Tuesday, August 21, 2012

We Need a Miracle

I have not been able to blog about the last 30 hours but I wanted to finally tell what happened so all of our supporters could hear it from my perspective.  I owe so much to so many people for the prayers, love, and support from the first announcement of our plans to adopt Ethan to now.  I have never needed prayer as much as I do right now, along with the rest of my family.

Yesterday morning we were all prepared to meet Ethan.  We had not slept very well because of all the excitement mixed with jet lag.  We got up and got ready, the girls were so cute and giddy.  We skyped with the girls at home and my mom and we all kept saying things like “this is the last time you’ll see us without Ethan” and “this is the last meal without Ethan”.  Our guide was supposed to meet us in the lobby of the hotel at 9:30 so we could go to the Civil Affairs Office.  At 9:15 our phone rang and it was Jane asking if she could come to our room.  I knew in my gut that something was terribly wrong.  She came up and gave us the devastating news that Ethan was too sick to travel and she immediately started telling us that we could just switch to another child.  I was so upset and confused.  Ryleigh began to sob.  We were so confused because she wasn’t telling us what exactly was wrong with Ethan, only that his heart rate was 30 and that his surgery must have not been successful.  My instinct was that it doesn’t matter, we will wait for him to get better, he’s our son.  We want to see him and hold him and tell him everything is okay. We did not travel all this way to turn around and go home and leave our baby sick and alone.  Jane was doing her best to help us.  Tim was so much more clear headed than I was.  When she said we could get another referral immediately from the CCCWA, he thought of Reese and asked if we could just request her referral, meaning a non-special needs baby girl.  We could adopt her now and come back for Ethan.  Suddenly it seemed that there was a solution.  Things were so emotional and we felt like we were having to make life altering decisions in a matter of minutes, yet we wanted to make quick decisions as to not waste precious time.  Jane asked the details of the American side of the paperwork and encouraged us to call the consulate in Guangzhou.  Tim did and they were so nice.  She said that we could accept another referral while we were here and they could expedite all the necessary paperwork.  She said they would gladly change our Consulate Appointment to fit our needs.  She said it would be up to our immigration officer to handle everything from the U.S.  With the time difference we couldn’t get a hold of anyone.  Everything was such a blur.  We cried and cried and prayed for wisdom in the choices we were making.  We called my mom, Kelly and Bridget, and began to share the devastating news over facebook, begging people for prayers. 

We called the GWCA emergency number at some point and at first thought that they were going to be helpful.  Kim said that she would contact Jenny, which I asked her not to, but to please turn it over to someone who could really help, like Snow Wu, the president of GWCA.  I just pictured our agency bending over backwards and helping us through this horrible situation.  In hindsight we realized that Kim knew what was going on before we called.  She wasn’t surprised or shocked or one bit compassionate about what was happening.  It was all business.  She said she would contact our immigration officer.  We planned on doing the same.  So, we waited until 8:00 Central time and Tim called the USCIS.  Our officer was not in, so he got connected to her supervisor, who was unbelievably nice and sympathetic.  She said there would be no problem helping us with another referral and that we could expedite everything.  At some point we had heard that when this happened to another family, they were stranded in China for 6 weeks because nobody would expedite the process for them.  We felt Cathy was really going to advocate for us and make something work.  According to Jane, we could have a new referral quickly, so she had us write a letter saying what we wished to do.  I wrote out on hotel stationary that we wanted to request our non-special needs baby girl and also that when Ethan is better we want to bring him home.  We had an advantage, we thought, because our immigration approval was for 2 children, as we knew we would someday get a referral for Reese (been logged in since March 8, 2007) so all we needed was her name and information so the U.S. could start processing that information on an 1800 form. 

