It’s been a year since we traveled to China to adopt a son we weren’t able to keep because of a diagnosis that made it impossible for him to stay with our family. I’m still saying thank you those who supported us during that time.

year later

September is going to be a tough month around here. We’re still healing from the loss of our son. It was one year ago that we met him for the first time. That we called our agency to tell them we thought he had autism. That we smiled for the camera but cried and cried when we were back in our room. That we begged God for a best-case scenario. That we started down a path to get a diagnosis we were familiar with only to find we were dealing with something quite different.

In the last months I’ve hopped on Facebook to send someone a message only to find we aren’t friends anymore. And that’s when I realize how hard it must have been for those who walked with us to keep walking and not turn away because they didn’t understand or agree.

In our struggles, I didn’t always remember to say thank you to those who supported and encouraged us. I want to take time to do that today.

First, the organizations that helped us.

In the York, PA area, the place to go for grief counseling is Olivia’s House. Lee and I got counseling there, both apart and together. Leslie helped me work through my anger and helped Lee work through his guilt. We will forever be thankful and hope to support their ministry in the future. David and James also saw therapists and psychologists (in York and Hershey) and were supported in healing by their services.

There’s no way to express how much help we got from Second Chance Adoptions. No one who contacts them wants to be in the situation they are in. It’s a last resort for families who have no where else to turn. They handled our case with compassion and care. They found Joel a new family who loves and cares for him. They send us pictures and emails of his progress and consider him a miracle child. The autistic traits we saw are all decreasing and we praise God for Second Chance, his new family, and the progress he’s making.

And the people …

We are thankful to our families for their love and continued support.

When we got back to the US, we called on the team who had helped James around the time of his diagnosis so they could help us help Joel. Nicole, Pam, and our doctor Joanne all blessed us by using their gifts and skills. Nicole especially supported me and Joel week after week as a friend and therapist.

Melissa Smallwood is an amazing adoption advocate. She’s one of the first people I called to see what our options might be to help Joel heal. She listened to me cry and helped us make a plan.

We could not have functioned without the help of Elizabeth and Pastor Dan at our former church. They supported Lee at work and cared for our entire family. We are also very thankful for the support from my Sunday school class, small group, and most of the church body and leaders. Fellow pastors like Terry and Joey cared for us like we were part of their flock, and we are thankful to them. All these friends walked through the years of waiting, the month of travel, the months of testing, and the months of transition with us in person. We will always be thankful.

The friends I’ve made online who have become real friends were also a great support, always there to answer texts or pray for me, especially Teri Lynne, Kristin, and Caroline.  And friends we’ve made in other stages of life who we continue to rely on in good times and hard, like Kama, Jenny, and Sarah. Thank you for loving us well.

My writing team at Not Alone was also incredibly supportive, especially considering they are all special-needs parents and many have also adopted. I was afraid the special-needs community would turn their backs on me, but quite the opposite has been true.

Finally, thank you to all those who sent messages, emails, and texts of encouragement. People I hadn’t had real conversations with in years showed up during our darkest season. The burden was lighter because you shared it with us.

Adoption interruption is incredibly hard on all who are involved. I haven’t always been able to express how thankful we are for those who supported us, but this month we hope to focus on that support and Joel’s success with his new family instead of the hole we still feel.

September 2014 195_zpsxwuuxm8u

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