Monday, December 14, 2009

Honoring Birth Culture

These days I spend free moments here and there reading blogs by other adoptive moms. My favorite is called "A Bushel and a Peck." Today, the author, Lisa, invited a friend to write about honoring the birth cultures of our adopted children. I love the things that Lisa's friend shared. (FYI - Lisa's friend has both biological and adopted kids and her family lives and works overseas.) Here are her thoughts on the subject.

Thought 1: Incorporate culture without compromising truth…

…to the extent you can do so in good faith. We take the approach that culture is something to be celebrated. Just because something has “pagan” roots or comes from a culture that isn’t Christian does not mean that it is off-limits.

Directly across the street from our apartment building is a large and beautiful Confucius Temple complete with idols, incense, and other worship paraphernalia. The temple grounds also include a beautiful fish pond and shrubbery where I frequently take my children to play.

While at the temple, we talk to the kids about the beautiful architect of the buildings, the wonder of God’s creation, and the fact that some people worship gods not in accordance with the Bible.

We enjoy the beauty to God and enjoy the talent of man, but draw the line at burning incense to statues and participating in other idol worship. This is an example of how we are able to incorporate culture into our lives without compromising the truth.

However, we have friends who feel that being on temple grounds is wrong, so we would never ask them to go with us or do so ourselves if it caused them to stumble.

Thought 2: Be cognizant of how you assign value.

Our oldest son takes Tae Kwon Do lessons here where we live. It is not only culturally fitting but it has allowed us many inroads to share our faith with others who believe differently than we do.

At one point, another foreigner warned me that pagan ideas might be taught during the classes and I needed to evaluate whether or not it was appropriate for my child to be there. While we found no “pagan” teaching going on, we did discover that people often run from things they fear.

By running from cultural differences because of fear, we assign value to those things. We in essence tell our kids “This thing holds power and therefore should be esteemed.” As parents, we all do this and the first step is to recognize where we assign value.

With the Tae Kwon Do example, if we choose not to participate because there is an idol at the front door, then we model to our son that idols are worthy of being feared. (Plus that means we would never go out to eat, get our hair cut, go to the flower shop, etc, because idols are everywhere!!)

The same is true when my children experience discrimination and outright rejection because they are foreigners. If I model behavior that assigns value to what other people think of us and how they treat us, then I am teaching them that the acceptance and approval of people is important. I teach them that their identity is in what others think, not in who God created us to be.

Whether it be the concept of meditation or wearing certain clothing or caring what others say and everything in between, we can unconsciously and erroneously teach our children all sorts of false fears and assign value in the wrong places.

I try to be aware of my tendencies to attribute false value and instead model that culture is to be celebrated; that we can engage in cultural activities without being un-Christian; and that we don’t have to avoid false religions or intimidating circumstances and people out of fear. It all boils down to the truth that God is the only One who holds real power.

Thought 3: Don’t allow fear to make your choices.

One of the things I have encountered in the world of parenting and adoption is the thought that our children will be scarred for life if we don’t……(fill in the blank.) There are a thousand hoops we feel we have to jump through to help our kids turn out okay.

There is one simple principle my husband and I try to live our lives by and it applies to this realm of parenting too: Don’t make choices based on fear.

Wisdom? Yes.

Sensitivity? Yes.

Age-appropriateness? Yes.


Thought 4: Expose all your kids to all cultures.

Because we live overseas, we try very hard to teach our children American culture. Sounds weird I know. We celebrate American holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, even though they are not celebrated here.

But we also recognize the importance of teaching each one of them all sorts of culture and religion. While I homeschooled our son, we used Sonlight curriculum ( which exposes children to the world in age appropriate ways. Even though I am not currently homeschooling, we still use the Sonlight readers to keep the world in front of our kids.

If we focus on just one or two cultures or pick Chinese culture for our adopted daughter and American culture for our biological children, we believe this singling out is one of those ways we assign value in harmful ways.

Thought 5: Help your kids establish their Identity.

We see this as really the core issue for all of our children. Since we live in a culture outside of our “own,” each of our children deal with their ethnic identities.

Our oldest son has told us that he wants black hair, not blonde, because no one else here has blonde hair.

Recent studies show that an adopted child’s ethnicity is an important part of their identity.
Okay, so it’s a fact. Ethnicity and culture play a role in who we are.


