the journey, part 1

sometimes i forget that our family is a bit different.   in all honestly, i oftentimes forget that my little girls look different than me.  it isn't until it is just me and them walking somewhere and we are getting "the look" from people that i realize it is not the norm.  it is not a bad look, just one of "i can't figure that out...."  or the look of  "hmmm, i wonder what their story is..."

it's true, there is a story.  and i forget that too.  i fail to remember that we have been on two huge adventures and by golly, not everyone has done what we have done!  it seems so normal to me.  i don't think about the fact that we are an anamoly.  that people look at our family and have lots of questions.  that we are THE face of adoption for lots of the people we come into contact with.

and so with that comes a decent number of people who ask me questions about the process.  some of them are asking just out of curiosity but others out of a genuine desire to know how it all works.  and most of the time, i fall all over my words trying to explain.  i can't get it out, i say stupid things like, "it's no big deal."  (uh, hello sherlock, it's a big deal.)  and in general walk away thinking i did a horrible job of introducing adoption.  and what if, just maybe, that was a family who really and truly were pondering adoption.   probably not, just going with the odds.  but that is not for me to decide.  it is for me to be an advocate and to tell our story.

so....i finally got smart and decided to put it on the blog!  i know, i'm slow.  but i am seriously pushing 40 so there's my excuse.  and with no further ado...here's part 1 of the journey

there are a number of foundational decisions that you have to make before walking more than 3 steps into the adoption process.  for starters, domestic vs. international.  i am not going to get into the pros and cons of that discussion.  i am just going with what i know and that is obviously international.  so there you have it.  let's talk overseas adoption.

the second decision is the country.  there are many, many countries that are open to adoption.  historically, asia has been the hotbed for international adoptions.  but then came the eastern european countries and most recently the african countries.  south america has been in and out of the adoption scene along with some newcomers like haiti and a few others.  choosing a country is a huge decision. you are deciding on a second culture that will be part of your family.  and probably most of all, you are potentially deciding on a race that you will be introducing into your family and that has all sorts of things that go along with it.

oftentimes a family is particularly drawn to a certain country.  other times it is more of a heady decision.  either way, it is a biggie.   if you don't have a specific heart calling to a certain country than i would suggest you do some research.  every country has different guidelines.  of course, we know china the best.  and in order to adopt from china there are guidelines that must be met regarding your age, your marriage, your finanical status, your weight (yep!), your family size and on and on.  that particular country has oodles of hoops.  other countries, not so much. but you need to know if you even qualify for a particular country before getting your heart set.

another thing to investigate is the length of travel needed.  for many eastern european countries at least one parent is required to stay there for up to 3 months.  there are some families where this would not even be an option (like ours).  other countries, like china, require one 2 week stay.  in addition there are countries that have a set time (china) and other countries (african nations in general) that have no set time.  you go over and you have only a loose guess as to when you are coming home with your child.  again, things to consider.   there are many, many families who adopt from all over the world, but chances are your family will have certain needs that will rule out specific countries.

also a decision is that of the age of the child you want to adopt.   you will need to give a range that you are interested in.  for example, for our two adoptions we said 20 - 36 months.  we knew we didn't want a baby but we also knew we didn't want an older child.  one major factor in this decision is the kids you currently have in your family.  for us, we did not want to interrupt the birth order and so always requested children younger than our youngest.  but other families like to 'fill in the gap' or are generally drawn to older children.   it is a completely personal decision and each age range of children has various pros and  cons.

boy or girl.  generally families have a leaning one way of the other.  but if you don't, then you can simply request an age range and leave the gender out of the equation.  oftentimes countries will have more of one gender than another based on deep cultural mentalities that influence child abandonment.  most well known is probably that of china's girls.  so if you have a particular gender in mind, this may influence your country of choice.

and last but not least is the number of kids you are interested in adopting.  more often that not, this is a simple answer.  one.  : )  but more and more common is families adopting whole sibling groups, particularly from african nations where an entire family of children is available for adoption because of AIDS related deaths of both of their parents.  if you have a heart for a sibling group than certainly this will influence your country.

so there you have it...the foundational decisions that must be made before moving forward.  if you are in the process of these decisions i would suggest researching online and if you can, talking to other families who have adopted from your potential country(ies) of choice.  they will know best the nuances of adoption for that particular country and more importantly what it is like to raise a child from that country in america, specifically if another race is involved.

tomorrow's post...choosing your adoption agency.



i found myself rereading the blog last night for the first time in a long while.  and there were several things that came to mind...

