Monday, February 28, 2011

Waiting Child Series Wrap Up

I hope you have enjoyed reading all these amazing stories about these amazing families as much as I have!  But, even more than that, I hope they have made you think about and evaluate your life.  Are you shaken by what you've read?  My prayer is that after reading the series, someone will feel led to pray and consider bringing an orphan into their family to be an "orphan no more".  Is it you?!

If you are thinking, maybe this is right for our family, but where do we begin?  Here is some advice:

  • First of all, pray!  Make sure it is a clear calling from God.
  • Secondly, do your research.  There are great resources on-line that talk about different countries and outline their policies and procedures regarding adopting a waiting child.  Three of these are

International Adoption
*The sweet girls from the Waiting Child series' home page are found on this site.

To view this photolisting, you have to sign up for a password that is sent almost instantly to your E-mail inbox.  It's totally worth it!
  • Third, contact others who have adopted from waiting lists (feel free to use their blog links on their stories) or agencies.  All agencies have waiting children and should be happy to talk to you about the children on their waiting lists and their procedures.
So, what are your thoughts?  Did you enjoy the series?  Are you inspired?  Is God calling you to consider the possibility of adopting a waiting child?  Please leave your comments and let me know your thoughts!  I'd love to pray for you as you either consider the possibility or as you support those who are adding to their families. :)

Thanks for reading!

Adopting a Waiting Child: Khari's Story

On May 17, 2010 which just so happened to be our oldest son's birthday I finally broke down and emailed the agency regarding the baby girl on the waiting list that I had been praying about, thinking about, losing sleep over and just completely consumed over.

Back this story up probably 10 days earlier and I was on the waiting children website yet again. I couldn't seem to tear myself await from the waiting children page.I cannot even begin to tell you how many children's faces I had looked at and said why not this one? Why can't we just give this child a home? This was something weighing very heavily on my heart ever since we were told that our age choice must be younger than our youngest child. At the time our youngest child was 18 months, so we were waiting on a female 0-16 months old. I prayed that we were doing the right thing for our child to be and our children already in our family. As many times I had done on this journey I decided that I must trust God and that was the only way to get through this process of adoption.

Finally, I was so taken by a sibling group that I told my husband we had to ask for more information on them. We both new that according to our agency this set of children would not fit into our family. Their ages were set smack dab in the middle of our biological children which is a "no-no" with our agency. Never the less, I called. Something drew me in to these sweet faces, God was telling me in the sort of way that I tend not to be very good at listening to, that I needed to make contact with our agency.

When I finally talked with someone regarding these waiting children, I was told exactly what I was expecting! No, they do not match the appropriate ages with your biological children. You could contact this person, that person and maybe someone else, but they will all tell you no. BUT....... we have a baby girl getting ready to be put on the waiting children list, she is 2 months old and matches your gender and age request perfectly!!! She had a traumatic birth, her mother died during delivery, she is tiny and when we brought her to the orphanage she had a large place on her head and some jerking was noted on the right side of her body by the doctor. We have not placed her on the site yet, because we were waiting for an updated medical report and new pictures. Check back with us if you think that you would like to learn more about her!!!

WHAT???? In my wildest dreams this is NOT why I made that call to the agency. I was calling about those other children!!! Only later did it fully sink in that God had touched my heart with those specific children's faces to call and find out about our daughter.

Now I have to tell you, at this point that I was very mad. I was frustrated with God. I thought that we had crossed all of our questions with adoption, smooth sailing from here on, right? Becoming a multi-cultured family was a big idea to comprehend in the beginning of our journey, telling our family about our decision, trying to explain to our other children about why their sister would not look like them, thinking about what our small town would think when they were introduced to our newest family member. All of these things were distant memories that I almost couldn't believe had ever troubled me. Now this God? I am by profession a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit nurse, I had first hand knowledge of how devastating all of these things could be for this little bundle in Ethiopia. I was scared!!!! Very scared, because I was starting to feel like God had just told me this was our daughter. We had just passed the 12 month mark on the wait list , in all probability our "phone call" would be coming in just a few short months. Why at this point had God placed this situation in my life? But I also knew that in Jeremiah 29:11-14 the Bible tells me...

"...For i know the plans I have for you," declares the lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. you will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you," declares the lord,

What an amazing piece of scripture to turn to when I am questioning what God is planning in my life!! I can with all assurance tell you that my faith has never been put to the test in the same way it was all through our adoption journey. The Bible also tells us that faith without works, is dead. Boy did I find this out!

So after many of my Doctor friends reviewed our baby's medical information and lots of prayer and discussion with my husband we decided on June 2, 2010 that we had a new member in our family. Now, let me tell you, that reviewing the medical information was of no grand assurance. Reviewing medical documents from a third world country leaves you asking for more! Then you truly realize how blessed we are to live where we do! We have never had to want for more testing or information or better care for any of our children before now.

