Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Anna's Story

Finally....Anna is a Weldie!  It has been a very long road.  Never once did I doubt that Anna was ours, never once did I think God would turn us on a different course with this baby girl but clearly it did take a long time.

So, I can finally share her story.  I was afraid to tell it until she was legally ours, but now she is a Weldie, her name has been legally changed, the new birth certificate has been ordered with the name Anna Judith.  Quickly, her name was Anastasia...I was OK with it, but Joe didn't like it at all - so the day I picked her up in Colorado I asked her if it was ok if I called her Anna.  She smiled and said, "Sure!".  After being with us for almost a year, we talked about what we would name her when the adoption was finalized.  All of our children have family names - and Anna was Anastasia Patience.  My sister sent a wonderful family history and I scoured it for the name Patience - thinking we could keep that.  But in my heart, I knew I wanted her to be a Judith.  Judith is my mom's name and I wanted to pass that on to one of my children very much.  I talked to Anna (after she has met my mom) and asked her about making her middle name Judith, being named after Grandma.  She giggled and smiled and loved it very much.  Anna Judith she is!

How did I find out about Anna?  NO...NOT ON CR*IG'S LIST!  Yes, that rumor has been circulating around.  I am part of a wonderful group of ladies who share a web-board who all adopted from Ethiopia through the same agency.  There are some WARRIORS on that board - women who fight and pray passionately for children waiting to be adopted.  Some of those women frequent a website called CH*SK, which stands for Christian Homes Adopting Special-Needs Kids.  This website is used by pregnant moms who know their babies are going to have special needs and want to find a home for their baby.  Or, it is used often my parents wishing to disrupt or dissolve their adoptions. 

This brings up good questions.  What exactly IS disruption?  A disruption is when an adoptive parents has received a referral of a child and has completed some of the steps toward the adoption, but then changes their mind and can no longer finalize the adoption of that child. A dissolution is when an adoption has been finalized and then the parents decide they can no longer parent the child and so they wish to dissolve the finalized adoption.  Basically, it's a divorce. 

Anna's first adoptive mom, I will call her N, had adopted Anna from Ghana bringing her home to CO in December 2010.  In April 2011, Anna first appeared on CH*SK.

Two friends from the web-board let everyone know about Anna for two reasons:  1) many families on this board have adopted "older", "special needs kids" from Africa and are very aware of the challenges and joys of this type of adoption and 2) they are just crazy about making sure no child has to go through a long-drawn out process of dissolution.  One dear friend wrote to me, "Traci..I just know it...this child is yours!"  And she began praying.

I went to the website.  I was familiar with it because I would visit it occasionally, mainly to pray for the kids that were waiting for families.  After all, I was in the middle of immense challenges at home with George!  Why in the world would I bring another adopted child...let alone one that already caused enough problems in their home to be disrupted...into my  mess?

I probably should go back a few steps. was very, very hard with George.  But, we were seeing tiny baby steps forward.  Joe and I wondered aloud many times if George would do better if he was not the "only one".  The only one with brown skin.  The only one who was adopted.  The only one who didn't have a history with us.  In late night conversations, Joe and I thought about his and decided maybe a girl from Africa would be nice for the whole family.  We laughed...were we crazy?  We had NO money...we were EXHAUSTED dealing with George each day...and our other children were FED up with the whole scene.  Yea...that idea is crazy.  But, let's pray.

See a theme here? 

Then, I saw her picture.

And her beauty took my breath away.  And I knew...deep down in my heart...THIS was my daughter.

I read her profile.  Oh my.....wait....

Scary words jumped out off the page, "terrorizes children her age or younger", "hurts animals on a regular basis", "masturbates all the time", "eats like an animal", "flirts with the mother's boyfriend"...and then the word, "sociopath".

I just didn't know what to do next. 

This child?  She does all that?  My heart stopped and I cried out to God?  "Oh Lord!  How does a 5 year old child become this?  What is YOUR plan here?  Why have you ripped my heart over this girl and opened my eyes another child who is so hurt and broken?"

