BY GOD'S GRACE, MAY OUR FAMILY TREE BEAR GOOD FRUIT AS WE GROW TO KNOW & LOVE HIM MORE EACH DAY.

OUR CHINA ADOPTIONS


(first family photo with Bea and Beck)

Traveling back in time to May of 2008, I was newly pregnant with my fifth child, Nova, when Maria Sue Chapman died tragically. Her devastating death led me to watch video after video of her family's adoption journey to China x3...and for the first time, God opened my eyes to adoption...for us.

Fast forward to February of 2011. I was weeks away from delivering my sixth baby, Boden, when I "accidentally" clicked on the wrong tab on All God's Children International's website. I was trying to sign up for information on adoption in China, but apparently I "accidentally" signed up for a mission trip to China instead.

It's AMAZING to look back on all that God brought forth through that simple click amiss. I could share stories for days, notably, the stories of Lindy, my husband's heart, and the one I share here, among others. When AGCI called about the mission trip, we decided God must have been in the "mistake" and so Brodie and Aida, prepared to serve in two Beijing foster homes that next Fall.

Meanwhile, at the very same time somewhere in China, a baby boy was born with a heart condition. Weak and frail, he was brought into one of the foster homes where Aida and Brodie would serve. In researching for the mission trip, we found ourselves drawn to this particular little baby on the foster home's website. We printed his photo, taped it to our refrigerator, and prayed for him every day.

About this same time, Boden was born. Every time I would nurse or coddle or carry or tend to Boden's cries, I would pray for the little boy across the world in China. I would ask God to comfort him and care for him and meet his needs even as I was meeting Boden's. I believe God did...every time.

We considered pursuing adoption of our special little boy but were met with consistent closed doors. We didn't meet the criteria to adopt from China and various other factors at the time would prevent us from adopting him. We accepted God's will and found ourselves ultimately drawn to adoption in the DRC through a series of events...though I never stopped praying for my little guy in China.

In September of 2011, Brodie and Aida had the opportunity to meet him! The photos of him in my husband's arms moved me. Though we were already signed up to begin our adoption in the DRC with Lifeline Children's Services, we felt compelled to try just one last time for our special little boy in China. We made the phone call, asked the questions, and again were met with closed doors. Criteria we didn't meet, multiple other families who were supposedly pursuing him, and definitely not wanting to compete for one child when so many need loving homes...all led us to accept the closed door (yet again) and move on with our DRC adoption.

Through another series of events, we ended up placing our DRC adoption on hold with Lifeline as we pursued the adoption of Noble and India through a non-profit ministry. God diverted us for purpose we now see, but at the time, we wondered why He had led us to Lifeline in the first place. And, why were we invested financially there? We wondered if our origins at Lifeline would someday lead us to another child and we even would often say that we wondered if we would eventually use that investment to start an adoption in China.

It was November of 2012. Brodie was literally in the Congo picking up Noble and India to welcome them into our family when I could not deny thoughts of my little boy in China. Convinced that either I was going crazy...or...God was working out a plan, I emailed the director of his foster home one night, just days before Brodie's return home to see if he was matched with a family yet. Her answer...no.

But what happened to the other families who were pursuing him over a year before? Why was he still waiting? Could he still be meant for us? My heart and mind dreamed of it, but we had a huge transition coming just days away. My questions would have to wait.

Indeed, it was a HUGE adjustment after Noble and India came home. It was rough and especially so for our little Noble. He was so wounded, so needy, so incredibly broken for such a young boy. We struggled to adjust to all of the harsh realities we had read about in adoption books that had suddenly barged in and become our new normal and I remember thinking we would never adopt again. I remember thinking we had really overdone it this time. And...I remember knowing that all of those thoughts were from the enemy who sought to discourage, destroy, and rob us of our joy. He wouldn't win. Jesus always wins! HE is the One who knit our children into our family and His plans are ALWAYS good...even when (sometimes especially when) they're hard.

Both Noble and India are doing beautifully now. Praise the Lord! They are precious blessings in our family. They're ours and we're theirs. We belong together. It's funny how much can change as the Lord works in our lives. He took us through our sorrowful transitional journey for purpose and through it, He greatly increased our empathy for other adoptive families who struggle. The trials aren't gone completely, of course, and they never will be. The hard to accept reality is that sin leaves bruises and sometimes these hurts take a lifetime to heal. But, we're committed to a lifetime of healing and transitions with each of our children, and we know that God will always supply everything we need. Though we may become faithless at times, He is always faithful!

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Lamentations 3:22-23

It was February of 2013, two years after this story's beginning. We went to our Bible study and knew there had to be purpose for our being able to attend that particular night. Before we went, Brodie and I prayed. We prayed for God's will in our going. We prayed not knowing that there would in fact be an identifiable reason.

As we offered up prayer requests that night, the ladies listened as I shared about the "other boy" we had thought we would adopt from Africa. He had a place in our hearts during our first adoption, but God had other plans for us to adopt  India {our little girl}. The boy we held in our hearts was not to be...yet. That night, I asked for prayer for this boy when my sister chimed in with,
"and then there's your little boy in China."

