Until One Is Committed

“UNTIL ONE IS COMMITTED, THERE IS HESITANCY, THE CHANCE TO DRAW BACK, ALWAYS INEFFECTIVENESS. CONCERNING ALL ACTS OF INITIATIVE (AND CREATION), THERE IS ONE ELEMENTARY TRUTH, THE IGNORANCE OF WHICH KILLS COUNTLESS IDEAS AND SPLENDID PLANS: THAT THE MOMENT ONE DEFINITELY COMMITS ONESELF, THEN PROVIDENCE MOVES TOO. ALL SORTS OF THINGS OCCUR TO HELP ONE THAT WOULD NEVER OTHERWISE HAVE OCCURRED. A WHOLE STREAM OF EVENTS ISSUES FROM THE DECISION, RAISING IN ONE’S FAVOUR ALL MANNER OF UNFORESEEN INCIDENTS AND MEETINGS AND MATERIAL ASSISTANCE, WHICH NO MAN COULD HAVE DREAMT WOULD HAVE COME HIS WAY. I HAVE LEARNED A DEEP RESPECT FOR ONE OF GOETHE’S COUPLETS:
WHATEVER YOU CAN DO, OR DREAM YOU CAN, BEGIN IT.
BOLDNESS HAS GENIUS, POWER, AND MAGIC IN IT!”

William Hutchinson Murray

(This was first posted on January 16, 2018, but it seems timely once again, even in this time of unknowns.)

The best description I ever heard of the China adoption process was that putting the dossier together was like doing your taxes over and over and over and over and over and over . . . again and again and again and again . . . .  A slew of documents needed to be assembled upfront: a home study, birth certificates, marriage certificate, medical reports, police reports, financial statement, adoption statements, immigration forms, etc. – there were nearly 20 documents required in all. Each one of them had to be notarized in the state where they originated, then each notarized document went to the Secretary of State of that state for the notary to be certified. After that, the entire stack, by now nearly three inches high, was sent by courier to the U.S. State Department for certification, and then to the Chinese Embassy for each document’s final certification and approval. Four copies had to be made of every page of the entire dossier and only then could it finally be sent to China and put in line for us to be matched with a child.

The process took several months to complete, and along the way, there was always the possibility for China to tweak or change their requirements. For example, we were almost done with the dossier for Meiling’s adoption when China suddenly announced that physicals could no longer be more than six months old, and ours were seven months old at that point. Panic! But, our doctor squeezed us in, and every other part of the certification process worked flawlessly (for a change) and in just a few short weeks the dossier was finally complete and off to China in late May of 1996. Matches and referrals were taking only three or so months back then, so our hopes were high that by the time we returned home in August from taking our son to college we would have news of a new daughter.

However, when we returned home and called our agency the news was not good; in fact, it was very bad. China had shut down adoptions for families that already had children, which of course included us. Our agency was moving families into other adoption programs, but China had been the only program that worked for us because of our ages (we were each over 40 years old). What had happened, we later learned, was a power struggle over the international adoption program had broken out between two different political bureaus in China, and adoptions had ground to a halt while they fought it out and reorganized. (We also learned our agency was convinced at the time that the entire program was going to collapse.)

All of our hopes and love, and quite a bit of money, had gone into the adoption process for more than a year, including all of Brett’s and my work assembling our dossier. I was in graduate school at the time, and my work began to suffer because I could barely concentrate. Brett unhappily slogged off to work each day as well. Our son was at college in another state, so it was just the two of us at home each evening, and we were glum, depressed, and unsure of what to do or how to proceed.

On one particularly bad day, one of my professors emailed me the quote above, and told me to “hang in there.” I shared it with Brett that evening, and we talked about how deeply committed we still were to adopting from China and had been from the start. All sorts of unexpected and serendipitous events had happened and helped us along the way to make our adoption dream so far a reality, and we decided that rather than pull out we would stay with it to the end and see what happened, no matter the outcome. We both felt in our hearts that our daughter was waiting for us there.

The William Murray quote was a turning point for us. And, it has proven prescient ever since. When we have committed to something, whether it was adding an additional child to our family again through adoption, or getting ourselves out of debt, or moving to Hawai’i, or planning a trip – when we have committed ourselves, as the quote says, Providence has always moved too. Things we couldn’t have imagined happened to help make our plans a reality, and we were given the drive, vision, and persistence to see our dreams come true and our goals reached.