And then I did all I could think of, I took her picture and all this information to my husband.  I prayed, "God, if this is NOT your will, Joe will say NO right away.  I will trust his lead, his place in our marriage." I prepared myself to hear the word NO and then decided I would advocate for this child to find another family.

Joe surprised me.  He looked at her picture.  Then he read the words in her profile.  And then he said, "We can parent her.  Call the mother and start finding our more information."

Floored....and a little excited...and a lot terrified!

I decided to leave the house to call N.  I didn't want any of the other kids to hear the conversation and so I hopped into our old, beaten up Suburban and drove to the only place I could think of that offered some peace and quiet...the parking lot of P*p* Murphy's Pizz* (of course!).  Actually, I am always "on" as mom, and so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and order some pizza for dinner while I was there.

I was shaking horribly when I called N.  First thing I said to her was that I understood.  I shared with her a little about our life with George, and I told her I had no judgement in my heart for the decision she had made.  I also told her we would proceed slowly and with prayer.  She answered, "I can't go slowly.  I want someone to pick her up next week."

Shocked.  Really?  I asked her how many families was she talking to about adopting Anna.

She said "About five.  And honestly, the fastest one to CO gets her.  I am pregnant and this is causing all kinds of problems for my pregnancy, and she slammed the head of my 4 year old onto the ground the other day. I just can't do this anymore.  Do you want me to email you her medical records, school reports and all the psychology reports?"

I was surprised when she said Anna had been seen by 4 psychologists.  All I kept thinking was this poor baby girl from Africa had been with her for only 4 months and was already in two half-day schools (so she was in school all day) and had been seen by 4 different psychologists.  Everything I knew about international adoption said a parents must use those first crucial months to be together...all the time...constantly....bonding.  When was she ever home to bond with her mommy?

When I got home, I emailed N our homestudy so she could get a good glimpse into our family.

The reports came later that night and after everyone had gone to bed, I cautiously opened the email.  I read each one with many tears falling down my cheeks.  Those same horrible descriptions popped up everywhere, but through God's grace I noticed something....each one of those sentences that described the negative behavior started with the words, "The mother reports..."

Wow.  None of the teachers, none of the doctors ever reported seeing these behaviors.  OK...feeling a bit better now.

Then I read a paragraph from the pediatrician for recommended course of action.  Number 1 on the list was the following, "We recommend at least 30 minutes of one on one time between the child and the adoptive mother to take place every day.  We recommend rocking in a rocking chair, or allowing the child to sit on the adoptive mother's lap for 30 minutes of uninterrupted time of bonding."

I began to make the implication that maybe Anna was not getting any of this.

Then, Number 2, "Seeing the child's skin is cracked and very dry, we recommend the adoptive mother use lotion on the child's skin twice a day, every day."

And...the mom is not helping Anna put lotion on.  Another light-bulb moment.  From having adopted George, I knew how putting lotion on his body each and every day was one significant way in which I could touch George with loving hands.  And despite how much he "hated" me in those days, he would always let me put lotion on his arms, legs, belly and face.  I knew how important this simple gesture was toward the trust and bonding that needs to take place for these hurting children.

After reading the emails I announced...we can do this!

The next morning was a Saturday and I called N early and said, 'We want to be Anna's parents."  Interesting as I look back that I was already calling her Anna.   N said she had narrowed all the families down to 3 that she wanted to have a final interview with.  We set up a time for later that afternoon.

There was a part of me that was so angry..why does this mother get to say who Anna's next family is?  But..I just prayed and prayed.  And then I posted on my web-board for the ladies to pray.  And they did!

The final interview began and I was asked just a few questions.  The first was, "What is your trigger point?"  Huh?  I wasn't even sure what that meant.  N continued, "You know..that point in which her behavior drives you to a point where you say you have had enough and don't want her anymore."  Oh....I thought for a few seconds and then said, "I don't have a trigger point."

