We didn’t realize how much of a miracle CavGirl was until we started trying to have another child. We had talked about adoption before we got married. When you have a thyroid disease, it only makes sense to cover all your bases. We had both thought about adoption before we met. I was now 40. We didn’t want too much time to pass before having another child, one way or another.
So we began the adoption process while trying to conceive again. We didn’t know how to choose an agency. We wanted one that shared our values. CavWife’s vacationing parents watched CavGirl as we went to an informational meeting at a popular agency’s Orlando office. There was only one other couple there. Amazingly I knew the woman. But we walked away unimpressed. I wasn’t sure what we were looking for, but I knew we hadn’t found it. This would become a theme in our process.
Nearly 4 months later we saw a poster that an adoption agency we had never heard of was having a seminar, nearby. I went alone. They didn’t begin with a presentation about babies, but a theological explanation of adoption as God’s plan A for some people. They understood where I was coming from, and spoke my language. We had found an agency. It was late spring of 2006.
We also had a country. We were leaning toward China after ruling out Korea. A couple had made a presentation about their experiences with Russia. Adopting from there at the time required you to be flexible and prepared for the unexpected. I was told that if you like a nice, orderly relatively predictable process you should go with China.
Soon they had another meeting at a local church. This was THE church in town at the time. We’d had a few people leave us to attend there. It had become the bane of my existence. I began to call it The Bane. But at that meeting one of the couple’s leading the meeting had adopted from China and lived locally. They would prove to be a big help in answering many questions that arose while we were in unfamiliar territory.
I couldn’t wait for the dossier process to be done. The appointments, fingerprints, forms and all the photocopying were overwhelming at times. I had no secretary so I did all of it while trying to restart a church. Nearly everything had to be notarized. We spent too much time at a local postal store trying to explain why various documents needed to be notarized. We heard “we can’t do that” one time too many. There was a different place farther from home and closer to the office that helped us do what we were told to do to keep China happy.
As our dossier was nearing completion we grew concerned about the wait. Not so much for us, but for our daughter. The wait times were climbing in anticipation of changes in China’s adoption policies. Officially it was 18 months, but unofficially we learned it would be much longer. It seemed like half the world wanted to adopt from China. We went through the list of special needs, identifying which ones we thought wouldn’t put us in over our heads as I dealt with the realities of ministry as a solo pastor. We also considered changing countries, but those doors quickly closed. We submitted our dossier in March of 2007.
After completing the dossier, we decided to increase our attempts to have another child.
Our efforts became more serious. During ovulation I became a sex slave of sorts. You’d think that this much sex would be like a dream come true for a man. My dream turned out to be a nightmare. I never thought I’d ever say “Again?” with fear in my voice when it came to sex.
We also decided to take advantage of the infertility benefits in our group insurance. That was when we learned that both of us had infertility issues. I also had a autoimmune disease; I was allergic to my own sperm (possibly due to being kicked THERE while sparing in Tae Kwon Do). They essentially liked to huddle together instead of swimming for the prize. Perfect!
I couldn’t stand the thought of jabbing CavWife with needles. I didn’t want to hurt her by mistake. So she did it. I had watched friends go through this process. I knew what was probably coming. The elevated hormone levels would make the monthly disappointment even more disappointing. It could quickly become crushing defeat. The fact that there was no treatment for my infertility issue made the situation even more dire. After the first month we talked about it. Maybe I was a coward, but I think I was being wise and protective. But we stopped the extra ordinary measures and focused on the adoption.
CavWife began to wait on me, again. We would get information about children with special needs that fit our profile. I kept saying ‘no’. She was getting frustrated. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but would know the child when I saw him (yes, we wanted a boy). I asked her to trust God to work in me so I’d know. It didn’t take much longer. Just before the 4th of July we got information about a little boy with bilateral cleft lip and palate. It was the eyes. So many kids’ eyes seemed dead, lifeless or at least joyless. His seemed alive. He was the one.
Little did we realize that he had initially failed to thrive. Nearly dead, he was sent to a smaller orphanage run by a woman from New Zealand. She, and her staff, brought him back to life. She gave him the nickname of Daniel, knowing he’d encounter many obstacles. If we knew about the nickname, we would have kept it. Instead we chose Elijah- Yhwh is my God- as our greatest hope for him.
The referral was approved in August of 2007. Somehow, we with doctorates in waiting didn’t have to wait. This was great news because that small church was closing. If I was unemployed too long we’d have to stop the adoption process and then get back in the much longer line. So we continued the process of moving from referral to travel with all of the accompanying forms, fees, couriers, and requisite waiting.
While we were away for an elongated Christmas vacation, we got the word about travel dates. CavWife would travel the day after we were supposed to return to FL. We had been waiting for an appointment to have our fingerprints re-done since they were about to “expire.” There were lots of phone calls and changing of flights to get everything done before she left the country. It would take time to process the fingerprints, and they would have to be at the U.S. Consolate in China in order to finalize the adoption so they could leave the country.
Everything is on their timetable, not yours. You bend, or break, to their time frames. This is a reality of adoption, and infertility- the complete sense of powerlessness. You can’t control anything, but are subject to far greater powers. It isn’t just the waiting; it is the scrambling, the inane paperwork, the endless questions. You are not in control. And that is a hard reality to face.
Even in China she had to wait. The day he was supposed to arrive arrived. But he didn’t. For hours she watched, tearfully, as children were introduced to their new families. Where was CavBoy? Finally word came that they had not left in time to arrive that day. Tomorrow. Then we were waiting on the fingerprints to arrive for the appointment at the U.S. Consulate on Monday. Back home it was Sunday night, there was no one I could call to facilitate the process. She kept praying and reading Psalms. Amazingly they arrived before the end of the day.