Reece’s Rainbow Report #37: Carter Family

If Mike and Kim Carter had a “unique adoption journey” bingo card, they might have reached blackout stage. 
The first time that Kim met her new daughter, for example, wasn’t at a hospital, an orphanage or even a social worker’s office. It was at the airport last autumn, where Mike had just flown in from Bulgaria with three-year-old Demi-Rose. 

“I thought she was absolutely adorable,” Kim says. “She had my heart from the moment I saw her.”
Demi-Rose had been Debbieon Reece’s Rainbow, a tiny toddler with a sweet smile and dark hair. Even though she had never met her adoptive mother in person, she instantly knew what to call Kim: “Mama.” 

The name and face recognition came from two weeks of intense work on Mike’s part. After picking her up for good from her Pleven orphanage, Mike had diligently created a daily schedule in Bulgaria, including several Zoom calls back home to east Tennessee. “Say hi to mama!” he would tell his newest daughter. “Wave at your mama!” She happily obliged. 
Then, just five weeks after Demi-Rose first hugged Kim, she got to hug a new baby sister. Rhylee Grace, in fact, was the reason their shared mother couldn’t travel to Eastern Europe to pick Demi-Rose up; she had been too far along in her pregnancy. 

The two new Carters joined five other siblings four boys and one girl ages 13 down to five. Demi-Rose and Rhylee Grace were the cabooses. 

“I kind of don’t remember those first few months between a newborn and a new toddler,” Kim says. “It was an adjustment, a very hard adjustment.” 
Thankfully, it was an adjustment she had long wanted and saw coming. From the time she was a child, Kim, an administrator at the family’s gas fireplace company, wanted to adopt. That desire intensified after she and Mike lost a baby girl several years ago. 

“We decided if we were going to adopt, then we were going to go after a child who was less likely to be adopted, who had been on the list for a little while,” Kim says. They also knew they wanted a daughter, since their only living biological daughter was greatly outnumbered. 
The Carters’ agency showed them Demi-Rose’s photo. Orphanage workers said she had hydrocephalus and global development delays. Kim, a former registered nurse, wasn’t fazed. The couple prayed and felt a peace about saying yes to this particular child. 

Next up on the imaginary bingo card: Kim got pregnant even though her tubes were tied. Then, there was a first trip to Bulgaria that never happened because of Covid rules. Kim and Mike had a “virtual” trip instead, meeting Demi-Rose online. 

“She looked almost withdrawn and was very tiny,” Kim remembers. When Mike traveled in October 2022, Demi-Rose was terrified of everything. She was so upset at her first ride in a car, for example, that she vomited repeatedly from Pleven to Sofia. 
Thankfully, the Carters, both in their late 30s, have close friends living in Bulgaria who agreed to meet Mike and Demi-Rose for lunch. 

“It was such a gift from the Lord to have someone from America who understood Bulgarian and could talk to Demi,” Kim says. “Mike said that it was the first time he saw her smile, when that missionary said bye-bye to her. It was like a barrier broken, and from that point on, she opened up.”

As soon as Demi-Rose arrived home, she was put on antibiotics for illness. In the weeks and months that followed, she slowly learned how to play a completely new skill for her. Her brothers and sisters were more than happy to demonstrate, often sitting down with a book and pointing out the objects on each page: “See, Demi? This is a ball. Say ball!” 
All that love began making an impact. Demi-Rose no longer hoards food “She knows she’s going to get fed now,” Kim says and receives behavioral therapy at an ABA school. She cheekily tells her speech therapist “Good job!” and gives a thumbs up when people pronounce words correctly. 

And even though she’s only been home six months, Kim can quickly list off the ways Demi-Rose has changed: “So she can run and jump and fully understand English. She can talk a lot; she’s only mildly behind in English. She can go up and down stairs she couldn’t do any of that before because she was so malnourished. Now she does a whole flight and slides by herself. She laughs and giggles. She’s put on weight and grown in height. She has just blossomed.” 

That blossoming includes no more official diagnoses. American doctors cannot find anything “wrong” with her body, despite being born prematurely at only 27 weeks and being institutionalized. 

The Carters, meanwhile, can’t find anything wrong with Demi-Rose, either in any capacity.
“She’s hilarious and really smart,” Kim says. “We really hit the jackpot with her.” 

The true prize, you might say. 
Crystal Kupper
Crystal Kupper is a freelance writer specializing in magazines and special projects. Since earning her journalism degree, she has written for clients such as Zondervan, Focus on the Family and the Salvation Army, among many others.