"Our words are like seeds dropped along the road. We may never know what beautiful things will take root and blossom because we were there. But we can be sure that something good will grow"
Recently we were asked to share our story with our Adoption Agency, Children's Hope International, and have been thinking long and hard about how we might put into words such an emotional and powerful experience. We have so much to tell others who ask us about adoption- it's hard to describe in words alone- but here it goes. We always knew we would adopt, and it mostly came down to timing. After a sudden death in the family we realized life was too short to postpone our dreams. Three months later we applied for the China Special Needs program through Children's Hope International. Looking back it seems so long ago, we were so excited and so very naïve. Oh, but what a wonderful time and part of our story that we will cherish. First time parents- dreaming about the day we would meet our daughter, knee deep in paperwork and wondering how we could afford the cost. We remained determined and focused. Although it wasn't easy and delays were inevitable, looking back this was the easiest part of our journey.
After seeing our daughters face for the first time, life changed forever. It would never be the same. We waited 5 months before we could travel to meet her, and we only had 3 photos. This was when it became HARD. How do you wait patiently to get your child? I am sorry, but only others who have been there done that- truly can understand this period of adoption. IT IS HARD. All your thoughts are consumed in wondering and praying if your child is being loved, fed, and taken care of while you wait to travel. It is heart wrenching to wait and know they are growing older, they are alone without a mother and father, in an orphanage across the world. There is nothing we could do but TRUST. Those 5 months were challenging but gave us many life lessons. This is a standard with international adoption - after a referral, the paperwork in both countries takes some time. For us this stage was the HARDEST. But like many of life's challenging experiences- looking back we think it wasn't that bad- we could do it again in a heartbeat.
The most joyous part of adoption...holding our baby for the first time. That day will forever be engrained in my memory- like any mother meeting their child for the first time. There are no words to describe the overwhelming feeling of love. Our story has been easy ever since, Lottie was able to adapt to her new lifestyle immediately. She was strong and obviously well loved in her orphanage. We experienced attachment and bonding almost immediately. She was healthy and happy, and with our love began thriving even faster. She has been a joy to be around even on her toughest days, whether it be recovering from surgery, or sick with a double ear infection. Yes, we are biased, but she is one amazing child. We are so blessed to be her parents, and not a day goes by that we don't think about the gift we have been given.
One story that comes to mind, was after her lip repair about 4 months home from China we had been using signs to help Lottie communicate, one sign we were using constantly was I love you, we said it all the time and always showed her the sign. Even after 36 hours whirlwind of surgery and recovery, driving 4 hours home, Lottie was so happy to be home. She was exhausted, heavily medicated, and weak as she hadn't eaten much in the past few days. We laid her in her crib and hovered over as she smiled at us, we were admiring her new look. We told her how brave she was and how happy we were to be home, we said I love you. Honestly, like a scene from a movie, this tiny hand reached up and signed I love you, then closed her eyes as was fast asleep. It took our breath away- like that moment you can't feel your legs, might pass out, overwhelmed by love, this can't be happening moment. This tiny being reached out to us told us she loved us, never in my life will I ever forget that moment, EVER.
Although, our story has been seamless after meeting Lottie we cannot simply forget about her past or the millions of other children who remain in orphanages around the world. Adoption changes your life, it touches your soul to realize the depth of raising someone else's child as your own, and we are so grateful we were chosen to raise Charlotte Lee. Our lives will forever be changed by our adoption, as it has made us more thoughtful, gracious and giving individuals. So many people tell us how lucky Charlotte is to have us as parents, to become a US citizen, and to have proper medical care, but honestly we are the LUCKY ones to be blessed with this precious, strong, and loving child. We are confident she is going to change this world for the better, we look forward to the honor of being her parents and watching her grow into an amazing woman. We are so very lucky. In the end, we would do this a million times over again, the reward is so much greater than the struggles. We WILL adopt again and again. We will spend our lifetime trying to make a difference in the orphans lives around the world, most important teaching our children about God's love and compassion for those in need. We will continue to share our story, in hopes it will inspire others to choose adoption to build their families.