When we adopted Abby, even through the crazy adoption paperwork and the difficult first few months of adjustments, we knew our family was not complete. We figured we'd add to it at least one more time, but what we really didn't plan on doing was adopting from China again. The paperwork had been exhausting, not to mention expensive. Frankly, any thoughts of expanding our family at the time revolved around the possibility of trying to have another biological baby.
Like most other crazy turns in my life, I can start the next sentence with "And then God....." We found out sometime around November 2010 that China had changed some of its rules for the Special Needs adoption program. Basically, the new rules allowed for parents who had adopted within the last year to proceed with the adoption of a second child without having to file a new dossier. There were stipulations attached as to what the special needs of that child should entail and they had to be listed is a "Special Focus" category.
We had already been feeling God softening our hearts towards another adoption, and when we heard these news, it was confirmation. Without the time and money spent on a dossier, somehow the whole prospect of another adoption seemed a lot less overwhelming. How sweet would it be for Abby to grow up with a Chinese sibling, someone who looked like her and shared her heritage? We thought maybe being in Japan would make things a bit easier, too, at least as far as the adoption trip was concerned.
However, the clock was ticking. We needed to send our Letter of Intent to adopt a specific child to China before one year of completing our last adoption, making our deadline mid-January 2011. We scoured waiting child lists, blogs, yahoo groups. All the while we prayed frantically for direction. We certainly did not want to start this process if it was not His will that we do so. We did not want to just step forward for any child because we wanted to meet a deadline. If He had called us to this, we prayed, we needed to feel peace and a certainty that this was a child He had intended to join our family.
After seeing so many pictures of waiting children I didn't think I could handle it anymore, and sending a pile of files to be medically reviewed only to hear about needs that we did not think we could possibly provide enough care for, we started to think maybe we had made all this up in our heads and were not intended to walk this path once again.
Then we saw Evie's picture on an advocacy blog. She was 18 months at the time. Her special needs included having been born with spina bifida, more specifically a meningocele which was repaired a few months after birth. She also had a small hole in her heart which had closed on its own. At 18 months old she seemed to be doing quite well, walking up and down the stairs on her own, running after playmates. We had an international doctor review her file and everything she had to say was very encouraging. We prayed intensely and felt led to step forward - to do everything in our hands to make Genevieve Grace our daughter.
Many hurdles were still ahead of us - too many to recount here. It has been a LONG and arduous process, and our faith has been tested (and grown) more than at any other period in our lives. We ended up having to put together a new dossier anyways, because we had some issues with our homestudy mainly due to being all the way out in Japan (what we thought would be helpful ended up being a huge pain). I keep thinking God is really wise and amazing, because we would have never even considered adopting again if we thought we'd have to do the whole paperchase again. Yet once we were in love with Evie, nothing as insignificant as paperwork was going to keep us from her.
It is truly a miracle that we stand on the verge of holding little Evie in our arms for the first time. SO many mountains had to be moved for this to happen, I am in complete AWE of what God can do. I will be forever grateful that He called us on this journey.