Now, we knew our daughter was somewhere where we could not obtain much more help for her. We were now in the biggest race for time to bring her home!!! We needed to get her here, to see how we could best help her. The story doesn't get much less exciting as we were approaching "the rainy season" in Ethiopia when the courts would close. God was good though, as he always is!! We were able to squeak by and get her home prior to courts closing. Praise the Lord!!

Now in between traveling to meet our daughter for the first time, we were receiving updated photos and very little information from traveling families. We were noticing issues with her eyes and her general appearance being small. We later came to find out our baby was acutally 3 months old when we accepted her and less than 6 pounds. She was just over 3 pounds when she came into our agencies care and a little miracle fighter baby! When in country we learned that in all of Ethiopia there are only 2 incubators!!!!  These are of over abundance in the hospital I work in. Any baby of that size would have been in an incubator with who knows how many tubes hooked up to help them thrive, but our daughter was in Ethiopia with lots of blankets and prayers as the nannies would report to us. She is God's gift to our family.

What an amazing gift she has been these last 6 months that she has been united with her family her in the U.S.A.! She has been very developmentally delayed and in Speech, Physical and Occupational therapy. She has major vision issues when she came home, probably due to prematurity and living in an orphanage setting without much stimulation. It is AMAZING how much she has changed and thrived since being in a loving home with constant attention and love. (Our 3 other children have had at times an over abundance of love for her!!)

Just last week we celebrated her 1st birthday and crazy enough she was crawling just in time for the great day!!!

So my message to you is this, if you feel led to give a home to a waiting child, answer the call. It will be the most wonderful thing you have ever done. I can honestly tell you that it hasn't been easy, but the rewards are
bountiful and overflowing everyday. For me, the hardest part was the fact that our child came to us unexpectedly, I never would have thought that we wouldn't have just gotten our "referral call". As others have said in the past, the wait is worth it, I definitely feel that God knows which child needs which family and which family needs which child.

So I leave you with my understanding of adoption (and life in general) as stated in Proverbs 3: 5-6

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.

Blessings to you! Kent and Sally McQuilkin home with Khari Mimi Jimma McQuilkin September 5 2010

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: Ellie, Kara, and Ross' Story

We were already a family of six when our adoption journeys began. I had always been open to adoption, but after having our fourth child figured our family was complete. My husband had always been afraid to adopt for fear that he might view the adopted children differently. That all changed after going to a conference at our old church on the importance of family. Adoption was never mentioned, but my husband came away knowing that we would, in fact, be adding to our family that way.

We chose China, due to the stability of the process, as well as having friends who had adopted from China and could help talk us through the confusing process of putting together a dossier and understanding all the ins and outs. We started off in the non-special needs track, because we had been told by our insurance company (the rep over the phone) that they wouldn’t cover any pre-existing conditions. Once we sent off our dossier, we found out that adopted children must legally be covered the same as a child born to you, so we quickly switched to where we truly felt called; the special needs track.

Our first child through adoption was Ellie, in September 2007. She was 25 months old at the time of her adoption; just 8 months younger than our youngest daughter. It was certainly trying for a while, having two toddlers. One was used to being “the baby” in the family, and the other had always lived in an institution where she had to fight for attention, food, toys, etc. They were virtual twins, and loved and fought as such. Now, they like to clarify that one was born in Florida, and one was born in China! Ellie is loving, funny, and especially ornery...just like all of our other children. We were blessed beyond measure with her, and cannot imagine our family without her.

Before Ellie’s adoption was complete, we knew that we’d be going back to China to adopt a boy. Most people think of baby girls when they think of China, but the truth is, there are many, many boys who wait, and are never chosen...not because their needs are any greater or different, but simply because they are boys.

We fell in love with a 7 year old boy, and began working towards bringing him home. During the wait, we kept hearing about children who would be turning 14, at which point they would age out and no longer be eligible for adoption. After getting the go-ahead from our agency, we changed our dossier to reflect our decision to bring home two children. We were contacted shortly after that in April 2009, with a girl who would age out in just 5 weeks. Her needs were significant, and the family that had committed to her had just decided to not go through with the adoption. We had already prayed and decided that we would proceed with whatever child was brought to us, so it was an easy decision to say yes. Neither China nor our agency knew if we could get our paperwork there in time, since it still had not been approved here in the states. God, however, was not hindered by all the red tape and requirements that were new at that point, and we made it to the Civil Affairs Office in China on the last day our Kara would be eligible for adoption. We then were able to travel to adopt our son Ross in his province, and eventually made it home to become a family of nine.

