Jian Jackson: The Prequel
It has occurred to me that most of you have followed our journey while in China and after coming home. Some of you followed somewhat the year before bringing Jian home. But many of you have never heard the story of how Jian came to be a part of our family. In case you are interested, here it is.
During our engagement, Daniel and I discussed at length “The Hard Questions.” It is a book of 99 questions of hard topics that need to be addressed by two people contemplating marriage. The one question that we discussed most was: How many children would you like to have? Daniel said that he definitely wanted children. He didn’t care when or if it was just one. He didn’t care if it was biological, adopted or fostered. But he wanted a child one day. I reiterated that I had never had a desire to have any biological children. But I did have a gut instinct that I would probably adopt a child one day. We felt that we had enough common ground on the subject to move forward with the marriage.
For the next 9 years, we worked on graduate school, our careers, having time for just the two of us, traveling, and settling down in the house we had always wanted. Then it seemed like the right time to think about adding to our family. I still had no desire to have a biological child despite being told that I was “still young” and would probably “grow out of it.” Every time I saw a family come home with an internationally adopted child, something stirred more and more deeply within my soul. I finally hit my knees and told God that I wanted to be blessed and be a blessing to a child who needed a family. I didn’t know who or when or how, and I needed Him to work it all out. I gave total surrender and trust. Something I may have never completely done before in my life.
No more than a month passed when I spoke to a friend who had just brought her daughter home from China. She gave me the name of their adoption agency where we could begin to gather information. I went to their website out of curiosity, thinking that maybe in a year we would begin to get serious about the process. Within 15 minutes, I saw her face. Standing there with her pink coat holding her walker. She was the cutest child on the website by far. And the oldest listed: Age 7. Why on earth had no one adopted her already? I watched 5 videos of her. I took the laptop over to Daniel and asked him to watch them and give me his thoughts. As I watched them again over his shoulder, tears were pouring down my face. A video of her putting on her shoes, one of her putting on and buttoning her jacket, one of her folding clothes. In one, she was quoting a poem in Mandarin. In another, she was singing and performing with other children, completely compensating and figuring out how to do everything the others were doing. So sweet, so smart, so determined. She seemed to be saying, “See? I wouldn’t be any trouble at all.”
When Daniel saw my tears, he knew to pay attention. Prior to Jian, I was NOT a crier! He told me to contact the agency and ask what we would need to do to get the process started. This was a Saturday night, but I sent the email anyway. On Monday, we were given some information about how the process works, starting with the application. On Tuesday, we were told that another family had actually put her file on hold the day before. They were sorry, but if the family changed their minds, they would let us know. I cried every day for the next 2 weeks. While driving between each of my home health patients, I would pull the car over and cry. I prayed constantly. I knew with everything inside of me that she was our child. I prayed that if the other family would be better for her that they would adopt her instead, but I knew I would never forget about her if that happened. I told 3 trusted friends about the situation and asked them to pray. I couldn’t get through the phone conversations without crying. They said, “But aren’t there millions of children out there who need to be adopted?” I said, “Yes, but we want HER.”
Then I got the call. The other family was already in the process of adopting one child and decided that adopting two at the same time would not be best for their family. We could proceed. We went through the Prior Approval process and sent all of that paperwork to China before telling everyone else of our decision, which took 2 more months. The next year was full of ups and downs, paperwork, training, being educated, more tears, waiting, waiting, and more tears. Many of you know that my childhood and adolescence was not full of sunshine and rainbows, but I knew even at that time that those trials were making me stronger for something important in the future. And let me just say that it has all been completely worth it.