Monday, November 16, 2009

Our Adoption Story

Our Adoption Story

Our adoption story began years ago when I was a little girl. Growing up with my parents being pastors we often had missionaries in our home. They would share their slide show pictures of the people that they ministered to – those pictures often included orphans. Their faces were permanently etched on my heart at a young age.

Jeff and I met while we were seniors in High School. When we were dating we talked about adopting but, that subject didn’t come up again for many years.

After our 3rd child Hannah was born I was pretty sure we were done having children. Hannah was born prematurely; it was a difficult pregnancy forcing us to make the choice to have my tubes tied during her delivery.

When Hannah was in 1st grade I felt the Holy Spirit speaking to my heart that we would have more children. I believed that God to do anything so I fully expected to get pregnant even though it would be a miracle if it happened. When it didn’t happen month after month I finally confided in a friend about what I felt like the Holy Spirit was speaking to my heart and she said “Maybe He wants you to adopt”. That was a light bulb moment. I went to the library and began checking out books about adoption. There were so many choices, it was confusing. At that time we began attending a new small group. What are the chances that we would start attending a group that had 4 adoptive families?

During that time in our lives I worked the mornings at our business. One morning I just happened to be home and just happened to turn on a Christian TV show. What was it about? Orphan girls in China! I cried through the whole program and knew at that moment that we had a daughter in China. My mom came from KC for a visit a couple weeks later and I shared with her about what was stirring in my heart. She gave me a copy of the Readers Digest that she read on the plane on the way here and specifically a story about a couple adopting a little girl from Korea. The agency featured in the article was Holt International in Oregon. I called the agency and they sent us a packet of information.

Now, I have to tell you that my husband thought I was CRAZY!! All of our kids were in school full-time. Even though he didn’t feel the call to adopt like I did he honored what God had put on my heart and said “yes”. We submitted our preliminary application to Holt and they responded pretty quickly. They said that they would love to work with our family but, would like us to consider the Philippines instead of China because we did not fit China’s criteria. At that time China’s guidelines were you had to be at least 35 years old and childless. We were neither. We said that we would pray about it and called them a couple of days later and said that we felt strongly that we had a daughter in China and to please submit our dossier. They did and a couple of months later we got a call that we were matched with a 14 month old healthy little girl. 3 months later my friend Nancy and I traveled to China to bring Beth home. We were in a travel group with 9 other families and have stayed connected with them since.

Our meeting day in China was full of wild emotions. Here was this little girl that I had never met and I was so in love with her. I had never held her, I had never comforted her, I had never fed her but, she was still mine. That is when my knowledge of God’s love for me grew from head knowledge to heart knowledge. We were told that when we went to register at the province office that day that some babies had come in on the train so to make sure that we brought our bags and gifts. Sure enough when we pulled up I saw Beth in her foster mom’s arms. We were told we couldn’t go right up to the children we had to wait for the formal introduction. It was pure joy to hold Beth for the first time. Her foster mom told her “your mama” as she handed her to me. I was ofcourse crying. Beth was so worried bless her heart. Her life was about to change forever and she didn’t know that it would be for the better. Her life in China is all that she knew and she loved her foster mom. Part of me felt a little guilty taking her from her homeland. After all the interviews were done and it was time to go Beth was back in her foster moms arms. Her foster mom indicated to me that she wanted to walk me to the van and then she would give her to me then. We didn’t speak the same language but, we understood eachother just fine. Sure enough when we got to the van the foster mom placed her in my arms. I scooted over to the far window with Beth in my lap and the foster mom came around to that side of the van and put her hand up to the window. Beth then placed her hand to the window to mirror her foster mom – they were both sobbing. There was not a dry eye in the van at this time.

It took several days to see Beth smile. She was so sad and would cry whenever I would set her down. I didn’t even know that she could walk for the first week. Little by little she became more comfortable with me as her mommy. Trust is a tough road sometimes when your life is turned upside down.

Shortly after Beth came home we realized that we would need to adopt an asian sibling for Beth. If you asked Beth what color of eyes or hair she had, she would answer blue and blonde. She wanted to fit in and she didn’t like all of the attention she got when we went out and about. We started praying about the possibility of adopting again. One night when Jeff and I were praying together – not adoption related God gave me a picture in my mind. In the picture was a group of Asian people in a parade. I could see that they were carrying a sign in the distance but, couldn’t read it. They were dancing and happy as they carried this sign. As they drew closer in my mind I could read the sign. It said “Abigail is from Korea”. Now is that an answer to prayer or what? The very next day we went to the agency and submitted our Application – it was July 2006. We were #4 on the list for a girl. We got a call at the end of August that they had a referral for us – a baby girl born the end of July.

Now, I have to go back and tell you a story that happened during our wait for Beth’s referral. I had a dream. In the dream I was holding a little asian girl and she had a casting on her left leg like she had a club foot. I fully expected that Beth would be a special needs referral with a club foot and was disappointed that my dream didn’t come true. I told my pastor’s wife about it and she said “oh, that is your next little one”. What? I couldn’t even think of adopting again while we were still waiting for Beth. So I forgot about that.

