Chapter 8 of our Adoption Journey

The paperwork photo

Well, it’s done!  Every document in our dossier has been notarized, county certified, state certified, authenticated by the China Consulate in NYC, photocopied, and finally individual pages have been scanned and saved as pdf files.  Now, our agency in Oregon will look at it carefully, before sending it to the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption, commonly called the CCCWA.

The CCCWA is the government run organization that handles all the adoptions in China.  China’s greatest need is for families to be willing to adopt children with medical needs (correctable or non-correctable) or older children.   The CCCWA maintains a  central online database where it lists all children waiting for adoption, and this online database is accessible by the orphanages in China and all adoption agencies worldwide that help find homes for children from China. The database is updated with new children every month. Since the database is accessible to multiple agencies, this means that a child could be under review by a number of families around the world at the same time. An agency can “lock” a child’s file for 72 hours, taking it temporarily off the shared list, if a family requests this.  During this 72 hour period, a family would take the file to their pediatrician, and/or send it to an international doctor for a clearer understanding of the child’s needs.  Most importantly, the family would pray for guidance in making a decision to adopt the child.

Now that our dossier is finished, we will wait for our agency to send us a file of a waiting child from the shared list. Our agency will use a “Medical Checklist” that Jim and I filled out to match us with our future daughter.  As Jim had stated in chapter 7 of our blog, filling that checklist out was difficult.  How do you say, “No,” to a specific medical need.  If I were to give birth to a child with a medical need, I couldn’t/wouldn’t say, “No.”  Our agency helped us work through that problem.  They told us that they are really looking for families who can say, “No.”  Their primary goal is to match children with the right family.  The last thing they want is for a family to come apart at the seams, because they didn’t have the resources to take on a child whose needs were too great for them. This helped us, but like Jim said, “It still felt wrong.”  In the end, we each took a copy of the medical checklist and filled it out separately.  Then we brought the two lists together and found that our individual lists were pretty much the same, which was comforting to both of us.

Initially, I wanted to adopt an older child, as the chances of being adopted after the age of 3 dramatically decreases, since most parents hope for an infant. Our hope is to give hope, and the last time I checked, every age bracket has hopes and dreams! Nevertheless, our family was only approved to adopt up to age 3, so as not to disrupt birth order of our current children. As first time adopting parents, this isn’t something we thought about at the beginning of our adoption journey, but apparently, it will help our youngest biological son, James (now 5 years old) to maintain his status in our family.  I guess this is also a good time to remember that James is praying daily for a “Little Sister”….not a “Big Sister.”

When I think about how this adoption will affect our current family…I’m scared.  When I think about changing the life of an orphan…I’m excited.  After reading countless other blogs about families with biological children who have adopted, I know we are in for some stormy weather ahead, but as with any stormy forecast, preparation is key.  Relying on the experience of others helps…but in the end faith and prayer will see us through.

Since we have no personal experience in human adoption…my only choice is to relate to a pet adoption from a few years ago.  My pet adoption started when I began to feel badly that my cat, Malcolm, had nobody to pounce around with during the day while I was at work.  When I think about the adoption of my second cat, Meesha,  I am surprised to find so many similarities to the adoption we are currently working on.

When I started thinking about getting another “fur person” (a term I fondly borrow from my Aussie friend), I knew I didn’t want a kitten. Everyone wants a kitten. They’re cute, fun, energetic…..and quickly adopted.  I wanted an “older cat,” one that was left behind, abandoned, forgotten.  Although big name stores like PetSmart are great for getting a fish or purchasing kitty litter, I didn’t want to adopt a cat from there.  I felt that finding a shelter run by someone passionate about abandoned animals was where I’d find my “fur person.”  And that’s just what happened.

I first saw my Meesha online. She was living at a woman’s home/shelter who I can truly say was passionate about animals.  There were MANY cats and dogs residing at this home.  It was absolute chaos, not unlike the orphanages in China.  Looking back, I think this woman was way in over her head, but I know she cared deeply for all her “furry friends.”  She sent me one or two emails after I brought Meesha home, to check up on her status, and that’s well beyond what PetSmart would’ve done.

Chinese Orphanages are overcrowded with children....who wait.

Chinese Orphanages are overcrowded with children….who wait.

This is not the exact place I found Meesha...but this is how crowded her home was.

This is not the exact place I found Meesha…but this is how crowded her home was.

Bringing Meesha Home…..well, here are more similarities between pet adoption and people adoption.  The first time I held Meesha at the shelter, she was shaking. Her fur was coming off in chunks, and her eyes darted back and forth wildly.  She was terrified, and I can imagine that “Little Sister” will feel the same way the day she’s placed in my arms.

I knew, from having done research, that I should not try to force the two cats together right away when I got home, so I put Meesha in our family room behind French doors and let Malcomn meet his new “little fur sister” through the glass. To say he was annoyed is a grand understatement. He hissed wildly, and so did she. They frantically tried to kill each other with their clawless paws through the glass.  Now, I don’t think James and “Little Sister” will hiss at each other, but I do know from being a mom, and having a profession as a teacher, that children will be jealous of each other.  It took several weeks for the kitties to be in the same room without growling at each other.

Malcolm stalking Meesha.

Malcolm stalking Meesha.

Although I don’t know much about where Meesha was before she joined our family, it took a year or two for her to trust me.  In the very beginning, she would not let me even touch her without batting at me with her already declawed paws.  After a few weeks, she would let me pet her, but after about 2-3 minutes her tail would start to twitch and she’d turn and nip at my hands, then run away. I learned quickly to read the signs of her agitation and stop petting her before she got to the point of aggression.

Now, 6 years later, Meesha is my little sweetheart. She snuggles willingly for hours, she greets me at the door when I get home from work, and she sleeps right on top of my hip…each and every night. She’s come a long way, and I’m glad I can give her a happy home.

Meesha's Post... on top of my hip, as I sleep.

Meesha’s Post… on top of my hip, as I sleep.

I hope it doesn’t take years to win over “Little Sister’s Heart” as well, but I do know it will take time for her to trust and love us. While we wait to find out who she is, we pray for increased patience, wisdom and understanding. These are the things that will help us….help her.

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