Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean

on your own understanding; in all your ways

acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

                                                              Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Our Story

 

      Where to begin…  We first considered adoption early in our marriage, especially when we were confronted with some fertility issues and two miscarriages in 1996 before our first son was born.  We talked about adding to our family through adoption from time to time, but never acted upon it.  We were inhibited by the costs and the perceived complexity of adoption.  We were also intimidated a bit by the horror stories of open adoption and the possibility of a birth mother changing her mind or reclaiming our child.  We just didn’t think we could handle the heartbreak, and in those days, we really didn’t have a solid grasp on what it means to trust in the Lord.  So, we held off on adoption.

With the assistance of a very good doctor and the miracles of modern medicine, Kim was able to carry a pregnancy almost to term, and we were blessed with our first son in December of 1996.

In 1998, we again faced fertility issues.  Our doctor recommended a fertility specialist, but I changed jobs, and we were in the middle of a move from Lubbock, TX to the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex.  So, we decided we would just wait until that was all behind us.  God had other plans.  One day, while I was working in the metroplex and Kim was in Lubbock with our oldest son, waiting for our house to sell there, I got a phone call…  “I’m pregnant,” I heard.  Without the help of medicine this time, God had once again blessed us with a son!  This pregnancy would not be without its own challenges, though.  At about 31 or 32 weeks into the pregnancy, Kim began having some complications and was hospitalized.  Despite the efforts of the doctors, our second son just wouldn’t wait past 32 weeks and a couple of days!  He was born just under 8 weeks early, in April of 1999, in what I can only describe as a fiasco or debacle in that Ft. Worth hospital.  While it was happening, I was running on pure adrenaline, but when it was over, and I was sure that my wife and my son were going to be ok, I was confident in one thing.  I NEVER wanted to do this again!!!

When confronted with the power of a praying wife, however, what I want is of little importance!  It wasn’t long before Kim began working on me for one more.  I conceded; if we could conceive and carry a baby without extraordinary medical intervention, that would be the plan, “...but,” I told her, “promise me we will eventually adopt.”  What a plan God had!  Kim became pregnant in 2001.  Early on in the pregnancy, she began showing some of the same symptoms she had experienced with the two miscarriages.  So, off we went to the emergency room where a sonogram confirmed that there was a baby…     …in fact, there were TWO babies!  That’s really the only time I can recall feeling panic and joy at the same time.  Soon thereafter, we lost one of the babies, but God sustained our youngest son, and he was born in October of 2001.  This time, we both felt that we were “done”, at least with the biological route…

In the couple of years that followed, God moved mightily in our lives to bring us closer to him.  God had humbled me through the loss of my job while Kim was pregnant with our third son.  He showed me that I had become a bit too self-reliant and had forgotten the source of my strength and of everything I have.  In December of 2002, our youngest son had a bowel obstruction that disguised itself very well and almost took his life before the doctors could diagnose and correct it.  That was followed by three months of him being on a liquid diet while Mom and Dad consulted (a.k.a. argued) with various doctors to determine exactly what was wrong with his stomach.  In March of 2003, he had major stomach surgery, and we believe the fluid buildup and pressure from that and the December surgery led to a hydrocele which was repaired in May of 2003.

What does this have to do with international adoption?  Well, there’s no direct connection evident there, but God used all of these events in our lives to mold us and teach us.  We learned that He is in control, and our job is to trust Him and follow where he leads.

From 2002 to 2004, we were involved in a wonderful church in Arlington, TX where we came to know two couples who had adopted daughters from China.  In the spring of 2004, we moved to southwest Missouri (which is an entirely different story about following God’s leading, but we’ll save that for another web page…)  We continued to monitor the journey of one of those Arlington couples through their web journal as they progressed toward their second daughter.  We watched with interest and even discussed the idea of embarking on such a journey ourselves, but I had too many plans.  I had my goals at work and my goals for our personal finances and all the things I wanted to do with our “stuff”.  Meanwhile, Kim began to do some research in early 2005 and sprinkled the tidbits of information on me with a wife’s perfect timing.  She prayed diligently for the Lord’s direction.  I prayed, too, but remember, I had my plans…

Kim continued to share information with me, and one day, presented me with the idea of attending an introductory workshop through Dillon International.  This was an informational workshop intended to provide the basic information needed for couples to make an educated decision on whether or not international adoption is for them.  I agreed to go with her and began to also pray for God’s guidance.  One evening, I sat down to read the web site of our Arlington friends who, at this point, were in China picking up their second daughter.  That night, I was brought to tears and convicted.  Our desire for a daughter was to be fulfilled through a little girl we had not yet seen, from a half a world away.  I wiped my eyes and asked Kim if we could skip the “basics” class and go straight to the preparatory session that was scheduled for two days later.  She agreed, and the folks at Dillon accommodated our last minute change in plans.  On June 11, 2005, we submitted our initial application and began this wonderful journey.

Over the months that followed, we rode an emotional roller coaster that all ride who embark upon this campaign.  We gathered the paperwork, completed the homestudy visits, gathered more paperwork, waited for a formal invitation to be fingerprinted by the Department of Homeland Security, gathered more paperwork, waited some more…  and finally received the coveted I-171H, the final piece of paperwork needed to complete our dossier (the packet of paperwork that is sent to China).  Our dossier was finalized and sent to China in November of 2005 and logged in by the China Center of Adoption Affairs on November 23, 2005.  Thus began the estimated nine to twelve month wait for our referral from China.  (Little did we know that wait times would drastically increase over the months to come.)

