Our journey to Claire has been one of unexpected turns in directions we didn’t know God would take us….
Six years ago we were blessed with our first daughter, Evangeline. My pregnancy with her was extremely difficult. Adoption was something we had always talked about and seemed like the best choice for us to grow our family after what I went through bringing Evie into the world.
When we were ready to grow our family again, we met with an adoption agency. We wanted to do a private, domestic, newborn adoption because it seemed to be the most straightforward process. So we signed up, started the enormous amount of paperwork and reading and classes, and waited to be matched with a child.
About a year and a half into our wait, a missions conference happened at church. A missionary from Mongolia was speaking about the call to living out of our comfort zone for the sake of the gospel. Brady and I were up late one night talking about the sermon, and I got an email from our adoption agency saying that they needed families for some children in their China special needs program.
Oddly, even though I had lived in China, volunteered in Chinese orphanages, and spoke basic Mandarin – we never seriously talked about adopting internationally.
I asked my husband what he thought of applying to just see what might happen. He said, yes, let’s do it. And just like that, God steered our course into a whole different direction. I began to pray – please, God, wherever our child is, let them be seen, let them be loved.
We did fundraising, had our fingerprints taken by seemingly every person on earth, did mounds of paperwork. I even took a trip to China to visit an orphanage run by friends of mine to see if our child might be waiting there – but she wasn’t there. We didn’t know it but our daughter, to be named Claire, was clear across China – living with her foster family, being seen, being loved, waiting to be chosen.
It was October 26th, 2015 when we got the phone call we had been waiting for. There was a little girl who just turned three who was in the care of a non-profit organization called Love Without Boundaries. Because she was in their care, she already had two surgeries for her cleft lip and palate. She was confirmed as an abandoned child at seven weeks old and had been waiting from that time on, in the care of an orphanage, and then a foster family, for someone to say yes to her….to take her home.
We said yes.
We knew we were saying yes to a child who had already experienced great loss in her short life.
We knew we were saying yes to the possibility of difficult years ahead walking beside her as she would process her trauma.
We knew we were saying yes to an unknown medical history, and complicated medical needs ahead including surgeries and therapies and more.
We knew we were saying yes to a three year old, who would already have passed the newborn stage and possibly reject bonding with us or have her own ideas about life and family that would differ from ours.
We knew we were saying yes to a huge family adjustment.
We knew we were saying yes to a financial commitment beyond our means at the time.
What we didn’t know, though, is that we were saying yes to watching God provide every penny in ways we never imagined.
We didn’t know we were saying yes to feeling the love of the body of Christ in whole new way.
We didn’t know we were saying yes to a child who would be such a good match in friendship and love for our daughter Evie.
We didn’t know we were saying yes to a snuggly, happy, spunky, outgoing, organized, gentle, smart, tender, and cute beyond imagination Claire.
We didn’t know we were saying yes to watching God graft her into our family so naturally to the point where we sometimes forget she hasn’t always been with us.
We didn’t know we were saying yes to experiencing God’s nearness, as we struggled through the very difficult first month and watched Him answer our every prayer.
We didn’t know we were saying yes to the weight of looking into the eyes of our daughter, feeling love unexplainable, and experiencing the hurt of words like orphan and abandoned in a whole new way.
We didn’t know we were saying yes to God opening our eyes to the reality of what it means that He took us in as orphans and made us sons and daughters.
Since bringing Claire home in April we have seen the doctor at least once a week. International adoption comes with so many medical unknowns and we have already dealt with parasites, skin infections, a surgery for an inguinal hernia, possible allergies, vaccination schedules, and more!
We recently had our first visit with the craniofacial surgeon. We learned that her repairs done in China were not terrible, but were done in an older style that can cause more tissue damage in the soft palate. She is producing very few consonants because she can’t get the air to flow properly through her mouth.
Speech therapy multiple times a week is now in order and a follow up months down the road to explore whether or not we need surgical help in correcting her speech is on the calendar. The amount of medical care she is requiring and will continue to require is a heavier load than some other special needs.
If you are reading this to answer the question, “Can I take this special need on?” I suggest thinking about your family’s current weekly schedule and imagine adding 2-3 appointments to it a week (for speech or medical). Ask yourself if you are okay with the possibility of feeding issues, ear infections, possible hearing loss, speech issues, surgeries, identity issues that revolve around looking different, and the possibility of genetically linked disorders. We were okay with these things and have found cleft to be a need that we can handle.
Claire is a precious and delightful addition to our family and even though we may be unequipped to handle all that life brings our way – adoption related or otherwise – we know that God is equipped. He cares about orphaned children far more than we ever could, and has proven His love through His provision in bringing Claire home and planting her firmly into our family.
– guest post by Kimberly