Confidence. Hope. Assurance. Faith.
Our entire adoption journey has been one of faith. Just as every birth is a miracle, so is every adoption. The number of things that have to align to bring a child from one country into another is outlandish. Not to mention the paperwork that must be completed just so, the finances that must appear in time to pay the fees, the people who have to show up - social workers, orphanage directors, lawyers, birth families, adoptive families, etc, etc - all of these things have to fall perfectly in to place in order for a child to legally become ours. Our children will already be the product of multiple miracles by the time they pass through our front door as Kautzis.
We fill out each form, write each check, say each prayer, clinging to the hope that these things will lead to a child in our arms. If we can take a step forward, it is only because of the confidence we have that our hopes will be realized. It is only because of our faith in the One who spoke adoption into our hearts.
When we began our Chinese adoption, I started praying three prayers - three hopes I had for our child that, to be honest, I lacked the confidence that they would actually come to be. But, in faith, I prayed them believing that my hopes matter to our Good Lord.
I called them my "Impossible Prayers" because each was highly unlikely for our circumstances due to the nature of Chinese adoptions. These were my Impossible Prayers:
Prayer 1: That our next child would be a girl
Why it's our prayer: Lila desperately wants a sister. She prays every night for a sister. She won't even consider that she might have a brother. I grew up with a sister, so that's always what I have imagined for Lila. The Husband says, "I know what to do with a girl!" We would, of course, be thrilled with a son, but we all feel especially partial to a daughter/sister. I liken it to when I was pregnant with Lila and hoped/thought she would be a girl.
Why it's an impossibility: If we were adopting from the healthy list, we would almost definitely be referred a girl. A cultural bias that favors boys and China's one-child policy make girls undesirable so the adoptable children in China are most often girls who have been abandoned by families who hoped they would be boys. However, a boy born with a medical need or congenital defect might as well be a girl. Chinese families typically prefer boys, but not imperfect ones. Because of this, there are five times as many boys as girls on the special needs list from which we are adopting so the likelihood that we would be referred a boy is much higher than the likelihood we would be referred a girl.
Prayer 2: That our child would be home before her first birthday
Why it's our prayer: There are some medical needs that have no real urgency - cleft lip and palate children often wait until they are a year old or more to undergo surgery anyway. But there are many special needs for which time is of the essence. The longer a child goes without a needed heart surgery, the less likely she is to survive. The longer a child has to wait for a meningocele (spina bifida) operation, the higher the risk for developmental delays and infection. In general, early intervention = higher success rate in healing or developmental catch-up.
Why it's an impossibility: I hated the thought that our child might be sitting in an orphanage in need of medical intervention longer than necessary, but our agency told me we would be lucky if our child was younger than 18 months when he or she came home. I am assuming this has something to do with the time it takes to gather all the paperwork to prove orphan status.
Prayer 3: That we would have some connection to or knowledge of our child's birth family
Why it's our prayer: There are heaps of research showing how important it is for an adopted child to have some sort of knowledge or connection to his or her birth family. When children have no answers regarding how they came to be placed for adoption, they have to deal with special fears and worries about their own value and the intentions of their first families. Of course, in circumstances of abuse or neglect, a child should be protected and guarded from unsafe influences. But for the most part, just the knowing can answer a lot of nagging questions in the back of an adoptee's mind. "Why did she place me for adoption? Was I wanted? Was she scared? Did she regret it? Did she love me?" Plus, for the sake of the birth family, I long to be able to give them peace about their child's well-being, happiness, and opportunities. I long to forge a connection with the other mother whose choices allowed me to be my child's mother.
Why it's an impossibility? The trouble is, most children adopted from China came to be orphans because they were abandoned. In Chinese adoption circles the phrase, "found place" is often discussed. It refers to the place the child was discovered. Not birth place, not home town - found place. The lucky ones are found with a note explaining their circumstances, perhaps their birth date, their name, maybe even why they were abandoned. But many children are found with no identifying markers. Birth dates are guessed, and the only fact known about their life before the orphanage is where they were found. Their "found place." When we began our Chinese adoption, our friend Kim, whose daughter was adopted from China, told me, "You have to get used to saying, 'I don't know' when she asks you questions. That's the only answer we have." I didn't want that to be the only answer I had. So I began to pray in earnest that we would have answers - that we would know something about our child's first family.
I prayed these impossible prayers in secret - I didn't even tell the Husband. He knew, of course, of my hopes as his were the same, but not that I was praying earnestly for these things to be true of our adoption. They were those sort of prayers that you almost don't want to admit to hoping for because you know how unlikely it is that they'll be answered the way you hoped. But Faith tells us to have confidence in the things we hope for; certainty about what we can't yet see. So, faith-fully I prayed, "Jesus, please give us another baby daughter. Bring her home soon. And may we know her birth family."
These prayers ended up being very significant to me when I opened my email after school on December 12th. One email stood out to me because it was from our home study agency (we work with two agencies - one is our international placing agency and the other is our local home study agency).
The subject line was Possible Situation. Because were in the middle of our Chinese home study, I thought it might be about a hiccup in our paperwork or something like that, so I opened the email with an internal groan thinking something was going to take more time/work than I had thought.
I couldn't have been more off base.
The email began with these words: