Thursday, February 11, 2010

The long road that lead us to Benjamin....

Disney 2010 Photos 177

I have been asked ~ a lot lately ~ why adopt, why adopt from China, why a special needs child, and why a boy? And the simple answer for us is ~ Why not!

But our journey to Benjamin is truly "treasure map worthy"...for it was a path that our hearts have been trying to tell us for so long to follow...

When Francesca was placed into my arms while at the civil affairs office in Nanchang, ever.single.emotion. anyone possibly could experience, I did. From total excitement to being 100% scared - I felt them all.

About 18 months after our Francesca came home, she was diagnosed with a serve megacolon.

It was during those 18 months of running from doctors - to specialists - and back to more doctors' offices, that I started following along in other parents' web blogs that too have adopted or were waiting to adopt a special needs child. One of these families in particular that I followed was Lisa L. from Tennessee who was at the time waiting to travel to China for their son, Brady.

(this was the first time I truly felt compelled to follow along with an adoption journey since arriving home with Francesca back in November of 2005 and it was also the first time I ever read about adopting a little boy ~ see that window starting to open...)

It was also from Francesca's diagnosis that we found our hearts once again calling us to the road of an adoption with China's program and we were soon placed on the path to our Annabelle, who we adopted from CCAI's waiting child/special needs program back in October 2008.

Our Annabelle was too diagnosed with a megacolon and was placed on CCAI's designated list of special needs children in June of 2008.

We were once again so excited about our second daughter ~ through this amazing process called adoption.

This time when we traveled to China, I was 100% more prepared. Ever "bump" along the way (and trust me there were many) I didn't stress over. I must admit, I was proud of myself for the way I handled just about everything. I never thought I would be a mother of one child...let alone two. I never dreamed that during Annabelle's adoption journey our hearts would be called once again to adoption, but this time it was for a little boy.

While we were visiting Annabelle's orphanage in Jiaozuo, Henan Province, we were truly touched by almost everything that we saw there.

All those babies, toddlers, and children who were just so excited to see us was so very emotional.

While we did see the good, the not so good, the survivors, and the dying, my heart starting whispering once again...

One of the survivors that we've seen while at Jiaozuo SWI was a little boy named, "David". He is truly a survivor. For you see, he had survived from being lite on fire by a member of his family. Now living with a body that is 99% covered in burn scars from that unthinkable act of cruelty, just seeing his smile & his excitement over our presence was a moment that I will never forget. It was than that I heard my heart screaming, A SON!

On our way back to the hotel after visiting Annabelle's orphanage and getting our papers notarized, I could not get that imagine out of my head of David smiling at me. And while Keith & I did talk about what we experienced at the orphanage, the words, "my heart is calling me once again to adopt Keith, but this time it is a little boy" were never spoken.

(I tried to block these feelings and thoughts out from my mind and heart but I knew those feeling & thoughts would not be going away any time soon...but still I kept quiet)

Fast forward to the end of our trip...

Since Annabelle was cared for most of her life at Hope in Beijing, we felt we needed to make a special stop there before leaving.

Our time at Hope was very different than our time at Jiaozou. Hope was so bright, cheery, and they had a ton of nannies on staff to care for and love each & every child there. One little boy in particular was Gabriel. As soon as he saw Keith, he crawled over to him, placed his arms around his leg and won't let go. Keith immediately picked him up and from that moment on they were inseparable. After spending over two hours visiting Hope, we got into our van to go back to our hotel. It was about 20 minutes into the ride that Keith turned to me and said just two words, "a boy". Just hearing those two words had my mind racing with a million thoughts and it wasn't again until we were back at the hotel on our final night in China that Keith spoke to me about his heart calling him to adopt a little boy.

We left Beijing the next day for our long plane ride home.

eight weeks go by....

And we are having lunch with our friends, The Fitch family (who traveled with us back in October for their daughter Hannah) . During the conversation, both Lori and I start talking about adopting once again (by this time, Keith and I are talking about an adoption, but we were not 100% committed). As soon as the words "adopt once again" was mention, both guys (Keith & Lori's husband Al) quickly got into our girl conversation. It wasn't long after that day, that Keith and I found ourselves once again filling out a medical conditions checklist with CCAI. In the past, we only requested, a girl ~ well this time we requested a boy or girl and listed any type of bowel, gastric, anus, rectum, and/or colon condition. We were told by our agency that we may never get a referral for they never get files on children with those types of medical problems (in my heart I had no doubt that we wouldn't hear something for we heard those same words when we submitted a MCC for our Annabelle and listed megacolon on it...and just look how that one turned out). This was all in December of 2008 ~ only 8 weeks since coming home with our Annabelle.

again months go by...

and not one word from our agency....

but a little boy was still strong within my heart and Keith's too...

