Ready to go!

Today is April 5th. We leave on April 8th. We leave in THREE DAYS!! This adoption has been a crazy whirlwind this time. We signed the adoption agency application on August 27th, had our first home study meeting September 17th and we are already almost there. This has been shorter than a pregnancy! Almost unheard of in an International Adoption. This time feels almost more exciting and yet more nerve-racking than the first time. Like with childbirth, the first time is scary because you don’t know what to expect. The second time is scary because, well, you DO. We really had an ideal situation last time- we got a healthy little girl who adjusted better than we ever expected. Of course, the initial adjustment wasn’t easy, but it could have been so much worse- and for that, we are so grateful, because Charlotte came at a very difficult time in our lives (deployments, my health problems with my thyroid and insomnia, surprise pregnancy to top it off) and the Lord knew I couldn’t handle much more. This time, we just don’t know what to expect. We know it will be different. Carrigan is twice the age Charlotte was when we brought her home. He has been institutionalized that much longer and his native language is that much more ingrained in him. He has had a serious health condition and his prognosis is unknown. But, we know the Lord called us to this specific little boy for a purpose.

Nathan Photo

Here is what we DO know, to fill you in before we begin this journey. We do know that Carrigan has had a very rare form of liver cancer called hepatoblastoma. We do know that Jiang Ya Ning was found abandoned on a park bench in Shanghai at the age of 6 months in September of 2010. He was a sickly baby and was taken straight to a hospital where a large scar covering his abdomen was found, likely the result of a biopsy done on the tumor in his liver. Clearly, the mother or parents thought his condition to be a hopeless situation as the tumor was not able to be removed due to it’s size. [Sidenote: Since in China only one child is allowed, often girls and special needs boys are abandoned (putting your child up for adoption is illegal there), as the preference is for healthy boys to carry on the family name and care for the parents financially in their old age.] He was given a round of chemo at the hospital and did not react well to it, so the treatment was stopped and he was sent to an orphanage where his fate looked grim. Doctors again tried to shrink the tumor with chemo around age 1 1/2, and the treatment was better tolerated at this time and did the job of shrinking the tumor enough that surgery was possible in the future. On Christmas Day of 2012, Jiang Ya Ning spent 2 weeks in the hospital and doctors were finally able to successfully operate and remove the massive cancerous tumor and perform a complete resection of his liver. That was the last time he was seen by a doctor aside from the basic bloodwork done to prepare his adoption file in April of 2013.
 Nathan 2
He was put on the “Special Focus” Waiting Child list to await a family- someone who would specifically choose him as his condition made him not allowed to be “matched” with anyone automatically (like we were with Charlotte since her special need was mild and she was younger). Maybe we were being naive, but we honestly weren’t too concerned about his medical condition when we requested his file. We saw that he had his tumor removed and assumed that meant he was now fine. We prayed and knew very quickly that this was our son, and we started the process to adopt him. We were able to send his file to our former pediatrician who helped us when we adopted Charlotte to get her opinion, but we already knew that regardless of what she told us, he was ours. We also had my best friend’s mom who is an oncology nurse look at his file. Neither of them could give us any definitive answers. After beginning the process we came to find out that another family who was adopting at the same time as we adopted Charlotte was adopting again. This time, a little boy with the exact same rare type of cancer that Carrigan has! She put us in touch with a woman here in the states whose son has this cancer and we were able to find out more information about the prognosis. It did not seem nearly as easy we had first thought or hoped. She warned us to do what we could to get him home quickly- that he would need follow up care that he likely did not have in China. Learning from someone who is dealing with this personally was unsettling, to say the least. There were a couple things in his file she pointed out that were vague and we hadn’t even noticed when first reviewing his file- a “weak positive” for Hepatitis B being the main concern. We just don’t know if this means he had/has Hep. B, or if this is simply showing his resistance to the vaccine. We decided to speak with our agency and see what they thought about a medical expedite. They agreed to request one from the orphanage and shortly after, the expedite was granted and we’ve been on a wild paper chase and fast track to get him home quickly to seek medical follow-up care for him.

 carrigan photo album small
When we tell people we are adopting again (and that we have 8 kids already), people often look at us like we have horns growing out of our ears. But, what we saw and experienced during our last adoption and in China left a permanent impression on our hearts. We cannot look away and turn a blind eye to the need. The orphan crisis is real and we want to be a small part of the solution. We love children and have the resources, time, love and determination to give a child a family. We are deep in the trenches of parenting lots of littles already- this is our lifestyle and adding one more to the mix will not significantly “cramp our style”. We know now the blessing and trials of adoption and what to expect, and we are ready to do it again while Joey has some stability in his job and won’t be required to deploy for the next 2-3 years. We are a pretty good team and together we are ready for the challenge of adding to our big, fun family! We have now had the satisfaction of seeing the fruit of our labor in raising Gaige and sending him out and witnessing his success and the results of our doubts and concerns about some of our parenting blunders- and we didn’t mess him up too badly! Homeschooling had its desired effect and he is a godly, smart, committed, principled, hardworking and mature young man who values purity and his family. Nothing is a more satisfying accomplishment in this life! There is no greater calling, we believe, than being a parent. These little ones are our greatest investment!
“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.” 3 John 1:4