The Checklist…

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The other day I received news from a dear friend. She is one of those special friends I’ve had forever, the ones with whom you can just “pick up where you left off,” even if you haven’t seen each other in years. I happily opened the e-mail while I was waiting for my children at church. The message opened with great news of joy for her family, but then followed with great sadness for her sister. Her sister is pregnant and just found out that her baby has a serious medical condition, one that they hope to improve through neonatal surgery, but nothing is guaranteed. I cried bawled at the news. My heart sank for her and her family. No one expected this. No one asked for this. But here it is. I couldn’t stop the tears, so I finally asked the ladies around me if we could pray for my dear friend and her family. About seven of us gathered in the church kitchen pantry (where it was quiet) and had a time of prayer. All I could think of was the list…

For the Waiting Child Program, which we are planning to go through for our adoption, the waiting family needs to complete a Medical Conditions Checklist. This is a list of over 100 medical conditions that waiting children could have. Since we have decided to adopt a child with special needs, our job was to select which conditions we are willing to accept, and which ones we do not feel that we can adequately handle. This is an overwhelming task, to say the least. While I was in China, I saw many children with various needs, most of them with multiple diagnoses. I saw children who would need life-long care, and those who had already had corrective surgeries and were simply waiting for a forever family. John and I knew we would have to complete the list, but I never thought it would be in the midst of a friend’s trial, one she never chose.

Given a choice of “Yes” or “No” to over 100 needs may be the most stressful thing we have done. Each diagnosis had a description, possible treatments, photos of children with these conditions, and likely outcomes. Would we accept a child who is blind? Has brittle bones? Has a heart condition? Missing a limb? This is not a simple task. I could feel the pressure and stress surrounding John and I as we carefully went through every single one. But God was there. The good thing about the list is that it gives CCAI more information in order to make a successful match. Down the road, we will be permitted to look over files and pray over them for a specific amount of time. This also allows us to speak to our pediatrician and insurance company. Then we can decide yes or no. If we decide to say “no” to a file, we will not be penalized, but CCAI will not match us with a child who has conditions we have not approved.

The list. It feels like a safeguard. It feels strange. It feels wrong to reject conditions, because it is like we are rejecting the children with those needs. Children who deserve love like any other. Children who need families. But we also are considering OUR family. Our boys and the time we still need with them, as well as little Zhen. We have to consider our area, our hospitals, and our accessibility to treatment centers. The list protects us, but it also protects those children from going into families who are not adequately prepared to help give them the best life possible.

But what about my friend? She didn’t make a list. She didn’t agree to what she is about to go through. All I can hear is God saying, “I’ve got her. And I’ve got you.”

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