We were a family of six. We had two girls and two boys. Life was good. We felt complete. In 2007 the Lord called us to adopt. What a sweet journey of trust and faith it has been!
Our first adoption was of our now 9 year old daughter, Karleigh Mei, 6.5 years ago in December 2008. Karleigh Mei was born with a coloboma of the right eyelid. And what China didn’t know, was that she also had a small cleft in her nose. I went into that adoption so very afraid. Afraid of attachment issues. Afraid of her special needs issues. Afraid that I wasn’t prepared (which I wasn’t!). Afraid. Afraid. Afraid.
That first year home with her, I learned a lot. I learned a lot from her. I learned a lot about myself. What I learned the most though, was that I could only make it by trusting that Jesus was leading me each step of the way. Trusting Him in all the details that I couldn’t possibly even know before I took those steps of faith. We had made it through several eyelid surgeries, knowing that more would be in the future, and a cleft nose surgery and Jesus taught me to trust Him.
Soon after bringing Karleigh Mei home, we took another leap of faith after hearing the Lord calling us to foster. Scary. What if I fell in love… what if they turned my life upside down in a very bad way… what if… what if? But, we had no doubt the Lord was calling us to foster. That leap of faith ended beautifully, when our very first placement was a 6 day old baby girl we eventually were allowed to adopt at 16 months in November of 2011. I learned even more about trusting Jesus during those 16 months. Trusting again, in the unknowns. Those scary unknowns no one has an answer for.
Soon after adopting Annie from foster care, when we weren’t even planning on adopting from China again, the Lord showed us our next daughter. I was “just looking” on an advocacy site and the picture of a darling little girl, only 2.5 in the pictures, who had a very similar condition as Karleigh Mei, jumped out at me. This little one had a coloboma of her left eyelid, and a very large cleft in her nose called frontonasal dysplasia. Her eyes were also wider set, a condition called hypertelorism.
To some, her condition could look scary. But, the timing for my next leap of faith was perfect. I learned so much in my first two adoptions. I learned that I really didn’t need all the answers. That if God was directing and leading me, He would continue to do just that. He would direct and lead us. All we had to do was take that step of faith.
In April of 2012 we sent in our request to China to adopt her, and in March of 2013 we brought home our newest 5 year old daughter, Ellie. In the last two years, precious Ellie has had 3 surgeries. The first surgery was a major one as her eyes were brought closer together (crazy, huh?). This was a bit of a risky surgery as it did require removing part of her skull. Sweet girl made it through the surgery, and so did I without freaking out about all the what ifs!
She’s had two more surgeries bringing in the corners of her eyes a bit more. The cleft in her nose has also been worked on as well, bringing it in a bit more each time. An implant was placed in her nose to help build up her nose as well. Her coloboma of the eyelid has also been corrected. Ellie has recovered remarkably from her surgeries.
She does need to wear glasses, as the surgeries do change her vision a bit each time. Nothing a tweak in the prescriptions can’t fix. Amazingly, she needs no speech therapy. Her palate was affected, but only in that it is very high. Her upper teeth are also affected by the cleft. Orthodontics are in our near future.
Her “special need” is never thought of by anyone who knows this precious girl. Multiple surgeries are in the future. But we are teaching her that God is always here with us. Leading and directing. If only we could be aware of Him all the time and not be so afraid to take whatever steps of faith He is calling us to. How blessed would we be! Often times, I thank God for the sweetest of blessings I almost missed! So thankful He called me to where I am today!
– guest post by Jenn
At NHBO, we love Family Stories. And we know our readers love them, too. Beyond being encouraging and informative, Family Stories shared here have actually resulted in children coming home to a forever family. If you’ve adopted a child through China’s special needs program, we hope you’ll consider sharing your family story. It just may be the reason another family considers that very special need.