Bringing two older, unrelated children home at the same time seems a little crazy, but it was actually good for them to have someone to talk to, and play with in their native tongue, while adjusting to being part of a large family and life in America. They have been home now for 20 months, and are doing fantastic. Ross is outgoing, talkative, and funny. He loves life and trying new things, like surfing and riding roller coasters. After suffering much while in China, Kara is slower to come out of her shell. She is doing well though, and beginning to make friends and enjoys playing, swimming, and having a full belly.

Our family is so different than what it was just 4 years ago. I never even saw it coming, but there isn’t a thing I would change if I could do it all over again. Any challenges we faced bringing older children into our home pales in comparison to the blessings of having them be part of our family.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps. Proverbs 16:9.

Bo and Dana

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: Aliya's Story

My husband and I have been blessed with 5 beautiful children: 2 who came to us biologically and 3 who came to us by way of adoption.

We chose to adopt older children from Ethiopia. Five years ago, when we first began the process to adopt we requested 2 siblings under the age of 4. We waited only 6 weeks for their referral, since at that time most people wanted a single baby girl or boy. In my mind, I expected a 3 and 4 year old and were surprised to have a 3.5 year old (who actually turned out to be a year older) and a 9 month old baby referred to us! Our older kids were then 14 and 16 years old. We were THRILLED!

The transition with the boys was relatively smooth. They had no temper tantrums, although I had a couple:) They have adjusted to our family seamlessly and are now a 8 year old aspiring pro athlete and an adorable, quick witted pre-schooler. Our lives without these boys would be unimaginable for us now.

A few years ago, God began breaking my heart for the older kids in Ethiopia. I mean, I was losing sleep. They were what I thought about all day, every day. My heart was for the older boys there. When I say older boys, I don’t mean 7 year olds. My heart was for the teenage boys. There are many, many elementary age boys on waiting lists for every adoption agency in Ethiopia. If they were waiting without a family wanting them, what about the really older boys, 12 and up? Who would want to adopt them? Why were they any less deserving of a loving family than a sweet little baby or toddler? Well, they weren’t but they were less desirable by families.

Yes, we all know that the older the child, the more background they have. With background, what will be their issues? Will they have suffered abuse? How will we handle that? They will have to learn English. That will be difficult at their age. How will we handle their education? Will they ever catch up? We know that if we adopt a 12 year old, we will only have 6 years before they turn 18 and are an adult. After all, if we are going to invest the blood, sweat, tears, let alone the money it takes to adopt, let’s make it worth it and adopt a baby. Better chance of success and more time with them.

Sounds terrible to say these things but let’s face it, isn’t this what people think? There is a lot of fear surrounding adopting older childen.

Almighty God loves children of all ages. How His heart must grieve when the older kids get overlooked time after time. How it must break His heart to see so few Christians willing to take a chance on an older child.

God had revealed his desire for us adopt in a dream in our first adoption. And now He was burdening me about another. I begged Him to stop. Seriously, it was like torture for me. Whenever this burden hit me, I decided to ask God to tell my husband this time. Last time, He showed me, this time I begged him to show Blaine.

I finally shared this burden with my husband and he instantly said, “This time I think we should adopt a 12 year old girl.”


It seems that God had answered my begging and pleading. Unbeknownst to me, for the past 3 weeks my husband had been praying and asking God to show him that we would be able to afford to have another child. That week, God brought new business to him and he was convinced we could do it.

From that minute forward, we put everything we had into getting this new daughter God had for us home. Along the way, we had some huge mountains that we had to climb (we had a house fire and were displaced for over 6 months and Blaine suffered a rare illness which caused temporary but complete paralysis from his chest down). Through all of this, God was faithful and kept prodding us to keep going.

My oldest daughter, Katie and I were blessed to travel to Ethiopia to pick up our new family member, Aliya Tarikwa in Feb. 2010. She was 14 when we met her and had persistently been praying and asking God to send her a family for over a year.

She is a girl with a great deal of faith. In letters she wrote to us, she told us, “Jesus is my hope.” To say she was thrilled that she had a family was an understatement.

Aliya has been home for just one year now. She is 8th grader in middle school. She has dropped one of her ELL classes so she could be in Geography. She wants to be with the other kids and not be singled out for extra help. For the last 2 quarters, this girl has made the A honor roll. Her teachers LOVE her. She’s a very determined (I might say stubborn!) girl. She will succeed and has a bright future in whatever she chooses to do in life. We are honored to be her parents.

Has it been easy? No.

Has it been worth it? YES!

She is a great girl but adopting a teenager comes with it’s own special challenges. With God’s help, we have and continue to overcome them. Aliya learns to trust us more every day.

She is teaching us many things, as well. Mainly, for me…it is this.

