Thursday, October 18, 2012

Two years, Happy 16th Birthday!

Last month, just a few days after we celebrated 2 years with Micaelyn, we also celebrated 2 years with Joshua. Then immediately after that was his 16th birthday. Unfortunately I was too busy to blog about it at the time, but I didn't want to do anymore posting until I got a chance to write a post about Joshua. He deserves it!

Joshua is an AMAZING kid! He is very nearly a perfect child. It's hard to believe we almost didn't get to adopt him. We were already in the process to adopt Micaelyn (a child who herself had waited many months on the photolisting) when we decided to adopt Joshua, a teenage boy who was about to "age-out," i.e. turn 14 years old and be marked as "too old" for adoption. Very sadly, our agency was willing to let him age-out and live the rest of his life as an orphan rather than let us adopt him, despite our previous experience with older child adoption, because they were unwilling to make an exception to their rule of not ever allowing families to adopt two unrelated children at the same time.

It took a HUGE battle to finally get the agency's approval to adopt Joshua. It was many weeks of endless meetings with social workers, numerous committee meetings, and countless phone calls and emails (during which time Micaelyn's adoption was put completely on hold, a huge concern considering her risk for tumors was so high she needed blood work every 6 weeks and ultrasounds every 12 weeks to screen for tumors but was receiving NO medical treatment in China for her condition).

In the end I wrote about 40,000 words to defend our case - my arguments ranged from our knowledge and experience in adoption, particularly older child adoption and attachment issues, to their mission as a Christian organization "dedicated to carrying out God's plan for every child to have a permanent, loving family," Joshua's need for a family, their responsibility to find him a family, and the lack of any other families who were both willing and able to adopt him in time. I wrote about other older children who had been listed with their agency but for whom they had never found a family, and I even included pictures of some of the ones who had aged out most recently (We actually first inquired about Joshua months before we really started to fight for him, and as it started to get closer and closer to his 14th birthday I started watching the agency's photolisting more and more waiting for him to find a family. During this time period other kids were already aging out, and I kept their pictures knowing that if it came down to the line and we had to fight for Joshua I could use this to help him avoid the same sad fate the others were dealt, a fate I still feel could have been avoided had the agency fought for those kids to have a family like we fought for Joshua to be our son).

In the end, although we waged a great war, I truly believe it was God's hand in it all that finally led the agency to give us their approval to adopt Joshua along with Micaelyn.  I will never forget the call from our agency to give us the news, nor their words to keep quiet and not make a big deal out of it because they didn't want other people to think they might also be able to get approval.  I said that whenever I told people about it I would make sure to say we were the rare exception to their rule.  Their response was, "No, you are not the rare exception, you are the ONLY exception."  Ironically, shortly after our fight there were a couple of other families allowed to bring home two kids at one time, both involving kids who were about to turn 14.  It was really tough to accept the fact that others were given approval so much more easily after we were put through so much in our battle to adopt Joshua, but at the same time we knew that had we not fought that battle for Joshua, had we not won the fight with our agency, had we not "broken the mold" for them, those other families would never have gotten approval either.  So our fight not only allowed Joshua to know the love of a family, it also helped a couple of other kids as well.  I know there are people who do not like to use the phrase "save a child" when referring to adoption, but when you look at the fate these children would have faced without adoption and the fact they were so close to that fate one could definitely make the argument Joshua and these other children were in fact "saved."  So while I will never be able to think about our battle with the agency without having a lot of hard feelings, knowing we not only got Joshua but also helped those other kids makes it all worth while.

So while we feel very blessed to have all our children, we know Joshua is an extra special blessing, really a miracle.  We came so close to not getting him, he came so close to not being adopted.  We so often look at him and think about that, about how close he came to a very different fate, about how close we came to never experiencing all the joy he brings to our family.  It took a fight to get him home, but he is so worth the battle we fought.  We are so thankful to God for bringing us the miracle of this great son.  Happy 2 years, happy 16th birthday, Joshua!

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