Immanuel’s Last Hope
“I would love to start by telling people how I felt led to adopt, how hard I worked to pay for my other children’s adoptions, and a little of our stories…Since Immanuel’s need is so pressing and he hasn’t been a child featured on Reese’s Rainbow before, I feel like he’s the only place I can begin.” Immanuel turns 14 on January 1, 2014. Fourteenth birthdays in a Chinese orphanage bring sadness. Children there become ineligible to be adopted by anyone anywhere on that date. Due to the societal stigmas of being an orphan and having limb differences, Immanuel faces a grim future without a family. It is even more pressing than bringing him home before his birthday, “I have at most nine weeks to get all of the adoption steps done that I am able to do before traveling to bring Immanuel home. I must leave by December 7th at the latest because the process in China takes at least two weeks. His adoption must be fully completed by December 23rd or I will lose him–even if I am in China already.”
Immanuel’s Chinese name means “joyful” and even though he’s not exactly smiling in his pictures, you can see joy just beneath the surface. Speaking about Immanuel’s video, his courage clearly awes Terry, “Here he is–this 12-year-old boy–and he has to do what unnerves so many adults: answer the question, ‘So, tell me about yourself?’ He does so looking confidently and directly at a crowd of people he’s never met, and in a clear, loud voice telling people why he should be adopted–even though he must have been shaking in his shoes!” He melts Terry’s heart every time she views his video. She goes on to say this past spring, Immanuel’s school presented him with an award for excellent school work, noting how hard he works, and how highly the teachers, orphanage staff, students and other children all think of him.
Terry knew she would adopt at least some of her children since she had been in high school. She never envisioned it would be all of them! In 1999, she began exploring adoption requirements, changed jobs to better afford an adoption, and bought a fixer-upper house. She worked seven days a week, most of them 10-hour days, for two and a half years to pay for her first adoption. In 2003, when the ‘call’ came, God spoke in her ear, “This is your daughter.” She didn’t need to hear a name. She didn’t need to see a picture. She knew.
Terry knew her family wasn’t complete and she continued to earn extra money whenever and wherever she could. In 2004, a bright shining face called from the pages of a waiting child album. He had an extremely rare genetic syndrome with some potentially very serious conditions. Terry says, “I didn’t know if I was enough for him. His needs seemed so great!” When she voiced her concerns to a friend, her friend said, “Terry, if this child calls you like that, then there’s something there and you need to pursue it… Someone will stand in the gaps.” She felt God speaking through her friend. It was all she needed to hear. Seemingly insurmountable obstacles loomed testing her faith again and again. Each time, she prayed for the mountains to move so the little boy could get what he needed, not what she wanted. Two years later, in the darkest hour, the mountains moved.
By 2010, Terry’s professional life had turned to serving the special needs community–something she feels very passionate about. Having had a life filled with folks who have individual needs, she also feels passionate about adopting more children whose needs are more than typical. Since her other children were born in India, she began pursuing adopting another child from there. For various, unrelated reasons, she lost girl after girl. India’s adoption system changed. Then, Terry aged out. She asks, “Did you ever read the “Misty of Chincoteague” books? In them, Grandma BeeBee told the kids, ‘When God closes a door, he opens a window.’” Even before India closed to her, Terry found herself looking longingly at waiting children from China. To fund this adoption, she has held yard sales, sold crafts, done Tupperware and Scentsy fundraisers, crowd-funded, applied for grants, and yes, worked very, very hard to raise the needed money.
Kindly remember Immanuel in your prayers, share his story, visit the family’s blog, and fight for him by donating to his adoption fund. Don’t let him go into the night.
11/22/13—USCIS APPROVED; TRAVELING in DEC