Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Officially Matched...

Just received a call from our adoption agency - the MOJ in Bulgaria has officially matched us with the twins.  Nobody else can step in and file to adopt them.  Now, we just have to complete our paperwork (education, home study, medicals, etc.) and we will be that much closer to bringing our kids home!  We are hoping to get most everything completed within the next two weeks.  We are still waiting on the FBI for finger print processing, the state of Michigan for criminal clearances, and our social worker has to file the clearance request for the state of Indiana (Bruce lived in Indiana for 3 years while attending law school).  All of our medical check-ups have been scheduled as well as lab tests that are required for the referral package.  These should all be completed by the end of next week.  A lot of paperwork needs to be signed and notarized and then sent to be apostilled in Lansing.  Hopefully all goes well. 

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Why these twins?

This is a long post.  I am not certain of the exact dates that these events occurred, but it all happened over a 2 year period.  This is how God led us to the twins.

So how did these children find their way into my heart?  Well, during all of my research on international adoption, I also applied for access to a few waiting children registries.  One of which was All God's Children International.  Periodically, I would view these registries.  Since Bulgaria does not allow pictures of the waiting children to be posted, the registries only had a brief written profile of the children waiting to be adopted. 

About two years ago, while viewing AGCI's registry, I noticed a new profile.  The listing was for 4 year old twins, a boy and a girl, from Bulgaria.  I knew if I ever adopted, I would adopt siblings.  So this listing made my heart jump a bit.  I read the profile which included special needs information.  The special needs seemed overwhelming to me at the time so I dismissed the listing.  Occasionally, I would catch myself thinking about these children and I would check AGCI's registry to see whether or not they were still available.  I found myself praying that the right family would come along to give these children a home. 

About  4 or 5 months after I first read about the twins, I received an email from someone advocating for Bulgarian orphans.  I had briefly corresponded with this women prior to viewing any waiting children on AGCI's registry.  Her email told of a sibling group waiting to be adopted in Bulgaria.  She very briefly described the children and their special needs.  As I read and re-read her description, I felt certain that she was describing the same children from AGCI's registry.  "Twins - 4 years old - boy and girl".  Continuing, I read their special needs.  Yes, they had to be the same twins.  I checked the registry to make sure, and sure enough, the descriptions matched.  Wow!  I couldn't believe I was reading about these same children.  Included in the email were a few pictures of the twins.  Oh my, could I possible fall in love with a brief descriptions and 3 pictures? 

I showed Bruce the profile on AGCI's registry, the email, and the pictures.  He didn't say much other than mentioning the special needs seemed overwhelming.  My initial thoughts.  So, I tried to put these children out of my mind and continued to pray for them. 

A few months later, I was googling Bulgaria adoption, orphanages, agencies, etc.  I came across a blog posting written by someone talking about waiting children.  The writer was describing two children from Bulgaria.  She was talking about a little boy in a "yellow shirt" and a little girl "dressed in pink with a pony tail on the top of her head".  Reading these words immediately brought a picture to my mind.  I was certain the twins were dressed the same way in the pictures from the email.  I found the old email and checked the pictures.  Sure enough, yellow shirt, pink shirt, pony tail, exactly as described.  Again, I had stumbled on to these kids.  I started thinking I was being led to Bulgaria and maybe even to these specific kids.  I mentioned this to Bruce, who ever so gently, brushed me off.  I am certain he thought I was crazy.

I was now more interested than ever in these twins.  They were always on my mind.  I started searching for information online about orphanages in Bulgaria.  I would sometimes find videos of charity organizations donating and delivering supplies to the orphanages.  Seeing all of the children in these orphanages really increased my desire to adopt.  I started believing it was what I was meant to do.  One day while watching a video of a charity visiting an orphanage in Kyustendil, Bulgaria, my heart must have stopped.  I saw a little boy that I knew was one of the twins.  I replayed the video over and over looking for his sister.  I thought I could vaguely see her in the background, but was not sure.  I was so excited.  The little boy was playing in a room full of toys and kids.  He looked happy.  It brought tears to my eyes.  I showed Bruce the video.  I think this may have been the point where he started thinking that maybe we were meant to adopt.  We started talking about it more and more.

So I kept praying for God to give me answers.  Do we adopt?  Do we adopt from Bulgaria?  Do we adopt the twins?  Now, this may seem silly to some, but to me it was another sign from God.  One day Bruce asked me to look for his cell phone in the pockets of his wool coat.  So as I am doing this, I notice the tag on his coat.  It reads "made in Bulgaria".  OK - how often do you see things made in Bulgaria???  We were both almost laughing thinking about this. 

