I would like to discuss a topic, I have found, that no one really talks about in their adoption blogs. Every adoption works towards one ultimate, thrilling, exciting moment; the referral call. This is when you finally get to lay eyes on the little one that your heart and hands have been preparing for, in some cases (like ours) for years. Jay and I have been anxiously awaiting ours for nearly 3 years to the day. But, deep down inside, I had a fear regarding our referral, one of which I had hoped I would never need to experience. However, last month, my long awaited fear occurred. I am not sure how common this fear is, because as I said not many talk about it, though I know many have to experience it. While part of me wants to keep this subject hidden out of shame and sadness, I would be remise if I didn’t disclose my heart about the subject here, since unfortunately it is now part of our journey.
I have harped on Jay for, well probably a lot of things, but one in particular which I feel is very important is memorizing my phone number. In this day and age, its really not necessary given the ability of our phones to store countless of hundreds of contacts and phone numbers, but if something “big” happens and he doesn’t have his phone, I always want him to know how to get a hold of me. We are working on teaching Jayden our phone numbers for the same reason. To be honest, I likely only can recount a few phone numbers off the top of my head but its important non-the-less. However, if you were to ask any waiting adoptive momma the phone number of her adoption agency, I bet she could at least belt out the area code quicker than you could grab a pen. You see, when you are in the waiting phase, your phone is never really that far from your earshot. You want more than anything for that phone to ring and that ID to be your agency calling with news of your referral. I know that when 503 (OR) comes across my phone, my life at that moment stops, because my agency is calling.
Last month, “OR” the 503 area code came across my caller ID, quite unexpectedly. Under normal circumstances I would have been ecstatic, except I didn’t feel the pitter patter that I had long anticipated. You see, I knew that China was technically “closed” because of their new year and I was confused more than anything regarding why our agency would call. It was our program director and she had come across a little guy that they wanted our family to consider. He was not listed with our agency, but with a shared list of agencies. Our agency partners with a few particular orphanages, but there remains a shared list, where kiddos who are not assigned to particular agencies or who have been difficult to place are kept for people to look through and consider. Our faithful director, while waiting for our orphanage to complete adoption paperwork, was continuing to attempt to find families for children off the shared list. I cant explain it, but the call from the beginning did not feel right….this was the call we had both longed for and yet there was more unease than excitement. She gave us some basic information, sex, age, special need and asked if she could send over the information for us to review. When we heard the information, we grabbed our computers and waited in a weird, awkward silence for the email to arrive.
The picture was of a little boy, he was darling, just as our director had implied…we scrolled through what little pictures it contained and then opened his file. Our director did explain that his situation was unique. His file was not up to date; it was nearly a year old without recent medical checkups, photos, or videos. Most of his file was not even translated. Our director had never worked with the orphanage where he was located, and due to the weird holiday and closing of Chinese government offices, we basically had 24 hours (instead of 72 which if of the norm) to decide on whether to move forward. The email came at 7pm and Jay was leaving early the next morning to go out of town. So in reality, we had maybe 8 hours to decide. While the out dated information, the unknown orphanage, and their small time slot to decide were concerning in and of themselves, there was even more concerns and uncertainties with the file itself. As I mentioned, it was out dated, not all in English, with little photos and no video. We were told he had a relatively minor medical condition but as I scrolled through his file I saw a very brief mention of something a lot more concerning. It could have easily been over looked and it was only mentioned once. I thought I had seen something in one of the photos that looked suspicious and this was confirmation of that sense. Now, we did have the choice to move forward and ask the orphanage to do an update on his medical file, but they could say no. We could have our international pediatrician review the file but she charges $400 per review, so it is not something to jump into lightly. There were so many factors to consider, so many unknowns…..
We didn’t really speak at first. I have seen videos of people looking and reviewing their referral file…their smiling faces, their “glow”, their excitement and aww of their soon to be new family member. If there was a video, this is not the picture it would have captured that night. We both knew without even needing to speak that this wasn’t right. But, how could we say no to a person? How could we say no to a child? We started this adoption not to build a family per se, but to give a family to someone who needed one. Here we were faced with well…a face, a life in a file, a little one who needed a family and a home, and a mom and a dad, and we were unable to say “yes” enthusiastically. We had doubts, uneasiness, unrest. There was no peace. We decided to pray on it, and the following day I fasted for several hours just thinking of what our next step should be.
There will always be “the unknown” in adoption. There will always be “surprises” that we will not know about beforehand. I have read enough books to know to expect the unexpected. But, one thing I will always demand in our journey, not just for us but for the children out there needing families as well, is transparency. Adoptions go wrong when things are hidden, or swept under the rug, or not fully disclosed. I want to know what everyone who has cared for that child across the world knows. I want to be as prepared for the care that our child will need, at least as much as I can be. Ultimately, Jay and I felt as though too many red flags were present. We choose to decline.
My heart has been hurting since. Not that I think we made the wrong decision, but I pray that that little one has a family say “yes” to him soon. I pray daily that God does not put us in that place again….and I pray that we feel God’s grace and peace over the next referral. That is what we are waiting on more than anything, because that, despite what challenges the next child may have, will push us out of ourselves and make us boldly step out into the waters with HIM.