There are factors that go deeper than ethnicity in a child’s identity. Rather than focus on the ethnicity card, we try to focus on those deeper factors. (Our 4 children are all under the age of 8, so we have a head start on this one. If we were starting later in their lives it would not be so easy or clear cut.)

One way I do this is by explaining why we live overseas and telling them frequently that God wants to use them for His purposes, even now.

Another way I do this is by prayerfully selecting scriptures for them and in the morning when they wake up I “bless” them with it. For example, with my adopted daughter, I am currently using I Peter 2:9 with her. Although she is only two and a half, she knows whatever it is I’m saying is a good thing!

Here’s how I do it: I sit on the floor and draw her to me, look her in the eyes and say, “Hadassah, YOU are a chosen race. YOU are a royal priesthood. YOU are a person for God’s own possession! So that YOU, Hadassah, may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. YOU Hadassah!”

(By the way, this one verse alone is teaching me how to instill identity in my children. I’ll be sharing about that soon on my blog.)

I want my children to know that no matter where they are in the world, no matter what their skin looks like in comparison to those around them, their identity is wrapped up in a Creator God who made them for a very special purpose. He placed them where they are for a special task that only they can do.

In the meantime, it is my job to show them that in Him they are chosen, they are nobility, they belong, and they have purpose. And they need not fear!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Adopted into God's Family

This morning I read the blog of a family who is in China right now adopting a special needs baby. Below is a copy of a message the Dad shared at their home church before the family left for China to pick up their little girl.

Thank you for letting me take a minute during adoption month to talk to you. I want to start with a true story. A mother is in Wal-mart with her adopted Chinese daughter and runs into an old friend who is very pregnant. Naturally to conversation turns to babies, and the pregnant women leans over to the precocious three year old and says “ I have a baby, and my baby is in here” patting her belly. The three year old looks up at her and says “you don’t have a baby in there, you’re just fat! Everyone knows babies come from China!”

As a parent with one adopted daughter and soon to a second, I get a lot of questions about why people adopt. Couples not able to have children immediately come to mind, but in addition, many singles adopt who want children and realize that perhaps marriage is not in Gods plan for them. For us it was a complex love of children, a desire for kids in the home, and a realization that perhaps the empty nest wouldn’t be so great after all.

What about the process and cost? Well, unless your name is Angelina Jolle or Madonna, international adoption can take years. As adoptive parents we count pregnancies in years rather than months--anywhere from 3 to 6 years is average. Domestic adoptions often can occur much quicker depending on the agency and situation.

The paperwork is complex and expensive requiring a well organized person to take charge- such as my wife Jen. I can tell you all about the Hague Convention on Adoption and I can even spell “The Hague.” The cost can be less than a thousand dollars for a domestic adoption and up to forty thousand for an international adoption. I have been fingerprinted by the FBI for background security checks more times than Al Capone. And yes I passed them all. All of this is meant to ensure that the babies get into a good safe home.

The other thing I like to think about with adoption is the fact that as believers in Christ we are all adopted into the family of God. If you think about it, my daughter Natalie is in an orphanage not wanting or even aware that she is going to be adopted. How many of us were wanting or aware of our adoption into God’s family when for no reason, before the foundation of the world, God decided to lay his heart on us?

Natalie is making no effort for us to adopt her but it will surely happen . As a believer, God’s spirit worked in my heart to pull me towards him even before I knew it. In a moment, Natalie’s life will change forever when we hold her in our arms. Different food, smells, clothes, opportunities all will be hers as she joins our family not unlike what happened to us as believers when we came to know Jesus. She will be a member of our family forever just like those of us that know the Lord are members of His family forever.

So, as you think of us on our trip we appreciate your prayers but also I would ask you to think of your own adoption into Gods family. As you run into people who might be candidates to adopt I would also encourage you to suggest they look into it. I can say without a doubt that the blessing of adopting our first Chinese daughter Olivia has been just as much a blessing for us as a family as for her and we look forward to getting our other daughter Natalie in a couple weeks. Thank you.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


I need to tell someone, so I'll just say it here. I'm totally overwhelmed by the adoption process. I think part of it is that we are trying to go fast. Since we are pre-approved for a specific child, there is an urgency to everything. Part of it is that it's very involved and complicated and I don't yet understand the whole process very well. And probably a big part of it is that we're trying to do it while homeschooling, while Mike is travelling internationally, at the holidays. . . in other words, I don't have the time to sit down and do things in a thorough way.