“It is NOT about me.”

It never was and it never will be. It is ALL for the glory of God.

We always encourage people to follow God’s Word and listen to Him when He speaks. He has made it abundantly clear to us as Christians…take care of orphans.

All of them.

The ones in diapers, the ones learning to walk and the ones losing their front teeth. Certainly they need us.

But please, please don’t forget the ones who have passed all these cute stages. The ones who have no one waiting for them.

The ones who will be out on their own if no one comes for them. They need us, too!



Friday, February 25, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: Sarah's Story

Every morning when I crawled out of bed my line of sight was focused on the room across the hall. Our baby nursery was full to brim with a crib, toys, clothes, diapers … everything except a baby. The nursery had sat empty for so long that dust was actually creeping up everywhere because I really never wanted to go into that room much. The room reminded me of too many dreams and too much emptiness. Our dossier was sitting in China waiting to be matched with a child. We had requested to be matched with an “AYAP” child – or a child “as young as possible.” Our hopes were our child would be between 6 to 9 months when we were matched. Two years has passed since our paperwork has been approved and sent to China. The process of children being matched to parents was crawling along at a snail’s pace and we knew it would be months and months before it was our turn to be parents.

There was nothing my husband or I could do about the wait to adopt a child, but we could do something fun and worthwhile with our time. He focused his spare time on enjoying the outdoor life of fishing and hiking. I focused my energy on my hobby of entering cooking and recipe contests. One day our two hobbies collided as I was called as a finalist at a national cooking contest scheduled for the same time he was planning to be out hiking the Appalachian Trail. So we decided to combine our two trips. We would drive south together, attend my cook-off and then I would drop him off at the trail. Once on the trail, he intended to hike for three weeks and would be without cell phone reception most of the time.

The day of the cook-off was gorgeous weather and tons of fun. After not winning a cash prize that day, we headed back to our hotel to relax and to get ready for our drive the next day when we would be saying goodbye for a few weeks. Kevin turned on our laptop computer and at about the same time we remembered that Great Wall China Adoptions had planned to post a new waiting children’s list that day. We logged on and read through many of the files. We were reading the special needs files more out of curiosity than anything. We had never fully considered the waiting children’s program because we knew that in a few short months our dossier would be at the top of the pile and ready to be matched with a non-special needs infant. Our empty nursery soon would be full!

He was the first one to read through the list and then he passed the computer over to me. After a few minutes, he said, “Did you read the file about the 13 year old girl?” Actually, I had not yet. So I opened her file. No photos were included but I read the few pages of text about her. After 13 years of walking on this earth there were just a few sentences describing a young girl who had endured much in her life yet still after seeing many younger children being adopted she had asked that her file be sent out in hopes of finding a family .

At this point she was 13 years old and just 8 months away from being considered “too old” to be adopted. On the day a Chinese child turns 14 he/she is no longer available for international adoption. On a 14th birthday when many kids are excitedly opening presents and eating cake, a boy or girl residing in one of China’s orphanages is experiencing the first day of the rest of his/her life … a life without the hope of every being adopted internationally.

Something in this young girl’s file clicked with both my husband and me. We talked endlessly about “why” we had decided to adopt and finally were able to put it into words. We simply wanted to be a family. I wanted to be a mom and he wanted to be a dad. Together we wanted to be parents and to be part of a family with a child. We thought back and laughed at how we had contorted our faces when in one of our adoption seminars we had been asked to draw an image of what we thought our child would look like. We had no set ideal image of our child – no race, no gender, no age and no size. So, we had drawn a stick figure with an arrow pointing to the image labeled “our son or our daughter.” We knew the rest of the information would be revealed to us in time and we were excited to meet the person who would one day replace that stick figure drawing.

We stayed on an extra day at the hotel to give us time to talk more and to think. We sat together and carefully went over each question on the special needs adoption request form. We said we realized as first time parents that we lacked the background in having raised a child through the teen years, but we actually saw a huge bonus in our ability to spend all of our time with our child. As first time parents, we knew we would have the extra time needed to help an older child to learn English, to be there to help with homework and studying, to help our child adapt to a new culture and to simply be there for “whatever”.

The phone call that changed our lives came in the early morning hours on July 5. We had stayed up late watching fireworks and were still in bed when the phone rang. The voice on the other end said, “You’re parents! Run to your computer and I’m sending you photos of your daughter.” We almost fell down the steps trying to race to get there! We kept hitting the refresh button on the email until finally three pictures arrived. There she was …. our teen daughter! We were parents!!

