It was the summer of 2006. I had six children: Alex, Luke, Song, Vera, Anna and Emma. Life was flowing along. It was easy. Almost too easy.
[cue the scary music]
An email appeared in my inbox from a fellow international, special-needs adoptive mom. Fearlessly, not suspecting it would rock my world, I opened it to find...
James, a boy with Down syndrome in China. No, no, no. Make that James, THE boy with Down syndrome in China. James lived in the Hope Foster Home. James had been visited by the Steven Curtis Chapman family and Mary Beth had evidently fallen in love. She had urged the Chinese Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) to place James on their list so that he could have the opportunity to be adopted.
At that time, the CCAA would receive files of children from their orphanages and would give the files of the special needs kids to chosen adoption agencies in the US. The adoption agencies would then have three months to find families for the special needs children on their list. Occasionally the agency would get an extra three months to find a family if they had had enquiries that hadn't resulted in a match. More often, the file would be given back and that child's chance to find an adoptive family would be gone.
So, James, THE boy with Down syndrome in China, had his file sent to a Christian adoption agency. I don't know what, if anything, they did to find James a family. All I know is that with just a few days until his file was due to be returned to CCAA, James had not had any enquiries. Not one. My understanding is that Mary Beth Chapman found out and decided to make a big push to find James an adoptive home. Because of that push, I received the fateful email in my inbox.
The email stated that James was the test case for China. If he didn't find an adoptive family then China was not going to place any further children with Down syndrome on the lists they gave to adoption agencies.
John and I had the exact same response to that email and the possibility of all those darling Chinese children wtih Ds losing out on homes: NOT ON OUR WATCH!
I called the agency that day, only to find out that they were having a long weekend off. I spent some time discussing it with my Shepherd's Crook email group, just to have something to do while I waited.
The next week, I received a call from the agency and found out they had received calls and email from over 300 families regarding James!! John and I weren't the only ones watching!!
Eventually, we decided not to pursue the adoption. The agency had a policy of taking applications and then deciding which family would be the best fit for the child. We didn't feel like competing for him and we felt very confident that a Christian family would be chosen, which was, in fact, the case. One child saved because of Mary Beth Chapman.
Nonetheless, I confessed to my Shepherd's Crook group that I was a bit disappointed. I thought it would be fun to have a little one around again, and James was just so stinkin' cute. Also, I had clicked on the link from James' original email and found myself on the most amazing and surprising website called Reece's Rainbow. Song and I had spent some time looking at a single web page with about 10 or so cute little ones with Down syndrome that were featured on the site. One little girl we had thought particularly cute was a darling little girl named Maria in Colombia.
[cue the happy music]
It went something like this: Jill, I know you were disappointed about James, and I didn't know for sure if you and John were still interested in adopting right now, but I got some new information about a little girl named Maria in Colombia. She was just given a very large grant yesterday. I was praying about her and your name kept coming to mind while I prayed. No pressure, but I wanted to bring this to you guys before I send an email to the whole group.
In no time, we committed to adopting Maria in Colombia. In just four more months we were in Colombia adopting her! I have to believe that if I hadn't been complaining about not getting to adopt James, my friend wouldn't have contacted me about Maria. Two children saved as a result of Mary Beth Chapman's efforts, and in even greater part as a result of my friend's prayers.
So what about the third child? I just couldn't get the idea of adopting a little boy from China out of my mind. Through a different Shepherd's Crook friend, I got connected to an adoption agency that would let you see and read all about the children on their special needs list from CCAA. For a few months, I followed the lists and one day, a little boy they were referring to as Spencer Nash was on the list. His information said that he was in foster care through...wait for it...Hope Foster Home, which is where James had lived!
Boys from China are, like those from other countries, less popular in the adoption world. The girls tend to get chosen quickly but the boys often wait and that was what happened to Spencer Nash. Nonetheless, somewhere along the way little Spencer Nash started to look like my son. Sometime later, he started to look like John's son, too, and before we knew it were committed to adopting a little boy from China. Three children saved because Mary Beth Chapman advocated for one.
Really, it didn't even stop there, as the family who adopted James went back to China and adopted a daughter with Down syndrome. I also have found out that a dear friend of mine made a friend of hers look at my blog after we adopted Ella...and that friend went to Reece's Rainbow and found two daughters, now in her home, dearly loved and thriving.
So, Mary Beth Chapman, an overdue but heartfelt thanks to you for looking past the labels and seeing the precious child in front of you, then lending your voice to his cause and following through.
Matthew 5:16~~In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.
Praise the Lord!!