The Surprise Adoption

April 2, 2018 adopting again, Family Stories, older child adoption, pre-adoption, should we adopt?, virtual twins 4 Comments

Me: Surprise, we are adopting again!

My friend: I’m shocked!

Me: So are we!!!

Friend: How does this happen?

The short answer is God!

I want to document the longer answer so that I don’t forgot but also as a testimony to each of you about God’s goodness and His attention to detail. Just when I think I have His plan for me figured out, He shakes things up.

So let’s back up a bit….

About two years ago, I was driving down this winding road to our church and I “heard” God speak to me…. not a literal voice but a whisper in my mind and heart that gave me chills…. “You aren’t finished. There is one more.” Eeek!

But this wasn’t one of those moments that I called Derek and we prayed and moved forward by faith. (In fact, as I’m typing I’m thinking that I never even told Derek about this incident.) My reaction was more like, “Oh shoot! Are you sure I heard you correctly? Surely you didn’t mean that Jesus? That sounds CRAZY so here is the deal. If you leave a kid on my doorstep, I’ll take them in. But I’m not gonna start the process again. Sound like a plan?”

I look back at times where I told God “the plan” and I laugh — It’s the control freak in me wanting to help write the narrative.

And then I buried that moment in my memory. If I act like it didn’t happen, then maybe it didn’t, right?

Several months later, Derek began to ask me out of the blue, “Are we really done? We could have one more? You ready?”

And I’d love to say I was on board but I wasn’t. My reaction the first night he mentioned this? A migraine followed by two more that week. I felt like that was God speaking a no through my physical response…. but I know now that He was simply saying, “Not yet.”

What followed for me was a several month journey of God stripping away so much in my heart and life, prying my controlling fingers off of “my” plan for life and drawing me near to Him. I’ll just summarize last winter by saying that Jesus loves me enough to break me, pull me close and rebuild me in order to prepare me.

So in the fall, during the pumpkin sale, it happened! We were at the pumpkin lot all day every day it felt like. We had just wrapped up the opening weekend and came home exhausted but needing to do a little PR on Facebook for the sale. The kids were running around screaming, Derek wasn’t home yet…… picture total chaos actually.

And I get on Facebook and there she is! “Sunny”. This was the first pic I saw of her (I’m in a facebook group where folks advocate for various kiddos that need a family) and I screamed at the kids, “I have to do one thing and then I’ll be done! Quit fighting for just a second.”

I began quickly e-mailing the agency and asking if I can review her file. As I’m typing my e-mail, I’m thinking in my head, “I’m crazy! What am I doing?” ….. remember kids are running and screaming…. but I send it anyway…. and I don’t breathe a word of it to Derek.

Let me back up for a brief second. Some of you may remember that about a year ago, I found Colley’s foster sister being advocated for as well. I filled out initial intake forms to be able to view her file with Small World Adoption. “Sunny” was also listed with Small World, so the initial form was already filled out and the ladies at Small World already knew me…. which meant that I got her file quickly.

So the next morning, I’m looking at her file, staring at her pictures, replaying a video we have over and over and thinking, “What am I doing?”

I decided to let Derek in on the secret. I simply texted Derek a picture of her with the words “Look at her.”



His response? “You ready to go?”

Which then led me to panic. I wasn’t sure if I even wanted another child.

But we decided to pray about her and see where God led. We prayed for maybe four days. During that time we did not have her file “locked” which meant that anyone else could lock it at any point. But I remember thinking that if she was supposed to be our daughter, then I can rest that no one else will get her.

There is such comfort in knowing that God’s plans cannot be thwarted.

There are two main highlights in my mind of how God moved during those four days. First, I found out that she was in a medical foster home for a period of time. I Facebook messaged them not knowing if they would respond. They not only responded quickly, they also were able to ask her foster mom questions for me. Then they sent me a link to 200 plus pictures of her!!! If you know anything about adoption, you know that pictures are the equivalent of striking gold.