The next few weeks were a blur. The nursery came down and the teen girl room went up. We talked with our school system about what options our daughter would have. We secured an English tutor. We chatted with other parents about what things their teen kids liked. We filled our daughter’s new room with all things girly and pink. We bought an Ipod and Kevin’s Chinese students helped select some current Chinese music to put on it. We packed and we flew off to China.

And we’ve never looked back. We’ve been home 3-1/2 years now. Our daughter is 17 and in high school. I would by no means attempt to tell you that it’s been an easy road. Sarah knew no English when we met, she left her country and her friends behind to start her new life and she had to get to know two crazy Americans who showed up and wanted to be called “mom and dad.” But the one constant thing in our lives is family. We experience the ups and down together. We are family.

Kevin and Debi Bracker

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: Zinashi's Story

Our story starts out like so many others. We felt we were meant to adopt. For some this comes after pursuing pregnancy and experiencing failure of one kind or another, or giving birth to children. We always knew that we would adopt, and one spring it became clear that pursuing pregnancy just wasn’t something we felt strongly about, whereas we did feel strongly that we wanted to be a family to children that needed one. So in the summer of 2009, we applied to our agency, were accepted, and began the paper chase. We decided to pursue adoption of a baby since this was to be our first child, and chose to request a girl. We were open to a wide variety of special needs, but knew that it was possible that we would end up with the ever-popular “healthy” baby girl.

Because it was actually our preference to adopt a child with special needs, I kept my eye on our agency’s waiting child list throughout our wait. I kept seeing little girls that I thought were so wonderful, whose stories were so heartbreaking, but then I’d say, “Mary, stop that. You are waiting for a baby. You and Jarod agreed, and you need to just step away from the cute photos.” And then one day there was a photo of a baby with special needs on the list, and I knew that we could handle her potential issues, and so we submitted the form to view her information. I thought, “This might be it!” But I was wrong; at the same time we were submitting a request to view this baby’s information, another family was doing the same, and they had been waiting longer. She is now their daughter, and we are so glad. Because seeing the face of that baby, who was not meant to be our baby, somehow put me in a state of readiness for the photo that would show up just shortly after that, the photo of our daughter.

Immediately, the little girl in the picture caught my eye. She was just incredibly intense, with these eyes that were just staring right through whomever was taking the photo. I was transfixed by her, but again I told myself to stop it, because she wasn’t a baby. She was three years old, with a minor medical issue. A perfect fit, really, except that she was three years old. As in, older than a baby. And we were adopting a baby! I just knew that we were! I told myself that I was just doing this because I was tired of waiting, that I really needed to step away and stay the course we’d agreed on as a family. I sent a text to my husband about how quickly things could go when it came time for kiddo number two, as we had agreed that we would only pursue adoption of a baby once since there is a much greater need for older child adoption. But something wouldn’t let me stop staring at her photo. So I sent him another text, and then, possibly, another. I wanted this little girl to be our daughter. I didn’t want to wait for a baby any longer because I felt like this little girl was our girl. He returned from a stressful day at work, having not looked at her photo at all. We looked at it together, and then he said the magical words that changed our whole lives for the better, “Let’s see what happens.” And so we did; after a nerve-wracking four days, thinking that someone else made a request for her information before us, even though I felt so strongly that this was our girl, we received a call, which was followed up with an e-mail, which contained all the information about our daughter.

What followed was the quickest pediatrician consultation phone call ever made, a review of records that wasn’t conclusive, but was overall positive, and a call as soon as it was all officially done and discussed, the very next day after we had received her information. Honestly, we would have said yes on that first call, but we didn’t want to seem completely impulsive and unwise. We even had a little party and showed off her photo before we talked to the pediatrician and officially said yes; we were just that sure that this was meant to be our daughter.

And oh, she was meant to be our daughter. Not that it is ever meant to be for a child to lose her family and need another, but insofar as secondary arrangements after tragedy can be providential, we believe that this was. She is smart, she is silly, she is snuggly, she is all we ever dreamed of and hoped for. She isn’t what we thought we would get; she is far better. Babies are overrated. I say, follow your heart. I say, if you are thinking about a child who doesn’t fit what you thought you were open to, open your heart to saying yes. If you’re at all like us, you’ll be so very glad you did.

Mary McBride

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: The Donaldson's Story


We are the Donaldsons and are SOON, as in days, going to be leaving to pick up and bring home our two new gifts who were waiting siblings. Obviously, we don't have a lot of experience, but I can share how God placed these precious kids on our hearts.

First of all, we are a little older, in our 40's, and have three bio kids who are 14, 12, and 11. Due to our kid's ages and most agencies desire to keep birth order, we were in a position to consider an older child. Although it is easy to get excited about a baby or toddler, and that was originally the age we thought we would be adding to our family, the faces of the waiting kept me returning to them. Having older children myself, I would think about them and consider: What if those were my children? JUST because they were OLDER they would be subject to non consideration time and time again. They would wait months and years with no one inquiring about them, not even giving them a chance simply because they were not under 24 months!

