It’s funny how someone will come along in your life, and change everything for you. Every idea of what is important, how you live, what you celebrate in life is just taken and completely transformed.
That’s what happened in February 2011 when our family welcomed our third child into the world.
Ollie Faith was born with Down syndrome, and instantly changed how we perceived everything. She made us slow down and enjoy the small things. She brought a level of compassion, and understanding that was so desperately needed into our home. We had broken hearts and minds that she repaired with her extra chromosome.
She literally changed everything.
It wasn’t long after her birth that we started to learn about what happens around the world to children born with designer genes. Our hearts were shattered, and we regularly began to give to families adopting children with Down syndrome and sponsored children on Reece’s Rainbow.
It quickly became a prayer of mine that one day we would also adopt, and add another child to our family with Down syndrome. For six years that seed of hope grew in my heart and I began to relentlessly put pressure on my husband to add to our family. I tend to lead with my heart, and he is a much more practical man that had to consider many aspects of adding another child to our family. It was a frustrating and difficult time in our marriage to not be in agreement.
But God moves mountains!
In July of 2016, I was online in a Down syndrome adoption group on Facebook, and I saw a little girl. She had the cutest bob hair cut, and a huge smile on her face. Directly below her picture and description was a video. I watched the video as huge tears rolled down my face because in that short minute, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that she was meant to be our daughter. She was 2 1/2 years old and halfway around the world… in China.
The most amazing part of finding her online, was that my husband agreed. It was a miracle that he was on board. From that moment forward, we flung ourselves full force into getting her home as soon as possible. Everything felt like a blur because our focus was getting what we could get done completed as quickly as we could.
The hardest part of the process was realizing you have a child half way around the world. I thought about her daily, and would pray protection over her. I would pray she was being fed, that she wasn’t abused, and that her heart would be prepared for the greatest transition in her life — being removed from everything she knew and being adopted.
In seven months time, my husband and I boarded a plane to China to bring Edie Joy home in March of 2017. She had just turned three.
I’ll never forget the level of excitement and nervousness we had waiting to meet her. The moment she was brought into our hotel room by her nanny, my husband and I were head over heels in love. But she was terrified. The only nanny she had ever known, left her within 20 minutes in a strange place, with strange people that spoke a strange language. It was as if she had been kidnapped.
We so badly wanted to hold her, stroke her hair, kiss her cheeks, and tell her how adored she was, but it took extreme restraint on our part to not overstep her very clear boundaries. We had to slowly approach her to build trust.
She grieved hard by crying silently. She wouldn’t eat, and she wouldn’t drink. She would just lie limp in our arms. It was heartbreaking how sad our little girl was!
Day by day, she started to trust us more. On the second night, we finally got a tiny smile from her. It was a huge success! Little by little, she was cracking open her shell, and allowing us into her heart.
Our time in China was amazing. It allowed us to focus 100% on her. We poured our hearts into her and by the time we hopped on a plane to head home, our girl wasn’t grieving anymore; we felt like she was starting to bond and attach beautifully.
When we arrived home, she met her three siblings and was terrified. In three short weeks she had been in two different hotels, two plane rides, and now a new home. It was so much to take in for a three year old! But during first week home, she really started to bloom. She started to seek out her siblings to play. We were seeing daily wins that would bring us to tears!
Now it’s been a year and a half since we have been home from China, and Edie Joy has amazed us with her ability to adapt and thrive through all situations. She has bonded and attached to our entire family with such fierceness. She is thriving in an inclusion school setting alongside her peers.
She knows that she belongs to us, and that we belong to her.
Every day, I still get tears in my eyes when I watch her because I can’t imagine what we would have missed had we not said yes to adoption!
Adoption has been the most beautiful act of redemption we have ever seen. There is such great loss woven throughout our daughter’s story. She has given up more than we will ever comprehend. She has taken such a broken past, full of trauma, and is developing into such a bright and joyful little girl.
I pray often that her birth parents innately know that the decision they made to abandon her is never lost on us. Their greatest heartbreak has become our greatest joy as we now have the privilege of calling her daughter.
She is truly the best yes we have ever been brave enough to pursue.