However, whenever someone asked Mom, she would always reply with, "we think this is it... but never say never!"
Sometime in November 2009, as we were paperchasing for Charlie, the file of a beautiful little almost 10 month old girl went on an agency's list. She was absolutely adorable and we were in love. However, we knew it would be impossible to adopt her because first of all, she was a 10 month old girl. And second of all, she was listed on another agency's list and we were already, of course, in the process of adopting Charlie.
Ever since sweet "Sophie" made her appearance into our hearts, we knew we had another girl in China and that shortly after we came home with Charlie, we would go back to China.
We were finally DTC for Charlie on November 24, 2009 after frantically going around DC and ending that little trip, which should've-been-2-but-ended-up-being-4 hour drive, in Delaware, where we ourselves gave sweet Diana our dossier. Looking back, that decision was important.
A day after we got an email with our tracking number for our dossier, the day before Thanksgiving, we saw a post on our agency's yahoo group that the files of all the new "Camp Ox" kids had been added. You see, the week before, some of the staff from our agency had been at a camp in Jiangsu, China. This was the third trip that year and basically, they were getting to meet kids and received referrals for many of the kids they met-- boosting the chances of these kids to be matched. (mostly older kids or younger kids with major SNs)
12 new files had been added, one of those being a list of all 40+ of the children.
Mom and I were scrolling through it (with NO intentions of having our hearts captured, we really were just looking at all the precious kiddos!) All of the kids were oh-so-adorable. Then, we got to number 30. She was a beautiful older girl and had been given the name of Norah. I first noticed the huge and bright smile she had stretched upon her little face. I then noticed her birthday. November 25, 1999. She was celebrating her 10th birthday that day. With no family.
Mom commented how sweet she was and I commented how it was her birthday. After looking through the rest of the kids, we went to look at a few of the full referral files they had posted. Of course, the first one we looked at was sweet "Norah." We opened the file to see 3 more beautiful pictures of this little girl and found out that her name was Tong Jiao. We immediately fell in love with her precious smile. However, it wasn't until later on in the file that she truly made her way into our hearts. She had a very detailed initial referral report telling all about her. She sounded like such a good girl... so very sweet. She had been in the orphanage for her first year of life and had been in foster care with a LARGE foster family ever since. Then we got to it... the sentence that changed our lives. A sentence that read... "Because of being raised in a large family, Norah would like to be adopted by a family with lots of children. She has no fears about coming to America and would love to be adopted." You see, when at the camps, our agency had interviewed the older kids and asked them if they would like to be adopted and what they would like in a family.
She said that she wanted to be adopted by a family with lots of children.
Our family... 2 older brothers, an older sister, 2 younger sisters, and a little brother...
Mom and I just looked at her and talked about her all night. I think Mom couldn't even sleep. She was trying to figure out sleeping arrangements if we could bring sweet Tong Jiao into our family! We were also looking at another agency's list (VERY randomly) and saw that Tong Jiao's referral was also on their page. Mom emailed our coordinator, thinking that by doing so, she could be saving a family from heartbreak. (of finding her file only to find out that someone ELSE on another agency had already sent in LOI.)
Uhhh. That'd be our family.
The next day was Thanksgiving and we still couldn't get her out of our minds. People were posting on the yahoo group saying, "oh my! have you seen Norah? I'll definitely be advocating for that cutie." Yet, no one was reviewing her file, no one was saying anything about how they saw her in THEIR family...
We went to the park to take Christmas pictures and afterwards, Mom, Dad, the little girls, and I stayed to play at the park. We talked about sweet Norah... we came up with English names for her... we talked about where she could sleep... we talked about how in the world we could possibly adopt twice in one year........
We got home and checked to see if she was on hold. Still no. We showed Dad her pictures, and he too, fell in love.
We were in love. There was no question about that. Her age seemed scary, but we looked at those pictures, we read that description, and God revealed to us that she deserved a family "with a lot of siblings." She's 10, but that doesn't make her any less-deserving... in fact, that might even make her more deserving... She has waited 10 YEARS for a forever family.