Today, I took an hour or so to work on a couple of items that are left to complete for our home study. I read more of our info from CWA and understood a part of the process that I had felt confused about. Here goes. Every document that we are sending to China has to be notarized. Then it has to be sent to the Secretary of State in the state where it was notarized to be authenticated. We're talking about a whole bunch of documents: birth and marriage certificates, police reports, physicals,financial statements, etc. Then the whole packet of notarized and authenicated documents has to go the Chinese consulate to be authenticated by them. Finally the whole thing goes to China.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Choosing Photos to Introduce Our Family

We're making a photo album to send Wen Xin to introduce our family. I've spent so much emotional energy trying to choose the right photos. Halloween photos might scare him. We want to look fun and loving. And so on. . . Guess I won't include these two. Kids at my house seem to get hurt a lot these days.

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Learning Curve: Resilience

I'm continuing to plow through my phonebook-sized reading assignment from the agency and today I happened on a topic that's got me thinking: resilience.

Some people just seem to be more resilient than others. Resilience is the ability to fall down and get back up; to suffer great adversity and keep going. You get the picture.

Some kids coming from the worst of situations seem to grow up to be healthy and happy with very little baggage from the past. They overcome. Others struggle with a lifetime of fallout.

I'm praying that God will make Wen Xin resilient.

It makes me think of the Old Testament story of Joseph. Joseph was resilient, and God used all the evil that the world threw at Joseph to bring about great good. That's why "Joseph" is my American name of choice for Wen Xin. I've just got to get Mike onboard.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What I'm Learning: Older Child International Adoption and Language

It's the question I'm asked most often these days: "Does Wenxin speak English?"

My answer: "Not yet."

So we're doing a few things to prepare. I have a close Chinese friend who speaks Mandarin and has a heart for adoption. She's going to work with us over the next few months, helping us learn some basic Mandarin phrases. And better still, she's willing to come to my house and translate for us when Wenxin first comes home.

We're looking into buying Rosetta Stone Mandarin (the homeschool edition) so the whole family can take a stab at learning Mandarin.

And I'm reading, reading, reading about language acquisition in older adopted kids. To be honest, a lot of the research is surprising.

For example, everyone -- from our social worker to all the experts in the books to my Chinese friend -- believes that Wenxin will forget how to speak Chinese within 3 months of coming to America. That blows my mind! If Julia Grace was adopted by a Chinese family tomorrow, would she really forget English in 3 months? The "experts" say she would.

It's called "Subractive Bilingualism." What that means is that as he's learning his new language, he'll totally forget his first language. It's what happens with internationally adopted kids unless they are adopted into a home where there are native speakers of their first language. These kids are different than the children of immigrants who learn English as a true second language while still speaking their first language at home.

Subtractive Bilingualism brings with it a unique set of challenges. I read last night that kids ages 4-8 are the most at risk for problems. Wenxin should pick up conversational English very quickly because he'll be totally immersed in a home where other kids are speaking English all day long. The problem comes when trying to do higher level reasoning -- the kind that's required in school -- in English. Many kids adopted internationally from ages 4-8 have problems in school.

I'm glad to have a homeschooling mindset and background. I plan to keep Wenxin home for a couple of years. I hope that with one-on-one attention I can help him tackle any problems he may face with language and reasoning.

And then there's the issue of his birth language. Mike and I are having a hard time swallowing the fact that he will most likely lose his Chinese. We value language. We believe that speaking Chinese will be a real asset to him as an adult. It's on my list of questions to ask our adoption counselor. But the more I read, the less I'm confident that he will retain his Chinese.

What I'm Learning: Older Child Adoption and Attachment

We're learning everything we can about older child adoption. We have to complete a certain number of "Parent Education" hours before we can submit our dossier to China. As I dive into these courses, I can see there is a lot to learn.

From what I'm learning, our top priority when we bring Wenxin home will be to begin to develop a mutual strong attachment with him.

This usually happens naturally with a biological child. The baby hears the mom's heartbeat and voice even before birth. Feeding times strengthen the bond. The mom holds the baby close and looks into its eyes. Lots of hugging, snuggling and eye contact. The baby learns that the parents, especially the mom, can be depended on to meet his needs.

We'll be starting this process with Wenxin much later in his life. We know that he'll come to us with a history of loss. He lost his birth family as an infant. He spent a couple of months in an orphanage before entering a foster home. And he'll lose his foster mom as he joins our family. That's a lot of loss.

