For the past several months I've been posting on a private blog for family with details about our adoption process. We have not been ready to share everything with the general public, but received our Letter of Approval from China (one of the last BIG steps of the adoption process) yesterday afternoon, which we decided was the milestone for announcing publicly.
Introducing Mabel Anne, soon to be a Vermillion!
Unlike other adoptions, where the birth mother chooses the family, or a baby is placed in your arms, sight unseen, with the Waiting Child program the family reviews files and chooses their child. Because we are adopting through that program, this can happen one of two ways.
ONE: We receive a referral through our agency of a child that matches our medical checklist (we filled this out with our original agency application), review her file (though medical files included may be 18 months old or more), and decide that she's ours....or not (we've been warned this way may take about 12 months)
TWO: We find a child through one of several advocacy sites. We request her file, have it reviewed (again medical files included may be 18 months old or more), and decide if we want to lock that file. This option can take much less time.
I found a picture and short description of Miao (her Chinese name, pronounced meow, like a cat) on an advocacy Facebook page back at the end of February. She was posted by an advocate (basically an adoptive parent that volunteers for the agency) from another agency. I contacted the agency right after her picture was posted and was told that because we weren't with their agency (and aren't willing to switch), we would have to wait until all of the families (from their agency) that wanted to review her file had passed on it. Well, the likelihood of that happening was very small. There were several families interested, she's quite young (which is desirable for adoptive families), and her needs didn't seem to be very significant. I asked for her file anyway and showed it to Zak. We watched the included videos and tried to Google words from her medical records. This was February 20th.
I spoke with a social worker on February 27th (Friday) and she let me know that still one family was reviewing her file. I told Zak that I felt like we needed to take a leap of faith and pay to have her file reviewed at the International Adoption Clinic (Baylor Medical) here in Houston. It's $500, so not a cheap step of faith, but one I felt strongly we needed to make. Zak agreed. When I told the social worker that we were going to go ahead and have it reviewed, she let me know that it was fine BUT if anyone else stepped forward from their agency, we would still have to wait for them to make a decision as well.
I called the International Adoption Clinic and they told me there was no way that we would be able to get an appointment on the following Monday. In fact, she said that it would probably be late in the week or the week after because they were so short staffed. Then she put me on hold and came back a few minutes later with an appointment on Monday at 11am.
We spent the whole weekend praying that we would receive a clear and quick answer. It was quite overwhelming.
Monday morning, around 7:30am, we received a call from the International Adoption Clinic canceling our 11am appt because the doctor had a family emergency. Again, we were told that there was no way we would be able to get a different appointment on Monday. Unfortunately, they are closed Tuesday and the remainder of the week, Zak had training meetings that he was not able to get out of. Monday was our only option. Zak told the lady on the phone this and she said she would try to find a doctor, but it was highly unlikely. I knelt down and handed this whole thing over to the Lord. There was absolutely nothing more that we could possibly do.
We also had a meeting with Jakson's psychologist scheduled Monday morning. On the way to that appointment, we got a phone call telling us they had a new appointment. Be downtown at noon. Truly a miracle.
The appointment with the doctor was really helpful and optimistic. She has reviewed over 2000 international adoption files, so knows what she is doing and what to look for. She was impressed with the quality of the videos that were included in Mabel's file and said that the person helping her knows exactly the milestones that a doctor would be looking for and had her demonstrate them in the video. She also talked about how impressive her orphanage is--good ratios, she's receiving physical therapy, and seems to be well nourished.
Zak and I felt very calm after the appointment, but kept asking each other "what do you think?" We were both afraid of making a wrong choice or being the one to decide. On the drive home we discussed that we would call, find out if the other family had passed on her file, and then make a decision from there.
I called, only to be told that the other family was still thinking about it and was waiting for a doctor to get back to them. I was assured that we would be told as soon as all of the other families passed. Two days went by without hearing anything and we were sure someone else had locked her file. At this point, Zak and I knew that if her file got to us, she was ours.
Thursday morning at about 11am, I received the call that answered all of our prayers. Despite the many, many odds, all of the families had passed on her file and they were willing to transfer it to our agency. The social worker said to me "I guess they passed because she's yours."
And yes, she is.