We watched the waiting children's list and saw our children the day they were posted. We were looking for siblings, and these two stole our hearts. We wrestled a little bit with giving up the "baby", but God made it clear that these were ours...and we are so glad He did. He used other, seasoned, adoptive families of older children to encourage us also.

In January we met them for the first time. Attached you will find pictures of that wonderful moment. They are SO sweet and fun!!! Our bio kids are going to love playing with them!!! I look forward to learning all about them and their history and being with them as they experience things for the first time that they didn't have the privilege of having , using or seeing before. I look forward to impressing upon them that they are precious in God's sight and worthy of being chosen.

That's the beginning of our story. Follow along if you wish, for the rest of the story:
~Angie D

Matthew 18:5 "And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me."

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: Prim's Story

Our journey is not unique. Like so many families across the world, we began trying to have a child shortly after being married. For four years we tried to conceive but eventually underwent infertility treatments which led to the miracle birth of our son. A year and a half later we tried again only to be disappointed. But we were happy-content even- as a family of three stationed overseas in Naples, Italy. My husband was the one who started beating the “let’s have more kids” drum. I was so thrilled to have been able to have a child at all that I was hesitant. I didn’t know if I could handle the emotional turmoil brought on by fertility treatments and my heart was in a different place. I carried a desire for adoption that so far my husband did not share. Imagine my surprise when one day months later my husband approached me and said, “I’ve been praying about it and I’m ready. Let’s adopt!”. You could have knocked me over with a feather but the determination and excitement in my his voice was contagious and we immediately applied to adopt from Vietnam-my husband’s country of birth.

Unexpectedly our time in Italy was a year shorter than we planned and one month after getting new orders we arrived in Monterey, California. After being back in the states for one week and living temporarily in our best friend’s camper until we found a new home, I decided to look on our adoption agency’s waiting child photo listing. I wasn’t sure what to expect or what I would see. I didn’t know what qualified a child as “waiting” but my curiousity got the best of me and soon I was looking at page after page of angelic faces. Older children, children with mild, physical, correctable disabilities. Children who would need permanent individualized care for life and children with chronic yet manageable illnesses. Children who were part of a sibling group and were more difficult to place and babies dealing with the effects of alcohol, tobacco and drug exposure in utero. Each of them in need of a forever family, including one little girl who’s large, expressive eyes captured my heart in an instant.

I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She reminded me so much of my son and I felt captivated by her seriousness. We immediately contacted our adoption agency and requested her file and soon learned that eight other families had done the same. This little girl had made quite an impression! So much so, in fact, that after being on the waiting child photo listing for less than twenty four hours the agency had to place a hold on any further requests for her personal information.

We waited with nervous anticipation for her file to arrive via FedEx the next day. When it arrived we were excited, ripping open the thin white envelope to find a stack of papers describing the details of a ten month old baby girl living in foster care in Thailand. According to her file she was active and healthy, the only concern and subsequent unknown for a future diagnosis was that the whites of her eyes (known as the sclera) where a bluish color instead of the normal milky white which could possibly indicate glaucoma or osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease). She needed a family who was open to the possibility of a serious diagnosis. There was no discussion, no hesitation. We knew that whatever care she needed, whatever challenges she faced we could provide them for her and she would have the opportunity to thrive with us as her parents.

The process took almost two weeks. Each family that applied to become her forever family had to go through a lengthy application process and hour long interview before being presented to a committee to find the family most qualified for this particular child. Although it was hard, we asked that this beautiful little girl be placed with a family that could bring her home the quickest. We knew that travel time could be almost a year because of where we were in the adoption process and we were told that there were other families further along which meant she could be home sooner. We were a military family that moved often and had and would experience deployments and separation. All we could do was be honest about the love we had to give, the sacrifices we were willing to make on her behalf and the desire we felt to be her mom and dad. As much as we wanted to be her family, we wanted the best for her more and we had to rely on a group of strangers to make that decision on her behalf.

I was driving home when I got the call from the waiting child coordinator. The committee had met and chosen us to be Prim’s family! I couldn’t believe it. To this day it still makes me smile to know that through it all, they saw our heart and believed we would raise her best. Our lifestyle was not considered a drawback and they thought we were worth the wait. Life as we knew it as a family of three was over and we were ecstatic.

It took eleven months to travel to our daughter. Our long wait meant that our little girl was getting older without us and it broke our heart. We missed her first steps, first words and first birthday. The monthly reports detailed a healthy, active, vibrant baby growing into a rambunctious toddler. She was walking, climbing, jumping and running. Her eyes had been checked under general anastesia and there was no sign of brittle bone disease or glaucoma. She would need to be followed up by a pediatric opthamologist once in the states but by all accounts she was healthy and thriving.

