Kim and I have five beautiful children. Our youngest child, Jakob, is 13 years old, and only he and our daughter, Libby, still live at home. We do not, as yet, have any grandchildren, as only one of our children, our eldest Donne, is married. I am, however, a born mother, and I find myself constantly nurturing and mothering: my own children (who are mostly grown), and everything from baby birds, to little dogs, to birds, to friends and family. Kim is as much a nurturer as I am, and our home has always been a refuge and a place to come and feel welcome and safe. For Kim and I, this is a great joy and honor; we both love the sound of laughter and the bustle of life in our home.
For over a year, I have secretly carried a burden. It was deep in my heart and whispered and tugged at it from time to time. I chose not to mention it to Kim, as I needed time to think it through. I was hesitant, because if you know Kim the way that I do, he would have immediately started working on it before I had the time to process it. But I found my mind wandering to this thought again and again.
Then there was an earthquake in Japan, and a tsunami ravaged whole towns of people. Families were separated, and many, many lives were lost. My heart ached with a desire to help in some way. I began to search online, as I felt that God was gently guiding me towards something, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was. Then that secret reminder flickered in my heart again, and I looked to see if there were any children who needed homes. I was looking for a child that Kim and I could adopt.
As I began to research adoptions from Japan, I was disappointed to find that international adoptions are almost impossible from that country. As I delved into it more, I found that in May of 1995, the “Hague Adoption Convention” or “Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in Respect of Inter-country Adoption” was held because of the high rate of child trafficking and laundering. As of January 2011, 83 countries have ratified this convention – an international agreement between countries that controls the adoption of children, respecting each country’s adoption laws; Japan has not yet joined this convention, so international adoptions are not yet allowed. We did find a way to help the Japanese people during this time by supporting Pastor Peter and Atsuko O’Neill, our co-laborers and friends in Japan, but I still felt to keep looking.
As I continued to research adoption, knowing this was the direction God was leading me, I began to read about China and their “One-Child Policy.” This policy was implemented in 1979, the year I gave birth to my first child. It was created by the Chinese government to alleviate social, economic and environmental problems. Because of this law, authorities claim that 400 million births have been prevented, from 1979 to the present.
This policy has caused an increase in forced abortions, female infanticide and underreporting of female births; these little girls are often killed or abandoned. Because rural families are forced to have only one child, the families prefer boys, who are strong and can work on the farms. Thereis also a widespread remnant of Confucianism, which causes many families to prefer sons. But what about all the little girls who are abandoned? What if they have special needs and never get adopted?
An attempt to control population in such a way has caused more harm than good and it is also a suggested cause of China’s gender imbalance. Thankfully, China has relatively well established rules and procedures for foreign adopters to follow, so I immediately began to look for agencies. I went online and read story after story of helpless little children, abandoned or left for dead, and as I wept, I realized that this was what I needed to be involved in.
Adoption agencies throughout the USA and other countries are assigned specific children to specific agencies, and they give the children fake names to keep their actual identity secret. There is a five-year waiting period to adopt a “perfect” child; this means that the child has no medical or mental issues that are visible. Then there is the “special needs” list that has a much shorter waiting period for adoptive parents, a child may be classified as special needs because of a minor correctible problem, such as a birthmark or cleft palate, or maybe a clubfoot. These children are assigned to specific agencies. If a child has been on an agency specific list for a certain period of time and is not adopted, the child is then put on a “Special Focus” list, which can be accessed by any agency. There is also an age restriction put in place by the Chinese, and Kim and I are at the edge of this limit.
I began to look through agency websites, face after face before me, a little life in desperate need of a home, of love. As I scanned through, a gleaming smile stood out to me. I saved her profile in my folder, but when I went back to look for it, it was no longer there. I found her three more times on three different agency websites, with three different names. At first I found this confusing, until I found out the way it works.
I emailed one of the agencies and asked about her. They responded immediately to let me know that her file was being looked at, but that if a decision hadn’t been made by Saturday, she would become available again. Saturday came and sure enough it was back. Thanks to the help of the lady at the agency, whom I first communicated with, and a lot of work, they managed to get me her file.
It was April 19th, 2011 when her file was emailed to us. Kim and I eagerly opened it and began to look through. We were instantly struck when we noticed that she had been abandoned on April 19th, 2008. We knew immediately that this was a sign from God, it was more than just a coincidence that 3 years to the day that she was abandoned, we received her file, with her little picture and glowing, smiling face.
Her Chinese name is Xiao Lian, which means “Little Lotus Flower.” We both knew that she was our sixth child, and it didn’t matter that I didn’t physically carry her, she was set aside for Kim and I and we are ecstatic at the chance to give her the life that God has planned for her, to help her reach her destiny against all odds. We knew that she would need special care, but we had not had a chance to get a detailed view of that until we saw her file. We both feel that she is meant to be our child regardless of what the prognosis is. She is a healthy, beautiful little girl just waiting for us to come and get her.
As Kim and I have gone through this process, we have made many contacts in the adoption world. We have also made substantial donations toward surgeries for a number of children. It is not an easy decision to adopt, but we know we are equipped to handle it.
I would like to encourage anyone out there reading this, who may have the same burden on their heart; If you have the resources and the heart to give a home to a child, consider looking into adoption.