The next divine intervention moment came when I asked a FB friend about Sunny’s special need. Her response?

“Well, get ready to be spending time in Baltimore because that’s where the top doctor is!”

Her answer made me laugh. Of course, her doctor would be in Baltimore! Of all the great specialists all over our county, the top doctor for both Colley and Mimi is located in the same city…. different hospitals but same city. When you travel for medical care, you begin to really know your way around and how your life works in that city. It is a blessing to not have to learn a new place and to be able to knock out checkups for our girls at the same time.

This mama also gave me the doctor’s e-mail. I e-mailed him one morning asking if there was any chance that he could review a file for us and share his thoughts with me. Remember top doctor in the U.S…… he responds within 30 minutes!

From his response, I realized that he thought I was the spouse of someone who had already contacted him to review her file. I told him I was in fact a different family looking at her. He responded again an hour later with a full review of her. I followed up with more questions and he responded again that day.

This let me know a few things: 1. He is a keeper! A surgeon who responds to Joe Random that fast is a rarity. 2. God laid the groundwork before we even contacted him. He had already dug into her medical history and was able to share with us quickly. 3. Another family was out there praying about her.

So after that, and talking with our local doc, Derek had to leave for five days to go to a conference in California. That morning as he was getting ready to leave, he says, “Go ahead and lock her file.” (Locking her file would give us a week or so more to really pray hard without the risk of someone else taking her file.)

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to lock it. I was really wavering between “This is the craziest/worst idea ever. I’m tired, I’m old, my kids are all crazy” and “Ok, God, let’s do this. I trust you.” I truly felt like panicking many times but then I’d watch the video of her and just feel a peace and calm come over me.



Derek called me later that day to see if I locked it and I said, “No!” Ha! Remember I was slightly freaking out and he said it so casually that I wasn’t sure that he really meant it. So he told me to do it right now. I e-mailed, not knowing if the other family had locked her file already, and I waited for a response.

“Her file is locked for you! Let us know if you need anything while you are praying.”

At this point, Derek and I are apart the rest of the week…. each seeking God on our own with a plan to powwow when he gets back.

As I write these details down, I’m realizing how quickly I can forgot…. so I’m glad that I’m forcing myself to remember and journal it all. And I already remembered something that I forgot to mention.

For a while I have joked that Colley needed a twin. It was rough for her when Mei Sims started real school. I started thinking ahead and feeling sorry for Colley being stuck with us for a few years when everyone has left the house for college and beyond. Not that we would adopt just so she can have a friend, but just to add that I had joked about that for a while.

When I asked for “Sunny’s” file, I had no idea how old she was… and then I saw her birthdate — Christmas Eve 2012. Colley’s birthday? The day after Christmas 2012. Twins! It makes me laugh, makes my heart smile and makes me panic all at once.

The other detail I noticed was her hometown. She is from the same province as Mei Sims, which is just above the province where Colley lived. Put a dot on the map where Mimi is from and drive 1.5 hours one direction and you arrive at Mei Sims’s hometown. Drive 1.5 hours the other direction and you are in Colley’s hometown!!

China is a very large country – in case you didn’t know 😉 The fact that they are all within this small triangle of distance is so crazy to me. Long term, it will make going back to their hometowns for visits very doable. Short term, it means that we can visit their hometowns when we go and get Mimi.

Small moments that I forgot to mention but that definitely made me pause and say, “Ok, God. I think I know where we are headed with this one.”

So during our week apart, I prayed and prayed and prayed. The first half of the week started with me praying something like, “Jesus, I don’t think I can do it again” followed a few hours later with, “Jesus, I’ll totally do this and trust you.” The conversation went back and forth in my mind.

Throughout the day as chaos would erupt in our home, “Nope. Can’t do it.” And then in a calm moment, “Oh, I can totally do it.”

