Join us today as Stacey Sawicki shares their story! We are hopeful that you will find encouragement in your wait.
I was hoping to send this six months ago right after we got home from China, but our family has been in adjustment mode going from two to three kids! With that time, there has been chaos and joy, but also a time of reflection. I learn something new about our precious addition to our family each week and could not praise God enough for his timing, but when we were walking through that long wait to adopt it was tough. My hope is that if you have been waiting a short time in the adoption process or many years like we did that ultimately you will continue to place your trust and hope in God. He has a plan for all of our lives. Below is a blog post I did for our China travel blog right before my husband Jason and I traveled to China in June 2016. It tells our story and I hope it will encourage you in your wait. Blessings!
It is the mid 1990's. I'm standing in the kitchen of the condo of one of my best friends. I'm single and pursuing my career path. There on her refrigerator is a picture with one, perhaps two (my memory cannot recall) Chinese children. Adopted children of someone she knows. I distinctly remember saying out loud "I think I want to do that some day. Adopt. Adopt from China".
It is a very early morning about 10 years later and I'm sitting at the nurses desk in the hospital pre-op department waiting to give a pep talk to one of our bariatric surgery patients before they head into surgery. I am looking at the nursing assignment board and I see a nurse's name.... "Wren". I love it. If God allows, that will hopefully be the name of our daughter some day. Little did I know the challenges we would face with infertility issues the next several years.
It is May 2006. We are at the Saturday Market in Beijing, China. It is hot and crowded and overwhelming with the amount of stuff for sale. Scrolls, jewelry, antiques. We are here on mission with several others from church to help open an English language school in another city, visit orphanages, and some other areas of outreach. We are acclimating to the culture, time change, and doing some sightseeing before our work begins. I am on a hunt for one thing at this market- a personalized marble chop and bright red ink. We wander through the market and I come to a table with a women from northern China, perhaps Mongolia. If you followed our old adoption blog in its early days when we were thinking our adoption would only take 14 months to finalize, you may remember my mention of her. Bartering in China is the name of the game. It feels foreign to actually do this, but if you can't get your asking price you walk away. There on her table- a child's size pair of silk embroidered shoes stuffed taut with Chinese newspaper- the outside silk covered with beautiful birds and 2 tiny bells on top. Jason starts the negotiation on price. She is having none of it. Many times sellers in China will run after you to get you to buy or they know enough English to tell you your asking price is... "Too low, too low friend". She does neither but she's not happy with what he offers for them and lets us know that in her facial expression. So, we walk away. But.... I want those tiny shoes. I have seen no other sellers with anything like them, and I don't care what we have to pay. (in all honesty they were not much!). I go back and pay her exactly what she is asking. She is instantly happy and well, so am I. Strangely, I remember wanting to hug her.. but I cannot remember if I did. I will never forget her face and smile though. Am I crazy? There is no baby on the way for us and it's not even looking remotely possible. How will I explain this purchase to our teammates traveling with us? We are already a good year into trying to have a baby with no success, but I get those shoes with tiny birds on them for a baby girl I will hopefully one day name Wren.
August 2006. We are back home in Tennessee. It has been 3 months since our trip to China. I am still not pregnant and at some point soon will plan to see an infertility specialist to discuss our situation. Adoption in definitely on my heart and mind and in my prayers. Unfortunately on the day we spent visiting an orphanage in China in May, Jason came down with severe food poisoning. He stayed at the hotel sick all day while I went on with the others. I can't begin to describe what that day was like. It is heartbreaking but also filled with little moments of joy. We take turns holding little ones, sick ones and praying God's love over them. I'm so smitten with one tiny baby girl who has a cleft lip and palate. She smiles so big at me. I come home wondering what it would seriously look like to adopt from China. Jason and I don't remember the specific conversations we had about this subject, but we do remember it taking him some time to process, pray about and then finally agree that it would be our path. All I remember is that moment not long after when we received the introduction package I requested from America World Adoption Association (AWAA). Located outside of Washington, D.C., they would eventually become the agency we use. We sat on our front porch outside and looked at it together. Interestingly, I would get a call from one of our teammates and friend that traveled to China with us. They live outside D.C. and she shares how she had just met a lady that worked for AWAA and she wondered if we had heard of that agency?! This is all beginning to feel very real.
