November is National Adoption Awareness Month. In the spirit of bringing awareness to adoption, our agency mission and the successes of families we serve — we are filling our blog with guest stories throughout this month. Chrysalis House, Inc. believes in the power of sharing experiences and in learning from the stories of others. We present this series, realizing the words might be the insight that an adoptive family, adoptee or birthparent is searching the internet for!
Our sincerest thanks to the families who have put their lives into words. We are still accepting submissions through the month of November! Please send your submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please enjoy the story of another family’s: Adoption From China. In the event you wish to discuss our China program, please contact the office at 559.229.9862.
A Matter of the Heart
Our adoption story began about six years ago at a Christian music festival we attend each year. Bryan and I were really touched by Steven Curtis Chapman’s story and music video of his adopted child. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could do that? But, then reality set in.
We have two children already and very busy careers. Fast forward to several years later. Our eldest child, Nathan, was entering the Navy. Maggie was now a sophomore in high school. Bryan started mentioning adoption again and I thought he was out of his mind. There were 100+ reasons why this wouldn’t be good. But everyday for about 2 months, I was restless about this idea. I kept adding to my list of excuses why this wouldn’t be good for us. I had shared my restlessness about adoption with a dear friend. She asked me if I had prayed about it and my response was “No, because I was afraid of what the answer would be.” But I did finally pray about it and discovered that God’s plan for our family was indeed… to adopt a child. I had found peace in this discovery and knew it was the right thing for us to do. All my excuses were about me, not the bigger picture.
Bryan, Maggie and I all attended an adoption information meeting in February. We learned a lot about the adoption process, and the changing regulations of a China adoption. I would be 50 that year, and our adoption had to be approved by the Chinese government by October so we would still qualify. China adoptions were taking about 2 years at this point in time. We left the meeting with mixed emotions: we were still very excited about adopting, but discouraged about the timelines. Two years seemed like an eternity.
We had decided that we would be open to the possibility of a child with special needs, so it was possible the adoption process would be shorter because special needs children are generally expedited through the process. By 4:45 pm the day that we turned in our application, we received an e-mail with a referral for a little girl! She would be 2 in March and was born with a cleft lip/palette. Our hearts were filled with love at the sight of this little girl who needed a family; and with astonishment for the timing of all this. God’s plan for our family and for this little girl was perfect.
The paperwork and dossier process could have been overwhelming except that I am a type–A personality. In June, we learned that we probably would not travel until November. The time waiting seemed like an eternity. During the long months we kept busy with preparing for our little girl. Bryan, Maggie and I took a Chinese Language/Culture class through Clovis Adult to prepare us for our adventure. In mid-September, we received word that we could travel in late October. Did I mention that I don’t like to fly?
We took a 3-day side trip to Beijing before uniting with our little girl. Two days after my 50th birthday, we left for China. On Sunday, October 28th, we flew from Beijing to Lanzhou to meet our little girl. Gotcha day was scheduled for Monday, but to our pleasant surprise, our daughter was waiting in the hotel lobby for us. We saw her as we entered the lobby and she waved at us – it took our breath away.
The first few days together were heartbreaking to experience; our daughter, Emery LiNa was lost, confused, and scared. It was quite an adjustment for her, but each day brought a closeness that the previous day had not seen. She bonded very well with Maggie, who catered to her every need. On Thursday of that week, we visited the orphanage where Emery LiNa lived. We were concerned that it would be difficult for her because she might want to stay there – but this was not the case at all. In fact, she cried and dragged Maggie down the hallway, trying to leave. Our bonding was going well.
We spent a total of 6 nights in Lanzhou before traveling to Guangzhou for our last four days in China. Other than Emery LiNa, this was the best part of our trip. All American families who are adopting travel through Guangzhou and it was a great experience to share stories and see all the Chinese children being adopted by American families.
Emery has been home with us since November 7; but it seems like it has been forever. We can’t imagine life without her. She is adjusting so well. She speaks quite a bit of English, including partial sentences, and understands ten times more than she can speak. She is a joy and brings fun and laughter to our home each and every day. She possesses some other Griffin traits as well: independent, confident, outgoing, and strong-willed. It’s amazing to me how much she is like her siblings were at that same age. We recommend creating a blog to share the experience with family and friends. We also kept a journal which was priceless in helping us to remember the journey.
This has been a walk of faith for our family and God has blessed us. Emery’s special need is not really her cleft lip and palette; it was a matter of the heart — to be welcomed into a family that would love and care for her.
***Family Names have been changed to preserve Confidentiality.