I know I am mixing up the timing of everything because it was so emotional and we are so exhausted in every possible way.  We received a phone call from Kim at GWCA at some point with the bad news that even though the Immigration supervisor made it seem like we could get this done quickly, there were no guarantees and it could take up to 6 weeks, so pretty much we need to just leave to come home and grieve while the bureaucracy plays out.  No support, no apologies, no advocating for anything.  It was the most pitiful excuse of customer service I have ever dealt with.  I reminded her that we are human beings with broken hearts and it would be nice if someone would think about Ethan and what is best for him.  She didn’t care and when Tim was on the phone with her, she began to discuss how we will not receive any refunds from the $8,000 we paid for the travel portion of this adoption.  Mind you, we are not staying in the hotel in Guangzhou that was $300 a night for  6 nights, which she claims cannot be refunded.  Have you ever heard of a hotel that doesn’t refund your money with a weeks notice?  And we will be paying a guide to take us on tours that we will not be going on, and plane tickets to a city we will not make it to.  We paid for breakfasts we won’t ever eat and for help we will not be receiving and NOT ONE DIME will we get back.  You have got to be kidding me.  The contract we sign is all about if we decide to not accept the child after the 24 hour period.  There is nothing that says what happens when other people decide he cannot come home due to his illness.  We are receiving no information and nobody is helping us.  We are dealing with a 13 hour time difference.  When Tim tried to get a hold of someone at GWCA during regular business hours, it took about 8-10 tries before he was connected with Cori, who has never been involved in our case at all.  She said they had been “briefed” about our situation.  So, someone was letting everyone else in on how they could screw us over.  Nice to know they can’t call and talk to us, even though Kim said that Jenny would call us.  But in typical GWCA fashion, we received a carbon copied email that was from Jenny to Delight Travel saying we needed help getting home.  Really?  That was the final decision?  News to us.  Oh, and by the way, we have to pay another arm and leg to get flights out of here. 

I am so angry, hurt, confused, and sad.  We have been dreaming of Gotcha Day for so long and never even thought this could happen.  China adoptions are supposed to be safe and predictable.  We chose China because we didn’t want to go through a domestic adoption and lose the child after having bonded, we didn’t want to pay for fertility treatments all those years ago because there was no guarantee.  Has adoption become such a business to those working in the field that this is acceptable?  We have spent every last penny to get here and to bring Ryleigh and Reagan with us to experience Ethan’s adoption first hand.  We owe a $12,000 loan and have nothing to show for it.  We won’t be able to get a tax credit because we have no child.  We will be paying for this adoption that never happened for years to come.  We have had so many people contribute to our adoption fundraisers and I feel so bad that their hard earned money that was given with so much love and generosity is just wasted.  How will we show our faces to all these people?  How will we go home and look at all of Ethan’s stuff.  We have prepared for him for so long and everything is sitting there waiting for him.  We begged to see him and were told multiple times that we can’t.  We are leaving some of his stuff for Jane to give to him when he is better.  Will he ever get better?  Will anyone even try to fix his heart?  Are we leaving him to die a lonely death in a hospital in Changzhou, China?  He will never know how many people love him.  He will never be kissed by his mommy, daddy, and sisters.  He’ll never meet all his little friends at Bright Beginnings.  Unless there is a miracle and we are allowed to come back and we can find the money for another trip and he does survive.  Should we even hope for that?  Should we just grieve as if he has died and we will never bring him home? 

My heart tells me that we would gladly accept Reese’s referral.  She would not replace Ethan because we have wanted her and waited for her for many years, but I don’t think there is another Ethan.  Ethan is Chang Yi Dong.  He is my son and I love him.  I love remembering all the days of staring at his picture and wondering about his personality.  I love thinking about all the shopping the girls and I have done and how fun it was to decorate his room.  My heart is breaking for Tim because I know he was so excited to have a son, someone to kayak with and play baseball with, someone to watch American Pickers and Storage Wars with.  He deserves to have a son.  How will we move on? 

I feel God’s presence.  I feel the prayers that are being lifted up on our behalf.  I just don’t know how to go on and go home with nothing.  I feel so bad for Isabella and Becca.  They don’t understand all that is going on, but for them, this is just another tragedy, another loss in a long line of losses in their short lives.  Their hearts are hardened because they have experienced so many losses and injustices in their lives.  Ethan was going to be our little guy that was a gift from God to all of us, the person we could celebrate together and love together.  He was going to help heal lots of wounds.  We all deserve him and he definitely deserves a family like us to shower him with love and affection.  Why is this happening?  God is with us, He has a plan, He will continue to give us strength.  We are hurting so badly.

Ethan is named after my granddad, who is the most fantastic man I have ever known.  I was so excited to have a son to share his middle name of Thomas.  I knew Ethan would live up to this name and grow into a Godly, wonderful man.  I am sad that the two of them may never meet. 

I am worried that our story is going to scare people away from adopting and that it will be told over and over again as a negative thing to discourage people from helping the orphan crisis.  How can we overcome this?  How can we not share our hurt but not be discouraging in the process?  Our friends in the adoption community know.  They understand.  But the people who are watching this unfold that have not been blessed by adoption may forever be changed in a negative way.  So many people helped us get here and there will be those that regret giving to our cause.  I don’t blame them.  It’s a waste of money.  Nothing is coming out of this trip except heartache and pain.  We need a miracle.  I am too exhausted to even think straight. 