The dream of a waiting child, whether they are one month or twenty one months, is so much different than the reality that is bringing them into the home. As much as we tried to prepare ourselves for Prim’s reaction to us, we could not have comprehended the depth of her grief. She lost a family and was thrust into the arms of strangers. She lost her language, food, culture and routine right along with the foster family that she had called mom and dad since birth. She was broken and in the beginning I remember a very strong sense of guilt. Even though I knew that her foster family could not keep her, that our personal convictions led us to believe that she was meant to be in our family, my heart did not stop breaking to see her hurting and fearful. It took a very long time before she could sleep at night or let me out of her sight. And three years later I still think that sometimes she thinks that she will wake up and we will be gone and I believe that there is a place in her memory that holds on to those emotions from long ago.

Prim is our spirited, unyielding bundle of joy. She is now five years old and a force to be reckoned with. No one hugs harder or laughs louder in our family. She is sugar and spice and a gift from God that can not be put into words. Without her we would have an empty place in our hearts. Her coming home forced us to be better people, better parents. We had to learn what it meant to raise a child according to her needs and not our own ideals. We had to recognize that her loss is now our loss. At twenty two months she lost everything she knew and it may effect her forever. It’s our job, as her parents, as the people trusted to love her and care for her, to acknowledge that she has experienced a loss we can not understand. And while we pray that her life is not defined by her adoption, we understand that it is a part of who she is and will support her in her efforts to heal those wounds in any way that she needs. She is beautiful beyond compare and her strength is humbling.

That she loves us so fiercely, that she calls me mom and lets me hold her in my arms is nothing short of a miracle. And it’s all because of a picture...

April Cao

Monday, February 21, 2011

Adopting a Waiting Child: The Pinkerton's Story

Our adoption story started with infertility that led to adopting our first two children, Emily and Isaac. They were both born in the US, and we were delighted after being married 14 years to finally have children. We looked like the typical American family; one boy and one girl. I really thought my quiver was full. But the

unspeakable happened when my beautiful son, Isaac, went home to eternity at the age of 17. We were devastated...and immediately turned to the Lord for comfort, hope, and meaning. Through prayer, tears, and godly fellowship, we began to think about adopting again. We weren't done, and taking care of orphans is close to God's heart. When we asked Emily how she felt about having more brothers, she burst into tears. She said to please don't talk about it if you're not going to do it!

She, too, wanted more brothers. Our search led us to Ethiopia, and we quickly fell in love with the beautiful faces we saw in the photos. We wanted a sibling group, so when we were shown the photos of twin 5 yr old boys, it took about a millisecond to say yes. But we couldn't shake the feeling that there was another child for us. We were so touched by the beautiful smile of a 10 yr old boy who lived with his grandmother. So we asked for him as well.

When we flew to Ethiopia ( on Father's Day, 2007 ), we were so excited. We knew our lives would change dramatically. The thing is, our lives had already been so dramatically changed that we weren't afraid of more change. We welcomed it. The minute we saw our boys, they were ours. I know we've had a remarkable adjustment because we haven't had a bad day with these boys. Sure, there were some language issues, but the joy of getting to know them has been a delight.

All three are so well-mannered, sweet, smart and kind. I literally wake up smiling because God has redeemed my life by giving me such purpose. Once you see these children, it widens your horizens, and gives you a perspective on life that's invaluable. They have enriched my life, and I'm receiving way more than I'm giving.

Robel and Jonas are now 10, and very energetic and interested in everything. They ask questions about the moon, the north pole, how to swim, and the latest NFL draft. Zerihun is 14, and quieter than his brothers. He makes us laugh with his insightful comments and he's a really good big brother. This boy went from living with his grandmother in a village in Ethiopia, to a little brother, and a big sister, parents and a dog. Mark took him back to visit his grandmother two years ago which was not only good for Zee, but also very encouraging to Zee's grandmother, and the whole village. They now know that these children who go to new families in the US are loved and thriving.

The last thing I want to share is that the need is so great. There are so many beautiful orphaned children who long for a family. They live in one room huts with dirt floors., or on the streets, if they're not fortunate enough to find a home in an orphanage. They don't care if they share a bedroom, or if the house is small. Its a matter of perspective! We were so touched by the older kids, the teenagers, who are too old to be adopted. We're trying to help a few of them, and we have a website describing the great workers there that we're partnering with, We have gone back several times, and every time I come home wishing I could bring more children home to live with us. If you feel like God is calling you to do this, don't be afraid, because He will enable you, and for all of eternity, you'll be grateful that you were obedient.