It really felt like a battle in my head, neither side having anything to do with Mimi but instead to do with me and my capabilities. If I pretended to be an outside observer, I’d think that this timing was all off. Our lives are so busy and full, we are building a new house, Colley was about to have surgery and we would have medical bills to pay…..

and next year was going to be my golden year…. all of my kid will be in “real school”…. seven hours a day alone! I could almost taste the freedom after 13 years of babies and preschool. Time to actually have a long quiet time again, time to sip lattes and work out everyday, time to cook dinner every night….. the list goes on. (And remember this was also going on in the midst of the pumpkin sale which brings a unique level of tired.)

I remember laying in bed one night and literally saying “UNCLE!” to God — like it just feels like too much to even contemplate actually doing this again.

And in a moment, God spoke to me (again, not an audible voice but just a thought in my mind that I knew was from him.)

“You are asking the wrong question. It’s not if you can or you can’t. The question is: Is she your daughter?

It’s like the old adage that people like to quote: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I’m gonna call a little “liar liar pants on fire” on that one. Of coarse, He gives us way more than we could ever dream of handling…. it pushes us to the end of ourselves to see our need for Him. So I needed to quit focusing on myself and what I think I can do and focus on Him and what path He has for me and whether or not He intended Mimi to be our daughter.

So my prayers changed. The next day, my prayer became, “Ok, God. Total clarity. I need you to write it in the sky. What is your will?”

That day I went walking and decided to listen to a podcast. I like this series called “God centered mom” where a girl simply interviews other women believers and has a conversation about their lives, lessons they have learned, etc. This episode that had just come out was called “How to Discern God’s Will and Stick With It.” The title sounded perfect for me.

Y,all! I laughed out loud once I started listening. It was a mom who had a bunch of kids (a few bio and a few adopted), had entered a sweet spot in life, felt “finished” and then guess what? God called her to adopt again. I had no idea this was in podcast would even be related to adoption.

I was floored. It was like listening to all of my fears and struggles played out in the life of a woman who has been there and done that. To say God spoke to me directly through that woman is an understatement…. pretty sure God had that podcast made just for me.

I only had time to listen to half of it. The next day, fears welled up in my mind, “What will this do to my current kiddos? Will I be damaging them by taking on another child with a medical need?”

I found myself with a few extra minutes later that day and thought I’d finish that podcast. When I turned it on, the first words out of her mouth?

“I was so scared about what it would do to my other kids if we decided to adopt again.”

The bottom line? I’d rather my kids see me running hard after Jesus in life…. we may lead a tiring and chaotic life but for real, what am I living for? I have all of eternity to rest. I’d rather cross the finish line knowing that I gave all I could rather than stroll into eternity well rested and sipping my latte. (Nothing against lattes — you will frequently find me sipping at Starbucks)

Every where I turned that week and every fear I voiced, God met me…. whether through a podcast, a friend, His word, etc. He flooded me with peace and excitement.

There was a moment toward the end of the week that I felt confident of where God was leading but had the thought, “Is this foolish to trust you this much God? On paper this does not make sense. Am I being reckless in my trust?”

The next morning I went to hear a sweet friend share her story and at one point she said, “God it almost feels reckless to trust you this much!”

God was so faithful to reassure me and lead me and show me that Mimi is a Waltchack.



Meanwhile, Derek was in LA and feeling a peace about it all. God orchestrated for him to meet another believer at the conference that has six children close to our kid’s ages. It was just sweet reassurance that we were on the right track.

So we said yes. Interestingly, China has passed a new rule that you can no longer lock a file unless you have a current home study. So if we saw her file now, we wouldn’t be able to get her. God’s timing was so perfect.

I’ll add that I felt like such a weirdo telling my friends…. for months I had been saying, “We are D.O.N.E.” So I sent a group text. LOL. Of course they all called me saying that I’m not allowed to send info like that over a text.

I was also scared to tell my parents so we did what any normal person would do….. we stayed in the car and sent Henry to the door to share the news. We told him that we may need him to run back to the car and hop in so we can drive off based on their body language. Thankfully they didn’t pass out so we went in to celebrate.

So there you have it.

