Joel probably doesn't even know his name (our agency just made up an American name for reference/pronunciation sake), but after referring to him by Joel for a while, the name stuck. I also liked the meaning: the Lord is God. Jimmy, on the other hand should know his name since he is in a class (taught by an american) that teaches some English and they were all given American nick names. In fact, Jimmy's name is actually what hooked us.
You may remember this post from two years ago when Olivia got to go shopping with her Bible bucks for family members at Pioneer Club. She brought home gifts wrapped and labeled for Mommy, Daddy, Emily and Jimmy. Jimmy?! Why of course, she told the volunteer worker that she needed a gift for her brother Jimmy! We didn't even know a Jimmy so that whole thing came out of nowhere!
Fast forward to this May. Andy and I had been privately discussing the idea of adoption, but before the girls knew anything about it, Olivia floored me by praying for us to adopt a brother one night at dinner! When I asked her what her new brother's name would/should be, my jaw dropped when she stopped to think for a second and then very sure of herself, said, "James." She had no way of knowing that Jimmy and James are often one in the same and probably didn't remember that she'd bought a gift for her "brother Jimmy" two years ago, but boy was she strangely consistent! Also, immediately when she said James, a scripture popped into my head that I didn't even know that I knew, James 1:27: Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. With this, I knew Someone was trying to tell me something!
All that made quite an impact on me, but I had no way of knowing how it would all play out so perfectly in a plan I could not have orchestrated if I tried. Reminds of how our first adoption came about much better than we could have ever planned--see Olivia's story here! Within a month of Olivia's dinner prayer I came across a blog that featured Chinese orphans who'd attended a three day Journey of Hope camp with the hope of being adopted. Staff from an adoption agency in Portland, OR had attended the camp with 35 older &/or special needs kids to get to know them so they could advocate for them and find them families. Interestingly enough, there was a Jimmy among the group! My interest was piqued, but after researching Jimmy's special needs (which could require a series of reconstructive surgeries) I reluctantly moved on and zeroed in on another cute six year old who'd already had his heart corrected and would only require one other surgery. Joel. It took Andy a while to warm up to the idea, but on our anniversary dinner date (August 15) he gave me the green light. As soon as the agency opened on Monday I told the agency it was a go.
The very next day, China announced a policy change; they would now allow families to adopt a second child at the same time as long as at least one is a Special Focus (special needs or older) child. Interesting! I'd already wanted two, but didn't think it was possible. This was very exciting news for me!! Andy, not so much. He wasn't opposed to a fourth child later, but was justifiably afraid that two at a time would bond to each other to the exclusion of the rest of our family. He'd just gotten used to the idea of adding one more and didn't appreciate what felt like a bait and switch. He was not on board. Yet.
Hoping that Andy would warm to the idea of two I inquired about other boys on the list. With Jimmy being just three months older than Joel, I again dismissed him thinking I didn't think I really wanted two the same age. Instead, I asked about some younger boys, but none seemed like the perfect match. I had all kinds of justification for not picking Jimmy, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that he was meant to be ours. Olivia's foretelling of Jimmy/James and the James scripture had all pulled at my heart. After a few days of futile resistance I asked to review his file. That was it. I knew then he was ours. The problem was that Andy did not know it. Yet.
We did not see eye to eye on the topic of adopting two so we agreed to pray for like-mindedness. We've been happily together for about 25 years now (dated for 7, married for 18) and we've agreed on most important things and we knew we needed to be in agreement on this. We prayed that one of our hearts would be changed--that either my heart would change to desire only one OR that his heart would change to desire two. After praying about this for a few weeks we learned that Jimmy's time was running out. Our agency had been given six months to find families for the camp kids and the unmatched files would be going to go back to at the end of the month.
As we continued to pray that we'd come to a united decision, I didn't twist Andy's arm or nag him to death, but amazingly, within a few short weeks I started to see his heart change! I watched him move from resistance to acceptance to excitement. Only God! It was so neat to witness the change and later hear him say that he didn't know exactly how or when his heart changed, but that it definitely had. This answered prayer was yet another confirmation that Jimmy AND Joel were meant to be part of our family and I couldn't be more excited! Shortly before the end of October we let our agency know that we would be pursuing TWO boys and submitted some pre-approval forms. Last week we got the word that China accepted our proposal for both Jimmy and Joel :) Of course there is still a lot of red tape ahead, but we (girls included) can't wait to be a family of six! We acknowledge that two may be double the challenge, but another verse quickly come to mind, Romans 8:31: If God is for us, who can be against us?