Let me start by saying that we are the luckiest parents in the world (partly because I like calling us "parents" and mostly because we are getting a wonderful little girl). I seriously am beside myself excited. We found out on Ben's birthday on April 15th (also the first day at his new engineering firm he opened with his brother). Immediately after we were matched, I understood that thing my parents have been telling me I would understand the minute I became a parent. I finally "got" the intense love and simultaneous worry you feel for your own child. Our little girl, Elena, is perfect, but her little body has been fighting Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia now for over a year. She was diagnosed at 11 months and began an intense chemotherapy regimen 3 days later. The treatment lasts a couple of years. The Filipino adoption board submits a monthly email with pictures of children who have not been matched yet with forever families. These kids are either older, part of large sibling groups, or have special health issues. It's called the Special Home Finding list. I first noticed Elena towards the end of last year and thought she was the cutest little girl I had seen, but we were not able to request her due to some more information the country needed concerning my medical history. I knew she had cancer, and I knew it wouldn't be an easy road, but all of those feelings were outweighed by the fact that I knew she still needed a loving mom and dad, and I wanted to be that support system for her no matter what happened in her future. It is hard for some people to understand adopting a child with cancer, but we saw her, fell in love, and felt a peace that we would be given the strength to deal with the details. On January 11, Ben and I decided to submit a request for more information on her despite not being an "approved" family. We heard she was on hold already for another family but we would be notified if something changed. On February 15, we found out we were generally approved and placed on our country's wait list. We had previously submitted for 2 children (siblings) 0-6 years old, so we assumed we would be waiting 2-5 years for our little ones. We prepared ourselves for a long wait and i started planning 2 years worth of "babymoons." We were disappointed about not being matched with Elena, but glad to think maybe God had another family in mind for her. A week or so later we received Elena's file with no explanation. I became more excited because I felt like this was a very good sign. We then learned more about her hard little life. We also learned that she had been tolerating and responding to her chemotherapy fairly well. She turned 2 on March 1, 2013. This date came and went. Without any news, I felt helpless and sad to be thousands of miles away from her on the other side of the world while she celebrated this birthday (and I wondered if anyone did celebrate it in her orphanage?). I couldn't do anything except write her a letter and pray I would get to read it to her someday. Here's what it said,
"Happy Birthday Elena!
Hi little girl. I am thinking of you today and everyday since I first saw you. I want to be a part of your life and give you love and a family and everything else that you could want. Life is hard. You have had a rough start but I can tell that it has not hurt your spirit. You have a light in your eyes that makes me smile. I can't wait to hear you laugh. I hope you have a wonderful day and I hope that long before my next birthday I can hold you in my arms and give you a big hug. You are loved and prayed for all the way on the other side of the world by me and your dad and by lots more people that can't wait to see you. I can't wait for you to meet them! Hope to see you very soon.
I couldn't bring myself to write "mom" yet. I think I was protecting my heart a little bit in case the whole thing fell through. That has gone through the window now. My 30th birthday is on Thanksgiving Day this year and I have a feeling it's going to be my most thankful year yet. I have cleaned out her room downstairs, bought her a few dresses and toys, and started reorganizing rooms upstairs to make her a lovely little playroom. Oh and I am pretty hormonal. I am typically emotionally tough but the excitement and all of the new parent worry has me carrying around a pack of tissues. We are waiting on updated information on her now. We have no recent pictures and no idea how big she is currently. We also need to know where she is on her chemotherapy regimen. This will determine when it will be safe for her to travel home. Ben and I (and maybe a grandparent or two) will be making the ~30 hour trip (just for one way!) over to the Philippines to get her. We are excited to bring her home and settle in as a new family. We are going to need lots of prayers for a smooth transition and I am praying constantly that God will also heal her cancer. We are also having some difficulties figuring out a health insurance plan for her due to her medical diagnosis, but we are praying all of her current and future needs will be met. I'm very thankful for all of the support and encouragement from friends and family. Life is about to get crazy, but I will try to keep those interested updated.