I was born an optimist. My mom says that I was always a happy little kid.
And I don't feel as if I've had an overtly easy life. I've survived divorce, a fire that took all my sentimental possessions, miscarriages, job losses, a child who was born with multiple special needs, and the usual ups and downs that come with being part of the human race.
And yet, I had always had a rosy outlook on life and thought I could conquere the world and it's problems. I had a strong faith and felt that with God and my family on my side, I could survive anything.
And then, on Oct 23, 1997, my son Travis and daughter Erin were in a car accident on their way to school.
And suddenly I was in a hospital watching nurses change the blood-soaked towels that were wrapped around my daughter's head... I signed donor forms to select which organs we would agree to donate... I held Erin's hand as we stood around her saying the Lords Prayer, and the life support machines were turned off.
Nothing in life or in the Bible prepares you for that.
I felt beat up and alone.
And almost every day, on the way to work, I had to talk myself out of driving my car into a telephone pole.
In my grief, I reasoned that Loren could take care of the boys on his own, right? But who was taking care of Erin? Was she scared and lonely, questioning what had happened? If I could be with her, then she wouldn't be afraid, and someone would be watching out for her.
These questions tormented me.
Instead of doing something drastic, I spent each Friday at her graveside during my lunch hour, talking to her and working through my grief. During this quiet time, I began forming an idea in my head to help turn this tragedy into something positive.
Erin had always said she wanted to adopt lots of children. My grandmother had been adopted, and I had always had the desire to adopt. Together, Loren and I decided that we would adopt as our way of helping out girls who need a home, and do this in Erin's memory. We really felt led by God to do this, and once the decision was made, many people were placed in our life who had experience with adoption and who shared their information and passion for adoption.
It felt good to be back. Good to feel as if God was partnering with us again, instead of turning his back on us.
It felt good to finally feel as if we were doing something productive, and could channel our grief into something positive for children. Because the same training needed to adopt was also used for becoming a licensed Foster Parent, we went ahead and became licensed as Fost/Adopt Parents.
|My sweet baby girl, Menha, and Camille|
We became foster parents over 11 years ago, and have had 20+ kids live with us, for a length of 4 months to over a year. During this time, we have attempted to adopt 4 girls and 1 boy who we were told could likely become available for adoption- only one of the girls did, and that is our daughter, Camille.
(The other children were returned to their mothers or other relatives. Very hard to send them back to what they had come from, knowing what we knew.)
|Luke, Bri, Dad, Mom, Camille, Tanner on Adoption Day!|
So after 11 years and much heartache, we decided to see if we would finally qualify financially for international adoption. We made it by the skin of our teeth, so last year, we began the paper chase. On April of 2011, we received our referral of Qinqiao Dang, who is 16 mo old and now waiting for us in Shanxi Province, China.
Here's a surprise- did you know that agencies can make their own policies in regards to adopting 2 at once? Neither did we. I thought that if China was okay with it, then our agency would be more than excited to bring 2 more orphans home. I was wrong- they denied our request. They think 2 SN children at once is too much for any family, and that each child should come into the family on it's own.
At this point, I'm beginning to become frustrated. And wishing we had used a different agency.
Fast forward a few months to July, and we are approached by a friend who is looking to place a healthy baby that is due in September. She was a fellow foster parent and she knew how hard we had tried to adopt in the past. She wondered if we would be interested-DUH! Because our agency mentions supporting Concurrent Adoptions in their literature, I thought for sure this was God's way of rewarding us (so to speak) for being obedient in our mission to provide permanency and a home for children.
We were excited beyond belief. I know I walked around grinning for weeks! I attended doctor visits and got to know the birthmother. I thought how wonderful it would be for the two girls to grow up together. Being 2 years apart, and they would be able to play together and be best friends. It felt like it was meant to be.
Then our agency said no again. Apparently concurrent doesn't mean the same thing to them as it does to us.
SOOOOOO........ now I'm back to feeling picked on, bereft, beat up, and struggling to work up the optimism that I have always counted on to get me through life's obstacles. My faith feels artificial and I'm working on getting that sense of peace that I started this adventure with. I resent and regret that this journey that began with such hope and promise has become an emotional minefield, spotted with disappointments.
The worst part is I feel I've let Erin down. Even as a 5th grader, she talked about adopting kids, and we wanted to make that happen for her, since she's unable to do it herself. We thought we would have a housefull by now. We've been tenacious and put ourselves out there, taking tough kids that others wouldn't take, jumping at any opportunity to grow our family, and here we are, 11 years later, still jumping through hoops.
It's exhausting. It's depressing. And it just shouldn't be this hard.
So if I seem somewhat down, please understand that it's nothing personal. I'm just disappointed in myself and my efforts, and I'm trying to rally.
I want to get that excited feeling again about adoption, life and the good things in it, before we leave to go get Quinn. I want to be able to pass on feelings of optimism and trust to her.
And I want to make Erin proud.