On Friday, I got home from black Friday shopping and heard Mom and Dad talking about her. I remember saying, "I was thinking when I was driving home and we HAVE to go adopt her. Or atleast do whatever we can to try." I convinced Mom to atleast email and ask... I think I was the one to type out the email! :) We explained that we had unintentionally fell in love with sweet Norah. We told her that she didn't see how it was possible, that she knew we couldn't do a concurrent adoption (our agency just stopped allowing 2 adoptions at once) but that we wanted to know if they would hold her file until we came home with Charle. We decided that with a no, God would be closing the door... telling us it's not meant to be. Yet if we were told yes, which the odds were totally against a yes, than we would trust that it was God's plan. He would work out our fears about the age, he would allow us to come up with decent room situations, he would provide for us to adopt twice in a year. Later on Monday, we still hadn't heard anything and so Mom emailed back just to see if the email had been received. A few LONG hours later, Mom got an email back. They were about to go into a staff meeting and would talk about it.
We waited all afternoon for a response. Of course, a new shared list was coming out and they had a whole bunch of new "camp ox" kids to post and match with families... Crazy would be an understatement for our agency that day. We did go on the other agency's list to see if "Norah" was still on their list, as she had been earlier that day. She was gone. Not on hold. Not matched. Completely gone. Which meant that our agency must have said something. We kept thinking that maybe they had said something because they had matched her... with us.
Finally, on December 1st, we heard back. There was a short email.....
I'm not ignoring you!!!! SORRY!!!!!!!!! I am seriously losing my mind right now.
Lets discuss logistics. You've reviewed the medical right? Are you approved for 2 in HS and CIS?
As dedicated as you are driving up the dossier, we tend to think you'd get this child home fast. :)
So, I'd say this is a yes.
Short... and to the point. YES. YES. YES.
Mom emailed me four little words with a whole lot of exclamation points, as I was at school. The email read:
You have another sister!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Is God not AMAZING?
Yep. We are absolutely crazy. But you know, I don't care WHO thinks that. We're not trying to impress ANYONE. All that matters is that there is a PRECIOUS 10 year old girl on the other side of the world... and she has no FAMILY. And maybe the timing isn't perfect for us, but we're trusting God. We're stepping out in faith because we fell in love with this little girl. And she needs a family. And more, she wants a family with lots of siblings. And we have 6 of those.
So there you go.
We've got a long time to wait for her. But, God's timing is perfect. And we are trusting Him. Because He knows best.
I have another sister.
Oh! And I know you want info about her!
Her name is Tong Jiao (Jiao means beautiful/lovable!) and she was born on Nov. 25, 1999. She lived in Nantong SWI in the Jiangsu province from the time she was released from the hospital until she went into a foster home in Dec. of 2000. She has lived in that home ever since and is treated as if she was "born into the family." She has the sweetest description, but it's too much to post, so here's a portion of it...
Grace has been in the foster home since she was 1 year old. She has been taken care of by grandparents. She has very close relationship with her foster family. She is very happy and gentle. She has smile on her face all the time. She does not easily get mad and she is easy to comfort when she is upset. She has very good habits, put clothes on by self, take shower and wash face by herself, pack the school bag by self and help to do cleaning, cooking at home. She loves to do things and never complains. She is a good student in the kindergarten and school. She enjoys going school every day and attending all kinds of activity. She is polite to her teachers and loves her classmates. She wants to do anything she can to help people.
Doesn't she sound AMAZING?!
We've decided to name her Grace TongJiao (she is called Tong Jiao, even though Tong is her surname). You might remember me saying awhile back that if we adopted a boy, he'd be Charlie and if we adopted another girl, she'd be Grace! Well, now we have both... Charlie and Grace coming home in 2010!!! Prayerfully, we'll have Grace before she turns 11!!!
Oh. And did I mention that she PERFECTLY bridges our age gap? 6 years older than AC, 6 years younger than me...