A family’s faith-filled answer to a common adoption question
Almost three years ago when our baby boy was born in China’s Hunan Province, his parents-to-be hadn’t even started their adoption journey. When our son was celebrating his first birthday with his loving foster family, we were putting the final touches on our home study. We had answered so many questions along the way. Which country? What age? Then, as our social worker met with us for our home visit, she asked us the strangest question: Which gender?
As a childless couple who would joyfully have accepted any child at any point in our marriage, the question took us aback. The answer was obvious. We were open to either a boy or a girl. We didn’t choose China because we wanted a daughter. Our reasons were varied. We were going to China because the Chinese adoption program was straightforward and established—and because of the China Child of Promise (CCOP) option. We were immediately drawn to a program that would match us fairly quickly with a child who had minor, manageable medical needs. A CCOP mom told me their medical conditions checklist had “a lot of no’s,” indicating that they weren’t willing to accept many medical conditions, but they were still matched swiftly and successfully with their son. Beth Smith, Holt’s China director of services, inspired confidence. And, to be honest, we had a gut feeling that our child was in China.
We were right.
Just days after our agency sent our home study to Holt, we got a call. A referral? Already? We were shocked—and ecstatic. It was a boy! He was 13 months old, his special need seemed to have been addressed, he was in foster care, and he was the most beautiful child we had ever seen.
We couldn’t wait to share our news—and our families and friends were overjoyed. We were so caught up in the whirlwind of being newly expectant parents that we were surprised when people started asking, “A boy? I thought China only had girls for adoption.” Swallowing the urge to say, “Don’t you just want to see his photo again?” we explained that many boys in China—especially those with special needs—need loving families. When a family’s entire livelihood depends on having a son who will grow into adulthood, and when medical care is not available or affordable, birth families need to make what must be a heartbreaking decision about whether to raise children with medical concerns. The doctor who reviewed Louis’s file had no worries about our referral, but he also knew that any question marks could most likely be addressed in our hometown, which offers some of the best medical care in the country.
As it turns out, Louis has no special needs by American standards. He has a ravenous appetite, an insatiable interest in vehicles, a passion for singing the ABC’s, and a sweet, affectionate heart. His pediatrician couldn’t be happier with his growth and development. We couldn’t be more enthralled with his personality and his charming—and sometimes mischievous—smile.
Since Louis came home, our responses to the questions about how we came to be the parents of a boy from China have changed. When we landed in Chicago just before Christmas, our son’s understanding of English was minimal and we could be as informative as we wanted to be in our replies. Six weeks later we realized he understood almost everything we said. Eight months later we can easily envision a day when he will be able to answer the questions himself. So our answers to “How did you ever get a boy from China?” become more important for our listening son than the people asking.
Typically we smile and say something like “Aren’t we so lucky!” and talk about how perfectly Louis fits into our family. Louis and his Baba (Dad) have the same perfectionist streak, sense of humor, and enthusiasm for trains. He and his Mama love to cook and sing together. He enjoys reading and going to the library even more than his bookworm parents do. And he proudly reminds us to say grace and says “Amen” loudly at all the right moments at church.
When Louis isn’t with us, or if we get a sense that the person asking might feel tugged toward adoption, we take the time to explain that many boys in China are waiting for families. Still, Louis isn’t a statistic, a spokesperson, or a representation of the changing population in orphanages and foster care. He is our son.
How did we ever adopt a boy who has wiggled his way so surely into our hearts and lives? Only God knows. And we thank Him every day that when we were asked “Which gender?” we shrugged our shoulders and said we’ll let God decide. We could never have picked for ourselves so perfectly.
A few weeks after bringing Louis home, my husband was giving Louis a bath. Amidst the splashing and the laughter, John turned to me and said, “OK, when do you want to go back to China for another child?” That trip won’t happen as soon as we’d like, but it isn’t far off. And when we sat down with our social worker to start the home study for Louis’s sibling, she asked us the same question about gender. We gave her the same answer as before—no preference. “You know you’ll most likely be matched with a boy,” she reminded us.
That’s in God’s hands, we said. And what a blessing that child—our son or daughter—will be.
–Rita and John Buettner
Interested in the China Child of Promise option? Click here to learn more…