Tim is finally sleeping after being up for almost 3 days with only a few hours of sleep here and there.  I have never seen a more tired person in my life.  I am worried about having to travel in this state of mind and physical exhaustion.  It is pouring down rain here for the third day in a row.  I feel like it is my tears streaming down the window right now, only I don’t have any tears left. 

Ryleigh and Reagan have been so good.  They are playing quietly when they need to and being so helpful.  They are so sad, too.  Ryleigh asked how God could not answer all the prayers when so many people are praying for Ethan.  I don’t want her to have to learn these hard lessons at her age.  I want to protect her from this.  I am glad we are here together.  They have been a good support system and distraction.  I am so blessed to be the mommy to 4 amazing girls.  Maybe I was being selfish to try to add more kids to our family.  Maybe I need to be content with my girls.  Maybe I need to not have to desire to keep adopting.  It was a joke a couple of years ago that I had an adoption addiction.  I just don’t understand how something that seemed to right and so awesome has turned out so badly.  We need a miracle. 

Please keep us in your prayers.  Ethan needs to be healed and so do we.  


  1. I am so very sorry. I wish I had words of endearment for you to make all the pain go away. Please know that it was not all a waste of time and money for those who gave to help you along this journey. Its God's will. God Bless you and yours.

  2. My heart is so broken for all of you. I have had a constant sick feeling in my stomach since all this has happened. I understand what you are saying about not doing fertility treatments or adopting domestically because it isn't a sure thing....this was supposed to be a sure thing. I don't know the pain of having it within your grasp and then it being ripped away but it made me think of my cousin when she lost her baby boy when she was 9 months pregnant. None of this makes any sense. Please don't worry about facing the people who gave money for this adoption..there was no way for you to know this would happen. Even in our darkest hour the Lord promises he will never leave us or forsake us. I know we haven't know each other for very long but I love your family and care about you all very much. I will be praying continually without ceasing.

  3. My heart is broken for you. Praying for you and yours...

  4. I was contacted by Mary M on your behalf. I don't want to say a lot here and would caution you to be very careful what you share b/c people may be reading your blog.

    Having said that, Mary has both my email and cell phone info and said she was forwarding it to you. We were in the same situation back in 2008 and we were able to get our daughter out of China. And I don't choose those words lightly. That is what it was: getting her out.

    She also was born with complex CHD. Please contact us if you feel led. We are believers and will be praying for you, but if we can help in any way logistically we want to. I shared a couple of things with Mary to go ahead and forward to you. Please if you feel led to contact me do so anytime day or night.

    I want to say the next part but to preface it with this is meant with NO JUDGEMENT whatsoever. But if I'm reading your post right, you do want to bring home your son. If you felt you couldn't, I would totally understand but if you feel you were led there to bring him home, PLEASE PLEASE do not leave without him or trying hard to get him out. I mean that with all love in Christ. This is not a battle of just human proportions. You already know that by the title of your post.

    My husband and I will be praying for your family. GOD IS ABLE TO DO EXCEEDINGLY AND IMMEASURABLY MORE THAN YOU IMAGINE.

  5. OK, I also wanted to share with you how desperate we were and yet God worked the impossible. I hope this comes through as it is pasted from my blog post on Sept. 17, 2008:

    I have a blog but it is now private. However, I am going to post in its entirety the post I wrote from China back in Sept. 2008 the day we met our daughter in a Chinese hospital and were also told we needed to leave her and adopt another instead. I pray it greatly encourages you b/c this child who we thought was hopelessly stuck in a country where she would surely die is SITTING right her beside me, now 6 1/2 years old, healthy, happy, loved and growing in her knowledge of God's love for her. PLEASE DON'T GIVE UP THE FIGHT YET FOR ETHAN! We are praying on your behalf and I will ask others we know personally to do so as well.

    Here is that blog post from Sept. 17, 2008:

    "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. O my God, I cry by day, but Thou dost not answer; And by night, but I have no rest. Psalm 22:1-2

    Why has God left us? Why when we put our “Yes” out there on the table and when we followed when He called. Today we went back to the hospital and her oxygen mask was not even working. She was in distress. Mimi finally convinced the nurses to look at it, but we still ended up fixing it ourselves. They just left her lying there with it not working and saying it was fine. Her poor ayi did not know what to do. She loves her very much and is doing her best. She is very attentive to her needs.

