Monday, August 6, 2007

What Now?

I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girl.
She was standing in the corner on the other side of the world.
And I heard the voice of Jesus gently whisper to my heart,
"Didn't you say you wanted to find me?
Well here I am, here you are.

"So, What now?
What will you do now that you found Me?
What now?
What will you do with this treasure you've found?
I know I may not look like what you expected,
But if you remember this is right where I said I would be.
You've found me,
What now?"...

What Now?, by Steven Curtis Chapman

(To hear this song, scroll down to the end of this post and press the play button)

Six weeks ago, our family was asked, "What Now?", and since that time, we have been seeking an answer to that question.

On June 20th, our adoption agency posted on their website the faces of 20 "waiting children" in need of their forever homes. Every quarter or so, our agency receives a new list of children from China with special needs, and we (like most adoptive families) always look forward to seeing their sweet faces and watching as they are joined with their forever families.

This day, Brittany, Brant, and I were all at the computer to see this latest group of children. The first ones we saw were adorable baby girls. I perused passed their sweet faces, but then my heart skipped a beat as my eyes caught the face of an older boy in the next row. I clicked on his picture to find out more about him and was greeted by four more pictures of this adorable little guy.

Brittany immediately said, "Oh, Mom. He's so cute. What is his special need?"

Quickly reading aloud his special need and other information, I was interrupted by, "Oh my goodness, Mom! That is just like the book I'm writing...", and Brittany proceeded to tell me all about this book based on our family. This family goes to China to adopt a baby girl and sees an older girl named Hao Shan with this same special need. They decide to adopt both the baby girl and the older special need child.

(China's rules and regulations do not allow me to specify his special need nor post his picture at this time.)

I start to feel myself shaking a little as I read more carefully the very limited information given about him:

This little boy is almost 7 years old...He is lively, energetic and fast! He has a ready smile and likes to play with the other children.

I remember reading this and then looking down at all his sweet pictures. Oh yes, he sure does look "lively, energetic, and fast!", and there is no doubt about that "ready smile". I felt my heart melt for this little guy without a home and family. What Now?

I spent all the free time I had that afternoon and night researching his particular special need, homeschooling/adopting a child with this need, adopting an older child, etc. Late that night, I saw a message on our agency's yahoogroup from someone who was advocating for this little guy, hoping he'd find his family. Another lady responded, saying she had seen him on Harrah's waiting child list back in the fall of 2006. No one adopted him, so his file was sent back to China, who sent it to our agency, giving him another chance at a family.

Armed with this information, I launched a quest to find out more about him from Harrah. I went to a huge adoption yahoogroup and did a search for "Harrah waiting child (special need) boy". The first thing that popped up was a description of a boy named Hao with a special need that sounded very similar to the little guy on our agency's waiting child list. Oh my goodness...Hao?!? Wasn't that the name of the little one in Brittany's story? There was no picture nor birthdate with this new information, but I just knew this was the same little guy.

I noticed "Hao's" special need was more specifically identified in Harrah's information, so I next did a google search for this more specific need. The first site that came up was a world-renowned center for treating children with his condition. This site is extremely informative, and I spent a long time there learning more about his special need, it's treatment, etc. I found out that only a handful of doctors around the country are able to reputably repair his condition, the doctor whose website I was reading being one of those few. After all my reading at this site, I wondered if this doctor would be available to answer any questions we might have, so I clicked "Contact Us". Can you guess where this "world-renowned center" just happens to be? Yep...San Antonio, Texas...a short 7 miles from my house! I was so overwhelmed with emotion that I started to sob. What Now? I really needed to find out if this "Hao" was the same little guy on our agency's waiting child list. One last google search gave me my answer. I don't remember exactly what I googled, but it was likely something like what I had searched for on the adoption yahoogroup. After sifting through numerous search responses, I found a "Hao" on yet another special needs adoption site. This time "Hao" had a picture attached, and sure enough, the little boy who was capturing my heart was named Hao! His description was much the same as Harrah's description with this added: "We think that a loving and active family with a daddy who likes to play ball would be great for this special little guy!"

The next evening, Max and I went running, and I told him about Hao and about all of the "coincidences". Earlier that day, some fears and "am I crazy" thoughts had started to trickle in, so I was surprised when he really listened and responded positively. After our run, I showed him Hao's pictures, and he asked a lot of questions. He said that he'd be open to reviewing Hao's file, with the understanding that reviewing a file was not a commitment to adopt. So, we submitted a request to review his file, but would have to wait until June 26th (my b-day) to find out if we were selected.

