Skip and I were married later in life and believe it or not, we never talked much about having children. I had worked in the business area most of my life but when my sister-in-law had her last son, I was smitten by him so I started talking about children to Skip. Skip had a couple kids from a previous marriage already but was open to the idea after talking with Dr. Chapman. Apparently, Dr. Chapman told Skip about Karolyn’s brother and sister-in-law who had adopted a girl later in their years. His advice was what started us on our journey.
We went to both of our doctors who told us basically that we were both too old to think about natural childbirth. Okay then. We started toying with the idea of adoption. Mind you this was in the beginning phases of open adoptions and we were hearing horror stories of adoptive parents having their kids “stolen” from them by their biological moms or dads after they had invested all their love, time, and money into their child. This got us considering international adoption.
International adoption is not for the faint at heart. There are turns, twists, and major DELAYS in the journey not to mention reams of paperwork. We sought God’s guidance and found that only a few countries would allow us to adopt from them because of our age. We chose China. China thinks with age comes financial stability and wisdom.
God gave us two beautiful girls from that country over the course of 4+ years. It took two years to get Leah. Along the way, we got this beautiful tiny 1.5” picture of the little girl God chose for us. We initially thought her paperwork said she was Hep B+ but God, in his providence, had Dr. Tan’s college group look over the report again for us and lo and behold it said that she was negative for Hep B. Evidently, the symbols for positive and negative in Mandarin are very close. We were the second group to adopt from China using this particular agency which regularly mediated adoptions from Korea and India. Leah was literally dropped in our lap almost the second we got to the hotel in China. Leah was exactly 13 months old. We actually thought she might be the boy baby that one of us was adopting in our group, not our girl because her hair was so short. She was tired, withdrawn, always hungry, and wouldn’t let Skip anywhere near her with that mustache. That went on for days… Adoption is a true adventure and gaining this child’s trust was not an easy task. We also had a hurricane to contend with on the back end of her adoption. She was adopted in September, 1999.
Skip never had one child in mind with adoption but I didn’t know that fact. We started the paperwork for Katie about 6 months after we got Leah. We updated our homestudy and used a different adoption agency this time. I recommend using a seasoned agency that has done adoptions in the country where your child is coming from. We used a Christian agency this time and the process was much smoother but not totally without pitfalls. There was a delay of a month or so to go get Katie. We were in the same group as the Hunters getting Hailey. We also happened to be the last group allowed into China (because SARS was growing exponentially in Guangzhou, China) for several months after.
I learned things from Leah’s adoption to Katie’s that made a huge difference. I sent a small shoebox with a very soft stuffed animal and a couple pictures of our family to Katie while she was in the orphanage. She recognized us immediately and went to us with open arms. Katie was 14 months old and still on a bottle! She learned how to walk in Guangzhou. She was a very happy baby. God couldn’t have given us two more different girls! Leah’s night terrors ended when Katie moved into her bedroom.