(Thank you to Chandra at Regan Ramblings for today’s guest post!)
Deep down inside, I’ve always known that I wanted to adopt. Not only that, but I’ve also always known that I wanted to adopt a girl from Asia. For some reason, I’ve always been drawn towards Asia. In high school my best friend was from Laos. In college my closest friends were Korean, Japanese and Chinese. After that, I went on to be a missionary in Japan for six and a half years.
While I was living in Japan I began to have more and more female-related problems, resulting in a surgery to remove a large fibroid. There were complications during the surgery and it truly was a miracle that I survived. Five months later I found myself at a conference for missionaries and pastors across Asia, which was held in Udon Thani, Thailand. While I was there, I felt right at home. The rural surroundings reminded me of South Dakota, where I grew up. And the tastes, smells and sounds made me feel like I was back in the living room of my best friend’s family during high school. I loved the “Isaan” people of Northeastern Thailand, with their big smiles, easy-going natured personalities and generous hospitality. It brought back happy memories of spending time with my best friend’s family, sitting on the floor and eating sticky rice with our hands, and countless other delicious dishes. I was thankful to be alive and to God for bringing me to such a place, even if it was only for a week. But, as I flew out of there, I prayed in my heart, “Lord, please bring me back here someday, for some reason.”
Fast forward several years, to northern Colorado, where I found myself starting a new adventure at age 34 when I got married to my wonderful husband. We had always wanted children. But, my gynecological problems continued. I ended up having three more surgeries during the first two and a half years of marriage, the last of which ended up being a hysterectomy. It seemed that God was using my dream of adopting as His plan of expanding our family. Finally, my husband caught the vision of what a wonderful miracle adoption could be. But, where to start?
Well, after contacting several different adoption agencies and considering adoption from China, the Philippines or Japan, the Lord got a hold of me one week in 2006.
During that week, I was bombarded with news from numerous sources about the plight of children being forced into slave labor, particularly child prostitution. The two countries I kept hearing about where it was the worst were Thailand and India. I couldn’t get it out of my mind. It was in the news everywhere I turned. At church they talked about it. I turned on the radio and they were talking about it. I opened a magazine and they expounded on the problem.
Finally, I said, “Well, what do you want me to do about it, Lord?” Soon after that, I was doing an internet search to find adoption agencies offering funding to help with the financial costs of adopting. It turned out that I learned about WACAP, which offered special help for adopting waiting children. Besides that, two of the countries they worked with to adopt children were Thailand and India. I thought that I had better inquire for more information.
So, Jay and I looked through the long list of waiting children and finally narrowed it down to two girls whom we thought might be a good fit for our family. And wouldn’t you know it? One girl was a ten year old from India and the other one was and eleven year old from Thailand. We requested more detailed information and discovered that the girl from India already had several families trying to pursue adopting her. But, when we opened the packet of information about the girl from Thailand I burst out laughing when it said at the top of the first piece of paper that she was from Udon Thani, Thailand. All of a sudden, that prayer I had prayed back in 1999 on the airplane flying out of Udon Thani came flooding back to my memory. I had completely forgotten about it, but God had not.
I knew right then and there that we surely must be looking at the picture of our future daughter. My husband cried while I laughed at God’s amazing sense of humor.
We couldn’t believe what a beautiful smile she had and that no one was trying to adopt her.
They listed her interests as music and art. My husband is a music teacher and I have studied and dabbled in art my whole life. We believed it was meant to be. But it would take another two years until she would be able to come home to our family.
Many people have asked me why we would want to adopt an older child. I think, “Why not?” After all, every child needs a family. Besides, we were older. It seemed to make more sense to me that we would want a school-aged child, considering our ages. Let’s face it, it takes a lot of energy to deal with younger children. I ought to know, as I am a preschool teacher of toddlers. Now, I can at least come home at the end of the day and really be able to communicate with my teenage daughter. Because she was older, she was able to better comprehend the big changes taking place in her life, due to the adoption. In fact, she was old enough to give her consent or reject the notion. Since she was old enough to be fluent in her first language she quickly learned how to use an electronic dictionary/translator that we brought along when we met her for the very first time.
We had the privilege of our daughter being able to even lug her own suitcase along on the long trip overseas to come to America. There definitely were some advantages to adopting an older child.
Have there been challenges along the way? Naturally! Everything in life comes with challenges. Some of the challenges that we faced were government slow-downs, political protesters shutting down the airports in Bangkok and then the daily challenges of learning how to bond as a new family. There were also financial burdens, language barriers and fears about trusting, as a result of a rather abusive style of discipline that was a part of her life in an institution. I think that the hardest part for our daughter was learning new, appropriate socials skills. Besides that there were plenty of other skills for her to learn that you and I often take for granted. Before she turned thirteen she had never learned how to tie shoes nor how to tell time. These are just a few of the many challenges that we faced in the first year.
But, I can say, with hesitation, that it has all been worth it.
To see how our teenage daughter has begun blossoming before our eyes into the smart, beautiful and responsible young woman that she is today is such an amazing miracle. She is now an honor roll student winning awards for her violin playing and emerging artistic and writing skills. She came with lots of anger, mistrust and extreme neediness. But, now she is receiving our love and the love of Jesus with an open heart. We now have a daughter to share our love with and double our joy.
Do you have a positive adoption story of your own to share? If so, contact me!