Cynthia Update, For Real!

The past few days, maybe even weeks, have been getting difficult. It’s the waiting, and the not knowing, and all the things that make adoption such a lesson in faith. It had been a while since we had heard about Cynthia (since early February), and we were prepared for it to be a while yet. We’ve been dealing with the tedious process that is the dossier phase, and getting frustrated with how things so simple can be causing so much concern. Just the differences between cultures and what’s considered normal are requiring painstaking effort to satisfy, and can be so very frustrating. The post office should really invest in international adoption- I’m convinced that we and families like us are the only thing keeping them afloat these day, especially with postage at an all time high!!!

So it came as a complete surprise when, close to the end of office hours, we got an e-mail from our agent with a wonderful update on Cynthia’s wellness and SIX pictures! I told Shane that God knew I needed some encouragement. I needed to see her sweet face and remember that she’s real and we are getting closer to bringing her home each day, even if we don’t feel like we’ve made any real progress in weeks. And there she was, sweet smile, precious dimples, doing things we didn’t think she was physically capable of doing! We were thrilled to get an update, as always, and even though it makes the longing a little heavier, it also makes the burden a little lighter. I’ll explain why later, but first- let’s talk about how much Cynthia is growing and learning!!!

I just so happened to be rereading Cynthia’s referral packet yesterday, because I was sulking and just wanted to feel closer to her (this was after I checked out Airbnb locations near the children’s home for travel time, naturally). So had a fresh memory for her improvements. She is affected by Global Development Delay. For those unfamiliar with this term, it is simply describing a child that has been affected from not having a safe, secure family environment in which to grow and learn. Ruth also has Global Development Delay, manifesting itself in her language and speech development most noticeably. For Cynthia, this affects her speech, language development, visual motor, fine and gross motor skills (however, she was possibly failure to thrive prior to becoming a ward of HK and had severe delay in this area, as well), cognitive development as well as other areas. However, praise our Lord that she is improving! We are so thankful that she receives physical therapy care regularly as it has greatly improved her health.

As I was telling Shane yesterday, I truly appreciate the information we get in these updates, as it helps us prepare for the types of care and treatment Cynthia will need when we get her home. But, as a parent, I would love to hear stories! I would like to hear about something funny she did or said, or a way she helped a friend or accomplished something after focused, determined effort etc.. The every day things are what I truly long for. I would love to hear her voice, hear her laugh! See a video of her walking and interacting with others. But I am so happy with the pictures and progress report, the rest will come in time. And, if it’s possible, we will get to schedule a video call with Cynthia before traveling (with a translator present). How wonderful that would be!

The pictures we received from the visit were all of Cynthia playing outside in the care home’s lovely outdoor play area. Big points to Hong Kong for having such a beautiful facility dedicated to children in need! She was playing with bubbles, swinging, going down a slide and even successfully riding a scooter! Which is a result of the physical therapy, for sure! Her beautiful face is just captivating (sorry we can’t show it on here! Remember to connect with us on the FB group of the same name). She is described as a happy and active girl, and it sure does appear to be the truth!

She appears to have a weaker immune system, as she had both pneumonia and the flu this past winter. With all that she’s been through, I’m not surprised that she’s been susceptible to these illnesses. I wish I could have been there to take care of her instead of hospital doctors and nurses, but I’m glad she has access to such wonderful health care. Counting our blessings that Cynthia is from a country with such a great health care system and a government who places value in caring for the children in need- we know how easily it could have been the opposite.

To break down where we are in Cynthia’s adoption process, here’s the scoop:
Currently in the dossier phase, meaning that all our required documents for adoption have been accepted by the adoption/social welfare agency in Hong Kong and are being pre-vetted. Once approved (and hoping that will be extremely soon) they will be sent to Hong Kong Central Authority. Our dossier will go through multiple levels of scrutiny there, and once satisfied, HKCA will declare us “matched.”

Once matched, we can send Cynthia lots of goodies (well, maybe not lots, but some!) including our pictures, and she will finally know that she is going to have a forever family. Hong Kong does a wonderful job of preparing children for their adopting families- helping them understand what’s happening and speaking very positively about the life change about to occur. This is so wonderfully appreciated!

Right after we are matched, the legal process of getting Cynthia approved for a visa begins on our end- in short, submitting our last documents to USCIS (with lots of legal documents provided by HKCA about Cynthia) for specific permission to bring Cynthia back into the U.S. with us for adoption. Once this is approved, Hong Kong completes the legal process of granting us guardianship, getting Cynthia the required medical appointment for the visa, and then finally the visa. Once the visa is here, it’s go time!

I know what you’re thinking: “so when will you get to go get her?” It’s easily the #1 question we get these days. And I wish I could answer for certain. The estimate we have is anywhere from October to December, with it taking a miracle to be before. The process takes a lot of time, and we have had some very fortunate blessings in things moving quicker than normal so far, but we’ve been warned that when it comes to HKCA things slow waaaaay down. And as much as we don’t want it to be true, it’s possible that 2020 could get here and we still wouldn’t have Cynthia home. But praying that things continue on the trajectory of smoothness and efficiency and perhaps this fall we get to bring her home and celebrate the holiday season as a family of five! All we can do is pray to our Good Father and trust that his timing is perfect, even if we don’t understand the painful waiting. There is no harm in praying for miracles for the glory of God!

Now to address how these Cynthia updates make things easier and also harder: each update sent to us, her intended family, makes things feel more real. And knowing we are her family, all we want is to be there for her. But we can’t, so the next best thing is getting information, which is so rare. And once we get information, we only want more! It’s like carbohydrates, people! And so, the appreciated updates cause us to dwell more and more on our middle child- even in our sleep (dreamt of Cynthia all night last night). But the burden we feel for Cynthia, that we feel for all our children, was never meant for us to bear, which is why it affects us so deeply.

We’re taking the heavy load straight from Jesus’ shoulders and putting in on our own, very weak and incompetent human bodies. No wonder our spirits can be crushed by thoughts of our children’s well-being! We have no control over what happens to those we love. But I serve the one who does, and he is perfectly worthy of our faith. When all is boiled down, I have just as much ability to protect Cynthia right now as I do my own kids: none. How easily I forget that the One who holds us all in His hands wants only good things for us- and he does not need my help to bring those good things about. And if you’re asking, “How can the terrible things Ruth and Cynthia have been through be good?” you aren’t alone. Right now, we only understand earthly good. But we were made for Heavenly good- for the eternal. And although we are limited by our human ability to comprehend, God has planned such an amazing life for us that can’t be fully seen except outside of time. Good thing He has no limits!

So as things start to seem gloomy, maybe even cruel, I’ll try remember my insignificance and God’s omnipresence. He is with Cynthia. He is with us. And He is so, so good. Happy Good Friday, everyone. What a significant day to reflect on God’s goodness even when awful, terrible, and even evil things happen. “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” Genesis 50:20 (don’t you love the Gospel written throughout scripture?!) If you don’t understand what I mean, I encourage you to e-mail me! Nothing would bring me more joy this weekend than explaining that very verse!

Thank you all so much for keeping up with our crazy family and adventure. And especially to those who pray and support us- we are grateful beyond words. Adoption is not easy, it’s not cheap, and it can’t be done in isolation. We covet your continued prayers- for us, for Cynthia, for the legal process, all of it. God is using every bit of our lives to bring him glory, even when we stubbornly take the burden on our shoulders, we are reminded that our shoulders weren’t meant to carry it, but to be unburdened by our good Father.

Happy Easter, friends!