Soon after this, the fears and "what ifs" started streaming in. I began to pray that if this was not God's will, He'd start to close the doors that all seemed to be opening. I asked Him specifically to close the door on our file request if this was not part of His plan for our family or for Hao.

June 26th came, and our agency posted on the yahoogroup that only one family had requested to review Hao's file. Assuming it was us, I got excited at the thought that another door was opening. However, the hours crept slowly and without a call from our agency telling us we would be able to review his file. My heart sank as I read on the yahoogroup that our agency had called all the families that were chosen to review the waiting children's files. Did they lose our request form? Had they never received it? Did I somehow make a mistake when sending it? Who was the one family that submitted a request if not us? Admittedly, I was crushed. I had asked for a closed door, but I found out I wasn't ready for one.

Because it was my birthday, some sweet friends stopped over with gifts. I had already asked both of them for their prayers, and when I gave them a quick update, they both said that they, too, had been praying for open and closed doors. One of them encouraged me by saying that God can reopen a closed door. Shortly after that statement, the phone rang. It was our agency telling me that they were sorry, but in the chaos of the day, they had forgotten to call us to tell us we were selected to review Hao's file!

A few days later, Max and I went on a date and discussed Hao the entire night. We talked about worse case scenarios and agreed that we would be willing to handle any of them. We seemed to have come to a "yes" decision, but out of nowhere, the fears started to flood in.

For the next several weeks, we allowed God's "What Now?" to be drowned out by our "What ifs?" God faithfully continued to hold the door open, but we faithlessly were too fearful to walk through it and wanted to feel total peace before doing so. I was relaying some of these feelings to a friend of mine, when she replied that each of her five adoptions were done out of obedience and "in fear, by faith". Wow...those words spoke clearly to my heart and helped turn my focus off of my "What ifs?" and back onto God's "What Now?"

So...What Now?:
*We have chosen to be obedient to God's obvious leading.
*We will walk through the open doors by faith and not by sight.
*We will trust Him with all of our fears.
*We believe "this is right where (He) said (He) would be" and can't wait to find more of Him through this journey to our new son, Hao!
(Br- name to be announced later)

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Cindy said...

YES!! I'm SO, SO excited to welcome Hao into our family very soon! I just knew you couldn't ignore that "what now?". We're continuing to pray for you all and for little Hao.

China Girl said...

FINALLY!!! I'm so excited for you guys!! That's so cool, I'll have another little cousin! :) Can't wait to hear what his name is. I will keep praying for your family and little Hao! :)

~ Megan ~

Nikki said...

The tears are flowing, Tracy, and I'm just thanking God that your hearts have been sensitive and obedient to the Holy Spirit's leading. Know that we'll be praying for all of you in the days and weeks ahead...

Sending our love ~

Sharon Flath said...

What a beautiful and inspiring story! it is so exciting. I found you through Cindy who has come to be a role model to me. I have B's too. I will go to CHI and see his picture. I remember that encouranging email in the yahoo group. God Bless,

tiffany said...

After working on our dossier for #3 and planning on a baby girl in the non-special needs program, we also found a little guy who was a WC on our agencies list. Never in our plan to adopt a BOY, who was not an INFANT, with SN. We traveled to China for him in May and can't imagine life without him. He is OUR son. Totally meant to be. I always find it amazing how these children come to us. And really, our hearts were changed immediately when we saw our sons face on that list as if you had asked me the previous day if we were open to such a little guy, I would have said no way.
Best wishes to your family,
(also a mommy of b's!)

kindredheart said...

Continuing to pray for you guys! Any updates?

I've given you a blogging award on my blog ~ check it out for details! And thanks for being such a sweet source of joy and encouragement! You are a blessing!

Erin Hunlock, Harrah's WC Coordinator said...

Tracey, my name is Erin. I'm the WC Program Coordinator for Harrah's. I cannot tell you how VERY happy I am that Hao's forever family has found him!!! I pray daily for every child on my list - I kept Hao's file through two lists because I just knew there was a family out there for him - one who would love that beautiful little face and simply treasure him. It was with a heavy heart that I sent his file back to CCAA. I prayed once more while sealing the envelope that CCAA would give them another chance - send the files out again. One of my families emailed me to share the wonderful news that Hao has a family and they directed me to your blog. Now, crying tears of joy I am praising and thanking God for allowing me to see His plan for Hao unfold! Hao is an incredible little boy and I am so happy for you all!

Congratulations and prayers for a quick journey to bring your newest blessing home!