November is Adoption Awareness Month. On average, almost 443,000 children in the United States are in foster care and according to UNICEF (see article), there are over 153 million orphans worldwide with an estimated 5,700 children become orphans daily. Those statistics are so mind-blowing, it’s almost paralyzing. What can one person do to solve the orphan crisis?
That’s what I thought until we experienced international adoption first hand. Shortly after our third child was born, our nephew came home via adoption from China. Walking through an adoption and seeing the transformation that the child makes when he/she is brought into a loving home touches your heart.
After my nephew arrived home, I felt a pull on my heart to adopt as well. When I couldn’t shake the feeling, I mentioned it to my husband on a date night. He agreed adoption was great and people should but it wasn’t for us. I asked him to pray about it and that was the end of the conversation for almost a year!
We went away on a cruise for our 10th anniversary in early 2017. Maybe it’s just us, but those vacations afford us time for deeper conversations away from our kids. One day we were talking about the future and I asked my husband if he had given any more thought to adoption. He confessed he hadn’t given it much thought.
He was surprised this “fleeting idea” remained on my heart and seeing my sincerity promised to pray about it. This time he kept his word and in July 2017, a curious thing happened. Out of nowhere, Scott was offered two jobs with a significantly higher salary. He wasn’t looking but his biggest hang-up with adoption had been the financial aspect. God had removed that barrier.
Then in August, on my 34th birthday, Scott gave me a Chinese flag. Through prayer and seeing God’s provision, Scott’s heart had been moved to adopt as well. We were both scared out of our mind when we submitted our application later that month, but we knew there was a little boy meant for our family.
The Waiting Game
In the many months that followed, we completed our home study, training, government appointments, background checks, and shipped off all of our money and paperwork. We were officially ready to accept a referral one year later on July 31, 2018.
When we started the process for an international adoption, they told us since we wanted a boy, we would receive a referral shortly after our paperwork was received by China. That was not the case. Month after month passed and we heard nothing.
At several points throughout the nearly 2-year process, I grew weary. With no growing belly and very little news, I felt lonely. Thankfully, my sister-in-law and brother-in-law (who had previously adopted my nephew) were adopting again. Having someone to go through the process made the long wait bearable.
Then on February 26, 2019, I got a simple two-sentence email from our social worker that would change my whole world forever.
“I just got a file for a little boy. I think he would be a good match for your family. Would you like to review it?”
I called Scott with the news and quickly replied “yes” to the email. The kids had dentist appointments that afternoon so I anxiously refreshed my email while I waited.
Then, there it was! I quickly opened the attachment and scrolled to his picture. The tiniest, sweetest face – my son – stared back at me.
I knew right there in the middle of an ordinary day in a dentist waiting room that my whole life had just taken an extraordinary turn. Just 4 hours later, after a consult with our physician regarding our son’s file, Scott and I said yes to parent Quincy James Port.
The weeks that followed were a whirlwind of paperwork and preparations. Meanwhile, across the country, my sister-in-law was busy doing the same thing as they had matched with my niece Esther Olive.
One day on a phone call, we chatted about the very real possibility that both of our families might just get to travel together to pick up our children but we needed one last piece, our travel approval letter.
The day I went to my mailbox, she was at hers and we both pulled out that coveted letter. 15 minutes later we were sobbing on the phone. We would go together to pick our children up in China.
Going to China
On June 4, my husband, our three children, and I boarded a plane for China. On June 10, we boarded a small bus with another adoptive family and traveled to a sterile office building to meet our son. He was sick, lethargic and so tiny. He was so scared as his nanny handed him to me.
The days that followed in China were full of appointments to finalize the international adoption and clear him for immigration. We met up with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law in Guangzhou (home of the U.S. Embassy) to finish out the process. Two orphans who now were cousins going home with their forever families.
We touched the ground on American soil on June 21 and Quincy immediately became a U.S. citizen.
In the months that followed, we spent a lot of time bonding and acclimating to life in the USA and more importantly to life as part of our family. Slowly but surely our little guy started to trust us, started to smile, started to lean in for hugs.
Not a day goes by I don’t think about what his dark beautiful eyes have witnessed in his short life. I am so grateful I get to be his mom. I hope with every fiber of my soul that somehow, someway, his birth mom knows he’s home and he’s deeply loved.
The thought of 153 million orphans is overwhelming. There’s nothing any one person can do to solve the epidemic. While I can’t save them all we can make a difference for one. One less orphan, one more child that knows the love of a family. If you feel the tug on your heart to adopt, lean in and step out in faith. There’s a child out there waiting to be loved by you.