We have always considered adopting should the Lord open the doors and provide the means. God's heart is for the orphan as clearly seen in Scripture, and each of us are orphans spiritually until adopted into God's family through faith in His Son, Jesus. As Christians, caring for the orphan and those most oppressed and vulnerable is not an option, though it looks different for each of us. As a pastor and missionary family, we have moved every one to two years since marrying, so have not had the stability to adopt. When God brought us to our current place of ministry in 2008 where we have lived and served now for over five years, the desire to adopt has grown. My heart broke and really sensed again God's leading to pursue adoption after reading "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman; my husband and I had a long talk about it and decided to take steps in that direction. We filled out a preliminary application with a different adoption agency than we are using now to see if we qualified for China, but we did not. We did qualify for a few other countries, like Bulgaria and Ethiopia, but did not have peace about those. We also did not have peace about pursuing the foster-to-adopt process or domestic adoption, even after attending a Focus on the Family "Wait No More" conference, where we AGAIN sensed a deep calling to adopt. So, we put the process on hold, prayed, and waited.
In early 2012, I sensed God calling me to return overseas on a mission trip to serve orphans. All God's Children Int'l leads such trips to various countries, and even though I wasn't going to look for a child to adopt, I decided on their Bulgaria trip since we did qualify for adoption there. It seemed to be a great opportunity for God to provide further guidance on His plan for us. Well, as God would have it, the trip fell through and another trip option was for China in August 2012. Since I had lived in Taiwan for 2 1/2 years after college as a missionary, learned Chinese, and have a love for that culture, I decided on this trip. God provided and I had an amazing time with a really wonderful team...this blog was originally created to share my experiences on that trip and those can be found in my earliest blogs.
My amazing AGCI team to China
Henry was abandoned at a bus stop in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia, the day he was born in August 2009. I left for China on August 17 of 2012, the same day Henry arrived at New Day Foster Home in Beijing from his orphanage in Hohhot. My husband and I usually envisioned adopting a little girl from China, but when I was there and got to work with both preschoolers and babies, I seemed to be drawn more to the boys. Our team was to work at New Day for three days and then work at Harmony House for a few days. On the second day at New Day, Aug. 22, I was asked to accompany a little girl, sweet Lucy, to the hospital for checkups because I had some Chinese for communicating. At that time, Henry was still with the toddlers, so besides seeing him and carrying him around once in the home, I would not have spent any time with him. As God would have it though, Henry was also going to the hospital that day with his nanny and we traveled together.
These are the things I remember about my "day" with Henry: he turned three on the 20th and had just recently arrived to New Day so was a little shy and sad (it seemed); he was serious and curious towards me as I tried to talk to him with my little bit of Chinese and make him laugh; he would look at me out of the corner of his eye and smile just a little when I tried to entertain; he wore my sunglasses (photo below) and I showed him my family photos and whatever else was in my purse. I played with Lucy a lot too, but my heart was drawn to Henry without even knowing why (except that he sure was a cutie!).
Aug. 22, 2012
I have to add here that we had never considered adopting a child with special needs prior to my trip. We just did not have any experience with this nor feel like we had the resources. But after my trip, I knew God had opened wide my heart to the possibility as I saw how He loved and cared for the orphan in China...how He would still love and care for the children in the U.S., and how many more medical resources we have here! God confirmed in my heart that not only was a special needs adoption possible for us, but that we should pursue this course. And Henry? Well, I didn't know ON the trip that he was the child God had planned for us, but after getting home, looking at photos, and processing the trip, both my husband and I knew he was the one. Every time I saw his picture, my heart would just about burst out of my chest as such love for him filled my heart.
As soon as we knew, we contacted CCAI with our family info to have them check on his availability. As God would have it, he was available and we immediately began the process for pre-approval so his file would be locked in for us. God's timing was perfect as we did qualify for China this time. The rest of the process can be seen on our adoption timeline to the right.
This has been an amazing journey that is not even close to being over yet. New Day is an amazing home with so much love and care to give the children God brings them. We have seen Henry grow and begin to thrive there, as seen in his many smiles. How amazing that we have been able to communicate with him like we have, to Skype almost weekly and to be a part of his life across the ocean. God could not have orchestrated this more perfectly and smoothly, and has truly done for us "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" (Eph. 3:20). We just cannot wait to see what the rest of our journey with Henry holds...
Henry sees his adoptive family photo for the first time.