We are a family of 4 looking to become 5. We're heading out on a journey to bring our son home. This trip will take us thousands of miles across the ocean, as well as through an ocean of paperwork. You see, the boy who is to become our third son was born in Eastern Europe and has never known life outside the orphanage walls. The clock is ticking as we fervently work toward his homecoming. This little guy will soon turn 4 years old. What's the hurry you ask? Well, once he turns 4, the risk of him being transferred from the orphanage to an adult institution increases with each passing day. Our son is "genetically enhanced" with a third copy of his 21st chromosome. The medical descriptor is 'Trisomy 21', but most know it as Down syndrome. And so our journey begins...
Thursday, September 22, 2011 began like many other days with me rushing out the door to take our 3yo to Pre-School. I had glanced at the bulletin board in the school's hallway several times in the past, however that day I stopped to read further. Handwritten in a child's writing was the quote "I don't want to live like I don't care". Beneath that sign was printouts of Waiting Children from Reece's Rainbow (www.reecesrainbow.org). Our 2yo and I headed out on our morning errands, but not before I looked at the Reece's Rainbow website. When I saw this little guy's sweet face, I thought... and hoped... and prayed that he would become our son.
Dave and I always knew we wanted to adopt and had started the process between the births of our biological sons. At that time, we found a non-Special Needs, Domestic infant adoption to be the best fit for our family. We were pursuing this avenue when I became pregnant with our second son. Our adoption plans were placed on hold until he was 10 months old. At that time we re-opened our case and began our wait for a placement. Despite our openess to any race, either gender, and many other factors, we continued to wait for over a year. We then began to examine if we were on the correct path and if we were really called to adopt. We never came to a firm conclusion and continued to wait... until September 22, that is.
That weekend, Dave headed "Up North" to a Men's Retreat with my request that he pray about our adoption, where we were headed, and the possibility of bringing this little boy home. They boys and I stayed home that weekend. Much of it was spent with me scouring the Reece's Rainbow website as well as imagining this little boy's laughter and smile intermixed with that of our other two boys' as the three would play together.
I contacted Andrea at Reece's Rainbow as well as got preliminary information from the adoption agency that serves his region/country. We had been pursuing Domestic Adoption with Bethany Christian Services, however they are not the providers for this little guy's region. Bethany has since agreed to be our Home Study agency-- which is a huge answer to prayer since they already know us and have been wonderful to work with.
Dave returned from his retreat not with a certainty, but with a willingness to consider it and "see where it goes". We prayed that God would either open or shut doors. And so the onslaught of being bombarded with things about adoption, Special Needs, Down syndrome, etc. began. Everywhere we turned there was something confronting us... Think you're safe when Sunday morning's sermon is from 2 Samuel?--not so... Mephibosheth is in there. Sunday evening's Core Community focus?--adoption. My moms' group speaker?--my new friend Robyn who will soon travel to bring home her 5th Special Needs child. The medical journal Dave was reading for work?--an article about teaching children with Down syndrome to ride a bike without training wheels. And the list goes on. Some may call it mere coincidence, some say God's hand. We choose God.
Since that Thursday in September, we have withdrawn from the Domestic adoption program, started the steps necessary to get our Home Study to International standards, committed to our little guy on Reece's Rainbow, scheduled physicals, applied to Creative Adoptions, talked to families who have used Creative Adoptions, and found out our little guy is indeed still adoptable and that his country will consider our application.
In closing, I'll try to answer a few questions you may have. I am purposely not referring to our little guy by name or country in my blog. This is done out of respect for his country and it's privacy laws. While blogging, I may refer to him by any number of terms of endearment. Our blog title was chosen because Dave commonly refers to our boys as "the dudes". Those closest to us know the name we've chosen for him (which is quite different than his birth name). He also has a codename given to him by Reece's Rainbow to help protect his identity and whereabouts. We don't really know how long it will be until he's home. Our best guess is 7 months. During that time, we will complete our Home Study and compile our Dossier (a dossier is about a zillion documents required to be sent to his country). Then the real wait begins. Once our dossier is 'in country' it will be translated and delivered. We will wait for our first travel date. At that time we will travel to Eastern Europe, meet our little guy, and accept his formal referral. We then return home and wait for our court date. Upon receiving our court date, we return to EE, visit our boy, go to court, then the 10-day wait begins. There are 2 options during that 10-day wait. We can remain in-country and continue to visit and sightsee or return to the US and make a third trip to EE to get our son once the 10-day wait is over. Those decisions will be made closer to the time of travel. A lot depends on when our court date falls (ie. day of the week, holidays, etc.) since the 10 days are 10 business days, as well as what we feel will be best for our 2 little dudes waiting at home.
Finally, we covet your prayers during our journey.