1.  what stories i have to share
2.  what a God i have to share that is the author of those stories
3.  and gosh, our kids have really grown up!

about the third point, we now have a boy who is fully in adolescence, puberty going quite strong thankyouverymuch!  we were watching Revolution together the other night (great show to watch with middle school sons)  and i observed a) his hands are bigger than mine; b) he is getting a...i can barely get it out........mustache; and c) my baby boy is manlike!  gracious.

and now that we have got that reality out of the way - and made note of the fact that it is absolutely amazing that such a young thing as i could possibly be old enough to have a middle schooler - we get back to what swirled around and around in my heart last night.  

God.  our family.  and the amazing things we have done together.

as i was reading our sarahjoy adventure my mouth was almost gaping open at the lengths God went to to provide for us and to give us every last thing that we needed - not only financially but in our souls.  our whole being as a family and as individuals was covered in Godness.   i never want to forget.  but i do.  and that's why blogs are good.   they help me remember where we were and where God took us.  even now, my insides get tight and this rush of emotion comes over me when i think of his mercy towards us in the adoption journey.

i want to do it again.  i do.  i think of how many thousands of orphans there are just in china and i want to bring another one home.  not because my family needs more kids or because i have an insatiable desire to fill up every last possible square inch of our house or because our new minivan now can (coincidentally) seat 8, but because God has created each and every little child.  be they in the most loving home imaginable or abandoned on the streets of china, he created each child and they are a treasure.   he commands US to be for these little ones, to take care of his treasures.  and i can't stand the thought of me sitting in america - with my extremely comfortable life - and saying no to precious treasure.   

does it terrify me?  yes.  i am comfortable.  i am sitting really pretty in my american lifestyle.  heck, i even took a family trip to disney world this year.  how much more american can you get? (okay, we could get a dog...but that is NOT happening) and if i am truthful, there is a (BIG) part of me that doesn't want to mess with my comfort.   i don't want a tighter budget and a more 'intimate' living arrangement.  i don't want diapers again.  my kids are independent or at least there are enough of them that as a group they are independent.  who wants to throw a kink in that reality?  i sleep in when i want to and i go to the store when i want to.  my kids are healthy and well adjusted.  they are smart and successful.  (and enormously cute.)  my life is easy.  and to bring another one home?  to have to walk that tightrope of faith again and have no idea what it's like on the other side?  to throw some cranky, crying toddler into the mix whose adjustment is unknown and whose health is a question mark?  yikes.  and yet it plagues me.  it reeks havoc in my heart to think i am saying no.  


even as i write this i am so conflicted.  i want to do the right thing.  i want what God wants for me, for our family.  and in so many ways it seems so easy.  how could God NOT want us to welcome another little child?  as someone said the very first time we were pondering adoption, "if you are thinking about a little girl in china i am pretty sure that is God.  that isn't normal!"  and there is a lot of truth to that.   and yet i don't want to write my own story.  i don't want my passions and emotions to drive what i think God has for us.  could i get some writing on the wall?  could i get an 'amen' from the heavens?  maybe God would have me direct my passions elsewhere, to intentionally encourage other families in adoption.  i mean there is a limit as to how many the sanzones can bring home!  but there is no limit to how many we can be a part of bringing home.  

God's ways are not our ways.  i got one thing down, he's asking for some discomfort.  the question is does it come in the form of diapers or does it come in the form of pounding the pavement.

could i get a coke zero to take the edge off?