Commitment has been the step where we’ve gone from “do you think?” or “should we?” to “let’s do this” and then started figuring out how to accomplish it. The path to success has not always been straight or smooth or easy, but time and experience have shown that the unexpected does and will occur along the way to help, especially when we need it most. As each journey continues we begin to see things in different ways and act on them accordingly, with our commitment to finishing growing stronger the further along we get.

As the new year began in 1997 we were still waiting, but Brett and I had reached the depths of despair. There had been no positive word from our agency for weeks, and we felt like we were hanging on to hope by our fingernails. We had enjoyed having our son home for Christmas, but he returned to school on January 9. So, when the phone rang on the morning of January 10 I assumed it was him asking about something he had forgotten and wanted us to send. I had been lying on our sofa, crying and asking God for some kind of a sign, that if there was to be no adoption to let us know somehow and we would let it go, but if we were to continue to hope then we would continue to hang on. When I answered the phone though it was not our son but our social worker: “Laura, there’s a baby girl waiting for you in China.” On March 12, 1997, in the hallway of a hotel in China, we met our little Meiling for the first time and she was ours.

This was the only picture we received of Meiling before we met her.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!

14 thoughts on “Until One Is Committed

  1. The first commitment of genius was to commit to a partner who also carried deep commitment in their heart. That you can commit, together, says everything. This was one of the most touching stories I have read. Thank you for sharing it.

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    1. The story of how Brett and I got together is one of commitment – we had to go through a long wait before we could marry as well as live apart. We’ve become very good at waiting over the years. The secret, I think, to commitment is believing deeply that what you wait for will be there at the end.

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    1. Diedre – you were there for the last go-around ad helped us bring YaYu home! By that time though we were seasoned “pros” and knew that she was waiting for us – boy did that make the waiting easier. That first time though was a real roller coaster of emotion, for a variety of reasons. I always try to remember that there were others in the same boat as us, and they waited months longer than we did. I don’t know how they did it.

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    1. Meiling’s story is sort of amazing. Not the most amazing by a long shot, but I still get chills thinking about getting that phone call that day. By the way, they told us that she was most likely deaf, but we said we would accept her anyway. But, she was fine, just had selective hearing!

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  2. What an emotional roller coaster! Love the quote. It makes so much more sense with your tale as an example. And what a serious little girl in the photo!

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    1. What surprised Brett and I when we read that quote was that we could immediately come up with all sorts of examples of the help we’d been given along the way, either inadvertent or by intent. Providence had moved because we were committed. At one point we actually looked into doing a different type of adoption, but we left the first meeting feeling awful – we knew then our daughter was waiting for us; we could feel her waiting.

      That serious picture cracks us up because we know now that she was most likely intensely studying the camera trying to figure out how she could grab it!

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  3. I love this! Such a beautiful story. And the quote is so timely. There are many times since we decided to downsize that I have wondered if it was the right time, the right decision, etc. Covid-19 and the shutdown have given me some big doubts, but things are opening up again, and I am feeling hopeful. And ultimately, however it works out, I too believe that once you set your mind to it, things begin to fall into place. Sometimes it takes longer than we would like, sometimes the details change from your original plan, but if you’re determined, things generally work out. Thanks for posting this!

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    1. Every child has a special story! When we were in the process for WenYu, our social worker would call, and always start with ” Hi Laura, this is xxx, and no, there isn’t a referral.” We weren’t expecting a referral until February 1999, but on December 8 our social worker called: “Hi Laura, you are not going to believe this but you have a referral!” I about fainted – it was the last thing I expected to hear. We had asked for a toddler; WenYu was only 10 months old, and we were told we could refuse the referral but we felt there was a reason she was matched with us, and so early, so we said yes. Best decision ever!

      I am struggling with a few things these days – there are just too many unknowns and other things going on that aren’t inspiring confidence – but things will work out. It might not be anything I can imagine now, but we’re determined we’re going to make it no matter what.

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      1. Each one of their stories are unique, but we also remember they had a story and a life before we met them. We wish we knew more (for their sakes), but what we do know is precious.

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