Before I entered the adoption world, I didn’t think many people adopted after having biological children. BUT THEY DO! And I love that. So much.
I gathered together a group of women who are willing to share their adoption story for this adoption series: “Adoption After Biological Children.” I am so excited for you to read these stories. Just because you can have biological children, you can still (and SHOULD!) adopt. Those who adopt after biological children face different challenges than those who enter the adoption world after infertility. My goal for this series is to shed light into the world of adoption. One story at a time.
Today Kristi shares her story here…..
One March day, I was looking at the waiting children on our agency’s website and a little one wearing pink cheetah print caught my eye. I took a screen shot and texted Josh, saying, “Could this be Quinn?”(Quinn was the name we had chosen for our daughter.) I emailed our family coordinator and asked for more information on her. At the time, the agency had a pediatrician reviewing her complete medical file. It would be five days before our coordinator sent me the doctor’s review of her file. I could barely breathe as I opened the email containing the review. Tears began streaming down my face….and I inquired of the Lord….”Is she the one?” Josh had just left and I excitedly called him and told him to come back home! We cried and prayed and then I emailed our coordinator to ask to see her complete medical file. She sent it within minutes and I became obsessed with reading it and searching for information. I found out that she had been born on September 20, 2013, making her about eighteen months old at that time. We had several specialists review the file and we met with our family doctor. By the time we met with him, we knew our hearts were saying YES to this baby girl…but we wanted to know the possibilities of what we could be facing, as far as medical conditions. Our doctor is a believer and he was so encouraging. I don’t remember all that he told us that day. I think I was in a bit of a fog. I do remember him telling us….”Look, you want to be smart and know the possibilities but if the Lord has called you to do this- then you do it!” Josh and I left his office that day, knowing that we had found our daughter. We hugged and cried….we were excited and scared and expectant!
We officially said “yes” to our Quinn on March 30, 2015. As we were filling out our Electronic Acceptance form, one of the questions we had to answer was: When did your family fill out the program agreement? Josh and I couldn’t remember the exact date, so I emailed our coordinator and asked her. She quickly replied…..”You signed the agreement on 9/20/13.” My heart skipped a beat. September 20th?? 2013??! That was the very day Quinn was born!! We had NO idea that the day we began our journey to adopt our daughter was the very same day, that across the world, she was being born!!! ONLY GOD can ordain and coordinate something like that! (Remember that whole “exceedingly abundantly thing?!”)
From that point, we were told it could take two to four months to receive approval from China. In less than one month, we received word that China had said YES to us. From that point on, it was a whirlwind. Several more piles of paper work were required to be filled out. Our coordinator kept us informed regarding different dates and timelines….and by mid-May, we were told we would most likely be traveling to get our girl by the end of June or the beginning of July. We received our (TA) travel approval in the middle of June and we were on our way to China on July 8th!
Words cannot adequately describe what it was like to hold my daughter in my arms for the first time. I met her on July 12, 2015. She was expressionless and motionless. She was limp and heavy. Her hair was shaved into a very short version of the bowl cut, she was wearing mismatched clothes, and she had a distinct smell. It wasn’t good or bad, but I will remember it forever. She let me hold her, touch her hair, run my hands up and down her arms, rub her back…and she never made a peep. Josh and I were overcome with emotion. Our two oldest boys were with us…and they instantly fell in love with their sister. Quinn’s nannies showed me a photo album and they flipped through it as they spoke Mandarin, pointing to pictures of my girl from birth on up. They handed it to me, and we will forever treasure the 58 photos of the first 21 months of Quinn’s life.
Our time in China was incredible! Not only did we fall in love with Quinn and her birth country, but we fell in love with the families we were traveling with. There were eight families in total…four boys and four girls were adopted….and so many lives were changed on that trip! A lifelong bond between us was created. I didn’t expect that, and it was an added blessing. (We are actually taking a vacation with three of the other families in June of this year!)
Our time in China wasn’t easy, and there were times within those first few days when I questioned…..Was this really the Lord’s plan? Were we making a mistake? I got scared. I had some doubts. Just as quickly as the doubts came, the Lord brought His Words and Scriptures to mind. He reminded me of all that He had done…leading up to those very moments. I rebuked the enemy and rested in the fact that the Lord had brought us “this far,” and wouldn’t leave us “there.” It took several days before we got a smile out of Quinn. She did NOT want her daddy and she would scream if he got remotely close to her. She would pull her legs up under herself when I would try to set her down on the ground. We had seen a video of her walking, so we knew she could…..but she just wouldn’t. She attached to me very quickly, and while that was a major answer to prayer- it was very hard after a few days. If I had to use the restroom or take a shower, we all had to gear up for her screams and cries. We asked everyone we knew to pray for us….for our daughter who had just been thrust into the arms of complete strangers. The daughter who had just been forced to leave the only life she knew. The daughter who was already unconditionally loved- but had no idea what the love of a forever family looked or felt like. There were many little victories in China. Quinn finally smiled at her daddy….finally let him feed her…..she finally let me set her down here and there…she finally walked a little bit…she finally sat in the stroller. Still, Quinn was very attached to me and gave a pretty mean “stink eye” to anyone who looked her way. She had no problem letting us know when she was not happy! (She still doesn’t!)
