Monday, August 1, 2011

Catching up to Speed

Before I can post the big news, I have to post about what has led up to this point. Where do I even begin? For as long as I can remember, I have always dreamed of having a little girl. I also dreamed of adopting an Asian girl, but I wasn't sure where she'd be from- China, Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or the Philippines? Well, not just one girl really because I always hoped for a sister myself, but never got one. But at this moment, it is all about one and I am fine with that!

Last September, I stumbled on an advocacy blog for children waiting in China. Can't remember how I came upon it because I look at adoption-related sites all the time! But I came across this site and I was immediately drawn to a little girl that was being advocated for by the name "Annie." She was from China, she was adorable, and she was deaf. It was on that day that for the first time I thought, "I could adopt a child who has a special need. I could be her mom."

But, at that time Rick and I were both not yet 30 and that is one of China's many adoption requirements- you must be 30. So I watched her wait for a family and wait and wait. I then decided while I was waiting for my son Jayce to be born and for Rick and I both to be 30, I would become an advocate for children with special needs who are waiting in China for their forever family to find them. I created my blog, which later became my password protected site- With a heart wanting to adopt this little girl, but wanting more for her to find her forever family as soon as possible, I put "Annie" on my advocacy site. I only ever had one family ask about her and I had read about another family who wanted to adopt her so much but felt like they didn't have the resources. It was sometime during this time that I realized that we absolutely have all the resources you could ask for when it comes to parenting and raising a deaf child! We have the State School for the Deaf literally 2 blocks from our house, we have 2 or 3 friends who are American Sign Language (ASL) interpreters, and we live in a highly populous deaf community with deaf mentors available.

But also during this wait time, I got cold feet. I got scared. I knew we'd have a lot to learn, as we only know basic signs we have used when communicating with our children when they were unable to speak to us and with the language barrier between us and Elijah and Jonah upon their arrival home and then some. I was worried- would we have the time? But I also know that God has a plan! He knows, before we could ever know, every child who is meant to be a part of our family.

Adoption is not for the faint of heart and the process itself is gruesome- time consuming, full of bumps in the roads, highs and lows, and LOTS of paperwork...especially for China! But in the end, it is well worth it and much like labor- you tend to forget (well most of it). Every time I thought " doesn't have to be China....we can try and get a waiver for Korea (our family is too big) or adopt from Hong Kong (a child with a pretty significant special need)" I felt this pull back towards China. God had other plans! He kept nudging me saying..."No, you are not just to advocate. Your child will be from China and no matter how hard it is or how long of a road, you must walk this path!" And trust me, I am human and I tried to stray from His path more than once and I kept feeling that nudge every time.

Well, sweet and adorable little "Annie" found her forever family during our wait and I just kept right along advocating for these close to 2,000 children with special needs waiting on the shared list or agency designated lists for their very own forever family!

I turned 30 and eventually Rick's 30th birthday was right around the corner. I started looking into agencies I had heard nothing but great things about and was eventually led to Lifeline. I had sent in a sheet that was a checklist of all the special needs our family was open to. And I was told that we'd likely need to adopt a child at least four years old and with a more "severe" special need. Why, you ask? Well, see China has many requirements like I said before- well one of them is that you need to make $10,000 per person in your household plus the child you are adopting. Well, Rick is a teacher and he has his masters and two side jobs in the summer and I stay at home (for now), but we don't make $80,000 a year and we never will until I go back to work. So we needed to ask China for an income waiver. And this is why we had to go about things backwards. Most people do their home study and then sign on with an agency and then submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) to adopt a child. Well, we didn't want to do all that and shell out a lot of money when we didn't know if China would even grant us an income waiver! So, we had to find a child whom we thought China would give us an income waiver for, ask for an income waiver, and wait and see what would happen!

So...when I was in the midst of filling out Lifeline's application, Andrea (our wonderful and amazingly quick caseworker) called me (July 6th) and said Lily (Lifeline's China facilitator) had found a child she thought was a good fit for our family and she was surprised herself to see that the child was not4 or 5, but 1.5! Her birthday is December 12th (one day and one year older than Jayce to be exact), but Lily thought we could get an income waiver for her.

We had a short amount of time to decide if we wanted to lock her file and before we could do so, if we so chose, we had to finish that application and Christian questionnaire. I worked like crazy that night to get the application and questionnaire done and submitted. Check! That same evening, Rick looked at her file and pondered outside for awhile and came back in and said "Let's do it!" I called Andrea and said we were going to lock her file. We locked the file that same day!! Crazy, I know...and it gets crazier! We were supposed to leave for our road trip to Florida the next evening and I had to pack for 6 people still!! I stayed up much of the night working on our Letter of Intent- care plan and other documents needed for this package. I got it all done and everything was sent in to Andrea by the afternoon of the next day, July 7th. I had about 2 hours to pack and get everything ready for our trip- talk about stressful, but it got done (maybe not as well thought out as I would have liked, but we'd survive)!

That night in the car our family ENT at our local Children's Hospital called me to talk about what this little girl might need in the future because I had sent her this child's file the day before. I was giddy, but couldn't believe that this was real! I love advocating for these kids, you see, and I couldn't believe it was our turn...that we might have a daughter!

Our trip to Florida helped make things go a bit quicker since we were there two weeks. On July 13th, Andrea called me and said China wanted a letter explaining how we can afford a family of 8 on the income we make. We'll let's face it, we are no where near rich and though we live somewhat modestly, we live pretty comfortably! I'd say we have too much really. So this letter, though it took some time to write, was a piece of cake. Andrea said it looked awesome. :)

Finally, on July 22nd we were on our way back home and were driving through Georgia, when Andrea called and said we got the income waiver! WHEW! One hurdle down. But we hadn't got PA yet! I felt this was a great sign though because if they were willing to give us the waiver, why wouldn't they give us PA? So we waited you see how adoption works yet? Hurry up and get this done and then wait and it goes on and on until that wonderful day you finally meet your child!

Today was the magic day! August 1st- 8:30 p.m. approximately, Andrea called with the GREAT news! WE GOT PA!! Now scroll up and look at the pictures of our cute little GIRL! I hope and pray you enjoy our journey to our daughter, a missing piece of our family, who is waiting for us in China.


  1. WOW! brooke this blog is amazing....for someone who's never made a blog your a natural...i LOVE it!
    thank you God for allowing me to be a tiny part of the henningfeld's journey to Lena...i can't wait to walk with you to get your missing piece into your ARMS!

    ( your adoption friend...i'm not a caseworker but it made me sound smart when you wrote that ;)

  2. This is AWESOME!!! Congrats on finding your little girl...:):)
    I understand totally on the hurry up and wait...we are in the process again, going back to China!!!