The picture above was taken July 4, 2006 — 18 months home with Sophia. The following day, we began the “paper chase” to bring home a baby sister. We spent the rest of the summer at appointments and gathering paperwork for our dossier. Little did we know that the entire structure/timeline for Chinese adoptions was taking a major turn. Our dossier was logged in in China October 12, 2006 — and the wait began. It’s hard to believe that nearly six years have passed. Sophia is now eight years old.
Here is the story of how Kate came to be ours…
November 2007, we realized that we were in for a long wait. It had been over a year since we were logged in, and there was no end in sight. We received word from the Chinese officials that we would not be penalized (lose our place in “line”) if we completed another adoption while we waited, so we contacted our social worker and told her that we were open to adopting from another Asian country. On December 5, 2007, we received a call that a baby girl in Vietnam had been left at an orphanage that wasn’t equipped for babies. The officials there were looking for a family who was “paper ready” and could just make slight changes to the dossier and get her “quickly”. It was a perfect fit! Little did we know that we would get caught up in the shutdown of US/Vietnamese adoptions. We finally met Ella on November 17, 2008 and flew home with her on her first birthday, November 25.
I think that many people assumed that when we made the switch to Vietnam, that stopped our China adoption. Because we never withdrew our dossier, we actually remained in “line”. For awhile, we were content in line. We had a second daughter. Sophia had her baby sister. But after a few years, we were ready for the completion of our adoption from China, and unfortunately things weren’t moving very quickly.
During this time period, I began following The New Day Foster Home blog. This is an orphanage in Beijing that reaches out to babies who have been born with some type of special need. Not only do they provide the intensive medical care needed, they provide lots of love and nurturing as well. I was amazed at the changes I witnessed in children through this blog, and my eyes were opened to the many children in orphanages who are not considered healthy infants and are more difficult to place in families. Tim and I began researching the needs of children who fell into this category. After much research, discussion, and prayer, in December 2010 we shared with our agency that we would be open to adopting a child with either a minor heart defect or club foot.
On March 22, 2012 our agency called. They stated that they had a referral for a 2 1/2 year old girl that they wanted us to look at. I can remember Judy saying, “She’s from a province that doesn’t normally send us referrals — Guangxi.” She shared with me that this little girl had been born with a club foot, but the issue was corrected during her first six weeks of life. I can remember being less concerned about the club foot and more concerned by her birthdate. I was struggling with the idea of adopting a little girl rather than a baby. While I had known all along that there was a possibility that we could be referred a toddler, I didn’t really think she would be so close to three. The selfish part of me wanted an infant.
The next few days were very difficult. Tim and I were torn with what to do — again, because she was so much older than we expected. We did a lot of talking to each other and to our family and a lot of praying. I looked at the adoption blog that I follow regarding timelines for Chinese adoptions. It was evident that we were only 6-8 months from receiving a referral for a healthy infant. There was finally an end in sight for that line we’d been in since October 2006. It seemed crazy to “jump ship” now that we were so close to a referral. While all of that was on my mind, I also couldn’t ignore the fact that when I looked at the picture of this little girl, she looked like mine. She reminded me of Sophia and Ella. One night, I decided to look on a map of China to see where Guangxi is located. Imagine my surprise to discover that Guangxi is bordered on the west by Vietnam (Ella’s birthplace) and to the east by Guangdong Province (Sophia’s birthplace). Again, hard to ignore that she was sandwiched right between my other two girls and also the comment made by our agency that they almost never see referrals come out of this area.
Finally, on the evening of March 28, we knew we had to make a decision. We wanted to call the agency the following morning and give them our answer. After we put the girls in bed, we pulled An Ning’s file up on the laptop. We felt like she was ours. Tim asked me what I thought her name was. I said, “She looks like Kate to me.” Tim suggested we sleep on it, get up early the next morning, and talk with the girls about it again. We had been so worried that they would be disappointed that we weren’t bringing home a baby. All week we had asked their opinion. Each time, they said that she was their sister and they wanted us to get her.
The following morning, we had a family meeting. We asked the girls one last time if they were o.k. with the fact that we wouldn’t be bringing a baby home. They basically said, “YES!!! Why are you asking us this again?!” For the first time, we showed them her picture. Ella’s reaction was, “I’m so excited!” (She said this no less than 10 times.) Sophia wanted to see every picture we had of her. I remember still feeling very unsettled. Were we making the right decision? Ella looked at me and said, “Why are you not happy, Momma?” I looked at Tim and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” He quickly diverted Ella’s attention by asking Sophia, “What do you think we should name her?” Soph stared intently at the screen, and then in a quiet voice said, “Katie.” Katie, really?!?! The confirmation I needed had come. I asked Sophia if she had heard me say the name “Kate”…nope. She “just thought of it”. God speaks in mysterious ways. 🙂
From that moment, we have not looked back. He An Ning is meant to be ours. I can’t explain why she has had to live in foster care for three years while we longed to have a daughter, but I do know that she will be ours soon. March 22 – 28 was a long week for us emotionally. We were making a decision to turn our back on our plan and follow God’s instead. I’ll close by sharing a verse that weighed heavily on my heart that week.
“Once our eyes have been opened, we can’t pretend we don’t know what to do. God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know and holds us responsible to act.” Proverbs 24:12
Kate AnNing will soon be ours, and we are so, so happy about that. Thanks for sharing in her story as our friends and family!