It has been nearly six months since we arrived home with our daughter. I can honestly say that it feels as though she has always been a part of our family. About two days after getting home, Quinn did a complete 180. I can’t describe it, but there was this change in her demeanor. It was like she just “knew” that we were her people and this was her home. She met her other brother (Keaton) upon returning home and they have a love-hate relationship. The two are only fifteen months apart in age, and our youngest son’s behavior has been the biggest challenge. We are sure that it’s a combination of his being three and his instantaneous promotion to the role of big brother…..but knowing that doesn’t necessarily make it easier to handle. In many ways, Quinn and our youngest son seem like twins. They like to play with the same toys…they fight like cats and dogs….they nap at the same time…they bathe together…and they make each other laugh and cry like no one else can! They are partners in crime, too! Our older boys (Bryson and Hudson) have been nothing but patient with Quinn. They love on her and kiss on her….they help out with her on a daily basis. I am not lying when I say that they never missed a beat throughout this whole process. I have watched them grow and mature in ways I could never have imagined. God has been so good, and alongside us, our bio children have gotten front row seats to countless miracles. I am thrilled that this unforgettable experience is forever a part of their childhoods. They love having a sister (even though they can’t stand the song Let It Go!) and they are protective and so so so sweet with our Quinnie Bear!
As I reflect back on the many years leading up to Quinn’s arrival into our family….I can see the Lord’s hand ALL over her story and ours. I can see how He had plans far bigger and far better than mine. We give Him ALL the glory for what He has done. We are humbled that He would place the calling to adopt on our hearts, and we are thankful for fulfilled desires. I once heard that adoption is not God’s “Plan B.” It’s His “Plan A”…His heart….the entire gospel message is adoption. His desire is to adopt us into His forever (eternal) family! I love that His plan for us included biological children, but to be completely honest…..being a part of Quinn’s story is by far the biggest adventure I have ever been on. I have never seen God move the way I did throughout this process. The hard times….the blood (literally), sweat, and tears all led us to our daughter. There are an estimated 153 million orphans in the world today. We are honored and blessed that God is allowing us to raise just one child, who just a few short months ago had never experienced life with a mom, a dad, and three brothers. It seemed that she was destined for a life without the love of a family…..BUT, God loves to do exceedingly abundantly! He loves to turn lives around!
Quinnie loves to sing and she loves to pray. She folds her hands and gets a big grin on her face. When we leave for church, Quinnie says “Bible” and grabs her little book. She runs to the door with excitement. One day, she ran to the door of our prayer closet, she looked at me and folded her hands together, and she waited for me to open the door. I let her in and she sat down and repeated after me…..”Dear Jesus….” and so on. I can’t help but think of all that she would not get to experience if she was still living in an orphanage. She probably never would have heard the gospel. She most likely wouldn’t have heard the name of Jesus. She wouldn’t have be exposed to worship music and she probably wouldn’t have had the privilege of openly praising the Lord. Our prayer is that she will not only know and understand the love we have for her….but that she would have a deep faith in and knowledge of the One who died to save her. I pray she will know that he CHOSE her….that He hand-picked her for our family. Before we were ever born….and long before she ever was!
Quinn does not present any of the medical issues that were contained in her original file. We said yes, knowing that she could potentially have some delays and/or need to be seen by neurologists for further testing. Not only does she not have delays- but she’s incredibly smart! Quinn is extremely determined and she knows what she wants. She has a vocabulary of about 75 English words! Quinn can help get herself dressed…she loves girly things! Quinnie has excellent fine motor skills. When she came to us, she had a very basic diet. Quinn now tries new things and has a HUGE appetite. Quinn gives hugs and kisses and when I say, “Wo Ai Ni, Quinnie!” she responds with, “Wo Ai Ni, Mommy!” A few days ago, she actually beat me to it….and my heart was filled with joy! “Wo Ai Ni, Mommy!” she exclaimed, as she grabbed face, smiling and giggling. I hugged her tightly….”Wo Ai Ni, Quinnie! I love you, Quinnie!” Quinn has brought so much joy into our home! We have had some tough moments…..tears and time “ins”….scowls and screams. However, the happy moments far outweigh the hard. I know this isn’t the case for everyone, though. Some of the families we traveled with are dealing with sleep issues, eating issues, and/or health concerns. We are in contact weekly and often pray for each other. We are able to share both the triumphs and the struggles. God is bigger….and He is good through it all! If we don’t trust Him enough to take those first steps in faith, we will miss out on huge blessings He has for us!
I wonder if He has big plans for your family?….I wonder if you have room in your heart to love a child who so desperately needs it. I wonder if you have considered adoption, but you have been too scared to take the leap. I wonder if you are (much like we were), unable to see beyond your current circumstances. I wonder if you’re missing a piece to your family puzzle. I wonder if you have biological children and you’re just not sure how they would react, or what they would think. Trust me…..it won’t be easy. In fact, adopting will probably be the hardest thing you ever do! But will it be worth it?! Will you see the Lord in ways you never have before?! A million times….yes! Will He do exceedingly abundantly for you? Without a doubt….YES!
You can read the other posts in this series here.
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