Than on May 2nd, we receive and email from the head of CCAI's Waiting Child Department asking us "if we would be interested in a rectal-urethra fistula diagnosis and if so please contact the Waiting Child Department as soon as possible". Now I actually received this email on Friday, the 1st, but it was late Friday evening when it was originally sent. Seeing how I was up at my mom's for supper that night, I missed the email. Once I arrived home later that Friday evening, Keith was there waiting for us (after a long drive from DC) and after not seeing him the whole week, we had a lot of catching up to do. So I didn't have a chance to sit down at my computer and check my emails until early Saturday morning...while I was drinking my first cup of coffee. It all seems so surreal now, but at that moment of reading that email, my hands were shaking so bad that I couldn't drink my coffee. Seeing how it was only 7AM and I knew Keith was beyond exhausted, I quickly called my mother who I just knew would be up. It seems I couldn't get the words out fast enough. I was so excited, confused and yes once again scared. I read my mom that email over & over again...and we talked for about an hour. My mom having the medical background, experience and education knew within seconds what I was saying. She too started getting excited over the idea of another grandchild. We both felt in our hearts that THERE was a file out there on a child who could soon be ours...It was enough to get my hands sweating and my mind racing. She reassured me over & over again about this condition, gave me all the facts and simply asked, "Do you need me to come down?" I told her no that I was OK, but I needed to wake Keith up and tell him about the email. By that time, the girls have already woken up Keith and he was on his way down stairs. As I bounced into the kitchen, he asked, "So what's going on already this early Saturday morning?" My reply to that question was, "Do you really want to know...no matter what it may be?" His answer of course was, "Yes." So there I was explaining to him about the email that I received from CCAI and told him exactly what it said. As I was floating around the room, my mind swirling once again in thought of another child, Keith just looked at me and said, "Well you'll have to call them on Monday and see what's going on. "

and we didn't talk about that email and the possibility of that email the rest of the weekend...

Monday morning came and Keith held off on his long drive back to DC. Our agency would open at 10AM Eastern Time and it was exactly 10:01AM that I was dialing CCAI's phone number. I spoke first to their operator who I asked if she could connect me to Densise in the Waiting Child Department. I was than told she was not going to be in until after 11AM (their time) so knowing that we would not hear anything for at least another 3 hours, Keith headed down the road, back to work. Around 1PM our time, I did get that phone call that our hearts have been so secretly waiting for...a referral for a little boy! Let's just say I couldn't get off the phone fast enough to I call Keith and tell him the beautiful news....

On May 11, 2009, we started ~ once again ~ paper chasing for our third child ~ our first son Dang Zi Zhong (soon to be Benjamin James Zi Leonard).

As many of you know, it has been a long & crazy journey for us ~ so far ~ and we are only half way through it. I hope this answers some of the questions we have received over the past several months about adopting from China, adopting a special needs child from China, and most of all adopting a little boy from China.

As for our son, Benjamin ~ We are coming to get you very soon. We promise. We love you so very much and are counting down the days until you can be held for the first time within our arms...

A {our} little boy has been growing in our hearts for so very long now...and we still are not there ~ just yet....

6 comments:

Theis Family said...

Praise God for your journey...you will be blessed for your perseverance

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

I cannot wait to get word that you have received your LOA and TA..... I remember following your journey to Annabelle and I am looking forward to doing the same when you go to bring home your precious boy......BENJAMIN!!! So excited and happy for you Shelly.....I can just imagine your house with a little boy in the mix:)

Luv Ya,

Lisa

Love Letters To China said...

I've just had a moment to read about your sweet little boy. I'm so excited for you and your family. I must say... little boys do have something special about them. Benjamin is 7 mo younger than my Liam. He looks so healthy and loved. You can tell he has been taken care of from his recent pictures. I can't wait to read about your journey to China. He is going to love finally being home and a part of your loving family.

Football & Fried Rice said...

I am thrilled to know you & to have been a "part" of your journey to your son!! What exciting times! I'll never forget the phone call where you told me and I KNEW you didn't need the weekend to think about it - I KNEW you were going to say YES!!! Say yes to that sweet little Luoyang boy!!!!

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