Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Our Chinese Adoption

Although I briefly mentioned in the "About Me" section of my blog that we are in the adoption process, I haven't actually posted about it yet.  Our story started about a year and nine months ago, when I was about as far away from thinking about another child as I could be.  In fact, I had been after my husband for quite a while to get a vascectomy, to no avail.  I don't remember when the exact moment was that adoption came into my mind, but I do know that I was just sitting there, and what I can only describe as God's still, small voice, said to me, "Your daughter is in China. You will go there and get her."  No, it wasn't an actual voice with words like you would hear with your physical ear, but more of a subtle, yet undeniable, wave of feeling that came over me.  So that night while my husband, Chip, was playing on the couch with our then 4-year-old son, I asked him, "How would you feel about adopting a baby girl from China?"  He instantly responded with, "Sure!"  We rarely agree that quickly on things, especially something of this magnitude, so I knew we were heading toward something that was meant to be.

We talked about more that night, and to my surprise, Chip revealed to me that he'd always known we would adopt; he was just waiting for me to bring it up.  He knows me well enough that if something like that is not my idea, I won't go for it.  Go figure!

So I started researching adoption agencies that deal with Chinese adoption, and very soon found Great Wall, ordered the free informational packet with DVD, we watched it and were ready to get started.  We attended an informational workshop conducted by a family who had adopted a two year old from China a few years ago through Great Wall.  We submitted our application, and were officially in the dossier phase in October of 2008.  We drug our feet quite a bit with all the paperwork, so we could have been done a lot sooner, but ended up submitting our dossier in October of 2009.  At this point, we were requesting a healthy infant, as young as possible.  Then we began to consider an older child, around 2 years younger than our son, wanting them to be close in age growing up.  But our social worker talked us out of it with stories of how older children who have been institutionalized can have a harder time adjusting to their new lives and bonding with their new families.  So we continued on the path toward a baby, knowing the wait at that point was about 4 years.  

But something just kept eating at me, like we were not doing what was in our hearts.  Chip and I talked it over and we decided that we did want an older child, and we would take whatever risks we had to.  We called up our social worker and let her know, and against her advice, we submitted a new request for an older child, and also that we would consider some mild special needs.  So we began to look at the "Waiting Child" list from our agency, which is a list of the children with special needs that are available.  We considered things like club feet, cleft lip and palate, and other minor, "correctable" needs.  Then one day I read the description of a little girl with a condition called "microtia."  I had never heard of this condition, so I did some research. Microtia is a deformity of the ear, meaning literally, "little ear."  There are four grades of microtia, with grade I being the mildest, where the child's ear looks mostly normal, but is slightly smaller than their other ear, and grade IV being the most severe, where there is no external ear at all.  With grade I, there is an ear canal, but with the other grades, there many times is an ear canal, but it is closed off.  In this case, the child may have hearing, and sometimes the canal can be opened up with surgery.  As far as the appearance of the external ear, many surgeries and treatments are available to make the ear appear more "normal" if the child and/or parents choose to.  Usually children with microtia in only one ear have normal hearing in their unaffected ear.

After doing some quick research on microtia, it seemed like such a minor special need, and one that we could totally handle.  So I requested information about the little girl, who, on the list was called "Shaylynn."  I talked about this little girl and her condition that night with Chip, and he said he was comfortable with her special need to.  We got the information on her the next day, and from all the reports, she seemed to be a healthy 3 and a half year old.  So we quickly contacted our agency and asked her to lock Shaylynn's file, which means that no other prospective parents would be able to see it, and proceeded with the paperwork.

From the one picture we have of our daughter's affected ear, it seems that she has grade II microtia.  Although the paperwork we have on her says her hearing is poor, we are hopeful that this simply means that her hearing is not normal because of her left ear and that the hearing in her right ear is good.

We found our little girl exactly one month to the day after we started looking at the Waiting Child list.  We know God was in this.  I had actually requested information on two girls that day, both with microtia, and only two months apart in age.  But the other little girl's, whom they were calling "Hannah," was already being looked at by another family and her file was locked by the time I contacted our agency.  I had thought that this little girl might be ours, because we are naming our daughter Hannah, but God had other plans.  I was actually drawn more to the description of the little girl, "Shaylynn," (we later found out her name is "Shi Lin"):
Shaylynn was born 2/2006 and has microtia of her left ear. She is shy and afraid of strangers. She can speak some simple words and can understand orders from adults. She knows the meanings of adult’s facial expression (for instance be angry, be happy). She likes watching advertisements, listening to music and outdoor activities. She loves to be held.

It was that last line that really got me.  Even though we wanted an older child, it was so important that she know how to be affectionate and bond with us, and this seemed to be a little girl who could do that.  The fact that is shy of strangers is good, because it means she can be close to some and can distinguish between those she's close to and those she is not.  So, even though the other girl was named Hannah, God knew "Shaylynn's" real name.  He knew she was ours, and blocked anyone else from locking her file until we did. 

Although we are still in the beginning stages of adoption, and the real experience won't start until about 5 weeks from now when we travel to China and meet our daughter, I still know we have so many blessings ahead, and highly recommend adoption.  If you've never even considered adoption, consider it now.  Whether international or domestic, there are so many children out there who need families.  And there are so many different ways to adopt a child, there's bound to be a way for you if you want to do it.  Pray about it and see if there is a child out there waiting for you.

To read more details about our adoption journey, visit our adoption blog at  What are your thoughts on adoption?  Please let me know by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Our precious daughter, Hannah Claire Shi Lin

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  1. She is beautiful! I hope you have a great trip meeting her!

  2. She is gorgeous! Good luck on your journey and congratulations!!