Courageous Hearts for God-Sized Challenges

Stacie and Daniel Jackson have adopted twice from China. Both of their two daughters were 8 years old when they came home with their forever family. Both girls had lived a journey of significant medical needs, but the support they received from their new family led the Jacksons to experience God’s miraculous work in multiple ways. But, most of all, the Jacksons have seen God work in their hearts, giving them courage to walk the journey He’s laid out for them.

Stacie and Daniel Jackson

How did you come to the decision to adopt?

Before my husband, Daniel, and I got married, we discussed many different topics, and I clearly explained that I did not have a desire to have biological children. We both felt that we may adopt a child “someday,” though. After being married 8 years, I started feeling like there was something missing. Through a series of events, I met a friend who had just come home from China with her daughter. She directed me to Lifeline’s website to get more information. I was completely clueless about how the process worked.

How did God grow your family through adoption?

That same evening I logged onto the website and found the list of Waiting Children. Most were approximately 20 months old, but one really cute girl was standing there holding a walker, and beside her name it said that she was 7 years old. I remember immediately wondering why this sweet girl waited for 7 whole years without a forever family. I requested information about her and, long story short, we brought her home 13 months later.

Over 2 years later, I volunteered at a Lifeline Kids Camp, where our second daughter attended. Something drew me to her and kept bringing me back to her months after she had gone back home. We later found out that she was born with a very serious heart defect. But through a lot of soul searching and prayer, we knew that she was our daughter, no matter what happened.

How has God strengthened you through challenges?

I am an occupational therapist, so the therapy that my older daughter would need did not scare me at all. We knew that if we were going through with this, it would be by relying on God’s strength and direction every step of the way. However, our greatest challenge was not physical—it was working through emotional and attachment issues as a family. I cannot sing the praises of Lifeline’s Post-Adoption Team enough. They were there every step of the way guiding us through that time.

I have also had to learn how to assert myself when advocating for their needs. But really, all of that came naturally. It was like the Lord equipped me in each situation with confidence and the right words to say to get them the help they needed.

How have you seen God work through the physical needs of your daughters?

The ways that we have watched the Lord work in healing the physical bodies of our daughters has been unbelievable. If I were not living this life and watching the story unfold, it would be hard for me to even believe!

Our first daughter had profound weakness in both of her legs when we met her. This was due to a virus, which attacked her spinal cord (likely polio). She had not moved her left leg, except for her trunk and hip flexor, for 8 years. Every neurologist, orthopedist and rehab medicine doctor that we took her to in the first 2 years home gave us no hope. She had also developed a condition in which one of her legs was shorter and stuck out to the side of her body. This resulted in a pelvic shift and a curve in her spine to further complicate matters.

Jackson sisters

She was determined to walk, and I was determined to help her do it. We all prayed fervently, worked as hard as we could (up to 2 hours every day for almost 5 years now) and followed every lead that came our way. We found a genius of an orthopedic surgeon in Baltimore who aligned her body from the waist down. This involved us spending the summer there with her in a body cast, but it was so worth it. While we were there, we met a family who was going to therapy at an international spinal cord retraining center across town. We made an appointment with them and have gone there for 2 intensive rounds of therapy (4 hours per day every day for 2 weeks). Now, every muscle in her legs that had been “dead” for 8 years can now move! She is able to stand and walk with a brace on her leg inside of our home without using any crutches, but I can tell you that she is nowhere near being finished with this journey.

With our second daughter, we were told by multiple cardiologists and specialists that her case is a rarity. It is hard to find another child as old as she is with her same circumstance who is thriving like she is. We brought her home on prayer and have begged the Lord to have mercy on her life. Just this week we found out that her “fatal, irreversible” condition is actually reversing! Her condition is still serious, but it has taken a turn in a positive direction. We are still trying to wrap our minds around this unbelievable blessing.

How have your daughters impacted your relationship with the Lord?

I often take a step back and try to wrap my head around life from my daughters’ perspectives. I am completely amazed at their tenacity and strength. I cannot imagine living through everything that they have and still live life with such joy and grace (most of the time)!

Being a mother to these two girls is something that I never pictured my life to be like, but it is a far more rewarding life than I could have ever dreamed of. The greatest gift I have received on this journey is how God has used this experience to teach me that I can trust and depend on Him. Every time we have faced a problem, He has shown up and provided what we needed when the time was right. From finding specialists to help their physical needs (when door after door after door was closed and no hope seemed to be in sight) to providing financially to pay for all of the adoption and medical expenses, He has been there. My faith is stronger and deeper now than I could ever have imagined.

Jackson family

I recently read through Revelation, and this is not a particularly pleasant verse, but something hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it this time. Revelation 21:8 “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”

Every time I have read that verse before, my brain immediately scanned through to all of the “bad people,” like murderers. But this time I saw the first two adjectives on the list. The cowardly. The unbelieving. Adoption is not for the faint of heart. I have learned that I am either all-in, or I’m not. If I truly trust God, I will follow Him no matter where He leads. None of this is about me. It’s about Him. And I can’t imagine living a richer life while on this earth, preparing to meet Him in Heaven.

The Jacksons have experienced the challenging but rewarding blessing of adopting older children with medical needs. By being obedient to what God had called them to, Stacie and Daniel were able to be part of witnessing God’s miraculous work—not only in the lives of their daughters but also in their own hearts. Not all needs are reversible, and not every parent has prayers answered in miraculous ways. However, the Jackson’s understand that God’s faithfulness to give strength, courage, and guidance are freely given to those who follow Him wholeheartedly.

If you have questions about older child adoption or adopting a child with medical special needs, please email us or call us at 205-967-0811. You may also find more information about adopting internationally on our website or at one of our Webinars or Adoption Info Meetings.