Ummm...

It was one of those moments in life where everything stops for what feels like forever. It would prove to be the moment that led my heart back, yet again, to China. (Really, my heart never left China...I had just tried to move on and accept the closed doors.) Again, unable to shake thoughts and the urge to pray for the people of China and this boy we loved for so long, I prayed. I prayed that if we were supposed to pursue him (again) that God would impress that desire upon Brodie's heart as the head of our family. I couldn't possibly enter an adoption process without my husband wholeheartedly leading the way. I trust his discernment and calm wisdom, so I was asking God to show Brodie if this adventure was His will. And, sure enough, that's what He did.

The following 8 months filled with twists and turns, ups and downs and ultimately on November 18, 2013, we learned after a series of saddening events that our boy we'd been racing to be paper ready to adopt had been matched with another family...in Italy!

He was gone.

And God is still good.

"For the LORD Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?
His hand is stretched out, and who can turn it back?"
Isaiah 14:27

Without a doubt, we would not have started just any adoption for just any child when we did, but what's been undeniable through multiple very improbable open doors (which were previously closed) is that God had led us to this place. He had paved the way at His appointed time. He carries His plans to completion according to His best design.

"And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you
will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Philippians 1:6

Fast forward to December 2013...still confused, yet openhearted, we had been searching our agency's lists of waiting children in China, praying the Lord would show us WHO He had brought us here for. After many closed doors, our hearts went out to a little girl, also with heart disease....very complex heart disease. We couldn't shake our draw to her.

It's a winding story from that point on full of sorrows and losses (with details to remain untold), but although her file had been on hold with another family, one day we received an email that the family had decided not to proceed with her adoption...and their no became our YES! The Lord had blessed us with a DAUGHTER!!

At the same time, the Lord had been stirring our hearts for a while to consider adopting 2 children concurrently. Adopting Noble and India was such a blessing, though not easy, and we were wide open and praying ultimately to be used however the Lord would choose to spend us. We were searching for His will and hopeful to find this other someone He had placed a spot in our hearts for...

Enter Beck.

God did, in fact, lead us to a special little boy at the same time as our girl. We felt the "familiar" feeling we had with Bea...the sense that we somehow knew him, though he was a tiny stranger. God gave us protective parental love for this boy, but he was not to be ours...yet.

What happened at this point in our adoption story is a very personal part of our journey,
God-ordained and trust producing, but by no means easy! Why is the good stuff always so trying?!

Our hearts were torn and broken (again) and yet, with full faith and submission, we agreed to proceed with the adoption of just our daughter, knowing confidently that she was to be ours...and never letting go of the hope to go back for our little Beck someday if the Lord would allow.

Fast forward again to March of 2014. Three months had gone by...we had accepted the loss of our 2nd beloved little boy (though never let him go in our hearts). We would check the website periodically to see if he had been matched and dreamed of going back for him after Bea's adoption was complete. Then, out of the blue, an astonishing email came through...it informed us that there was still a chance! Our hearts SOARED beyond heights!! It was absolutely too good to be true!

A miracle occurred.

A miracle we had prayed for.

What was "real NO" had become a "YES"!!! (with strings attached) The Holy Spirit prompted obedient and God-fearing hearts who listened to His voice, praise the Lord! And, He has blessed us with a SON!!

God brought our Beck back to us in an undeniable way. Indeed, he was meant to be ours!

Oh my, the Lord's creativity and suspenseful stories are stunning! How does He write such plots?! Well, this one is His by far and we are delighted after much challenge to finally have found the answer to our quandary of why we had landed at this time and this place in our adoption process in China...our little girl...and our little boy too. To think, God knew all along! He's so mysterious to us and yet He holds it all in His wise hands. We've learned SO much about trusting Him, letting our plans go, following His lead without bitterness when it doesn't turn out like we'd hoped.

God is so smart. We can't possibly comprehend all of His ways. But they are beautiful and masterful and far greater than ours. We get it, Lord. We submit. We stand in awe and thank you and praise you for what you've done. You are awesome and worthy of our praise!

We ADORED our two children from afar and what a joy to finally share our love with them. Both Bea and Beck were born with complex congenital heart defects and it has been our privilege to care for them medically, physically, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually. What an honor to have been written into God's story this way.

He writes. We follow. That's just how it is. We will always love our first little boy from China who now lives in Italy. We will always pray for him. We trust the Lord will never leave him or forsake him.  Certainly, He employed our love for that boy to ready us for ours.

October 2014...Brodie, Elka, and little Brodie set out to China to bring home our long awaited son and daughter. There is no doubt these two were meant for us. As time plays out and their stories continue, we realize the end of an adoption story is really a new beginning all over again. A beginning that God planned long ago. This is His plan A for our kids. He knows all their days and has ordained them for good. What a blessing to welcome home our Bea and Beck! Lord, thank you for this story.

"Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me."
Mark 9:37

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CHINA ADOPTION PROCESS POSTS

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD of hosts."
Zechariah 4:6"I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries...
And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you."
Ezekiel 36:24, 26