So many people ask how we came to the decision to adopt a child with such severe medical needs, and many in the adoption community often ask how I “talked the husband into” adopting someone with such a complex file. So, here you go… in the husband’s words, how he came to the decision to adopt our precious tiny P…
After the harsh reality of my last post, most people’s next question has been: how did you make the decision to adopt tiny P? Did you know she had such serious health problems? So I thought I would give my story of our decision making process.
Our thoughts and feelings about adding children to our family have varied wildly over the years. After some of the early challenges with little M, Joanna was leaning toward just one, and I leaned toward another because I didn’t feel little M should be an only child (not that there is anything wrong with being an only child!). Before baby J, we thought we were just lucky parents and hit the jackpot with such a good kid in little M. Keep in mind that adopting older children is somewhat “risky”, with the strong possibility of severe attachment and behavior problems, so while you can look at our family now and it seems like a no brainer that we adopted such great kids, it’s still a roll of the dice beforehand.
After baby J, we felt we had good system in place for bringing children into the family, and hey, it’s worked out well so far, so why not a third? I think I was slightly reluctant, but Joanna was super gung ho, so I said yes on one condition:
“I don’t want to consider any children with serious medical conditions”
So we started looking at files. Lots of files. Weeks of files. Months of files. Files with our agency. Files with other agencies. Files on the shared list. Pictures that others brought back with them from China of children that weren’t on the list yet.
It became quickly apparent to Joanna that there weren’t any “J’s” out there with easily correctable issues, so she started considering some of the more serious issues. At the time, I still wasn’t ready to consider that and vetoed several files that Joanna was interested in, including one that was very similar to tiny P’s conditions. I talked to the cardiologist about single ventricle kids, and I remember my feeling afterwards was “30% chance of serious problems? No thanks”. Those were tough days, and quite frankly, one of the hardest parts of the adoption process is looking at files and coming to agreement on them.
Finally, after months of files, I got this text:
“sounds like more severe heart stuff” is husband code for “get ready for a veto.”
But I kept thinking about Feng Fei. And I looked at her picture some more.
I thought a lot about her potential problems. For years, my thinking during this process was about me. What kind of special needs can I handle? What kind of child will work best for me? How can I choose a child that won’t ruin my life? How closely can I examine this file to make sure that I feel good about choosing them?
And then a strange thought popped into my head. Instead of thinking about what child would be perfect for me, I thought what would the perfect family for Fei look like? That’s an easy list:
Great access to world class medical care
Experience with complex heart conditions and surgeries
Parents that are comfortable with making tough decisions
Parents that are strong enough to handle the worst if that 30% happens, possibly even the death of a child.
Family that is resilient and capable of handling lots of medical care and a sick member of the family
Financial stability for medical needs, hospital stays, and specialists.
Sound like a family you know? The more I thought about it, the more certain I was that we were a perfect fit for tiny P. We talked it over in more detail that night, went over our fears and hopes for her, and we both came to the agreement that tiny P should have a shot at life, and we were the best family for the job. We signed the paperwork, and the rest is history.
It’s strange to write about all the feelings of angst and uncertainty of that period when now it’s impossible to imagine life without her. The adoption process is hard, and nobody hands out instruction manuals on how to make these decisions. I hope this gives you a good peek at the way my thinking changed over the course of our adoptions.