Our adoption journey to Henry began in the fall of 2006.  Peter and I discussed adoption as a way of building our family before we were married, but we didn’t know exactly when it would happen.  It became very evident to us in September that the Lord was leading us toward adopting our next child.  It was one of those situations where we started feeling led very strongly and then everywhere we turned, there was confirmation.  The Lord took us through a season of just breaking our hearts over the reality of the millions of orphaned and forgotten children in the world and we knew beyond a doubt that adoption was the right step for our family.

Our plans were to adopt a girl from Ethiopia.  We didn’t even discuss adopting a boy — Joanna was almost two at the time and it just seemed logical to add another girl to the family (my sister is two years younger than me and we are very, very close.)  We did discuss special needs, but we remained unsure about it as we moved forward.

Things progressed in a fairly predictable way for a while (well, as predictable as possible for an international adoption!) – we finished our remodel, got our homestudy done, applied for USCIS approval,  and applied to an agency for an Ethiopian adoption. 

Then we started having mixed feelings about continuing to pursue Ethiopia for our first adoption.  We knew we wanted to adopt from Africa, so we started researching other countries that allowed US adoptions and found that there were surprisingly few in relation to the sheer numbers of orphaned and abandoned children across the continent.  We ended up applying to an agency for a pilot program to Burundi, but pulled out shortly after we applied because of some major red flags with the agency (as well as the strict age requirements of the country that we did not meet.)  

The road of continued research led us to Liberia.  We had originally looked briefly at Liberian adoption, but had decided against it because it seemed too unstable.  Now, however, it became very apparent to us that this was the door we were to walk through.  So we switched countries yet again on our homestudy (we have a very gracious SW) and began the process of applying to an agency that facilitated adoptions from Liberia. 

After we had been accepted by our agency, I read over the list of waiting children and felt unexpectedly drawn to a nine month old boy with unknown medical issues.  The description read:  “Henry, 9 months, unable to use left side.”  I called our agency’s coordinator to get more information and then talked to Peter about it that night.  It was very unexpected.  He didn’t know if I was serious at first, but even though the scenario was so vastly different from anything we had discussed, he agreed to spend some time thinking about it.

My pull toward Henry remained strong as we spent the next couple weeks talking and praying about it.  We researched the probable condition and spoke to several specialists across the country to get an idea of what we were looking at.  During this time, Henry was taken to a missionary doctor in Liberia for a more thorough examination.  This is when things became a little more complicated because we started hearing several different stories about what actually happened at his birth, and the doctor that saw him felt that it was not a brachial plexus (torn-nerve) injury, but Cerebral Palsy. 

We’d researched CP during the week that we were waiting to hear back from Liberia, and based on our research, severe CP was a more care-intensive special need than we were prepared for. Of course we couldn’t know if Henry’s CP would be mild or severe at his age, or even if it was actually the correct diagnosis, but we had to think through the decision with the most extreme case in mind.  It was with great difficulty that we wrestled through the decision and finally called our coordinator to tell her that we didn’t feel we could proceed at that point due to the unknowns surrounding his diagnosis and the possible severity of his condition.

It just about killed me to end it like that.  Anyone who has seriously considered adopting a specific waiting child and then said no, understands the heartache.  It was agony.  But, we’d made our decision and that was that (or so we thought.)  We got our USCIS clearance and were put on the list for a referral — although we did change our homestudy to either gender and several possible special needs.  

The month that followed was a hard one for me.  I could NOT get Henry off my mind.  I would find myself thinking about him at the strangest times and would wonder how he was doing and whether he had a family yet.  I didn’t clear his pictures off the computer and those huge brown eyes would tug at my heart in a deep way.

I had so many mixed feelings and emotions as I processed our decision.  I wondered if we had made the wrong decision, yet at the same time many of my thoughts were along the lines of “the worst case scenario” in terms of his medical condition.  Would he ever walk?  Would he ever talk?  Were we REALLY prepared to take care of a child that would need great assistance.  Was this something the Lord was calling us to?  Did I just need to let it go for good?  It was a difficult month.  And the hardest thing was that I had no one to talk to, really.  I was just processing it all internally because I wasn’t even sure if I should bring it back up to Peter since we had both agreed on the initial decision to say no. 

