (CA) at the end of September and were bumped from an expected travel date of November 7 up to October 17.
I’m writing this on October 7, one week from boarding the plane to go get our Little Two, our Theo. We are 96% funded, our plane tickets are in my email inbox, and my dining room table is covered with things that we will be packing into our suitcases in just a few short days.
By the time you read this, it will be November, and, Lord willing, I’ll be at home on my couch with my son next to me.
|Meeting Theo for the first time|
I’ve always felt that God uses little things in our lives to show us how He’s working in the big things. Our appointment at the US Consulate in Guangzhou, China, is set for October 29, 2014. If that date looks vaguely familiar, it’s because it was on October 29, 2012 that we laid it all in the hands of the Lord and agreed to follow His leading into this call to adopt a son from China. Two years to the day since I wrote this:
“When the Lord calls, it’s no suggestion. It’s not up for debate or discussion. He has a reason, whether it makes sense in our small-time, one dimensional frame of mind or not. Our job is to follow His leading wherever it takes us. We thought the financial roadblocks would keep us off this path, but we’ve realized that it’s not up to us to get through the roadblocks. We just stay on the path, following the Lord’s leading, and He’ll get us there.”
Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!
To read about the rest of our process and our trip to China in October 2014, visit www.onethousandforone.com.