ICAN Waiting Child Stories: Hoopers

Journey to Chance and Tai

I heard a quote once that said "Adoption is like a scavenger hunt; you have to travel so far sometimes to find the little treasures God has for us." When we started the adoption process for our first child, I guess I was on a scavenger hunt of sorts. I embarked on that journey with a sense of anxiety, and my map was a spreadsheet listing the pros and cons of domestic versus international adoption and a list of countries ranked by perceived riskiness. The fear of the unknown is likely why it took us more than a year to gather up the required paperwork -- so completely opposite of my usual Type A, list-making, taskmaster self. The dossier was sent to China - and we waited. The fact that it took 17 months from that point was actually a non-issue for me... the longer time went by, the less frequently I perseverated on my thoughts of what would happen if the child we were matched with was not "as advertised" - a healthy girl under 18 months of age.

The day that GWCA announced that the stork had delivered a batch of referrals - a day that should have been overflowing with joy - was a bit darkened for me when I learned that our daughter was actually almost a year older than we had specified as our maximum preferred age. Fears over bonding and attachment took hold and I Googled "Reactive Attachment Disorder". So I'd be prepared. Because I'm a researcher and a planner and I need to get my ducks in a row.

But I also studied her referral photos daily. My dad swore that her determined expression exactly matched childhood photos of myself. I began imagining what her personality would be like. I became intensely curious about her. I can't say I fell in love with her through the photo, like I'd heard others say happened for them. But the anxiety was waning. Gotcha Day was amazing and gut-wrenching. I mostly mourned for her losses... she was afraid and confused and almost mute for several days, and I thought about how every aspect of life as she knew it had just been ripped away from her. I felt intensely protective of her. Sometime in that week and a half at the White Swan hotel, the center of my world shifted from me to her. And I fell in love. I fell hard. Today, three years later, it feels as if I didn't even have a life before her. I'm sure it's impossible to be more tightly bonded to another human being than I am to her (and she to me). And my Dad was right. She IS my daughter; always was, even when we lived on opposite sides of the world and hadn't found each other yet.

The crazy thing about life is that knowledge and experience crush fear and anxiety. So, 18 months later, when we decided that Number Two was out there somewhere for us, we completed the paperwork in record-breaking time (that even amazed the staff at GWCA!) We trusted God and said we were open to an older child and to one with medical special needs. One year later, we were in China for Gotcha Day #2 - with no anxiety. Our new son was 3-1/2 years old and was congenitally missing his right leg below the knee.

Now, we watch our almost-5 year old boy romping around on his prosthetic leg and marvel that, at two recent parties, a group of parents standing around watching the kids play remarked that it must be difficult to adopt a son from China ("Isn't it all girls?"). We say, "No, when you go the special needs route, it's really pretty quick." And they ponder, look at the kids and then back at us, and then ask, "So, what's his special need?"

Mick, Tracy, Chance and Tai