It was Memorial Day 2012 the first time my husband, Robert, told me he wanted to adopt. We lived in a delightful little suburb of Dallas and had spent the afternoon watching our three young boys play at the splash park. We were all hot and sticky as we drove home and he said, “I’d like to adopt a little girl.” I was shocked. I told him I was all done with children… our youngest was just 6 months old at the time and sleep was finally returning to my life, I was not up for adding another tiny human.
“Will you pray about it?” was his response to my avid rejection of his idea. I think I said yes, but I was thinking “Not a chance.” Life was starting to feel easier. I was afraid of change.
I was afraid I didn’t have what it took to adopt.
In October of the same year, as we folded clothes in our living room, he said it again. “I’d like to adopt a little girl.” Unbeknown to me, the Lord had been working quietly in my heart and this time I considered it. We talked about it. We prayed about it. We got excited about adding a girl to our family. And then we got stuck on the finances: how would we ever get started? We were paralyzed into inaction.
We had no idea how to come up with that sum of money.
On Christmas Eve, my parents gave us a generous monetary gift. As we pulled away from their house to go home that evening, Robert whispered, “Now we have enough to get started.” And it was from that moment on that the Lord has consistently, over and over again, shown us that by following Him and listening intently to His direction, He will guide us along the way He has prepared for us. It won’t be easy. It won’t make sense to the world sometimes. But it will be His way and it will be blessed because we will walk with Him as we go along the road less traveled. The road He has prepared for us.
Our adoption process was full of stops and starts and redirection. We were blessed with a surprise pregnancy, a job change, and a move across the country before we were finally matched with our daughter. With every road block or delay, we would pray again: “Should we be adopting? Is this really the right thing to do?” and again and again, the words of Paul came back to us, “…my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me…” (Acts 20:24) The Lord was faithful to whisper (and sometimes shout, in His own way) that this was a work He had put before us, that we had a daughter in China and we would eventually have her in our arms.
Then, in July of 2014, we saw her face for the first time and both of us knew without a doubt that she was ours. In October of 2014, I traveled for our Laura Cate and I knew before I left China that I would be back again.
Laura was born with a cleft lip and palate. In the world of China adoption, hers is considered a “minor” need. And, truthfully, we thought it would be minor as well: a few surgeries and some therapy for her speech. For our Laura, her needs are not what we would consider minor. Her delays are greater than we anticipated and her emotional and attachment needs are also ongoing.
She has been home almost two years now and has five words we can understand. She communicates more with gestures and noises than with words. She is slow to attempt to speak… every word and phrase learned is a great victory that comes after many, many weeks of work. Emotionally, she is fragile. She needs constant reassurance that we are permanent, and when she lacks that assuredness, she seeks love and attention from inappropriate people.
However, our Laura Cate was also born with a smile that will light up a room and a contagious giggle. She is a timid soul who will watch cautiously from the safety of mommy’s side before deciding whether or not a new activity is fun. She is a tiny little thing that works hard to keep up with her sister. Her fine motor skills and reasoning are off the charts. She can beat her sister and brothers in puzzles and puts together a great train track. She loves Sofia the First and swinging at the park. She delights in swimming and hates to be cold. She carries purses around everyday, filled with that day’s little random assortment of treasures.
We love her deeply.
With our sweet Laura, the Lord has again taught us that our easy path is the wrong path. I am deeply ashamed to say, if I had seen only her needs, we would not have brought her home.
We would have said it was too difficult for us.
It was too daily.
But, in God’s infinite grace and wisdom, He put in our lives a beautiful girl, created by Him and for His glory, for us to care for and love. He has changed our hearts that we might see children are not defined by their needs but by the fact that they are children of the Lord and deserve a family who loves them… a family to fight for them, teach them, cheer for their victories, and mourn for their losses.
When Robert and I decided to go back to China to adopt again, we felt less fear. Because our “minor needs” adoption had turned out to be a lot different than we expected, and because we saw how the Lord graciously provided all we needed to care for our sweet girl, we knew He would continue to do the same as He led us to another child.
We adopted our Howie in April 2017. His special need was labeled as hydrocephalus. Ironically enough, we got him home only to find out that he just has a little bit of a big head. His brain is perfectly normal. He is a healthy three year old boy with no medical needs at all. He still has some emotional needs that come from living in an orphanage for the first three years of his life but, medically, he is very healthy.
We are so thankful the Lord gave us the courage to say yes to him… he is such a sweet addition to our family! His rough and tumble nature fits right in with our other boys.
People always ask us if we will go back again and, until just a few weeks ago, I thought we would. We had started talking about going back for another daughter and had even submitted our Medical Checklist to do so. However, with the new CCCWA regulations, our family no longer qualifies for adoption from China because of our family size. The news of the new regulations was a blow for our family. However, we continue to look forward and know God has a plan that is perfect and good. If and when we decide to adopt again, it will just have to look a little different than what we had planned. I am not sure what the new plan will be, but I know God knows and He is working quietly to prepare our hearts for His road ahead.
For now, I am not trying to figure it all out. I am letting go and letting God handle it. Currently, we are in the middle of another big move to a new city and state and we are looking forward to settling into our new home.
As we settle, though, etched in our hearts and minds are the memories of transformation for our daughter and son as they went from orphans to precious children and siblings. The Lord’s road may be less traveled but it is filled with joy. And though we may feel ill equipped, He is always there, providing for and equipping those He calls to act.
We will also never forget the faces left behind, the rooms full of tiny beds and those tiny beds full of waiting children. We will continue to say no to the easy road… for it was down the Lord’s winding, beautiful road that we said Yes to adoption, Yes to our daughter and Yes to our son. And were blessed a thousand times over.
We can’t wait to see what is in store further down His road.
– guest post by Amy