The story of God moving on behalf a little five year old in China to place her in a family. And the story of Him continuing to refine us along the way. I still have fears creep in and He still meets me in those moments when I need Him most.

This will be our first adoption of an almost-six year old, speaking Chinese, living most of her life in an institution….. Once we said yes, I remember Derek turning to me and said, “Well, it will be an adventure!”

I need to add an addendum to her story. I have people all the time say things like, “Y’all are so great!” and act like we either super spiritual or that we deserve so much because of what we have done and are doing. I just want to encourage you with a little truth about all of this since it certainly isn’t true 😉

First, I know this may not make sense but finding out you are expecting on paper feels just the same as it felt when I took a pregnancy test. This has never been a matter of us trying to “rescue” a child… this has always been a matter of God showing us that He has a child for us that happens to be halfway across the world. It feels natural and magical and scary all at once…. just like my pregnancies.

Secondly, it is easy to fall into the trap that God loves me more because I did something for His kindgom or even worse that now He owes me one because I followed Him….. after all, that is how it works in the real world.

This winter, the reality of the Gospel and His love for me has swept through my heart and mind with a freshness and a newness that has been so sweet.

When Jesus died on the cross, He washed away my sins. Yes! But it didn’t stop there, He clothed me completely with His righteousness. So when God looks at me, He doesn’t see the things I have done for Him or the ways I have screwed up. He sees His perfect creation because He sees Jesus’s righteousness in me.

He doesn’t love me more because I have adopted and He doesn’t love me less because I didn’t have a quiet time all week. The things I do in this life can’t make up for my sin or make Him love me more.

His love for me is constant, unchanging and perfect!

He loves me not for what I can do or have done for Him. Quite the opposite… It has nothing to do with me! He loves me because of what He has done for me!

Grasping that truth more each day makes such a difference in my mindset. I find myself “doing things” not because I feel like I must earn His approval but because I already have his approval! The choices I make in this life are an overflow of the gratitude I feel.



He bore the weight of my sin on the cross and then conquered death in order that I may live forever in fellowship with Him…..when I really think about the weight of that truth, I realize that there is nothing reckless at all about following Him into these uncertain places.

– guest post by Rushton



4 responses to “The Surprise Adoption”

  1. Melissa says:

    Thank you for writing this. Your story is similar to our own. I love it!

  2. Lisa says:

    Love your post! I too am in the same situation! We just put LOI in for a child back in January for a nearly 8 year old child..she will be our sixth child…2 bio and 3 going on soon, 4 from China!!!! I feel nuts and thought family and friends would think we are insane but surpringly they were all super excited! I could have written your post as your words sound like me. God said to me that he would show me 2 more kids maybe 3 more! Ugh! My oldest bio boys are adults so they don’t count under the new rules of China as minors for family size!!! So it’s a real possibility of that many more! I actually asked God after our 3rd adoption, “I’m done now, right God?”….his response..was “”well do you want to be” followed by later “would you take two more?”….ahhhhh! Hubby and second oldest son are all in and want as many kids as Gods wants us to have…oldest son and me are like…are you kidding? We are so tired! Are our littles just ask over and over again when their new sister is coming home. Honestly, my oldest two boys are huge helpers, are at home doing college permanently online, and my second son…the one who wants more kids is the one who is next to me, a Fulltime caregiver. He does college in the evenings when hubby is home and has chosen to not work outside the home yet as he wants to give all his younger siblings loads of attention and meet their needs Fulltime. He is Fulltime brother and teacher and has his mind set to devote his life to them at least for the next 5-7 years. He plans to work evenings eventually but desires to be home Fulltime with them. So I got a lot of help, yet still…I wonder what God is doing as I am in my late 40s and tired..yet God has his plan!!!! And I just obey!!! 🙂

  3. Sana Marzella says:

    What a beautiful post! What a reminder to trust and obey. Blessings to you and your beautiful, growing family.

  4. Christine says:

    I could relate so much to this! Thank you for sharing your story with us! 🙂

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