Friday, May 24, 2013

Finding Sarah

**This is the story of how we came to be matched with Sui Feng Lan, our Sarah Ann.  As with all international adoptions there are a lot unknowns and blank spots.  Some things may seem vague or left out,  sometimes this is intentional in order to give her some privacy other times we may just not know.

Every day since December I have looked over the waiting child lists on our agencies website.  I have mentioned before that with China adoption there are several ways to be matched.  You can wait to be logged in and then matched from the shared list, which is a list released each month with children available for adoption.  You can also be matched with a waiting child.  These are children generally assigned to a specific agency for a set amount of time. These children would be labeled special focus meaning there need is more severe or they are older. Our agency also has a partnership with about 7 orphanages in China.  They work with these institutions with education for nannies, humanitarian work and also advocating for the children.

Each day I looked over these faces.  I checked advocacy websites like Wonderful Waiting Kids.  If you want to your heart to break, for God to change the way you think about orphans, stare at these faces.  Put a name to them, even if it is an agency given name.  I made lists of their names in my Bible study notebook.  I prayed for them.  Jenny and I watched their videos and rejoiced when the word MATCHED would appear next to one of them.  And I prayed for the Lord to show me our daughter if she was on that list.

We inquired about several children.  All of whom had families already interested in them.  We prayed over one little girl in particular but it was evident that she was not ours (she has a family now.)

I focused my attention on the agency specific files and not the orphanage partnership files because somewhere along the way I got the idea in my head that you had to be logged in to look at those files.  I had particularly not looked at one partnership list very much because of these words:

These children are coming from a state run orphanage with very little outside support. Therefore the neglect of the children is typically more pronounced. This causes developmental and cognitive delays that are more significant. For example, many 5 year olds in this orphanage will look like 1-2 year olds developmentally and cognitively. Please consider this as you review the files. Often these delays can be overcome, but can take months to years to reverse and can carry long term affects on children.

That was kind of scary and so I glanced at that list from time to time but did not pay it a lot of attention.

On the first Sunday of spring break Shane and sat down to fill out the child desired form. We had another home visit the next day and we had to turn in it. We prayed over it and then started down the check list. First, age of child. We have said from the beginning 4yr-6yr. After looking at all the children I was willing to go younger, Shane was willing to go older. We finally decided to stay with what we had originally said-4yr-6yr. Now to tackle that list of special needs. All children being adopted from China have a special need. Some are correctable, some have already been corrected, some are minor, some not so minor. We knew that going in and were comfortable with that. Having to look at the list and mark no to some things was very hard. Having looked at those faces for so long I could just about put a face to each need listed and I felt like I was saying "NO- this will inconvenience me - stay an orphan." Shane told me to quit saying that and focus!! We worked our way through the list and got to cerebral palsy. For whatever reason we both felt at peace about marking yes to mild cerebral palsy. We had discussed this from the beginning. We just felt ok about it. We also discussed that we would love to get an orphanage partnership match. There were lots of reasons for that but we liked the idea that someone from our agency would have been there and seen her. We finished up the form and signed it and got up from the table. I walked over the computer and pulled up our agency's website and started looking at the lists again, but this time I looked at the orphanage partnership files. There are lots of precious kids on these lists, I said, but I think we have to be logged in first. And I clicked on the Suixi list. The one with the warning above. I scrolled down the list and there she was.

Listed as "Susan", age 4, mild cerebral palsy.  

It was sort of like one of the 3D pictures that were so popular when we were in college.  The ones you stare and stare at and then all of sudden the image comes jumping out at you.  I had looked at these lists a hundred times.  Even the ones I didn't look at that often I looked at a couple of times a week.  How had I not seen her,  She popped out at me just like those images.  Except this image seemed like it had flashing lights around it. I could not look away from that face.  I won't say I knew immediately that she was our daughter, but I sure did take a screen shot of this picture and put it on my home screen. I went to Wonderful Waiting Kids and found her on there and was able to see a couple of more pictures and get a sliver more information.  Shane and I agreed she was precious but we had to be logged in to see her file and that was months away.  We would keep her in our minds and wait and see when we got to that point.

Little did we know I was wrong!!  And I was not good at keeping her at the back of my mind either!

To be continued....

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