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I walked into church late one Easter Sunday and squeezed out a space in the back pew. Towards the end of the service, I closed my eyes one more time to thank God for all the blessings He had bestowed on me, and to ask for guidance and direction in my life.
I suddenly felt a “knowing voice” within me saying: “You can adopt.” It threw me. But I couldn’t shake the convincing feeling that lingered. It was something I had never felt before.
Since my hysterectomy at age 39, I’d thought of adoption often
But there were potential setbacks. Since my hysterectomy at age 39, I had thought of adoption before. But I was single and felt it wouldn’t be fair to the child. I was now 50 years old. Surely people would think I was the grandmother!
Once reassurance I clung to was that my parents were still alive and doing well in their eighties, so I was hopeful that their good genes had been passed down to me.
The minute I got home, I called a close friend to tell her what happened. Surprisingly, she said, “Go for it.” “Really?” I questioned.
I had been an elementary teacher and was just completing my licensing hours to become a Marriage and Family Therapist. I felt qualified, but still wondered about my own capabilities.
Through the adoption process, I had unanswerable fears
I continually prayed as I moved forward in the process of adoption. First, the Home Visit with a social worker, followed by a ton of paperwork, financial reports, recommendations, birth certificates, and unanswerable fears. What would it be like? Could I do it alone?
As soon as I had doubts, I would see a child with her mother and it brought up a longing I didn’t recognize. Was God trying to convince me, or was I delusional?
Every day was filled with excitement, trepidation, anxiety, worry, and joy. I had inquired about domestic adoption and decided to adopt an older child.
A year later, I took a long flight to China with twenty-three other couples and singles, coming to meet their daughters. In China, the girls are abandoned, in favor of a son, since families are only allowed to have one child.
My daughter was scantily clad, with no shoes, a shaven head
As soon as I saw my 20-month old daughter, I cried. She was mine, no doubt about it. We were all given our child in a dimly lit government office and no one noticed the sterile conditions or the lack of privacy.
All I could see was my daughter, placed in my arms, scantily clad, with no shoes, and her head shaven. I loved her so much. I never felt love like that before.
She came to me easily and as we traveled the two-hour trip back to the hotel, she fell asleep in my arms. My heart filled. Neither of us was alone anymore. Our hearts connected because it was a gift from God for both of us. I felt, and still do, truly blessed.
Eventually they’d be tossed out, to a life of prostitution, or a job less favorable
We made a brief stop at the orphanage before we headed back, and as the bus driver pulled away, I saw older children looking out at us from the windows above. It broke my heart that I could only take one.
I wanted to yell “Stop the bus!” I wanted to take them all. I knew I couldn’t and I knew the life these young girls would have with little education, no families, and growing up in this five-story building, hot, without air conditioning.
Eventually they would be tossed out at age eighteen, into prostitution or a job even less favorable, with little, if any, money. My hope then, as it is now, that God would guide another woman, another family, to a child in wait.
Notes for this blog:
Susan Von Tobel, M.A., lives in Oregon with her now 15 year old daughter. She is happy to say that she is now 65, healthy, and has grown so much by this experience as a person and as a mother. She wouldn’t trade a day of this journey for anything. Her children’s books, are based on adoption and diversity in families, and are available on her website at www.susanvontobel.com (http://www NULL.susanvontobel NULL.com) She would love to hear your comments and any questions you might have regarding China adoption or her experience.
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