The original "plan" at ages 40/42 was to adopt a baby girl 0-12 months. The younger the better and to get her home in a year - at the latest. Our sweet china girl. That was 2006. We thought we'd be done by 2007. Older parents yes, but doable.
We waited, and waited and watched as China slowed the program down to a crawl. We spoke about things like special needs but the word scared Peter and Isaac a lot. I thought I was brave even back in 2007 to say "it's no big deal really". I've since been humbled. Um it IS a big deal. It took time. It took continued healing from the loss of Jacob. It took God changing hearts. It took a girlfriend in my son's life that has a passion and heart for people and even animals with limb issues. =) It took my obsessing over yahoo groups and blogs that I sinfully spend way too much time hanging out on. It took research.
And in 2010 I think we finally all got on the same page and were at peace (as much as one can be) with venturing out into the special needs realm.
Our LID (log in date) with China is Sept. 1, 2006. Basically, if we stay in the non-special needs (nsn) line that we've been in, we wait until that date comes up--sort of like ducks in a row--nobody jumps ahead in that line--ever! The China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) controls how many people get referrals (children matched with families) each month. And they match One child (reportedly "healthy") with you and send you a picture and information. You either accept or reject that. Others from around the world are also logged in on that date and also get their referral. Very few people reject nsn referrals because it is very difficult to get another child once they've made that match and sent it to you. And you've waited soooooo long. There really isn't a lot of "choice" in that matter. Currently CCAA has matched children with families with LID's through the end of May 2006. It is anticipated we would not get matched with a child until early 2012.
Then there is the Special Needs program. It operates completely differently in the matching process. This has changed over the past 5 years also and CCAA has really made it a more flexible program than NSN. Right now, adoption agencies from around the world can have lists of SN kids AND there is a master list called the "shared list" that all agencies get access to. Currently there are about 1900 kids on that special needs list. So sad, so hard, so true. Any agency can go to that shared SN list and get access to the kids--name, age, sex, "need", location, pictures, etc. Technically the public does not have access to that list. Once a month, lately, China has been adding to that list. Some months there are several dozen kids added--other months not many. These are all SN kids that are in orphanages or foster care in China. Their "needs" can be profound--or NOT. Some have limb issues, spina bifida of all stages, cleft lip/palate-some repaired some not, cerebral palsey of all stages, birth marks, facial deformities, sight issue, hearing issues, hepatitis B carriers/or full blown, and the list goes on.
People like us can talk to our agency and say--yes/no/maybe to specific needs and levels of care we are willing to "take". That is a TOUGH process. Can I just say that?
Then our agency (not the CCAA) goes and looks at that list. Our agency, who knows us better and who we can talk openly with, goes to find a child, they ask us "do you want to consider this child for your family based on the "needs" you are looking at?" We say "no" and they go looking again. We say "ok" and we have a choice of "locking" the file which means nobody else can look at it for 36 hours. In that time we can consult doctors, research the need further, etc. Or we don't have to lock the file and can do the same research, but we take a risk that someone else will lock the file and we won't be able to continue with that child. That happened to us back in November 2010. While we waited, someone else "locked" a file and we were unable to proceed.
Once we say an official "yes", they lock and then we scramble to get some official paperwork complete and send our intentions to China in something called an EA (electronic Acceptance) or LOI (Letter of Intent)--two names for the same things.
Then we wait for the following:
PA--Pre Approval--from China-this is an electronic approval given by CCAA and approve the application to be moved forward in the process
RA-Referral Acceptance- otherwise known as “LOA- Letter of Acceptance.” This is a mailed approval given after the CCAA has reviewed and approved the dossier and family’s EA documents.
TA: Travel Approval. This is a mailed approval given when the CCAA has received the signed RA from the family and can invite the family to travel to bring their child home.
So, why do I explain all of this? Because so many people don't understand the process. I want friends and family who read this to know how it all works.
Now let's make it personal:
We have accepted the referral of a little boy age 7 from the special needs list. We sent our EA on 1/11/11 to China. We are awaiting our PA which can take up to a month. We cannot give a lot of personal info (ie location, name, etc yet) He is a special needs child because he is missing the fibula of both of his legs and his feet are deformed. The physicians we have spoken to have told us he will require amputation of both of his legs from the knee area down and then prosthetics. Our plan is to take him to Shriner's Hospital in Greenville, North Carolina (about 2 hours from here) for care.
God has moved mountains to bring us to this point and to this specific child. He has removed financial barriers, he has opened our hearts, he has changed our direction (girl-boy), none of it by our own will or strength.