Fall 2006. We are knee deep in the application process and the immense paperwork involved in that process. Securing documents, doing a home study, getting fingerprints. We decide on a fall vacation to D.C. to get the last of our paperwork dropped off at the Chinese Embassy and visit our friends. Surgery is looking like my only option at the possibility of pregnancy, but I'm unsure about when I want to do that. We start to get a very clear local picture of what adoption looks like from other families in our area. Jason has a coworker that has adopted from China and we meet another couple through our agency that would eventually have two girls adopted from China. We visit a family group one night at a local church that all have children adopted from China and we are blown away at the number of a families in this group! This is an exciting time for us. We get our completed paperwork sent to China in December 2006 and we get our LID or Log in Date telling us our paperwork was entered into the system in China on January 5, 2007. Current estimated wait time to receive our referral: 14 months.
Then we wait. We wait, we wait, we wait. Fourteen months eventually turns into 2 years, 3 years....9 years. I don't have any good answers for the question of "why so long?" There are changes in China in the international adoption process. The biggest change we start to see is that more people are switching to adoptions of special needs children in China vs. healthy children. Referrals are coming quicker. We eventually consider special needs and get the paperwork to discuss with our pediatrician in 2010, but we decide to stay on the healthy adoption track. Our own family life keeps moving, but our adoption timeline continues to slow down. We keep trusting God. We go back to China in the fall of 2007 and lead a team of single adults from church. It is an extremely moving trip for me. More experiences, more times of sharing and more orphanages. I stand in a place for the first time in Beijing called Temple of Heaven. It is here that many believe ancient China at one time worshipped a monotheistic God- our God- and he was called Shang Di. The area now is a cultural site and park. It is beautiful. I remember just standing there, watching all the people in the park playing games and musical instruments. I am overcome with emotion knowing in my heart we will have a child from this country. The year will end with me having my long debated surgery. It's been 2.5 years of unsuccessful attempts at pregnancy and to be honest by the time I decide to finally have this done, the only thing on my mind is improving my quality of life issues related to the procedure. I am scared, but I am trusting God. The surgery turns out to be a bit more complicated than the surgeon thought it would be, but one that will continue to show God's grace.
Nine years is a long time. A lot has happened in our lives in that wait. I always thought our adopted daughter would be our first child, but as usual God put a different plan in place then what we thought. That surgery.. oh yes, it improved my quality of life but it also resulted in the blessing of two amazing girls, Georgia and Hadley, through two wonderful, but complicated pregnancies in 2008 and 2011. Jason led another church team back to China in 2010 while I was home pregnant with Hadley. I quit my healthcare career to stay at home and eventually homeschool Hadley while navigating specialized schooling and therapies for Georgia. Jason changed jobs and we moved from Tennessee to Kentucky. Our oldest daughter, Georgia, got diagnosed with epilepsy and a learning disability almost four years ago and we have yet to get that completely under control with medication. I'll be very honest-our lives changed in many ways-and some of those ways were not always pleasant-and there were times when we wondered if this adoption was ever truly going to happen or even if it should happen. But in my heart I knew it would- above all the unknowns. Your timing Lord, not mine. We kept at it...updating our paperwork, home study, and fingerprints every 15-18 months and we waited. And the one time when discouragement was so strong and we considered "throwing in the towel" when China passed our log in date and we yet again did not get a referral... we were lovingly encouraged by others not to give up and we waited some more.
Now here we are and though the journey has felt so long, in many ways it feels like it is truly just beginning. We finally know about her. Her estimated birthdate, her location, her sweet face, her favorite games. But we are so excited to actually KNOW her. Adoption is a complicated, emotional journey. Really too much to write about here. It is not just change for us as a family, but a huge change for her. A tiny little girl moving half way across the world away from her culture, her roots. Life as she knows it is about to change drastically. My prayers have been grounded in asking God to prepare her heart for this change. Somewhere out there there is also a mama that no longer has this child for reasons we may never know this side of heaven. This part of adoption is not lost on me and I think of that mama often. I had no "ah-ha" moment and did not experience a crystal clear spiritual calling to this place but here we are. It was just all these small moments over a long period of time that has brought us here. The slow nudging of my heart. God kept opening doors, showing us His plan and we followed.
I was recently sitting at the pediatrician's office and our doctor asked me "Do you know who Ann Voskamp is? She's in China adopting a child right now". Ann Voskamp is a Christian author and speaker and I love her writing. I get home and read her website and I am moved. You can read it here:
It is a beautiful picture that mirrors many of the the feelings of my own heart. Her words at the end ring true.......
"Sometimes — The story isn’t going how you planned, but that isn’t a reason to stop trusting that the story has a plan."
Yes, Lord, Yes! Here's to your plan. We are coming for you sweet girl!