Our Adoption Story (Originally written in May 2011)

The Captain and I first talked about adoption during our premarital mentoring. When asked: "How would you feel if you couldn't have biological children?" We glibly responded: "We'd adopt!" Fast forward a couple of years and we were experiencing infertility firsthand. Sure, adoption was an option, but we learned there was a major (mental) process to go through to be ready to adopt. Plus, we found out adoption was not an easy, nor an inexpensive thing to do.

We tried to have a baby for three years. During that time we seriously looked into adopting, specifically adopting from Russia. Since my roots are in Finland and we travel there regularly, we thought Russia would be a good fit, and we'd be able to introduce our adopted child to his or her birth country and culture in a real way.

When I got pregnant with our supertwins, we thought that was it, and I guess adoption wasn't for us, after all. And we were busy, oh so busy, for many years with our multiples. So busy in fact, that I made The Captain promise to talk me out of having more kids if I ever started asking him for more :).

Missy started talking about a little sister probably when she was old enough to talk. (I don't remember a whole lot of those years.) She had three active brothers to play cars or trains or knights with, but in her heart she wished for a sister. My youngest sister is my best friend, and I did wish for Missy to have that same relationship, but at the same time we already had four children! I told her to talk to God and talk to daddy about it. She did. Probably every day.

Meanwhile our friends had adopted a little girl from China. She was so cute! There started to be thoughts and wishes, spoken and unspoken.. And stories of adoption everywhere.

When our little ones started Kindergarten - full-day Kindergarten - I realized our family wasn't full yet. We weren't done having babies. Now it took a while to convince The Captain to let go of his promise he had made me, but I had a mighty helper on my side: Missy :)

After talking about adding another child to our family, it felt natural to choose adoption this time. We looked at Russia again, and in our heads felt that was a logical option, but our heart kept tugging us toward China. After much prayer, in January 2005, we decided to start our China adoption journey.

Even after choosing a country, there were major decisions to make: adoption agencies, homestudy agencies, traditional program or special needs program. We did research, talked to families who had adopted, and prayed a lot. We chose Lutheran Social Services for our homestudy, and Families Thru International Adoption (FTIA) as our adoption agency. We decided to ask for a healthy girl, as young as possible, trusting God to send the right child to our family, regardless of what we asked for.

Yet in my heart I did wish for little baby girl. We already had three boys and we wanted a little sister for Missy (and for everyone :). The baby years with our multiples had been so crazy I wanted to experience the babyhood again, with just one child. We had experience with premature babies and with some health conditions, so we felt we could handle some special needs, but found it too overwhelming to choose which ones. We thought we were already so busy with our four children we should probably not seek a special needs child.

We worked as hard as we could to get our paperwork in order, and in a few months everything was together. We had a wonderful social worker through LSS who quickly wrote our homestudy, and we fulfilled the requirements we needed to meet. An adoption seminar, a house inspection from the fire chief, doctor's forms, recommendations, getting funds together (it's starting to be a blur now). Our dossier (paperwork) was logged-in in China in July of 2005. The wait began.

I realize the wait is horrendously long now to adopt from China. When we started, the wait was about six months, but it was starting to get longer and longer as each month came along. We kept busy with our four children, and I tried to read everything we could find about adoption, so we could be prepared.

Finally, in November of 2006 we received the long awaited phone call: "You have a daughter!"

Little Xiao Li was only 7 months old, waiting for us in the Social Welfare Institute in Guangdong Province of the People's Republic of China. We read in our referral package she loved bells and being with older children. Sounds like a match made in heaven!!

In December 2006 we traveled with nine other families to China to bring our Little Miss home. Missy came with us. We spent Christmas at White Swan, getting to know our littlest family member, and enjoying China. It was a wonderful time. We missed the boys, of course, especially on their birthday and at Christmas time, but felt it had been a right decision to leave the boys home. One of our 'Red Threads' was we signed Little Miss' adoption papers on our multiples' 8th Birthday. It truly became our Family Day. Someday, though, we'll all go to China together (God willing).

We had some rough patches - especially during the first months of having Little Miss home. Little Miss was sick a lot, didn't sleep well, and on top of that we were remodeling our kitchen. But overall we have been so blessed. Little Miss bonded so well with everyone in our family. She is still (at age 5) quite attached to mommy's hip, but she has made huge strides, and is becoming more confident every day.

And asking mommy and daddy for a baby sister. Which, if we were to consider that now, would be a different looking road. Definitely special needs, and possibly a toddler or an older child. If.

*********** And so our story continues. Check out our announcement here.

Little Miss at 5 mos - one of our referral pictures

Gotcha Day 12/15/2006

Our mini family in China :)

Our five children!

Little Miss at age 2