Daniel and Stacie Jackson stepped willingly into the unknown through their international adoption journey. The process all started when Daniel and Stacie, who are both extremely type-A and career-driven individuals, answered the Lord’s call to begin a process they would not be able to control.
When family friends adopted, their eyes became opened to the plight of the vulnerable. Daniel and Stacie came across a photo of Jian on Lifeline’s website, and amongst hundreds of other faces, hers stood out. Daniel remembered, “you could see that while she had certain physical limitations, it did not stop her at all. She was somebody who was going to overcome any challenges.”
Jian, now 18-years-old, was 8 when she came home from China. She more than likely had polio that left her with physical special needs that present as a spinal cord injury. Jian is physically and mentally strong, and she has adapted to her special needs in a profound way that has allowed new and unique opportunities to come her way. She skillfully navigates her wheelchair both on and off the basketball court.
Jian started playing wheelchair basketball and, “it opened up a whole new world for her,” said Daniel. She met other kids with similar disabilities or who were also adopted. Now, Jian trains every day for the Paralympics, and she just competed in her first Paralympic trial camp. Stacie quotes Genesis 50:20 often to both her daughters as they face challenges. She reminds them, “maybe Satan meant this to harm you, but the Lord is going to use this for good.”
The Jacksons said, “the timing couldn’t have been worse,” when they felt God calling them to pursue adoption again. The family had just built their “dream home” and they had settled into a routine of going to appointments countrywide for Jian, including a surgery that took place across the country in Baltimore. In order to be obedient to the Lord’s plan for them, Daniel and Stacie sacrificially sold their dream home.
By the time Stacie met Faith at a camp Lifeline was hosting in Alabama, the Jacksons said, “we had opened our hearts and our minds to whatever child God brings before us.”
“We named her Faith because we knew we weren’t going to be able to do this on our own,” admits Daniel. The Lord made it abundantly clear that the Jackson family was making the correct choice to adopt Faith. The process only took six months, instead of what can typically take years. When the results of their fundraising efforts were tallied, they had raised down to the exact dollar they needed.
Faith was also 8 years old when she came home from China, and now she acts like a typical teenager at 14. Faith’s most recent hobby is filled with irony. Despite her limited lung capacity that stems from a congenital heart defect and pulmonary hypertension, she enjoys marching band and playing the flute in the humid Alabama heat! Faith is independent, resilient, and doesn’t let her special needs keep her from participating in her life.
Stacie implored any family who might be interested in special needs adoption: “You have to see people as people. They might be in a wheelchair, or have a hearing aid, or have an oxygen tank, but they’re just people.” Daniel wanted families to know, “the journey of adoption is a biblical one. Throughout the challenges, throughout the difficulties, this is the way God views us.”
Both Daniel and Stacie are adamant that they’re not accomplishing any extraordinary feat by parenting Jian and Faith. Stacie summed up their thoughts when she said, “We’re just parents… Why me? What an honor.”