From what we're learning, it may be a big plus that he was in foster care. Attachment seems to be a learned process. Learning to attach to someone early in life helps form the basis for other attachments later on. So even if Wenxin grieves the loss of his foster mom, if he was attached to her, it greatly increases his chances of attaching to us.

So much of what we are reading deals with strategies to promote and strengthen attachment. Here's a little summary of what I've gotten so far:

That first week in China will be crucial. Wenxin will be scared. And we will have the opportunity to begin to care for him and empathize with him. Even though it will be tempting to rely heavily on the Chinese guides because of the language barrier, it's very important for Mike and I to talk directly to him (even if he doesn't understand), hold his hand, carry him, and do all the caretaking. This is one reason we probably won't take the whole family to China (the other reason - $$$). Having to care for our other children that first week could keep us from focusing on Wenxin.

Physical touch will be really important. We need to find unthreatening ways to touch him. Hugs, pats, letting him sit in our laps to read a book. Swimming together. Helping him brush his teeth and putting lotion on him as he gets ready for bed. Possibly letting him sleep with us.

When we get home, even though he will be seven, we need to structure our lives as if we had a new baby. We need to cut out unnecessary activities. We need to get him on a routine. We need to keep him close. For at least the first year, I don't plan to leave him. If for some reason Mike and I both need to go out of town, we may leave the other kids with grandparents, but Wenxin will need to go with us.

While we will need to set boundaries for Wenxin and help him learn how live in our family, we're learning that some types of discipline aren't appropriate for older adopted kids. Instead of "time out" where the child is isolated from the family, most of the researchers suggest a "time in" where the child sits in a chair in the same room with the parent.

Right now it's all theoretical. It's all something in a book. But very soon, we'll get to try out all these strategies. I'm hoping that some of it works in real life.

The original post did not have a photo of Wenxin due to China's pre-adoption rules.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Blanket

Yesterday I teared up as I checked out at Kohl's. I made my first purchase ever for Wen Xin - a blanket.

We're making a little photo album to send to him in China as an introduction to our family. I wanted to include a small gift and finally decided on an extra soft blanket. All of my kids have their own. Big Brother sleeps with his. The girls use their blankets when they are sick and need to snuggle up on the sofa.

And now Wen Xin will have one. His is navy and has cute pics of baseballs, basketballs, footballs and soccer balls.

Monday, November 2, 2009

"We're Getting a New Brother From China" - kids update

I'm hearing it more and more these days: "We're getting a new brother from China." When Julia shows his photo she says, "This is my brother in China."

As I watch their fears melt into acceptance and even excitement, I'm learning a thing or two about being a parent. One, we shouldn't "ask" the children for "permission" as we make major family decisions. "Do you want to adopt a brother from China," is the wrong question. They are still children. They lack the wisdom and life experience to make grown-up decisions. The burden for making decisions and living with the consequences belongs to me and Mike -- not our kids.

On the other hand, as we make decisions that affect them, we need to actively listen to their concerns.  Katherine worries that she won't be able to communicate with him.  Julia is afraid that another child means we'll need to buy a bigger house and move. She loves our house. It's the only home she's ever known.  Nathan worries about sharing his room and that we'll never have enough money for "extras" anymore. "Now if we want to go to Disney, we'll have to buy six tickets instead of five."

Their concerns are valid. Lots of little conversations are a big part of getting us all ready to welcome Wenxin into our family.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

We survived the home study visit!

Mike and the social worker pressured me into doing the home visit on Wednesday evening - even after I explained that Wednesday is my absolute busiest home school day; understanding that I had been out of town for five days the previous week and had just returned; and, even knowing that the last of three straight weeks of house guests had just left on Sunday.

My house was a wreck. But since I let them bully me into doing the visit right away, we just went into overdrive and cleaned until we dropped.

A couple of major disasters were averted just moments before the social worker arrived. As we waited in our sparkling house, feeding pizza to our spiffed up kids, I noticed that Mike kept grimacing.

"What's wrong, honey?''

Turns out he'd had stomach problems all day. He desperately wanted to visit the facilities in his own home, but the problem was that this woman was coming to inspect our house (every room) at any moment. He solved the problem by hopping in the car, racing to a nearby MacDonald's and visiting THEIR facilities, before making a mad dash back home. (Now I totally realize that this is TOO MUCH INFORMATION for my blog, but I want to communicate how nervous we were about getting this visit right!)

