JOSH + SUSAN FOWLER
Adventure seekers  //  adoption advocates  //  13 years of marriage
5 kids  //  2 businesses  //  We like living life to the fullest

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One Year Ago Today | Personal | Adoption

A year ago today we found our son.  366 days since we first laid eyes on a picture of that beautiful wide eyed boy.  The one with the wild hair and his lips pursed just so.  Those chubby cheeks and button nose.  It’s been a crazy year and I want to take a look back today.

We may have found him one year ago, but God started paving the way for our adoption 10+ years ago. How crazy and awesome and wonderful is that?

Josh visited an orphanage in Mexico when he was in high school. Life changing.

In college, I worked at a counseling center. A few of the children I worked with were in the foster care system and I saw the need. I saw what a family could do to a kid—for the better and for the worse.

At that same counseling center, a co-worker adopted a three year old. I was mesmerized and remember asking his wife questions. I specifically remember her telling me how adopting an older child isn’t like adopting a baby. There are more things to deal with. That stuck with me.

Friends adopted from China and it stirred our souls again.

More friends adopted from Bulgaria and it stirred again.

Josh and I discussed it regularly to make sure we were on the same page. We wanted to adopt. Not a baby, but not older than Hazel. I preferred a US adoption, while Josh preferred Latin America (remember that orphanage visit?). We were both fine with either and assumed that we would adopt from both eventually. One thing we were certainly on the same page with: We didn’t want to go over a big ocean, and we didn’t feel a tug in that direction. Not China. Certainly not Bulgaria. Where is that even on a map?  We were excited for our friends who were called to international adoption, but that just wasn’t us.

A photographer friend asked me to cover a wedding for her because her baby was being born. I was confused at first because she wasn’t pregnant. But she was adopting!  When I arrived, the bride was so gracious and immediately asked about my friends adoption.  It made me realize that I could continue to grow our family, even in uncertain ways with unknown time frames.

God worked on me more than ever at that point. Josh and I had been talking a lot about the future of our family size. We considered life with an only child and while it certainly looked enticing, we knew that 30 years from now, we wouldn’t just have one kid. We want to foster, adopt, and Josh specifically wants to adopt a teenager (or several) after Hazel is grown.

Soooooo do we get pregnant? Meh. I’m not a 100% no, but I’m certainly not even a 1% yes right now. Do we look into adoption again? We checked it out the summer before and hit some dead ends right away. The process seemed confusing.

The next week, a friend posted a profile of a little boy available for adoption. It was my son. I kind of knew it from the moment I saw him. When I read his profile I knew it even more. But I didn’t want to jump the gun. I sent the link to Josh with a short rambling about how we didn’t have to adopt him, I just wanted him to see it.

We know how this story ends. That night we emailed the website. The next morning we got antsy and called the adoption agency. Within a few days we’d filled out paperwork committing to adopt him. Zane. Our son.

Here’s the video we shared to announce the adoption as well as begin to fundraise.  We hadn’t exactly planned on spending an extra $35,000!

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Here’s the first bit of info we read about Zane:

Boy, age: 2
Diagnosis: Atresia of the esophagus – not corrected

UPDATE DECEMBER 2015: URGENT shout out for ZAYNE: I saw him again today. He’s in my son’s group at the orphanage. He is talking, learning to walk and doing so very well. He has an American brand mickey button g-tube for feeding that is changed every 2 months.He is gaining weight and is very healthy at this time thanks to specialized formula that is being paid for by a wonderful adoptive family. HE DESPERATELY NEEDS A FAMILY! He needs surgery to connect his esophagus and the orphanage director is being pressured to sign the paper work to have the procedure done in his birth country. It will be dangerous if it is done there. He NEEDS to be adopted and have the surgery done in the US. This little guy is just precious and the staff loves him so much. He is receiving excellent care and is well bonded to particular caregivers. The director told me today, ” you must find him a family quickly.” I have photos and videos of him and I can get medical questions answered.

We spent a fair amount of time researching via Dr. Google for a few weeks.  First, we had to get the basic idea of what his diagnosis meant.  Atresia of the esophagus? Not corrected?  So… it’s correctable.  But what is it?  His esophagus doesn’t connect to his stomach. And since it said not corrected we figured that was a clue that it was something that could be corrected.

It sounds crazy, but all this didn’t matter to us.  The last time I’d felt God talking this strongly about something was when He told me I was going to marry Josh.  Josh felt the same thing, and so we knew if it was from God, then the rest would work itself out.

And it has.  We’ve been immeasurably blessed this year.  The adoption was fully funded through some of our savings, generous donations from friends and family, fundraisers, a matching grant, and an Etsy shop.  So many of you played a part in this and we can’t thank you enough!!  Thanks to our amazing clients and a very busy 2016, we’re well on our way to paying all our very expensive out-of-pocket medical costs in cash this year!

Let’s just say Zane is an expensive kid.  🙂  Josh had several gastro surgeries as well, and even spent time on a feeding tube.  Zane has only ever eaten through a feeding tube, as there is no other way for him to intake food without an esophagus connected to his stomach.  If all this sounds crazy, check out this video.  This is the actual doctor who will be doing his surgery, too

And of course, here are some pictures from our visit back in August to meet him!
Despite those sweet pictures, the real story of the week was a bit different.  He didn’t come running into our arms.  He didn’t want anything to do with us.  They call him “The Boss” at the orphanage and he basically runs the place. He fiercely loves his caregivers and doesn’t want to get anywhere near these strangers (us!).  Despite the difficulties we’ll face at first, this is actually a really great thing.  It means that he bonds with certain people– a trait many children in foster care and orphanages have trouble with because of their life experiences.  So in a way, it’s comforting to know that once he trusts us, we’ll be his people and he will love us fiercely.

In the meantime, we’re going to store up these pictures to share at his wedding one day.  😉

I love him.  I can’t wait to have him home.  Legally, he is our son– that is why we are able to share photos!  We are just waiting on his new birth certificate to be completed and then we will bring him home!

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