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.