Waiting for him, I noticed that Silver was missing. Silver is a pet -- one of the two fish that our neighbor just gave us. Pumpkin was still swimming around the aquarium, but Silver was GONE! He's not a tiny fish. And I couldn't find him anywhere.

As Mike drove up from his quick trip to MacDonald's, I raced out onto the driveway yelling, "Silver is missing! Silver is missing!" We looked high and low and finally found Silver in the kitchen sink, under the dish drainer. Silver apparently made a suicide jump from the aquarium (he's done it before) and flopped all the way over to the sink.

We were still a little harried when the social worker arrived, but soon settled down to business. And by the way, Silver survived, and as for the social worker, she didn't even set foot in the master bath.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wise Counsel

Mike arrived home and we began to talk and pray. Up until this point, we'd pursued adopting Wenxin, but had not officially signed with Christian World Adoption and had put no money down.

Grandma (Mike's Mom) was in town. She was so sweet -- she said that she didn't want to get her hopes up, that this was our decision. But the twinkle in her eye indicated her excitement and approval.

To be honest, Nathan, Julia and Katherine weren't that encouraging. They like our family the way it is. They fear the changes that adding another child will bring. We had them so close together that they don't ever remember life without each other. So getting a new sibling seems like a brand new thing to them.

Mike and I continued to feel like God was saying, "Yes." But Mike wanted us to make a phone call to a friend who's a seasoned adoptive dad. This family has adopted 5 children internationally -- all as infants or toddlers. His counsel calmed our heart and gave us the final green light.

While he couldn't speak to the challenges of adopting an older child, he said that he felt that it was a confirmation that both Mike and I felt led to this particular child. He said that our kids would come around. And he encouraged us to think long term. He talked about the impact that this decision could have on future generations -- that as Wenxin comes into our home and hears the gospel, he will be able to reproduce that in the lives of his children and grandchildren. God can use this little boy in a powerful way to change the world.

We hung up the phone and hit the ground running. We applied to Christian World Adoption that night and did their Orientation Webinar the next morning. We signed lots of papers and had them notarized. We hired a social worker to do our home study. Now that we know for sure, we want to bring Wenxin home as soon as possible.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009, Pre-Approval for our Family to Adopt Fan Wenxin Granted by the Chinese Government

The ball's in our court now. This child is officially available to be adopted by our family. Mike's out of town at a family wedding. We've talked briefly by phone. I'm excited and scared. I wonder how God will provide the money? I want to do more research on Christian World Adoption. Can we get our kids on board? I'll be glad when Mike gets home and we can talk face to face.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Katherine's Prayer

The children aren't sure. They are counting the cost. What will it mean to add another child to our family? They know that adoption will cost a lot of money. What will they have to give up?  Nathan said, "I know adoption costs a lot of money, and if we do it, I'm afraid you won't be able to afford to send me to my school anymore."

They worry about how they will communicate with a child who doesn't speak English yet. Last night I prayed for Wenxin as I was putting Katherine and Julia to bed. When I finished, Katherine announced that she wanted to pray.

"Dear God, please help Wenxin find a family in China so that they will be able to understand what he is saying. Help them to love him and never give him away like his first family did. Amen."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Glimmer of Hope

Yesterday, I found a message in my inbox. China wants more info on Mike's health. They did not immediately turn us down.

Monday, August 17, 2009

The Thing that's Bothering Me

OK -- so it's been a week now with no word from China -- or the agency for that matter. So the high of the last few weeks is leveling out a little. And as it does, a few questions keep bugging me.

Why can't Wenxin stay in the foster home where he's lived since birth? Do they want him? Could they adopt him if they wanted to? Is he happy there? Will he be relieved to leave or will he forever grieve the family he's being ripped away from?

And the question that's really eating at me is how in the world can we really find the answers?

It's not like I haven't already asked. The lady at the agency says "all these kids know that they'll age out of the system at 14. They know they need a home."

I think I'm supspicious of the whole adoption business. It would be naive to think that everyone involved is looking out for the best interest of the child. I want Wenxin to be in a loving family where he's valued and where he's safe. Is he already there? I get that he's probably poor; that his foster parents are probably peasants. I know that if he stays there, he'll probably receive little education and grow up to be a peasant too. But is that really so bad? Is being ripped from the only family you've ever known and carried to a more affluent country to be raised by loving and kind strangers who will provide you a better education really the preferable option?