    But after we visited awhile, we left telling the nanny she needed to rest. She agreed and so we went downstairs. After about an hour, the orphanage staff came by. We told them our guide had brought us by, we stayed for a while and then left so An Yanwen could rest. They were very appreciative.

    So then they came downstairs later and told us the doctor said An Yanwen had to stay in the hospital until Monday, Sept. 23. Then we “get passport photo and passport a few days after that.”

    I do not believe we will leave this dreadful, cruel place with our daughter. I can’t imagine leaving her here but they won’t give us legal rights to her. It is completely out of our hands. We have tried all angles here in China and from the US. Kun*ming is impossible. Anywhere else and we might be able to get her some help but not here. The US doctor cannot do anything.

    It is hopeless today. It is impossible. I don’t understand why God is not working but I can’t see Him or feel Him at all. I am not His person for this journey. I am not strong enough and I have no strength left right now.

    We need your prayers. I can’t even find words to pray today, nor does my mind want to be still.

    She needs your prayers. She is fighting so hard but she is very tired and sick. I was able to get some good photos and a video today if I can figure out how to download it. You can see her nanny in the background in the purple sweater that she has been wearing since we got here. She has not left the hospital since Monday.

    Our beautiful, precious, little girl.

  6. I've only just found your blog, but I want you to know how much I empathize with your situation. We traveled to Ethiopia in February 2011 for a little boy, only to have a similar situation arise. We left there also with another referral, another obligation to travel, money wasted, and a deep ache in our hearts for the little boy we were waiting for. At that time, we thought we would never bring him home. I know how you are grieving, and it hurts my heart to read of your sadness. The prayers of others carried me through this, and I pray that you will know the deep comfort of the Lord. I'm praying for miracles for you as well. It took over a year, but our miracle came. Our son isn't home yet, but he is coming home. Hold on to hope, trust in the Lord. He will be glorified. In our case, we ended up adopting 3 children instead of one. Our first referral, the one we lost, should be home within the next 2 months. God is good. I had to tell myself that over and over when we went through this. I had to say it because I'm not sure I really believed it at the time. May his grace pour out over all of you and bring both of your children home.

  7. You guys mean a lot to us. There's nothing that you need to be ashamed about or worry about on this end. We are here to support and love you no matter what. We hurt for you and are walking in this journey alongside you and will remain supportive throughout your future journeys.

  8. We are Praying but I just HAD to comment. GWCA was our last agency and they are only baout the money. Our time in China was terrible, we needed help and they were not there. I had pneumonia and Norwalk upon arriving home - still no contact. Just make sure you send in your post adoption reports on time (so far no refunds on that either.)

    I knew we were in trouble when I figured out that they charge double and triple actual in country fees including in country flights for 7 of us.

    I am beyond sorry.

  9. I am filled with sadness and sympathy for your family. The overwhelming emptiness you must feel and the hurt and confusion makes my heart ache for you. But I know our God has a plan and a purpose. Proverbs 3:5 artist in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
    We are still praying for you and for God to send his comfort and love to you and may he wrap his arms around baby Ethan and give him the strength that his little heart needs. We love you guys!

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  11. DO NOT give up...fight like HELL, fight like GOD!!! insist on talking to the PRESIDENT of that agency before booking your flight home!!! you can get your self home..you do not need their help!! Get mad at the way they are treating you..I know sorrow is trying to take over, but that's for later...Reece needs you now...we will pray HARD for Ethan, but their is joy in every sorrow...don't give up yet... PLEASE!!! Prayers for your family....

  12. This is not the end of the story!! This is the dark night before the bright dawn. You are in the perfect position for God to do the impossible and receive all the glory. He did not lead you to a dead end. Stand back and see the salvation of the Lord.

  13. Good gracious that is heartbreaking! I know it is so incredibly hard to think clearly at this moment but fight! Fight the good fight! Don't let the agency determine what steps you will take next. YOU determine them. You have a lot more power in this situation than you realize. If you still want to bring Ethan home then make that known, stay and speak up for that little boy because there is no one else that will. Take a breath, evaluate where you are and try to see what options you have. You had planned on staying in China for two weeks yes? Don't rush it. Everything is already paid for anyway. Use this time to process and think clearly about what can be done. Fight for him, advocate for him, make some calls to get access to be able to see him. I would highly recommend contacting "Wife of the Prez" as she has been in this same situation. I will be praying for your precious family. You have an entire adoption community standing behind you, seek wisdom from them, seek connections to help from the US side, it CAN be done! Fight for him!!!!