Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Cainan's Story

I will post my regular post tonight. This one is just about Cainan. So check back!

I have been asked in the past about Cainan's story, so I thought I would share it around his 1 year anniversary home with us. It is exciting to us, and I love sharing it!

In June 2005, Mat and I made the decision that the time was right to adopt a child. We had always planned on adopting at least one child but wanted to try and have biological children first. We had Arlington in 2003, and started trying for a second child late 2004. Our attempts were not successful, and so we decided that before Arlington got too old, we wanted to give her a sibling. So adoption came into play. Arlington was 2 1/2 at the time, so the timing seemed right to start the process. We took the summer and talked about and researched all the countries we were interested in. We briefly looked into domestic adoption, but because we weren't "childless" we were told our wait could be 5-7 years. So we went the international route.

The countries we considered were: Guatemala, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Korea. We briefly looked at Russia, but it was very expensive and required two trips, so we ruled that out. Guatemala was my top choice at first. It was close to where we were living in Florida, and we could apply for very young children. But, in the process of persuing Guatemala, Florida starting stopping some of their programs due to problems they were having with the Guatemala government. We were sad, but our next choice was clear - China. Mat actually made the decision in the end. Vietnam was our third choice, 4th Taiwan,5th Korea. Korea was our last choice because at the time we wanted to adopt a little girl, and were told because we already HAD a little girl, we couldn't apply for a little girl from Korea - we would need to apply for a boy.

So, anyway, in August, we made our decision on China, attended a seminar for our agency - Great Wall China Adoption - and loved it. We signed with them the first weekend in September, and had our homestudy done the next weekend. (I had done a lot of the PRE-paperwork over the summer, knowing what I would need to do once we decided on what agency we wanted, so we were all ready to go). Our homestudy went off to the government (USA) in the beginning of October, and then we waited. We had to wait for approval from our government to adopt a foreign born child, and it would take anywhere from 2-8 weeks (that was the norm). While we waited, guess what? I found out I was pregnant. Yeah, yeah, "that always happens". Well, then we weren't sure what to do. But the government (both US and China) helped us "secretly" with that. And what I mean is - good old West Palm Beach which never seems to do anything right - instead of taking the usual 2-8 weeks to get us our paperwork took 5 MONTHS. Yes, 5 months. Unbelieveable. We didn't get our paperwork for approval until March (after many phone calls to the office and getting state reps. involved - then ended up firing the person in charge!). And in the mean time, China's program slowed from a 6 month wait for a referral for a child to a 1 year wait for a child. So we were fine.

China has a lot of rules about adoption, but a big one is - the youngest child in your family must be at least 1 year old, OR be home (adopted) at least 1 year before you can adopt a second child from China. So we thought we should be fine, or at least CLOSE. I wasn't going to be traveling to China anyway, so it was no big deal. Our agency was aware that I was pregnant, and thought it would be fine to continue, so we did.

In the meantime, also, while waiting for the lovely government form, I found out we were having a girl. That made us decide that we wanted to adopt a little boy instead. The fact that you cannot adopt healthy, as well as special needs boys from China, is simply not true. We were told that the wait for a healthy boy was no longer than that of a healthy girl. So we switched. We also switched the age groupt to 12-18 months of age. That would make Cainan our middle child and Finley our baby, and all the kids would be spaced nicely (yeah, that worked well).

So on March 21, 2006 our paperwork was officially logged into the system in China and we began our wait. Time passed quickly for us - Finley joined our family in July 2006, and we had a busy summer and fall adjusting to being a two child family. But we continued to wait for our little boy from China. Each month the wait seemed to increase. We went from waiting 1 year for our referral, to 1 1/2 years, to 2 years, etc. It got a little crazy!

In the fall of 2006, we decided that we wanted to take the special needs route for our little boy. We put an addendum on our application on what special needs we would be able to handle, and sent it to China. But our wait continued. The time just kept getting further and further away for our trip to China.

Then in March, 2007, Mat and I made a hard decision. We saw that the wait was getting over 2 years at this point, and our kids getting older. (meaning at the earliest we wouldn't be getting a child until fall 2008). Did we want to continue to wait? Was it right for our family? We just didn't know. We decided to give it until December 2007, and see where we were in the wait, and then make the final decision.

