Neither of us came from large families. I have two sisters while Tammy has a brother and a sister. My mother’s family was very large with several sisters and a couple brothers. This meant I have quite a few cousins – many of whom I do not know even today. With the passing of my grandmother (mom’s mom) in 1992, that side of my family pretty much lost touch. On the contrary, my dad came from a small family where he only had two brothers with dad being the youngest. My middle sister has three kids and my older sister, the one who died of cancer in 2007 has only one child. In total, Tammy and I have two nieces and four nephews plus one niece whom we have sort of adopted. She is the daughter of the lady who married my sister’s husband a few years after she passed away.
After being married for a few years, we tried to conceive a child but was unsuccessful. Tammy and I did talk about having kids someday though we decided early on to wait a while before having a child of our own. After a few years of trying to conceive, Tammy went to a fertility clinic to be tested and everything seemingly checked out just fine. She took several rounds of a fertility drug but this unfortunately had no effect. After a while without any success, we briefly discussed In Vitro Fertilization but we decided this was not for us as we felt outside of God’s design. Also with the risks of multiple-birth, we ultimately chose not to go this route.
We would later find out that Tammy had some fibroids which according to the doctors had been there for a while. These fibroids in her uterus may have been at least partially the reason why we could not conceive. When it came time for me to be checked, I was unable to provide a sample so we both left the clinic that day feeling very discouraged. As time went on, we continued trying to conceive but the frustration continued. Though we were downtrodden, we never let this bother us too much and besides, trying to become pregnant was just as fun too.
The surgery that I had on my prostrate essentially put an end to my ability to father a child. So in addition to Tammy’s fibroids which resulted in her hysterectomy surgery, and my prostate issues, only God knows the real reasons why we could not conceive. We will never know on this side of eternity where the actual problem was however we never let this get us down. The real reason was unimportant to us so just continued to put our trust in God and were patient in waiting for His plans to work through for His will. We also came to an understand that perhaps children were simply not in His plans for us.
But those plans seemingly became clearer one day in our Sunday school class at Richland Creek. A couple in our class asked for prayer one morning in the class because they were going to start the process of adopting a child. The excitement in their eyes bought yet another awakening in ours. After the class ended, we both said to each other, almost in unison, “Hey! Let’s adopt!!”
Tammy had done some research already so we immediately reached out to a local Christian adoption agency located in Raleigh. After reading many articles, we set our focus on adopting an international child. There is great need for adoptive parents; not only in the United States but all across the world – actually the need is quite tremendous. In fact, there are hundreds of thousands of children in orphanages around the world waiting to be adopted.
At first we narrowed down our countries to Russia and China as we started the long process of completing the paper work. It is really sad that the amount of paper work to adopt a child is so daunting. In some cases, buying a car or a house is less intrusive. When buying a car, you have to provide your financial information if you are going to take out a loan for the purchase. This is understandable. However, it was very difficult for me to understand why a foreign government would need to know how much money I have in my IRA account. Though I realize there is a need for tight scrutiny when it comes to vetting out potential adoptive parents, there must be a better way. There were many times through-out the process where we felt completely overwhelmed with everything. On a few occasions we almost gave up but we kept trusting in God that this was to be our purpose.
We spent the next several months attending adoption training classes, reading through our required list of adoption books, gathering up financial information, and visiting doctors for physicals including blood and lab work ups. Probably the worst was having to sit on a little couch and answer a psychologist’s questions on our mental state.
Getting into those required reading lists, I really feel this book you are reading now should be included since I am giving you an unbiased look into this daunting process. None of the books on our reading list gave us any insight into the process. Some of these books were filled with nothing but legalese which would have required a law degree to understand. Some were very physiological and philosophical while still others painted a contrary and overly rosy view of this rather formidable process.
In my opinion the whole process is too complicated and some of the requirements are outlandish. For example, while we were in the middle of completing the paper work for an adoption of a child from China, the Chinese government changed the guidelines. Since we were not already in the system, we were forced to fall into these new guidelines. We learned that China had put in a new restriction the Body Mass Index for potential adoptive parents. The BMI for either of the adoptive parents had to be less than 40 which ruled me out immediately. So essentially, the Chinese government put in place a rule which disallowed overweight potential adoptive parents from the United States in being able to adopt a child from China. We were told that the government was doing this to “ensure that the child was going to a healthy family”. This is hogwash! Being overweight should never be a determining factor when looking at someone who is willing and able to take a child who is in need of a loving family.
Also at the same time in China, there was this very strict one-child policy for the Chinese people. This policy was apparently implemented due to the overpopulation of the country however there was a particularly bad side effect to the policy. With China’s very restrictive one child policy, and the desire to have male offspring to further their name, parents of newborn girls would routinely leave their child on the doorsteps of orphanages so they can try again to conceive and have a boy. There is a great need in China’s orphanages for adoptive parents yet their government has put such stringent requirements in place. In recent years though, China has relaxed their one-child policy to a two-child policy yet the need is still great for adoptive parents. With their continuing restrictive policies for potential adoptive parents, the only ones suffering here are the children. This was our first failed attempt at adoption.