First Adoption Referral Part 1

For those of you who may not know, the holiday season is extra crazy for our family. There’s Christmas, of course, then myself, Allan, and our youngest daughter have our birthdays almost back to back right after Christmas. Our oldest daughter’s birthday quickly follows in early January. We had a dual birthday party planned for our girls on the afternoon of January 4th. THANK GOODNESS party-planning is not one of my strengths. I had planned from a while back that I would hold their party at a place that will take care of everything for me (venue, food, craft, and even cake). If I had planned to do it all at our house, in light of what took place a few hours before the party, it may have never taken place this year.

The girls’ party was planned for 3:30pm. At 12:43pm, I received a phone call. I didn’t recognize the number, so I didn’t answer. Then it immediately hit me – I do recognize the area code…it’s our adoption agency! Before I could answer, the call was sent to voice mail. My heart started beating fast. We had JUST received our log-in date on Christmas Day (what that means is we’re officially in the China system as an eligible family for adoption). Our agency told us to not expect to hear from them for at least a couple of months. There were many families waiting ahead of us, and the time frame for the matching process was now averaging around 3-6 months.

I listened to the voice mail message. My prediction was right – it was our agency, and she had a file for us. I called her back right away. The first thing she told me was the child’s birth date. My heart skipped a beat. Now, I must give you a bit of a background on this. As I said at the beginning, all four members of our family have our birthdays close together. It was my secret desire for our adopted child to have a birthday close to us as well. But I knew I didn’t want that to influence our decision – I wanted it to be more of a confirmation after a decision has been made. I had thought about asking our agency to not tell us her birth date…but of course, I had forgotten to make that request known. Back to our phone conversation. She told me that this child had just turned two on December 28th. That’s why my heart skipped a beat. That was my birthday. No. Way. God, does this mean she is ours?

Next few hours were a whirlwind. I don’t remember if I even took a minute to sip water for myself until later that night. Allan came home, we looked over the files and pictures, we called people we can think of who can give us insights (other adoptive families, medical professionals, Allan’s stepmom who is a retired nurse, etc.) – all this while trying to get ready to head to the girls’ birthday party! It was quite an afternoon to remember.

I can’t reiterate enough – I am so thankful that we hired everything out for their party. I was able to pause my mind on the adoption (to the best of my ability) and focus on celebrating our two girls at their princess tea party. It was a blast.

What we knew at this point about this girl (other than her birth date) was that her special need was a genital condition…oh, and she had an extra toe:)  From the few people we talked to so far in the medical field, it seemed that her special need was correctable with a minor surgery, although it would be hard to know exactly until she was carefully examined by a specialist. On our drive home from the birthday party, I remember Allan and I saying to each other that so far, we have not come across any reason to say no to this file. Was this really going to happen – so much sooner than we had expected!?

After the girls went to bed, we talked some more with Allan’s parents. They were so helpful and encouraging. They did reiterate that an ultrasound would be helpful to determine the extent of her medical need. We then received a phone call from the International Adoption Clinic (we had paid for a rush-order a few hours back for a medical doctor to review her file). She was very helpful as well. She had similar opinion as others on the genital condition. But she brought something else to our attention that we never noticed. “She is really, really small for her age.” At first, it didn’t alarm us at all. We were used to hearing this about both of our girls, especially our youngest. At one time, we were recommended to bring her to a geneticist to make sure that there was nothing wrong with her (thankfully she gained a few more pounds before the appointment and we were allowed to cancel). So to hear that she’s small was nothing alarming to us. Thinking back though, this was coming from a medical doctor whose main career involved reviewing adoption files, most of them from China. She out of all people knew how typical it was for children brought up in orphanages to be smaller than average. Yet she was still concerned about her size. She recommended that we compare her size to the size of our daughters at that age. At this point, she said she would consider this child more in the “moderate” side of special needs than “minor”.

After we hung up the phone with her, I pulled out the growth chart of our youngest daughter (the one who was referred to a geneticist). According to the doctor, this girl’s size (at 18 months) was the size of a very small 9-month-old. She was absolutely right. Our daughter’s size at 9 months was almost identical to this child’s size at 18 months. I shared this finding with Allan. I then saw his countenance and heard his voice change. “Wow. Really?” was all he said. It was as if a brick had hit us hard.

To be continued…


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