So in March, I started to look around at other agencies who had children with special needs referred to them. These children are at every agency - China sends a list of special needs kids to all the agencies that will accept them, and then the agency takes applications for people who are interested in adopting them. But then there is another China rule - you can really only adopt a child through your agency. Files can be transferred from one agency to another, but if you switch agencies, you have to start ALL over and pull your paperwork from China. Confusing, and frustrating, but true.

But, for fun, I loved to look at the little kids profiles and see who was being adopted on different agency lists. This is how I came across Cainan. I found his original agency's website just by chance. And there was his little face. This is a small agency and they had gotten 5 special needs children to place. 4 girls, one boy. All 4 girls were scooped up immediately, but there this little boy sat. His face - staring back at us on the screen. How could anyone pass him up? I read his profile - he was 10 months old, cleft lip and palate level three, unrepaired. No other health problems. He was the perfect child for us - I couldn't stop going to that page.

So, I contacted the agency by email. Mostly as a curiosity as to why he had not yet been adopted. I was gived the story of how it was because he was a boy, and no one really was interested in the little boys. The agnecy head and I chatted via email back and forth a few times, and she asked me if we were interested in adopting him. I told her yes, but that we were already signed with another agency and our paperwork had been in China for a year already. So she told me that what she could do was send his file back to China with a note that she found a family to adopt him, the name of our agency, and then CROSS HER FINGERS that the file got transferred. I contacted my agency and asked them if this was possible and they said yes, but very unlikely that they would ever see the file. My agency also sent a letter to China requesting the file. They told me it was a 1/100 chance that we would get this little boy. They told me that China is starting to close the door on "agency to agency file transfer" so not to get my hopes up.

So we didn't.

I tried to put him out of my mind. We went on with business as usual. But I would still think of him - still look at the picture I had saved on my computer, and read his profile. I decided to write a letter to the head of our agency about us and about the little boy we wanted so desparately. (she lived in China). I did hear back from her, and she told me that she was personally going to make sure she did everything she could to make sure that file got to us.

Time went by - nothing.
April, May - nothing.

Then, on June 1st (a day before Cainan's birthday) we got a call from our agency. The person on the other end of the phone said, "you are not going to believe what I am holding in my hand". I about melted to the ground - they had his file! IT worked. I couldn't believe it worked. Someone was looking out for us and Cainan because even the people at our agency were shocked!!! We received his complete file, more pictures, and we were on our way!

And we did know at this point that Finley and Cainan were going to be only 30 days apart in age. That was going to be our biggest challenge. But it worked out the way it was supposed to work out.

Usually the time passes slowly when you are applying for a special needs child. First you have to get pre-approval from the government. That can take a few days to a few weeks. We got ours in 2 days. Then you have to wait for our Letter of Acceptance - meaning China says, okay, you are officially approved to travel for your child. That can take anywhere from 40-180 days or longer. Ours took 22 days. Then we have to wait for travel approval, and that took 2 weeks. So on August 9th, a little over 2 months after we first found out that we were able to adopt Cainan, Mat and Aunt Betty were on a plane to get him.

Official adoption day - August 13, 2007. Almost 2 years to the day we decided on China as the place we would find our child. They all returned home on August 22nd, 2007 and then the rest, is history......

Tonight I will post my regular post and pictures and all! See you soon!


Elaine said...

Wow - I knew the story but it is such a process and seems even more daunting in writing. Close friends of my in-laws and getting their second baby from China in about a month. They have gone through so much and I think you are so strong for doing it!

I am still reading when I can - just get behind sometimes!!! I will add you back to my blogroll. It got deleted a few weeks ago and I tried to rebuild it from memory! Sorry I left you off!

Have a great weekend!

Tara Bennett said...

I was touched by this story for so many reasons!

I was adopted. My daughter has special needs. We are planning to adopt from here on out because of likely genetic problems if we have other children.

Thank you for sharing. I am inspired and amazed. And a little teary too. ;O)