I realize that I jumped from Zoe's amazing story to where we are now, leaving out a HUGE chunk of information in between. Sorry. Here's some of that chunk.
About 3 months after everything came to light as to our role in Zoe's life, we felt the Holy Spirit telling us it was time to start the adoption process again. Honestly, I was feeling pretty gun-shy. While seeing it all pan out was amazing and totally worth everything we went through, there was a lot of pain and suffering endured along the way that I wasn't exactly ecstatic about possibly experiencing again. But if there's anything we learned through Zoe's story, it is that God is sovereign. And even knowing what heart-ache we'd have to endure, we would do it ALL over again. Every bit of it.
So we braved the waiting child lists (www.reecesrainbow.org). Just a side-note on lists of waiting children. Perusing these lists is not for the faint of heart. By the end of the page you'll be a mess - or at least that's what always seems to happen to me. I look at their little faces, many times so sad, their eyes just...empty. Many children (even the girls') have hair that is shaved or cut VERY short, undoubtedly because caregivers do not have time to bother with washing and caring for long hair. As we looked over the list, we knew we had restrictions that would make it more difficult to find a match. Our home study was done for Taiwan, a small island with a statistically small number of children adopted each year (compared to other countries like Ethiopia & China). Our children were young, and many agencies require that adoption occurs in birth order, meaning the child would have to be younger than our youngest. But we decided to inquire about a little girl on the list with Down Syndrome and some other issues that were a little daunting at first. She was a few months older than Luke and she was listed as 'Asian', but it wasn't until we requested more information that we found out she was in Taiwan! And we just so happened to have a completed home study approved for Taiwan - was this God directing us? We weren't sure at the time, but we felt it would be outright disobedience to not continue to find out more and listen for God's guidance. You can't steer a ship that's sitting still, so we decided to keep moving and allow God to turn us in the way that He wanted us to go.
The initial response from the agency was one of excitement! They were willing to make an exception to birth-order due to her special needs. Her orphanage also said that in her 2 years of life, no one had shown serious interest in adopting Ju-Yi (Emi's Taiwanese name). Now, be it ever so heart-wrenching, this last bit of information might seem insignificant. However (as shallow as this may appear), my first thought was "WHY? There must be SOMETHING about her that causes enough fear or concern for people to pass up the opportunity to parent that precious baby." Well, I would soon find out that I was probably right about that. During our matching process (before we were officially PAPs, or prospective adoptive parents), I got one of the most disturbing emails I've ever received. Ju-Yi had just been released from a 2-month stay in the hospital where she was in renal failure & right-side heart failure; she was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension and had experienced complete respiratory failure. She had been on the ventilator for days in the PICU. (I didn't know this until a few weeks ago, but the hospital actually contacted her birth mom and requested she come sign a DNR). My heart sank. I felt that same fear of the unknown that I experienced during our first adoption process, and my flight or fight response was screaming "RUN!!" But because God had so graciously allowed me to see his plan for Zoe's life unfold, I knew this situation would be no different. God would NOT lead us down a road of destruction. And as much as my flesh was trembling with fear, I felt the Holy Spirit clearly pressing on my heart...
"Do NOT give up on my precious child. I did not give you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love...(2 Timothy 1:7)."
So we sought the advice of medical professionals and close mentors and friends that we knew shared our Gospel perspective and could pray with us and for us as we had to make, yet another, very difficult (and sometimes downright terrifying) decision. I wish I could explain how different the response was this time around. To me, this stack of papers with all of the health issues we could be facing was far more scary than Zoe's, but we got an overwhelmingly positive response. Everywhere I turned God was sending someone in our path to encourage us to continue with this adoption. Of course, Satan was clearly working overtime to keep the fear cultivated in my heart, but time after time, God would combat that fear with His truth. And we had learned how to discern God's voice from that of the enemy, so we were always alert, aware of the reality that we were in the middle of major spiritual warfare. So we decided to sign the papers to be officially matched with Ju-Yi Chen, a beautiful mess. At this point, I wasn't even 100% sure she would make it to be adopted. But the orphanage kept her isolated in a separate room AND separate sleeping quarters to try and keep her from getting sick again because she wouldn't be strong enough to fight off another infection. Praise God she is in a great orphanage that takes such amazing care of their babies!! She continued to do well and recovered wonderfully. Even when my greatest fear, another respiratory infection, happened a couple of months later, antibiotics and a few breathing treatments were successful in curing it. No new issues to report! So while I'm counting my blessings as far as her health is concerned, she's still considered 'unstable', hence our expedient adoption process. She's not out of the woods, by any means, and the sooner she's home the better. So when you think of us, please pray for Emi's health. That God would continue to protect her from the germs that make her so sick. And that He would continue to heal her little body.
Thank you all for your love and support. I wanted to end this post with the listing that started this journey. A little girl named "Michelle" who would soon become Emi Jane Wiest, our precious daughter.