I had dreamed for years of adoption. The first time I remember actually sharing my heart with my husband on this subject was in 2005, the same year in which our daughter was born. Fast forward 2 years and we began the process to adopt. Both of us wondered that summer when we attended an America World seminar how long we would wait. After attending the seminar to hear specifically about the China program, we knew that God had a different plan for our family than a long wait for a healthy child. In the fall of 2007, we were gathering papers and the dossier was coming together. Still we didn’t understand the magnitude of His plan nor were we ready to know it emotionally or spiritually. He had much work to do in our hearts still!
I’ll never forget the day I mentioned the Waiting Child program, which was called the Special Needs program at the time, to my husband. After several weeks of prayer and tough discussions, we completed our Waiting Child application and checklist, and on September 10, 2007, we received an email that we had been approved to be on the Interested Families List. We were excited and busy all at the same time.
Everything seemed so out of my control and timing. Though I was weary with all the unknowns, my husband was at peace. That is, all except for one thing: our special needs checklist. He continued to feel that one checkbox was not marked correctly, and that we needed to change it in order to be in God’s will for our family. I was scared but hopeful too as we emailed Melissa a simple email in January 2008 asking her to change the box for unrepaired heart condition from a Maybe to a Yes. After that, we did have a very real peace that settled over us. We both felt our daughter would have something wrong with her heart, and we continued to wonder about the need of cleft lip and palate. I am not at all certain why, but it never occurred to us that she could have both.
On Thursday, May 8, 2008, at around 2:30 p.m., my phone rang. Then Melissa said those words I longed to hear, “We have a little girl I’d like to tell you about.” And somehow I already knew it was her, our daughter. It was a crazy few days as I shared with Charlie…and he just kept saying, “It is her. She is our daughter.” I was sure too that she was our daughter, but I was so scared about all of the unknowns.
On May 12, 2008, we sent our Letter of Intent to adopt a waiting 2 1/2-year-old little girl in China. She had been born in 2005, the same year God stirred our hearts for adoption. The unknowns of her listed special needs were a lot to process and consider. God has graciously given us the blessings of two healthy sons by birth, and this was a new journey for us: the blessing of a child who is not healthy. As we waited for our approvals from China to adopt her and travel there, God did a mighty work in our hearts.
On September 16, 2008, after 4 months of praying and waiting and traveling halfway around the world, we went to the Civil Affairs office with much hope but we did not meet our daughter there as we had imagined. Instead, we met her in a hospital across town. Though the day was not at all how I imagined, I could not have loved any child more than I loved Susannah that first moment when we walked into the hospital. In an instant, I wanted to protect her and do all I could to ease her pain. I wanted to whisk her away and make it all better, but I could not do that. We had a long and MIRACULOUS week in Kunming, China, because with God all things are possible!
On September 23, 2008, we arrived home to a yard full of friends and family, all of whom had been a part of praying us home. The next day, we went to the hospital for an appointment with Susannah’s pediatric cardiologist, and we did not get to come home. Just one week later on September 30, 2008, Susannah had open-heart surgery, and God did the impossible again! We are still so grateful for the work God has done in our little girl’s life and in our lives as well.
The road home and since coming home has not been easy, yet God has given us what we all needed when we need it. Susannah has more surgeries scheduled this year. We will not fear because God is with us, and His promises are true and perfect. Susannah refuses to be defined by her special needs. We too refuse to define her with labels or limited expectations for her. To us, each day with our daughter is a precious gift and a reminder of God’s faithfulness to her as she lived with a very sick heart in an orphanage in China for three years, arrived home safely, and has blossomed in the last ten months physically, emotionally and spiritually. We simply cannot imagine life without her, and we feel so very BLESSED that God has allowed us to be her family.
We often advocate for other children still waiting in China, especially those who are uniquely made by God with special hearts and wide smiles! We realize that the two needs together can cause fear and doubt, but we also know that God is bigger than all of this. We also believe He intends for all of His precious children to know the love of a family for whatever time they have on this earth, whether their days be long or short. Maybe you are the family of one of these precious waiting children whom God has given a special heart and a wide smile! Please feel free to follow Susannah’s journey home here (http://www.onetruemedia.com/shared?p=7d06e4663814bd50ec9d9f&skin_id=801&utm_source=otm&utm_medium=text_url). You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be glad to share about our experiences with our precious daughter in our family of five, which is soon to be a family of SIX! We are now pre-approved to bring home our waiting nine-year-old SON from China!