Yes, I won my very own Memorial Box in a drawing from my sweet friend, Linny, at A Place Called Simplicity. The kids were so excited as they tore the tape off the package and then started singing "Happy Birthday to Mama." I guess they think that birthdays are the only time that cool stuff comes for you in the mail. :)
Since SaraGrace headed off to kindergarten last week, I decided to make this Memorial Box Monday post about her adoption.
Waaayyy back when Jillian was adopted, we found out her nickname in the orphanage was QiaoQiao (pronounced Chow Chow). We called her that for years--until she became old enough to prefer Jillian. One year at Christmas time, my mom spotted a baby doll with the name, ChouChou. We thought it must be pronounced the same, so Jillian got the doll for Christmas. Several weeks later, our sweet friends from China, Sarah and Dennis, laughingly told us that ChaoChao is pronounced differently AND it meant, 'ugly baby.' We cracked up--and it became an inside family joke.
Fast forward several years and a few adoptions. God began speaking to my heart about a little girl He had for us. There were many verses He used, but the one that I kept coming across was, (He) "called you out of darkness into His wonderful light." 1 Peter 2:9 Because of this, I thought that maybe our little girl had some type of special need that involved her eyesight.
Although I looked at agency lists from China, I thought our daughter was probably in a different country. There was a rule stating that families could not adopt from China if they had more than four children in the home. We had five. China had not granted any waivers to this rule for several months.
About that time, an agency posted their new list of children from China with special needs. This particular agency was the only one that ever doubled the childrens' first names to identify them. (Ex: LanLan, MeiMei, etc.) To my amusement, I saw that there was a ChouChou posted. I quickly checked to see if she had any eyesight problems, but no, she was a heart baby. She was darling, so I knew she would get a family quickly.
A month or so later, I checked the list again. I was surprised to see that ChouChou still didn't have a family. I looked at her information again and saw that her heart condition was fairly severe.
For reasons I still do not understand, I picked up the phone and called the agency to inquire about her. They told me that they thought there was a family for her but that family would be deciding over the weekend.
By that time, ChouChou had gripped my heart. I began to pray earnestly for her--and that God would show me if this little girl was our daughter. I sat down at the computer to research her heart condition. As Google brought up the first website, I gasped in utter shock. The slogan on the top of the cardiac site was,
"Out of darkness, into light..."
I sat rooted to my chair, feeling like a lightening bolt had gone through my body. So she WAS our daughter. But how?
We had 'too many' kids.
There was another family for her.
Oddly, Jeff, who is normally needs awhile to think and pray about another adoption, agreed to ChouChou immediately.
And then, the family considering her decided that she was not their daughter. I was overjoyed! I couldn't wait for it to be Monday so that I could call the agency.
Monday finally came and I called, only to be told that the person who handled the special needs kids was on vacation. They gave me to someone else and I was told that a different family had stepped forward to adopt little ChouChou. What?! I was crushed.
Since we would have to be granted a waiver to adopt her, I didn't feel like I could bring up the fact that I had called about her the previous Friday. She needed to come home as soon as possible for surgery. A family who needed no waivers was of course, the first choice for her.
Behind the scenes in China, Love Without Boundaries had arranged for ChouChou to have heart surgery. I kept her picture on our fridge, with the date of surgery beside it, so that I would remember to pray. A month and a half later, the big day came. I paced and prayed all day. Never had a child so far away touched my heart so deeply. Finally, late in the afternoon, an email appeared with stunning news.
Little ChouChou was rejected for heart surgery and said to be inoperable. Her heart defect was just too complicated and they sent her back to the orphanage to be kept comfortable. The family who was planning to adopt her said that they would not be continuing the adoption and said she was unadoptable.
When Jeff got home from work, I was crying and saying that ChouChou was going to die. He looked at me calmly and said, 'No she isn't. This only happened in order that the other family would step out of the way so that we can adopt her.'
I wasn't connected with LWB in those days, but I had met the founder, Amy Eldridge, when we were both adopting our first children from China. I contacted her and asked if it was true that ChouChou was unadoptable. We wanted her! We didn't care what her diagnosis was. Amy assured me that she was going to try to get a second opinion and also have ChouChou sent to Hope Healing Home in Beijing to try to improve her health.
I called the agency and they set to work to get our family approved. Remember, no families (that we know of) had been granted waivers to the family size rule for about five months.
They sent our Letter of Intent off to China and we waited at home with baited breath.
Three weeks later, Taylor and Jeff headed to Beijing on a mission trip. They actually planned to visit ChouChou while they were there. But since we didn't know if we would be approved, it was difficult for them to get too emotionally connected.
Unbeknownst to anyone but God, I had been begging Him to grant us permission to adopt ChouChou WHILE Jeff and Taylor were still in China. In Beijing, the team visited the orphanage, and Jeff and Taylor met little ChouChou. She wanted nothing to do with them! They were strangers with no standing whatsoever.
Soon there were only two days left before they had to return to the US. I continued to pray fervently. It was spring break and I decided to visit my parents a few hours away. The kids and I were in the van...and then.... my cell phone rang.
"Karin? This is xxx from xxx adoption agency!" My heart started to pound. I so desperately wanted to hear good news...but what if she was about to tell me that we had been denied?
"Karin...I have your pre-approval!"
Me...trying not to drive off the road..."OH MY GOODNESS!!! I can't believe it!! REALLY?!?!?"
The minute we got to my parents', I rushed to my mom's computer to send an urgent email to the team in China to tell them that Jeff could go back to visit ChouChou. And this time....
...as her Daddy.
A little footnote to the story...we found out later that the translator had misspelled her name. It wasn't ChouChou, it was ChaoChao. If it had been spelled correctly, I would never have noticed her on that list. But God knew that I would see ChouChou and that it would make a big enough impression to get me coming back to the list to check on her.
And her heart surgery story...well, that is a Momorial Box Monday for a different day!