As we journey through each day of the Advent season, we’ve gathered special stories from Lifeline families, staff, and friends to share with you, testifying to how the hand of the Lord and the Character of Christ have been magnified through their children and in their families…
As an 8 year old child, I can remember telling my mother that one day I would have an Asian daughter. Keep in mind I was white… in an all white family and all that I knew of China was what I picked up from the local China Garden. Looking back, I can see the Lord’s hand in guiding my heart toward a love for a people and a culture that I knew virtually nothing of at the time. Fast forward many years, I had the opportunity to live for a year in China and everything changed. This culture and these beautiful people became a part of my life and changed me. When I left after my time there, I knew I’d be back to get my baby. (Just had to find my husband first!)
Eight years later, I had snagged my prince charming and we had a son, a daughter and a newborn son. Our decision to adopt the first time seemed to come easily. We knew this desire had been in our hearts for a long time. We prayed. I was ready and waited and prayed a few more months before Derek was ready. Then we filled out paperwork. We felt like we were jumping off of a cliff… it was exhilarating and terrifying all at once. We were idealistic and naive…. kind of like the Lego men singing “Everything is Awesome.” That song came to a screeching halt the moment we were handed a baby girl who was in a state of shock… The next 6 months were rough. ROUGH. But one day, the fog began to lift. I said to many friends, “I’m so thankful we have her, and I will never do that again.”
So the decision to adopt a second time was a bit different to say the least. We were 110% done with four children, so I’m not really even sure why I began to ask Derek questions at night like “Are we finished having kids?” Let’s just say, he was not super engaged in those conversations. And if he did respond to me, it was generally with a short quip about how we have too many kids already. So I dropped the subject.
But then something began to happen… a strange phenomenon… I began to feel as if someone was missing. I’m not talking about a romantic sense of “our family doesn’t seem complete.” Rather, it was a can’t-breathe-gonna-throw up-panicked feeling where I literally thought I had misplaced a kid. I would be out with my children and my heart would drop. I would quickly count. One. Two. Three. Four. Sigh of relief. They are all here. And then it would happen again. Sometimes just sitting the kids at the counter to feed them a meal would trigger this quick counting routine. Over and over this happened. Over and over, all 4 were there… but I couldn’t shake the feeling and couldn’t quit counting.
I kept this little secret from Derek. I wasn’t ready to fight it out as to why we needed another baby when I didn’t even know if I wanted 5 children. Instead, I told God. The conversation with God went something like “I don’t know if this is what you are telling me and honestly it is scaring me a bit. I’m not about to tell Derek so if this is from you, then by golly, you need to tell Derek yourself.” End of discussion and again, I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew that He wouldn’t tell Derek…. right?
Fast forward 2 days. Yep, 2 measly days. Derek and I returned from seeing the adoption documentary “Somewhere Between” and he told me he had a thought during the movie… He got a nervous laugh. He refused to say it and nervous laughed some more…. still refusing to talk. I remember saying “Just say it!!” and as I said that, in that moment, my mind said “Oh no! God told him!” He laughed some more and said “We are not done. God has been telling me that for a while and now I am certain.” I was shocked!
Mei Sims had only been home 8 months at this point so we knew the timing wasn’t right just yet. We tucked that revelation in the back of our minds, waiting to know when to move forward. An entire year passed. I’m sure it was a combination of factors. Life got busy… we were tired… some days I forgot what I thought I heard God saying… or worse yet, on some level, I didn’t want to remember what I heard God saying. The truth is that the second time around, we go into it knowing what is coming. We know what it is like to struggle to attach to your child. We know what it is like to have your child rage at you. We know what it is like for bedtime to take 2 hours. We know what it is like to co-sleep (aka no-sleep) with your new child. We know what it is like to be scared, to grieve, to hurt. We know that it is like to be made aware of our own sin on a whole new level. And some days, all of that knowledge was enough to scare me away from a decision to adopt again.
Thankfully though, the journey with our first adopted daughter wasn’t defined by the struggle. We have seen a life transformed. We have seen rage turn into pure joy. We have seen our child peacefully close her eyes to fall asleep… in her bed… in HER room! We have seen what it is like to love a child so deeply that you forget you didn’t give birth to her. In short, we have seen a miracle in her life. We have seen a miracle in ours.
A year to the date that God told us we were not done, we began to fill out the paperwork to go back. When we broke the news to friends and family the 2nd time, I was nervous about their reactions… I didn’t want the comments of “Ya’ll are crazy!!” or “That is so great of y’all!” both of which we got the first time around. Let me assure you that neither of these are correct. We are by no means a pair of wonderful heroes with giant hearts for orphans who are going to rescue another child… and we are by no means crazy… at least clinically crazy that is. Although I will say that following the heart of God can many times seem crazy to the world around us.
Rather it is something much more simple… God has told us we have a daughter and that she is in China…. so we need to go and get her. If God told you the same… you would go and find her… wouldn’t you?