I'm trusting God to lead through China's response to us.

When this post was originally published, it did not include Wenxin's photo per China's pre-adoption requirements.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Sunday night we e-mailed a "Letter of Intent" to adopt Wenxin. Our agency (actually they aren't "our agency" yet, but will be if we receive approval to adopt him) will translate our letter into Chinese and log it into China's online system. We are seeking pre-approval to adopt Wenxin because we know that China may turn us down because of Mike's epilepsy. China would probably never approve us for a healthy infant adoption. But the agency feels there's a good chance we could be approved for a waiting child. At this point we've paid no money and signed no contract. If we receive pre-approval, then we begin this process in earnest.

So now we wait. And wait. And wait.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Why China?

Why China?

Simply put – Because that’s where Wenxin is.

We’ve known we wanted to grow our family through adoption now for years. But there were so many questions. Boy or girl? Infant, toddler, or older child? Domestic or international? Healthy or special needs? Adoptive parents are called on to make decisions that biological parents never face. Those decisions can be paralyzing.

We tended to face those decisions that would alter our destiny (and that of all our children) late at night. There were many groggy, after-midnight conversations. Some options were ruled out. Others reconsidered.

Mike is a “possibilities” guy. Narrowing down options goes against his very nature. Exasperated, at one point I said, “Honey, there are millions of orphans in this world. If we have to consider each one individually, we’ll never do anything!”

My heart was drawn to waiting children. A lot of adoptive parents prefer girls – especially when looking at older kids. Our family seemed to be missing a boy.

And then we found him -- a sweet six year old Chinese boy on the waiting children’s list of an agency recommended by friends. Mike said, “Get more info on him.” After months of seeing things from different perspectives, suddenly we agreed on this child. I shot off a quick e-mail to the agency. So as not to seem too picky, I also listed four more kids we’d consider. The agency e-mailed back that the others were already being considered by other families, but offered to send Wenxin’s info. My heart leapt.

Suddenly we were holding photos, a video, biography, and the medical records of the little boy who just might be our son. But we were leaving town for two weeks in just two days, and we desperately needed our pediatrician’s input.

The receptionist was kind, but not very encouraging. This doctor is booked for months in advance. She also told me that the fee was $250 and definitely not covered by insurance. She took down all the details and left for a moment.

“Can you be here in 30 minutes?” she asked when she returned. Pandemonium ensued as we tossed our other 3 kids into the van and raced through rush hour traffic as fast as we could. It was kind of like driving to the hospital in labor.

Dr. Lagod reviewed his file. He looked healthy, but sad. She warned us of attachment problems that can occur with adopted kids. She pointed out that while his physical exam and lab work look fine, we know nothing of his birth parents. What about drugs and alcohol in pregnancy? This kid comes with a world of unknowns.

Dr. Lagod wished us well and refused to take payment for her services. She’s known us for a long time. She’s cared for each of our babies since birth. She was with us in 2001 when our daughter Sarah was born with a fatal chromosomal disorder. She fought for appropriate treatment for little Sarah, valuing her as a person, in spite of her severe handicaps. She attended her burial.

We felt as if God were sweeping us along on this adventure. Wenxin has some burn scars from an injury as an infant. The next evening as we surfed TV channels, we settled on the news show, 20/20. The main story was about amazing advancements in the treatment of burn scars. I didn’t dare look at Mike. When I did, we were both teary- eyed.

A Christian doctor we’d just met the week before agreed to have a plastic surgeon friend look at photos of Wenxin’s scars. No need for further treatment at this time. Another green light.

For the next two weeks, we traveled as a family to Alabama and on as a couple to Colorado. Mike and I prayed and talked. We tried to shock each other into reality by brainstorming “worse case scenarios.” We made phone calls to the agency with nit-picky questions. At one point I said, “This is either the greatest thing we’ve ever done, or the stupidest.”

But aren’t all acts of faith like that?

For me, I think what sealed the deal was realizing that as scared as I am of all the unknowns, the thing I’m most scared of is that we won’t be able to adopt him. Mike agrees and we are taking the plunge.

So China it is. Let the journey begin.

When this post was originally published in 2009, I did not include Wenxin's photo per China adoption regulations. I'm so glad I can include it now. That photo won our hearts!