"O, come one!  You have to have a trigger point."  N replied, "What if she hurts your youngest, what's his name?  What if she slams his head into the ground?"

I had to hold back a laugh, "She won't be able to.  Lincoln is the youngest of five right now and would never let a younger girl do that to him.  But...I see your point.  If she hurts Lincoln, we'll deal with it."

I could sense N getting angry, "What if she burns down the house?  Or what if she kills your beloved dog?"

Wow.  All these what-ifs!  I honestly told her, "I don't know what I would do if those things happened.  But I do know this...I would turn to my Lord and Savior to help me, to give me wisdom and to bring healing to Anna."

Clearly this was not an answer N liked....and she moved to another line of questioning.

"If I chose you, when can you pick her up?"

I quickly thought of a couple things; purchasing a plane ticket, who would help around the house with the other five children, and I remembered both Harry and Eleanor were in the school musical which was next week.  After calculating all these things I answered, "In 10 days."

"OK, I will make my decision by tomorrow afternoon and let you know.  Bye."  N hung up the phone.

I couldnt' help but think the final interview went horribly.  And I kept wondering if I should have told her I could pick up Anna sooner than 10 days.  But...we still had to tell our kids!  And we still had the musical and the last thing I wanted to do was miss my children in their big moment!

I told Joe the interview did not go very well.  He answered we simply needed to pray about it.  Then, we gathered the kids on the front porch and told them we wanted to talk to them about something.  We happened to be watching the kids of friends' of our that weekend - so we had an extra 3 roaming around.  We asked them if they could give us some time to talk.

We laid out the story (appropriately, of course) of Anna and how she needed a new home.  Lincoln and George both said, "Cool" and ran off to play basketball.  Isabel gushed, "Oh mommy!  I want a little sister, please, please go get her!!"  Eleanor was quiet but said, "I will trust that God is in this...I may not understand why you would want to adopt again, but I know God's Word is clear."  Harry...well...he was furious and  stomped up to his room.

I followed him.  He was so angry, "Why would you do this?  Why?  I don't want her.  I don't want another George running around here!"

He was adamant and so angry.  There was no talking at this moments, so I let him cry and then promised to be back to talk later.   A few hours later, we both climbed onto my bed and had a long, long talk.  I understood his anger and his fear.  It really was fear.  He had taken George's behavior toward me so hard...he couldn't stand the way George treated me.  He wanted to protect me and defend me.  Oh how this momma's heart appreciated that.  But, I reminded him that we needed to trust the Lord in this.  I told him how we had been praying and even though it seemed like this was happening very suddenly, the answers we were hearing from God were undeniable.  God was saying "Go rescue my daughter!"  I shared with Harry that I didn't know what that meant, but I wanted to be obedient.  He said he understood.  He still didn't want her, but he was willing to give it all up to God.

Sunday morning came and Joe and I prayed and cried all morning during church.  We knew she was ours!  We couldn't wait to get that phone call from N.

We sat on the front porch with the phone all afternoon, waiting and waiting. 

Then the phone rang.

"Hi.  I wanted to know I selected another family.  I think you have too many kids and I am afraid she can't have any siblings close to her age, like Lincoln, for she will hurt them.  Sorry."

All I could think of us "NO!  This is not right!!!"  Those words were screaming in my mind, but to N I said, "Well....I don't think this over.  I will keep praying."

And we said goodbye and hung of the phone.

Devastated I turned to Joe.  He knew the answer and we both cried for a minute.  And then, we vowed to keep praying. We would pray for Anna and pray that she was with a good family - -that would be how we would pray from now on.


Bear Creek Mama said...

Traci - what an amazing story so far. I'm teary and eagerly anticipating how God changed "N"'s mind.

Julie said...

wonderful story. She is such a cutie. We have friends who had a similar situation - the family described the same things and just said "we just never bonded" (after 3 months!). My friends have her now (she was originally from India) and she has been the easiest and most delightful of all their adopted children. I am looking forward to the conclusion of the story. Congratulations that she is now truly yours!