       But wait!  In January, Dillon released their Waiting Children list, a list of special needs children in need of families.  We learned of one little girl, Qing Cheng Le, with a cleft lip and palate who was 16 ˝ months old.  Our hearts were immediately drawn to this little girl!  We contacted Dillon to express our interest.  Their Social Work Committee met, and we were honored and humbled to be selected to be her family.

       After completing some more paperwork, we were ready for our Letter of Intent to be sent to the People’s Republic of China!  It was sent on January 12, 2006, and we began yet another wait for authorization to travel to Qingyuan City in the Guangdong Province of China to pick up our daughter, Amelia “Mia” Renae.

       As we waited, we were sustained and blessed by tidbits of information about Mia that most adoptive families aren’t fortunate enough to receive.  We received pictures (most of which are posted in our photo album on this site) and descriptions of Mia’s personality from other adoptive families who visited the Social Welfare Institute of the Qing Cheng District and who were able to meet her, hold her, and/or take her picture.  We were privileged to talk to one of the ladies from A Mother’s Love, the organization that funded Mia’s surgery.  And we were able to gather information and pictures from the web site recently developed for her orphanage.  We want to thank all of these people who so generously shared their pictures and stories to allow us to feel a little bit closer to our daughter until we could bring her home!  Your photographs and reassurances blessed us as we waited, albeit impatiently, for our TA, the coveted Travel Authorization from the Chinese government!

       On March 2nd, we received word from our agency that the folks in China were predicting at least another six week wait for our TA.  Talk about a punch in the gut!  We were extremely disappointed.  Knowing that the Canton Trade Fair would be coming to Guangzhou in mid-April – filling all the hotels and raising lodging rates to an astronomical level - and that Chinese Labor Day is the first few days of May, we were looking at mid-May as our potential travel date!  We were initially nearly devastated.  However, we reminded ourselves that God had a plan, and if we were to wait that long, it was for a reason.  Perhaps we’d one day be able to look back and understand that reason, or perhaps not, but we had to trust in the Lord’s timing.  And we still held out hope for an earlier date.

       During this process, we’d become good friends with our group of potential travel partners, and we naturally discussed the “latest date” we could receive travel authorization and still beat the trade fair to Guangzhou.  We estimated that date to be March 24th.  March 24th came and went – again, much to our dismay.  But, we continued to trust in the Lord’s timing.  Our travel group decided to pray, not together, but at the same time, 9PM on Sunday, March 26th.  Jesus told his disciples to pray expectantly, and that’s what we did!  If it was God’s plan for us to wait until mid-May, June, July, DECEMBER  then He had a reason, and we could live with that.  If, however, it was in His will that we get our girls sooner, we asked His intervention because we HAD to have our TAs the next day.  On Monday, March 27th, we all received TAs from China.  Praise the Lord!

       Many hurdles were cleared in the three days following the TA.  We had a travel agent that must be an angel with the wonders she worked in getting us to Guangzhou in time (and at a great price, too)!  Our agency worked diligently to secure our appointment with the US Consulate on April 12th to take care of the US side of Mia’s transition to American citizenship, which was also a matter taken up in a 9PM prayer session.  And finally, we were “confirmed” and set to leave American soil on April 1st!  What a ride this has been!  (You can read more about our journey to Mia in the travel journals section of the web site.)

 

       During the initial workshop in June of 2005 mentioned above, we met a couple who had adopted from China and were starting their second adoption process.  They told us that if we went once, we’d want to go back and do it again.  Well, my February 2nd entry in Brad’s Blog will give some insight into how God led us to this point, but to avoid repetition, I’ll just say that couple was right.  In November of 2006, we began the process, again, and on February 1st, 2007, we found out who our next daughter would be.  In July of 2007, we returned to China to bring home our “Mandy”, a beautiful little girl from Guilin City.  Mandy turned seven years old in May of 2007.  So, her transition has had some different challenges from Mia’s, but by the grace of God, we have survived, and Mandy has thrived!  Mandy is growing into a beautiful young lady and has fit just perfectly into our family.  (Read more about our trip to Mandy in the Travel Journals section of this site.)

 

       In July of 2008, we once again felt the call to adopt.  This time, the call was for another child from China, but this time it would actually be a domestic adoption.  Another family had adopted a three-year-old boy who was four by this time, and the bonding and attachment challenges often associated with the adoptions of older children had grown too large to be overcome.  They had decided to relinquish their adoption and place him with another American family.  After much prayer and seeking advice from Christian friends and relatives, we asked the family if they would consider us to be his family, and they accepted.  So, Levi joined our family in August of 2008, and we are thriving together.  He has been such a blessing to us and to those around him, and we are happy to report he seems to be bonding and attaching well with his new family.

 

       In December of 2010, God once again tugged at our hearts.  Through a combination of Bible study, personal circumstances, a Francis Chan book, Crazy Love, and lots of prayer, we became convinced that God’s will was for us to pursue the adoption of a 20 month old boy in Nanjing, Jiangsu, China.  We hope to hold him for the first time in September or October of 2011.  We can’t wait!

 

       We will never say, “Our family will be complete with this one,” because we don’t know where God will lead us next.  Some say we are crazy to have a family of nine, but we can’t imagine our lives any other way!  As long as God gives us the resources and strength to be his hands and feet, we will continue to honor his command in James 1:27.