When they called to tell us about our referral from Korea they said that there was a little problem with the baby. She had a club left foot. I about dropped the phone. It was a no brainer if we were going to say “yes” or not to this baby. God had clearly led us to Korea and had clearly given me a picture of a baby with a club foot. We did say yes and sign the paperwork that day and Abby came home right before Thanksgiving. She had a positional deformity that corrected itself. God used that dream to confirm His plan once again for our family.

When Abby turned 1 I started getting that feeling again. That feeling that someone was missing. How can it be that you have 5 children and you feel like someone is missing? I don’t know how to even put it into words. Once again God started confirming our steps by giving us pictures of an African American boy to both Jeff and I. One morning during Praise and Worship at church God gave me a picture of our family and in that picture was not only an AA boy but, an AA girl. You know I didn’t even share that with Jeff right away because I thought he just might pack up a bag and run away. I am kind of kidding and kind of serious about that. :) We inquired about a sibling set of two boys in St.Louis. They were 4 and 1 and were AA. Their case worker was very firm that she wanted them to be placed with an AA family. We ahead and sent our homestudy. We inquired weekly about them. Then one day we got a call about an infant baby in Florida – would we be interested? We said “yes”. Logan came home just before he turned 1 month old. What a handsome, handsome little guy. He had the deepest cries – you could hardly hear him.

When Logan was 2 years old he started asking for an AA brother. Everyone wants to have someone that they look like in the family. So once again we began the homestudy process and were requesting an infant boy. We submitted our homestudy to several agencies in the south and east coast. We were matched with a birthmom in Florida. As time went on we found out that she was expecting a girl. We decided to name her Jillian. We got a call from our agency when she went into labor and they asked us to book our flights to arrive the next day. The next morning we got a call that said “don’t come”. The birthfather’s mom had come to the hospital and said she wanted the baby. That caused the birthmom to leave the hospital with the baby and therefore we weren’t going to be able to adopt this baby. I was heart broken and cried for days!!!! During the next few months we got many, many calls about babies that were about to be born and were we interested. We said “yes” everytime but, by the next day the birthmom or family had changed their minds. Then one day we got a call about an infant girl in Tennessee. Her parental rights had been terminated and could we come and get her in a few days. OFCOURSE we said. That was our Jillian. Yes, there was heart ache in this process. It is hard to get yourself emotionally involved and committed and then have it not work out. It was worth it though.

During this time we had been in contact with an orphanage in Haiti. Haiti had never been an option for us because they were very particular about larger families. Then we heard about a window of opportunity for large families to adopt from Haiti. The orphanage that Jeff had been to on a missions trip said that they would work with us. We asked for a boy over the age of one and Luke David was who they had in mind for us. David (Daveed) as he was called in Haiti was born HIV positive. His birthmom died shortly after his birth and his birth father and grandmother could not take care of him. He came into care at 2 months old weighing only 4 lbs. He reverted to HIV negative before he turned 15 months old. Thank you Lord!!! We committed to adopt him and it took until he was 3 years old before he came home. It was a long wait!!!!! It was a tough transition for all of us. Luke didn’t understand safety or boundaries and it just nearly wore me out physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Once again – when I was minding my own business the Lord started speaking to me again about adopting. Specifically adopting a child with Down Syndrome. “What, I

said, you cannot be serious. I cannot parent a child with Down Syndrome.” He responded quickly to my heart with “You are right, you can’t but, I can”. I still wasn’t convinced at that point but, He gently and firmly confirmed His will for us in this journey.

Some many things happened that we were sure that God had confirmed we were to proceed and seek a child with DS to adopt.

Everywhere I went I would run into a family with a child with DS. It was almost comical. Or the time I picked up a devotional and on that day was a special story about a young man with DS. Or the day that I helped the children carry Christmas packages into their school and have a little girl I have NEVER seen before come running up to me saying “Look at this picture. This is my cousin and he has down syndrome”. Seriously what are the chances? Right then and there I looked up into the sky and said “Okay, Lord I got it”

A couple of weeks later we were sent a profile of a little girl in Hong Kong. She was 4 months old. Jeff was getting ready to go on a weekend away by himself and I gave him the packet. They didn’t have a picture yet but, I knew in my heart she was ours. Jeff came home from his weekend and said “no”. I was sad that he didn’t say yes but, the Holy Spirit told me not to call the agency but, just to wait. Through the next week the Holy Spirit confirmed in Jeff’s heart that Zinnia was to be another flower in our garden. Zinnia came home when she was 14 months old. Has it been challenging to adopt a child with DS? Yes. God has been faithful to bring mentors, respite care providers and therapists into our lives to help Zinnia thrive and grow.

God will confirm and lead you according to His will if we ask him!!! :)

1 comment:

  1. Mom this is wonderful!! :) It's hard to remember everything that has happened when life is just happening isn't it!? It's awesome to read through it all again, some of the things I don't think I ever knew! I love you Mom! :)

    -Hannah :)