Our family. Our story.
We have considered adoption for over ten years from the time we first made the decision to build a family. Although we never anticipated any fertility issues, we were not able to conceive right away. After many unsuccessful months of trying, we began to consider what it would look like if we were unable to have biological children. We never really discussed fertility treatments or other medical interventions, however we did set a date for when we would begin pursuing adoption if we were not able to conceive naturally. We both had a strong desire to be parents and knew that God would fulfill that longing by whatever means He had planned. Submitting fully to God’s will, whatever the outcome, we moved forward in faith praying that He would fulfill the desire of our hearts to raise a godly family.
We had our first biological daughter, Emma Kate, in 2008 closely followed by the birth of our son, Paxton, 23 months later in June of 2010. When Paxton was about 9 months old, after having settled in East Tennessee where we wanted to raise our family, we began to talk again about adoption. Upon researching different types of adoption from foster care and domestic adoption, to international and special needs situations, I learned even more about the growing need for Christian families to engage in the orphan crisis. As part of my research, I found the advocacy website “RainbowKids.com.” I identified a special-needs infant to whom I felt especially drawn. With the support of my husband, we completed the preliminary application with his listing organization, Holt International. When we received the call with his file information, they would not allow to us proceed due to the closeness in age to our biological son coupled with the potential severity of his special need. We continued our research and I learned about a pilot program with Taiwan and how the abortion rate largely outnumbers their birthrate. AGCI was beginning a program to work with birth mothers to house and care for them during their pregnancies to shield them from social stigma and allow them to place their children for adoption. The pilot program closed before we were admitted so we took that as another closed door for the timing.
We focused instead on caring for our two young children and building our careers to become more financially stable with the intention of one day re-opening the path to adoption. We weren’t sure if we would have any more biological children, however after having an early miscarriage in 2013, it was clear we wanted to add more children to our family. We were then blessed with our daughter Eden in March 2014. During that time, we became members of Grace Baptist Church and I began serving as the leader of the “Voice of the Voiceless” orphan care ministry. It had become so clear to me that if we as evangelical Christians are to be pro-life, we must also be as enthusiastic in our support of orphan care ministries through external giving support, tangible support for foster and adoptive families, and also creating space in our homes for orphans. This ministry of our church sought to partner with other organizations to bring awareness to the orphan crisis and to serve those in our church who were actively involved in caring for orphans through foster care, Safe Families, and adoption. As part of that ministry role, I was blessed to travel on a mission trip with a Nashville non-profit organization 147 Million Orphans to Honduras to serve at an orphanage partnership in El Progreso. That trip was absolutely life-changing for me and for my family. I began to see the world differently, especially since I had experienced the plight of orphans first-hand. I gave a sweet three-year-old boy a drink of water and helped put him to bed in an area where none of the other volunteers went. I put him down for his nap in a dormitory-style room where the younger kids slept 2 to a bed, head to foot. I now had faces and real stories to go with the term “orphan” we hear so often culturally and throughout scripture. I came home changed and confident that my family would adopt, however, I also came home physically sick and exhausted and found out the night I returned that I was pregnant with our fourth biological child.
Later that fall during “Missional Emphasis” at our church, our pastor preached a sermon on Orphan Sunday about “creating space” in our hearts and our homes to allow God’s work in our lives and to see how He would move us to serve in the area of orphan care centered around James 1:27. Although I was VERY pregnant, I felt God moving us to begin the process of international adoption. We went to a meeting the following month on the Colombia and China programs at a local agency branch. We were told that eligibility for Colombia would be a challenge due to birth order and number of children, and although China looked like the best fit, they would not allow us to start the process until our youngest child was at least a year old. Again, although our hearts were open and willing, another door had closed.
We put adoption plans on hold as we welcomed our daughter, Lindy, in February of 2016 and experienced career transitions and health concerns. Then, last December, with our daughter’s birthday approaching, I began to look again at the “Rainbowkids” website. I again connected with the profile of a little boy from China—only to find out after a preliminary application that we were not selected from among the interested families to proceed with his file. Saddened and discouraged at yet another closed door, I was up praying in the middle of the night asking God for direction and clarity, when I heard the name “Russell.” A song I had written in the week prior with the words to a familiar chorus sat on the piano nearby: “Here I am Lord. It is I Lord, I have heard you calling in the night, I will go Lord if you lead me, I will hold your goodness in my heart.” The next morning, out of curiosity, I went back to the Rainbowkids site to search for the name “Russell.” A little boy’s profile came up listed with Holt International—his advocacy name: Russell. I had saved his profile on the same night as the boy we had not been selected for the previous week. The next day, on “Russell’s” 5th birthday, a representative from Holt returned my request for information and called me with his story. We’ve been walking through open doors in the process to bring him home since that day and we cannot wait to fulfill the calling to bring him home as a part of our forever family.
“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9
“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” Matthew 7:8