As a family, we have traveled through many unexpected roads. We began dating at the end of high school and married four years later. Two years into our marriage and after a challenging, high-risk pregnancy, our first child, Jacob, was born. Our concept of life and love was completely altered the moment we met him. Nothing would ever be the same.
When Jacob was just a few months old, Denise left her career and began the stay-at-home mom journey, and eventually the homeschooling journey, that now stretches over two decades. Five more high-risk pregnancies resulted in four more children and one miscarriage. We were a family of seven, and we felt complete; but God had new roads for us to travel that we could not yet imagine.
When our youngest son was 9, Denise felt God tell her that there was a child who needed us and she was waiting for us. We knew then, that we were to adopt. Eventually, we were led to China; and our daughter, Joy, came home in 2011, followed by our daughter, Hope, in 2012. Again we thought our family was complete. Yet God made it clear we were not.
Last spring, Denise saw a little boy on a China waiting child advocate site, and felt sure he was meant to be our son. We discussed it, but decided we were not yet in a financial position to start another adoption. A week later, another family submitted paperwork to adopt this child.
A few weeks later on the same advocacy site, Denise found a little girl she recognized as the very first adoption file we had ever viewed some four-plus years ago. We did not move forward at the time because her medical needs seemed more than we could handle. We had hoped she had gone on to be adopted by a braver family, but here she was still waiting. In fact, she was coming to the U.S. through a hosting program, and her original host family had just backed out. We decided that this was too coincidental. We needed to host her. She returned to China at the end of the 3-week hosting program and we have been working as fast as we can to get her back home permanently as our daughter.
Shortly after our dossier was logged in to China in late February, we learned that the little boy mentioned above had just suffered a disrupted adoption. The other family traveled to China, but after two days decided not to go through with his adoption. Because of that, he was not permitted to return to the wonderful non-profit organization’s foster program where he had lived for years. He would now be required to live at the orphanage. So here was the child Denise felt sure was our son, now with no family and living in the orphanage. We made the decision to step way out in faith and bring him home at the same time as we bring home our daughter. We just submitted our paperwork for him and received pre-approval from China. We were already so far along in the adoption road that we are just a few months from travel. We expect by summer we will be bringing our two new children home.
Our Christian home has evolved over the years. We began as a small family with typical worldly values. As we surrendered to him, God opened our eyes to His heart; and our passion for Him grew. We try to demonstrate to our children what it means to be Christ-like by the way we treat them and each other. We want them to see love most of all. We want our home to be an environment that invites healing to their hearts, a place where they don’t have to perform to win love and acceptance. We teach our children that their value is in the fact that God made them and not in the lies the world may have told them about their existence. We want them to experience compassion here and patience as they work through what is, at times, really hard stuff. Some of our children are now grown. Some of our children were adopted at older ages. Our family dynamics have changed over the years, but what remains consistent is that we long for our children to see God working in our lives and in our hearts, changing us, so that they witness transformation first hand and can trust that it is there for them, too.