“Delight yourselves also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.”
1.) Friends, please accept our hugest thank you if you have already given to help bring Tommy home! Your immediate response of generosity blows us away, especially knowing you wouldn’t win any giveaway prizes or even get a tax deduction! We pray that God would bless you for this and pay you back many times over what you have shared for Tommy! [This doesn't count as a real thank you note! One will be on its way to you over the next week or so, Lord willing!]
Please be watching for a blog post that will detail all the provision God sends to make this adoption possible!
2.) If any of you email and ask, agreeing not to share it publicly in connection with our family, we’ll be happy to send you a link to the Youtube video showing the million-dollar smile that stole my heart:
3.) When you pray for us and for Tommy, could you please pray above everything else that God would show Himself strong in this adoption?
That He would continue to multiply our offered resources of time, energy, focus, and finances to meet the heavy demands on us?
And that our eyes would remain firmly fixed on Him no matter what lies ahead?
He is well able to do all these things and more! Thank you, faithful praying friends!
4.) Answers to some common questions about Tommy–
Question: Does Tommy have Down syndrome?
Answer: No, he has cerebral palsy. It would be impossible at this point to know how mild or severe his CP originally was. Due to the damage his body and brain received from the profound neglect and malnutrition he suffered for so many years, we are prepared for the fact that he most likely will need complete, lifelong care.
Question: Doesn’t this scare you at all?
Answer: No, in fact we can hardly believe we are being given this enormous privilege a second time. Mind you, it would scare us if God hadn’t promised to provide for all our needs, and we thought we were heading into this without Him. Or if we thought hard work was bad and to be avoided, or that Tommy wasn’t worth it.
But the reality is that God isn’t tied to time like we are, and there are no limits on His ability to provide. He’s already there in the future and has Tommy’s needs taken care of.
And we believe that work is a blessing from God. He will give us exactly the workload He designs for us, and the provision to make it possible for us to carry it.
Question: Where will you put Tommy, since you don’t have a huge house?
Answer: Ever since we re-organized our family’s sleeping arrangements during the spring and summer of 2009, we have had an empty bed in our boys’ room. There are two triple bunkbeds and a toddler bunkbed in their room, and we only have seven boys! For several reasons, including the fact that we use a hanging rod and closet shelves with storage bins for their clothing rather than dressers, their bedroom doesn’t feel crowded.
We’ll need to move some of our other boys around to free up a bottom bunk for Tommy, install a guard rail around his bed, buy a single mattress and a bed cover, and we’ll be ready.
Question: How long has Tommy been in the orphanage?
Answer: For a little over fifteen years. He was placed there as a four-month-old baby, presumably when his disability became apparent.
Question: How big is Tommy?
Answer: He’s several inches longer and a few pounds lighter than Katie. He looks long and skinny like a string bean, although his legs are somewhat contracted. From the most recent video we have of him, he appears to wear a size 4T right now, like our youngest boy, Stephen, who turns four years old next month.
Question: Where will Tommy fall within the age range of your other children?
Answer: Joshua, our third born, will turn sixteen the same month Tommy will. We haven’t received his birthdate yet, so we don’t know whose birthday celebration will come first! Joshua the gentle giant towers over the rest of the family at 6′ 3″ and wears a size 15 shoe.
Question: Where do you think Tommy is developmentally?
Answer: Like all the older children in his orphanage, his developmental age is far behind his actual age. From seeing his videos, we would guess his developmental age to be somewhere between six months and one year old, like Katie’s is now. (Katie’s developmental age when we brought her home was somewhere in the birth to three months old range.) But of course, until we interact with him ourselves, it is impossible to state anything definitively.
Question: Does Tommy have institutional autism like Katie does?
Answer: We’ve observed that the adoptive parents who go into international special needs adoption with unrealistic expectations tend to be the ones who struggle the most to accept the child’s inevitable issues afterward.
Like we were with Katie, we are prepared to see signs of autism in Tommy, and understand that some of these may be permanent. Autism, like every other special need, no longer causes us to fear.
It is imperative that those of us who adopt children with special needs and a long history of extreme institutional neglect be prepared that our children will almost surely carry marks of this early damage for the rest of their lives. We must understand that it is extremely unlikely that they will ever be like other children of similar age. We must accept that they will most likely always have some odd orphanage behaviors, difficulty interacting normally with other people, and significant developmental delays. We must go in with our eyes wide open and our expectations somewhere below ground level.
In order to thrive, the little ones in Tommy’s orphanage need unconditional love and acceptance from their families. They have problems, but they are more than their problems, just like you are more than your list of problems.
They’ll know if they are being seen as a project or a list of issues to be fixed to make them acceptable. Just like you would or any other person would. It isn’t clever brains, super personalities, or fit bodies that make us intrinsically valuable as human beings. Good thing, too…ahem…
It is imperative that any parent adopting a child from these conditions not build their future plans on a best case scenario. If the best case scenario comes to pass, that is terrific! But we must be prepared to bring our children home and love them with all our hearts even if they have major issues and don’t make any progress at all, and we must be prepared to be okay with that scenario.
I cannot state this strongly enough! It must be enough for us that our child is safely home being unstintingly loved and cared for by his or her family, period.
Question: What will the timeline of this adoption look like?
Answer: Tommy turns sixteen years old early next year. In order to get to him in time, we have to have submitted our I800 application to the USCIS before his birthday. The I800 is submitted right after the first trip. It’s logically possible that we could take our first trip before the end of this year, but we aren’t setting our hopes on it.
There were some delays with Katie’s process due to a situation we aren’t facing this time around, the requirements of our new EE agency are lighter (no psychologist visit, letter of employment, or local police clearance, for instance), and our home study doesn’t have to be written from scratch for Tommy. So a faster first stage is logically possible.
Question: Why aren’t you posting his photos?
Answer: We are honoring the rules of our new US and EE adoption agencies. We’ll post his photos when we know for sure we have permission to do so, and until then, you are welcome to go back and look again at the photos I’ve posted of him in the past. Our US agency has requested updated photos for us, so we’re eager to see the new ones, too!
Question: Do you know Tommy’s birth name?
Answer: We know only his first name, but won’t be sharing it publicly until the adoption is finalized.
Question: Have you chosen his new name yet?
Answer: Yes, we have! We have always been quick to name our children and Tommy is no exception!
Question: How do your other children feel about gaining Tommy as a new sibling?
Answer: Those who are able to grasp what is going on are eager to meet him and get to know who he is!
One of our older children was concerned that we keep picking cute children, and what about the children who aren’t as cute?
I threw my head back and laughed when I heard this! And told him that was proof right there that Tommy was meant for our family! Most people who look at Tommy won’t be able to see past his severe tongue thrust and contracted limbs, and his future big brother didn’t even notice these things! Yep, he belongs with us all right! He is such a treasure and it’s still sinking in that God has really granted us the desire of our hearts!