A Blessed Journey
On Orphan Sunday in 2016, Mike and Audrey Todd felt God tugging their hearts. Their church, Good Shepherd Church in Benton Ridge, OH, had invited an adoptive mom to speak at the service about the orphan crisis worldwide, and the Todds wanted to do something about it. They had always loved children; they had five biological children, and Mike worked in a children’s ministry. So, they agreed to consider adopting.
Then, one night, they both dreamed they were holding a Chinese baby girl. That confirmed they were supposed to adopt and told them they should adopt from China. A friend suggested America World’s China program, so they began the process with us.
Audrey says, “Adoption can be overwhelming, but America World was fabulous! We felt supported during the process.”
Difficult first years
In 2018, they finally brought Selah, a 19-month-old girl, home. Even though their adoption process was over, the difficult part of their journey was not. They discovered Selah had severe developmental delays. She was more like a 5–6-month-old than her biological age. She couldn’t crawl, stand, or walk. She could barely sit up on her own without falling over. She had an unrepaired cleft lip and palate, and her hearing was like being underwater. She faced multiple surgeries in the years ahead.
For the first six months, she would only go to sleep if Audrey held her on her chest. If Audrey wasn’t holding her or showing her attention during the day, she would gag herself until she would make herself throw up. She probably learned to do this in the orphanage for attention so that someone would come to her and clean her up. She had extremely severe separation anxiety, and Audrey couldn’t leave her for a long time.
In addition, Selah was full of anger and aggression. She would scream and bang her head on the floor. Also, she would pinch and scratch everyone in the family, so they were covered with scratches on their faces and arms.
Despite these challenges, the Todd family didn’t give up. Audrey says, “The first three years were really hard, but our family continued to pour love into her and show her how sweet and precious she was.”
Perseverance’s sweet rewards
Audrey says, “Now, this sweet little girl is outgoing. She wants to talk to and hug everyone she meets! She is so funny and makes us all laugh! She loves music and grabs her microphone to put on concerts for us. She just finished her first season of T-ball and wants to play soccer and basketball! She is amazing, and we’re so proud of her for the obstacles she has overcome!
“Speech is still hard for her, because of her cleft lip and palette. She is working so hard, though. If you could pray for her in this area, we would greatly appreciate it! She wants so badly to speak clearly and be understood.”
Audrey has advice for someone considering adoption for their family.
She says, “Think about these precious children living without a loving family. They did not choose the life they were dealt. At the same time, be prepared to be selfless. These children need to know that they are a top priority in your life. This precious child of God will be the biggest blessing to you!”
What if someone who has adopted is having a hard time?
Audrey says to people who have adopted and are facing challenges, “Let family and friends know. Ask others to pray for you and your child. Ask your church to set up meals for your family. Ask if someone can come over and sit with you on a hard day.
“These are all things I wish that I would have done. But I felt like I might be betraying Selah if I told them how hard things were. So, I didn’t open up about it. Don’t do that! You don’t need to carry all the weight on your shoulders.
“Don’t be afraid to get counseling for yourself or your other children. We did, and it was very helpful.
“Things will get better. I felt like we were in the valley for a long time, and it was so hard to see a light at the end of the tunnel. But slowly, things will get easier and better!
“Rely on God, and you will find strength and compassion you didn’t know you could have. These children have been through so much and they are broken and hurting. They need to know and feel that they are precious and loved.”
The blessing of adoption
In conclusion, Audrey says adoption is a true blessing. “People always say that Selah is lucky to have us for her family, but actually, we’re the lucky ones. I am beyond grateful that God chose me to be this little girl’s mom out of everyone in the world!”
Your next step
If you feel God tugging your heart to adopt, we’d love to help! Check out our Learn About Adoption page or explore our Adoption Programs. Also, you don’t have to adopt to make a difference in a child’s life! We have mission trips and orphan care projects. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk with us about your next step.