 Anyway, after a month of wrestling through the recurring thoughts, I finally decided to talk to Peter about it.  One morning after breakfast I told him that I couldn’t get Henry off my mind.  He looked at me seriously for a minute and then told me that he, too, had still been thinking about him all month.  We agreed to take a little more time to think and pray about it again.  I called our agency to see if he was still waiting, and he was. 

So we spent the next week in continual prayer — beseeching the Lord for clear direction.  We talked to several more specialists as well as a couple of people who had adopted children with Cerebral Palsy — and that was one of the best things we did.  It was completely different talking with someone who was experienced — rather than just speculating and basing our perspective on what we researched.  

We had a HUGE revelation during this time — we realized that instead of evaluating whether or not we were ready to commit to parenting a child with CP, we needed to be asking God, “is Henry our son?” … because if Henry was meant to be our son, then it didn’t matter what handicaps he had, the same as if we had a biological son with similar handicaps.  This revelation gave us such a deep level of peace because it released us from feeling like we would be rejecting the handicap if we said “no” again.  It completely changed our perspective and how we were approaching the desicion — it made the precious CHILD the focus, not the handicap.  We were at peace that if we truly did not feel like Henry was supposed to be part of our family, then we would wait for the child God had for us, but our decision would not be made based on his special needs.

After an intense week, we each reached a place of deep, deep peace about moving forward and felt beyond a doubt that Henry was indeed meant to be our son.  We were scared out of our minds in some ways, but we had SUCH a strong sense that it was right.  Don’t get me wrong — we were very excited about it.  We had fallen in love with him and couldn’t wait to meet him.  All the same though, there were still a lot of unknowns. 

After we called our adoption coordinator to tell her that we wanted to move forward, almost all the remaining fears disappeared.  It was like once we made the final decision and shut the door, it was done.   We walked forward with confidence and the swirling questions ceased.

Fast forward six months.  We traveled to Liberia on short notice (a whole story in itself!) and met our precious son.  I had a moment when I first saw him where I saw the handicaps, but that was it.  Just a moment.  Then I saw HIM… I saw his heart and his personality and his little soul.  And since then, all I’ve ever seen… all I see… is WHO Henry is.  And what amazing kid he is!  I can’t even begin to put words to how grateful I am to be his mom.  I think back on the fears I had and how close we came to missing this precious gift and it makes me feel insanely blessed that God gave us a second chance to say “yes” — a chance to jump out of what we had “planned” and into what He had planned.  What a HUGE and LIFE-CHANGING moment that was when we let all our preconceptions go and just followed His lead.  WE are the lucky ones.

After we came home, we began a five month journey to find out what was really going on inside his body causing the physical symptoms.  We went to doctor after doctor and specialist after specialist, getting first one opinion and then another.  In the end, we scheduled a series of MRIs and discovered that Henry was born with a rare and complicated brain disorder (polymicrogyria) and has a series of cysts in his brain and spine.  It is assumed that he suffered a brachial plexus injury at birth that left him unable to use his left arm at all.  

Regardless of his limitations, Henry is unstoppable .  NOTHING holds this kid back!  I’m amazed every day by his tenacity and ingenuity.  A year ago, it was unsure if he would walk or talk… but after six months home, he is walking, counting and has an enormous vocabulary for his age.  He has a great sense of humor and keeps us constantly laughing.  He is so full of life and sparkle… it just exudes from him.  He is one of the most affectionate children we’ve ever been around.  He is constantly coming up to us to give kisses or to snuggle and say “love ya, mama!” or “love ya, daddy!”

We truly can not imagine life without this amazing kid!

(If you want to read more about our adoption and Henry’s story, you can read through the posts I’ve written this last year under the categories:  “Henry” and “adoption”

 

 

 

 

 

A little about me…

Wife. Mother. Friend. Daughter. Sister. Aunt. Student. Adventure-lover. Photo-taker. Book-reader. Organic gardener. Granola-maker. Green smoothie drinker. Snowboarder. Soccer-player. Aspiring rock-climber. Sometime health nut. Passionate about justice and mercy. Adoption advocate. Business owner and jewelry designer. Wild at heart. Crazy-blessed to live out in the country with my awesome family.

Photography Website:

Contact Me:

sunfreckled@gmail.com
"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something I can do." {Helen Keller}

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i cant wait to see that baby in your arms!


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