Mark and Tess Pinkerton

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Adopting the Waiting Child: the blog series

Our blog series, Adopting a Waiting Child, starts tomorrow.  This series was born out of this passion that I have developed for children who have no parents and the stark contrast of living in relational and materialistic abundance.  This series will be a collection of guest posts from adoptive parents who have adopted children who were "waiting" and, while this is different from anything I've done before, I am praying that the testimonies of these beautiful families will stir you.  So, if you are thinking of following along and reading our blog this week, I urge you...


until you have gotten on your knees and prayed about what this week is going to do to your spirit.  I pray it moves you to some action, whether that is to support those who have adopted, support those who are adopting, go on a mission trip so that you can love on those who need love, support those who are going in love, or (dare I say it?!) ADOPT a child, or two, or three.  YIKES! 

This post will serve as the home page for the series and will have an index of each story with a link, so if you think you've missed a story, you can always come back here instead of scrolling through to see what you've missed.  You can also feel free to post the button to your blog, facebook, etc. to help spread the word about this series.
Team Chase: 4 and Counting

Tomorrow's the first story...quick...hit the floor! :)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Check This Out!

I was contacted yesterday by a lady named Angela who is in the process of raising money for their adoption and is doing an adoption auction on her blog!!  She and her hubby are prayerfully considering where to adopt from and are researching and praying about the country where their baby is.  In the meantime, they are already raising money for the fees associated with beginning the adoption process.  They are A.DOR.A.BLE and her little Southern flair is so cute and evident in her writing.  I know you'll love them instantly! :)

So, go show them some love and get shopping by clicking on the picture below!

OK, gotta time!! :)

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Coming Up on Our Blog

I have a three things that are going to be coming up on the blog that I wanted to share:

1. Do you remember this post?  I poured out my heart a little about adopting older children and it got me to thinking that maybe I should have people who have adopted older or waiting children guest post for me.  SOOO, starting February 21st, I am going to do just that.  I have a handful of people that are putting together a post just for you about their stories with adopting a waiting child.  I'm excited about it...hope you are, too!


2. Our adoption auction was a huge success!  I am still contacting, mailing, etc., but, it looks like we made right at $1,200!!  Therefore, I am planning to do it again mid-June. :)  If you might want to donate, let me know and I'll put you on my list of people to contact in May.  Otherwise, watch for the auction in June...there will be something for everyone.

3. I am thinking about an organizational overhaul for the blog.  I'm still formulating how to do this in my head, but I'm thinking something like a specific day for talking about adoption, one for family happenings, one for crafting, and one for a weekly spiritual truth.  What do you think?  Do you have any advice for me?  I love your feedback! :)


P.S. It looks like we will be going back to work this week.  Hope we remember how to work more than one day a week! ;)

P.P.S. Our agency made two referrals this week, so "unofficially", we are sitting at number...

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Melia's 6th Birthday

Sweet Melia turned 6 on January 29th, 2011.  SIX YEARS OLD!!  What a big girl!!

There are so many things I could say about this amazing little girl's birthday, but I think the pictures pretty much speak for themselves. :)

Her school party on Friday (the day before her birthday):

Opening presents from Mommy, Daddy, and Camden on her birthday morning:

Breakfast of Champions on the way to watch cousin Isaac at his swim meet (he got 1st place in one of his events!!):

Melia's friend birthday party at the Flip Shop:

Then, we wrapped up the day with her family party at her favorite restaurant, Logan's Roadhouse:

We have been so blessed with this little girl in our family.  From the moment she was born, she transformed us from a couple to a family and our lives have never been the same.  As her mommy, I am so proud of the young woman that she is becoming.  She is sweet and sensitive and cares so much about others.  She loves Jesus, family, friends, reading, school, her teacher, being challenged, "girl time" with mommy, gymnastics, playing piano, music, watching movies (not scary ones, though!), playing with her brother, and writing.  She also told me "and I love to behave".  And that is true, she strives to be the best little girl that she can, even reciting the classroom rules if asked!  She is beginning to ask questions about Jesus living in her heart and understands things way beyond her years.  She also has an impeccable memory!

In some ways our sweet girl is still such a little girl and needs so much help and guidance and yet, in other ways, right before our very eyes, she has become a big girl: so independent and helpful.  She understands that in a family, everything we do affects others and that it's important to always be mindful of that.

She is such a healthy little girl, even with her picky eating habits!:)  It's hard to believe that we spent so much time at the beginning of her life driving back and forth to Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City for her Developmental Dysplasia of the Hips.  She runs and plays like the other kids in her class and continues to have great check-ups every time we go.

Miss Melia is a bright light in our lives and we love her SO much!  Thank you, God, for our amazing little girl!

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