So we continued talking about these kids.  Eventually, Bruce told me to request more information from AGCI on the twins.   AGCI forwarded the file for the twins.  We read through everything.  I researched all of the medical information.  We talked.  Finally, we decided that their special needs did not seem all that abnormal for children who had been in an orphanage almost their entire lives.  We decided to file our application with AGCI and move forward on the twins.  The girls were thrilled. 

After talking to our agency, we decided we should have a medical review completed on the medical records.  We decided to do a phone consultation.  We were excited and nervous to talk to the doctor.  After her review of the records, she called us.  She jumped right in on all the things that could potentially be wrong with these kids.  She focused mainly on their small size and was very harsh.  We were both in shock.  She did not have one positive thing to say about these kids.  Neither of us could even think to ask her any additional questions.  We ended the consultation, heartbroken.  The girls were in tears when we told them how the call went.  We were scared.

After having a day to process everything, we decided we should get a second opinion.  So we did.  This doctor focused on the potential issues internationally adopted children could have growing up in a culture other than their own.  She barely mentioned any of their special needs or any other medical concerns.  Once again, we were disappointed.  We felt that we did not have any better understanding of their medical status that when we first received their file.  The unknowns scared us.  We stopped the adoption process.  It was a hard decision.  I felt lost. 

Several months went by without any further discussion.  I was trying not to think about it.  Trying to accept that adoption must not be part of God's plan for us.  How good I have been so wrong?  I really believed we were being led to adopt.  I knew I had to accept that this was not going to happen for us.  But I could not stop thinking about the twins.  I prayed for God to find them a family.  I forced myself to stop checking up on them on AGCI's website.  I forced myself to quit googling orphanages in Kyustendil, hoping to see them. 

Eventually, I caved.  I looked at AGCI's waiting child registry.  They were still there.  Then I felt compelled to do more research on their medical information.  The more I researched, the less overwhelming their needs seemed to be.  Many of their issues appeared to be related more to orphanage life than to anything else.  I began googling orphanages again.  In the Fall of last year, about 6 months after stopping the adoption process, I was watching a video posted on the website of a charity organization from England.  A group of people from the charity was delivering several truck loads of supplies to an orphanage in Kyustendil.  They arrived at the orphanage early in the morning when the kids were just waking up.  As the camera scanned the sleepy faces of the kids still in their cribs, I saw a little girl that looked like one of the twins.  I held my breath.  A few seconds later, the video showed someone picking up a little boy from his crib.  It was the other twin.  He looked so adorable with his sleepy eyes and in his cozy jammies.  I thought I was going to cry.  I kept watching the video, hoping to see his sister again.  Then, there she was.  Sitting up now in her crib, holding onto someones finger.  Oh my, she looked beautiful.  I kept thinking, for all the potential issues that these kids could have, they sure looked happy and healthy in this video. 

I forwarded the video to Bruce at work with the title "Recognize anybody???"  He called me right away.  He was surprised to see them again.  I think this is when we started rethinking our decision. 

We talked about their special needs.  What if they can't be corrected?  What if they can?  We probably will never have a large retirement account.  So what?  Our we living for retirement or living for today?  Is it really about us?  Or is it about these two children?  Can we handle the special needs?  Can we handle the time involved to insure these children reach their full potential? 

After much discussion (and praying), we knew we wanted these children.  No matter what their special needs were, we really felt they were meant to be part of our family.  I read an article awhile back and the title of the article really fit our entire adoption decision making process:  "Seeing the child before the special need". 

So here we are - up to our ears in paperwork - and anxiously waiting to bring these children home.  Soon, they will be off the registry forever.

Friday, April 8, 2011

International Adoption Referral Evaluation

Does anyone have any suggestions for doctors in Michigan that do medical evaluations of referral information?  If not in Michigan, any other suggestions?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Great News - Twins!

Yes, it is true.  We received our referral packet for the two children we hope to adopt - Twins - a boy and girl - they turned 6 years old a few months ago.  We have been praying about these kids for a long time now.  More on how we were led to them in a later post. 

All of their referral information is two years old, so we are hoping to receive some updated information soon.  Our adoption journey is somewhat different than most as we are completing all of the steps at the same time.  We are working on our home study and dossier as well as reviewing the referral information.  This is because the twins are on Bulgaria's waiting child list.   We first saw information on these children in 2009 and we are now in the process of adopting them.  Some of God's plans unfold more slowly than others. 

Now we have to concentrate on paperwork!