doing what's right

Waiting for our Letter of Acceptance from China is definitely a challenge for me. I am a “to do list” kind of person. Last time I took a Myers Briggs type personality test, I came back 100% J – not an element of P in me. I think I’ve grown in my ability to be flexible and spontaneous, but at heart, I am a planner through and through. I alphabetize my spices. I haven’t gotten to it yet since we moved this summer, but usually my closet is organized by type of clothing item and then by color (in rainbow order). I can be just a bit intense. I know this about myself, and I knew this wait would be my least favorite part of the process. Sitting and waiting for an undetermined period of time while a bureaucrat in Beijing decides whether or not Cai Qun can become part of our family is really not my thing. But this is the process, and I will submit to it.

One aspect of the challenge of the wait that I didn’t quite anticipate would be my frustration at seeing hurt and need in the world – being so much more aware of it now that we’ve begun this adoption journey – and feeling like I am doing nothing about any of it. I realize that, Lord willing, in 4-5 months, we’ll be on our way to China to adopt Cai Qun – and that will be awesome. I know there will be challenges, but we will get to become the family for a little girl who is currently an orphan. But until then? We sit and wait – and do what? Sometimes it doesn’t feel like we’re doing enough.

At the same time, though, I can’t dive into too many things, because in a few months, I’ll have to back out of everything. To be honest, I’ve been antsy, wondering if we’re really doing exactly what we’re supposed to be doing. There are millions of orphans in the world, and we’re going through this whole process attempting to adopt one. What is one in the face of 147 million? I have heard adoption compared to the story of the man walking on the beach, picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean, realizing he can never save them all but also that he is making a difference for each one he is able to throw into the water, and I appreciate that analogy. We can’t do it all – but we can do something. We can adopt one child – and that will make a difference.

But should we be doing more? I read blogs of people adopting 2 kids at once or families adopting their 12th or 15th child or couples adopting out of birth order, and I feel like if they can do it, we should be able to do it, too, and why are we not? And my emotional self takes over and asks Matt if we can’t look at our agency’s waiting children list or talk to them about potentially adopting another child at the same time as Cai Qun or at the very least start planning for what we’ll do next, whether that’s going back to China to adopt again or seeking to adopt from Eastern Europe or whatever else.

And Matt looks at me like I have lost my mind. I had lunch with the other elders’ wives from our church this afternoon, and they were highly entertained that in this situation, I am the dramatic one who just wants to go do something and Matt is the logical, reasonable one. This virtually never happens.

We said at the beginning of this adoption process that it would take a burning-bush level revelation from God for us to seek to adopt 2 kids at once or adopt out of birth order. By no means am I saying that everyone should use that as their standard – but for us and our family, we felt like adopting 1 child who would be younger than Miranda was the right choice. Matt’s schedule with work fluctuates between highly flexible with a lot of free time at some points and filled with meetings and preparations for shows and very little time for anything else at other points, and on top of that, he’s also an elder at our church. And we have a toddler who is amazing and wonderful and generally laid back but whose world is going to be rocked by the addition of a sibling. I think Miranda will be a great asset to us as we seek to add another little one to our family – she will demonstrate by example, just by doing what she normally does, what it looks like to be a child in a family, to interact with parents, to give and receive love. But I think we lose that dynamic if we adopt a child older than she is, not to mention that there are potential long-term effects of disrupting birth order and in particular of bringing in a child older than your oldest. We feel pretty well-equipped to adopt one child, as equipped as we can be. It’s not going to be easy, but we think it’s going to be good – good for Cai Qun, good for Miranda, and good for us. Adding two children could be good…but it could also be an epic disaster. Trying to parent three children under the age of three, two of whom have likely never lived in anything like a family environment, would be definitively, unquestionably hard. For us, trying to parent all of them well might be impossible. If Miranda adjusted to her new siblings well, and both of them began to attach well from the beginning, and we all adjusted well to travel and jet lag, and none of our kids had sustained sleep or food or sensory issues, it might be possible to do it well – but that’s a lot of very significant “if’s.” Also, we can’t fit 3 toddler car seats in the back seat of my car. Oh, and perhaps not all of you blog readers know this, but I actually have a job in addition to being mom! I work 10-15 hours a week (from home, while Miranda naps) as a self-employed contractor for the company for which I used to work before Miranda was born. It enables us to make it financially and have just a little bit extra to put toward things we want to do (like adoption!). My hours are extremely flexible – you couldn’t get any more flexible – but we do still need me to work some. When I stop to think about it rationally, I, too, am back to believing that right now we really need to focus on adding one child to our family – assuming China grants us our Letter of Acceptance, our precious little Cai Qun – and I can’t wait for that to happen!

And in the meantime, I really want to focus on loving Matt and Miranda well and preparing for Cai Qun’s arrival and serving in our church and in our community. Those may not be news-worthy or one-time big events, but they’re beautiful and meaningful, as well. I’m thankful I get to live my life right now with these two awesome people 🙂

(Wasn’t my girl a cute one-year-old?!?)

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5 thoughts on “doing what's right

  1. love your heart! God calls us to be faithful to what He calls us to. That could be “big” things or small; I am learning that the small things, are big if done for His glory!!

  2. Another wonderful post Alison. I can relate to your feelings. And didn’t Mother Teresa once say, “God does not command that we do great things, only little things with great love.”

  3. In the same waiting game and feeling the EXACT same way! My clothes are also organized similar to yours and I must have “all my ducks in a row”. This waiting has stretched me and God has taught me many things during this journey. Just the other night my family had the exact same conversation about adding more as I was the one trying to convince my husband to go back and he has always said no. He did finally agree to go back after we get settled with our new one, hopefully sometime this winter. I have another son and birth order is important to us as well. Both children will have enough challenges and that is not one I want to mess with. Hopefully, both our our families will hear something soon! In the meantime I will pack up my care packages and send some love to my daughter!

  4. I’m sorry you’re still waiting on that LOA. 🙁 I hated that wait. Not gonna lie. It is just hard. No way to know when it will come, so you just grin and bear it (and other times scream in a pillow LOL!).

    About adopting two at once and out of birth order, let me just say as you know I am someone who did both (at the same time!)–oh and twinning too–oh my. Still can’t believe we did it, but we just knew. But let me just say I do NOT advise it and would definitely say don’t do it for your first adoption.

    And out of our 4, our first DD, who was the first adoption, has had overall the hardest grafting into our family. She is just very conditional, and so it takes a long time. But we’re much closer than we were 4 years ago. I think unfortunately this speaks to her first 3 years w/out us and what happened there, but I can’t change it so we just move forward at her pace.

    I really hope you get that LOA soon, and do know your somewhat irrational and all-over-the-place mind wanderings are very normal. Or at least my mind went all over the place during those LOA waits. Still I hope it comes very soon. You are DUE!

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