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Ward Family Photo - Adoption

Adoption: A Challenging but Joyful Path

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook, you know by now that we love to showcase what our adoptees are doing – especially as many of them are reaching adulthood!

One amazing example is Abigail Ward, whom Ken and Michelle Ward adopted through our China program in 2003 at 10 months old. She is currently finishing her senior year at the U.S. Naval Academy, and she is one of only 32 Americans selected to receive the Rhodes Scholarship for graduate study starting in 2024 at Oxford University. Ken says this scholarship is one of the many joys and triumphs he and Michelle have experienced since adopting Abby. To God be the glory.

Adoption Challenges

Abby Ward eating ice cream as a babyHowever, they have also experienced challenges and hardships along the way. For one, their adoption almost didn’t happen due to its timing. In 2001, the attacks of 9/11 turned INS into an “impenetrable fortress,” and the agency had their paperwork.

Ken says, “Only by prayer and contacting our congressman did our paperwork get out in time to proceed.”

Then, among the group that traveled to China together, Abby was known as the crier. Feeding her ice cream and holding her while walking seemed to help, but she had a rash on the back of her neck that she constantly over-scratched. During countless nights, she would wake up multiple times, loudly crying for a long time. It wasn’t until she was four years old that they discovered milk and egg sensitivities were causing these problems. She finally started sleeping through the night.

Chronic Health Challenges

On top of these trials, Ken was diagnosed with MS six months after Abby came home. He wasn’t sleeping, and he was losing a lot of weight.

Ken says, “My health, my job and my sanity were all in serious jeopardy.”

After nine months of many doctors but no real medical solution, Ken was referred to an expert in the pharmacology of MS. The medication this expert prescribed helped him sleep, put him back into his right mind, and helped him regain lost weight. Even so, Abby had to learn to live with a dad with a chronic condition.

Educational Decisions

Abby Ward headed to middle schoolBy the time Abby got to school age, the Wards had noticed that Abby was very observant. They considered sending her to the local elementary school, but they decided they wanted to challenge her. Michelle really wanted to homeschool Abby, so they decided to “sacrifice” Michelle’s income to enable Michelle to do this. This arrangement turned out to be a great fit for their family.

As Abby approached the middle school years Ken and Michelle prayed about meeting her growing curiosity and abilities. They looked into private school, but even though they were offered a partial scholarship, they still couldn’t afford it. After a year, the very first STEM magnet program at the middle school level opened in their county. Abby qualified and enjoyed an excellent “private school” education that was taxpayer-funded.

Ken says, “God heard our prayers, and Abby was off to the races for being recognized for her work ethic and ability to work with others.”

For high school, Abby attended the local public school and was part of their Scholars Program. She worked hard, served others, took many AP courses, and got her first taste of military life by participating and excelling in Marine Corp JROTC.

Ken says, “When we calculate the loss of my wife’s income for about ten years, the sacrifice was really minuscule in comparison to the benefits of a free education at the US Naval Academy and postgraduate study at Oxford. In addition, my wife had precious time with her daughter that was irreplaceable.”

Now, we can see how the rest of this story turned out!

Adoption Advice

Abby Ward all grown upWe asked Ken what advice he would give to anyone considering adoption.

He said, “Don’t go into it lightly, and expect challenges. A supportive network of family, church, and/or friends is very helpful. They helped with adoption costs and many other things throughout Abby’s childhood. That said, the rewards for us have been amazing. Raising my daughter was the most sustained joy I have had in my life.”

We also asked Ken what he would say to those who have adopted but are facing challenges.

He said, “Seek God’s help. Lean on that support group. Get your child involved in carefully screened activities. Socialization is important, but there are many sources of that besides public school. If public school is the best educational option available, stay involved in your child’s education.”

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Ken and Michelle! Abby’s America World family is so proud of everything she has achieved, and we are grateful to you for everything you had to overcome to help her get there.

What About You?

Is God calling you to adopt? Visit our Learn About Adoption page or read about our adoption programs.

Also, you don’t have to adopt to make a difference in the life of a child. Read our recent blog post about our Ethiopia Family Empowerment Project or go on an orphan care mission trip.

Contact us at, and we’d love to help you with your next step!


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