“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).
That verse has always been one of my favorites. I love the hope it proclaims, the certainty of the ongoing triumph of good in a world that seems full of evil and uncertainty. I trust in this hope and in the Person who provides it. And in the midst of this difficult time in our lives, we’ve seen God at work, shining many rays of hope through darkness.
While I sat in those hospital rooms, listening to the ventilator breathe for my husband, I wondered if he’d make it out of the hospital alive, and I wondered how many of our dreams might also be dying during those days – our dream of raising our kiddos together, sending them off to college, and seeing them grow into adults themselves; our dream of traveling the world together, returning to Italy and China, someday visiting more of Europe and Asia and exploring the southern hemisphere; our dream of continuing to study and learn together.
What I haven’t shared here yet is that there was one dream I was really pretty sure was dying. You see, Matt and I had been talking for quite a while about when the timing might be right to pursue our next adoption. We’d been setting aside money for over a year, and we were thinking we’d start the process at some point during 2016. Then on the evening of January 19, I showed Matt a blog post I’d read about a little girl who needed a family. This happens with relative frequency, but what doesn’t happen all that often is that he asks for more information, and that’s exactly what he did that night.
The agency working to place this little one sent us her file the next day, and we reviewed it closely and began researching and reaching out to others for counsel. We spoke with some close friends; we talked with the social worker with whom we’d worked for Madeleine CaiQun’s adoption, who knows us well; we had conversations with other parents whose children have the same special need as this little one; we sent her file to our pediatrician, to the local specialist he recommended, and to the national specialists recommended by other adoptive parents; and we were able to get some additional information about this little girl from another agency that has done some work with her orphanage. We prayed for God to bring a family for her and for wisdom for us to know whether that was us.
And ultimately we came to the conclusion that we believed we could be a good family for her, and we wanted to submit the necessary documents requesting that China approve us to pursue adopting her. On February 9 our agency submitted our Letter of Intent (LOI) to China, and on February 16, we received pre-approval (PA) from China to adopt this precious little girl!
But then, the next night, Matt had a heart attack. And so, as I sat there in those hospital rooms, I was fairly certain we would have to surrender our pre-approval and, instead of completing an adoption and becoming her family, we’d be advocating on her behalf and trying to find another family to adopt her.
As the days went on, though, and Matt’s cardiologists were saying that they expected him to have a full recovery, we asked them about adopting. They saw no reason why we shouldn’t continue. I talked with our agency, and they said we’d need a letter from a cardiologist saying they expected him to be healthy and they believed it would be alright for us to continue with the adoption, but assuming we could get that and our home study social worker was on board, they would see if we could continue. We talked with our home study social worker, and she agreed that if Matt’s cardiologist was willing to write a letter in support of our continuing the process, she believed we could still be good parents for this little one. Once we were home and set up with Matt’s new cardiologist, we discussed it with her, and she was very positive – she said Matt’s heart function looked great, and he needs to make lifestyle changes and take the medications they’ve prescribed for him, but she does not expect further issues for him, and she was very willing to write a letter in support of our continuing the adoption process. Our agency reviewed the cardiologist’s letter and said we should be able to proceed!
As full as these last weeks have been with trying new meals and going to cardio rehab, they’ve also been full of home study visits with our beloved social worker, collecting paperwork, and starting to pull together our dossier. As we’ve talked about how to re-structure our lives to be as heart healthy as possible, we’ve also dreamed about what life will look like with four children.
It might have been easier to back down, to walk away, to say that with Matt having had a heart attack, anything and everything could be too risky, too dangerous. But as we’ve wrestled with what we want our post-heart-attack lives to look like, we’ve concluded that we don’t want to live in fear. There’s a quote I’ve appreciated much over these past few weeks – “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” We’ve had to ask ourselves what we are built for – and we believe we are built for loving God and for loving those around us, for doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with Him. We believe that we are called to step out of comfort and safety and to reach toward those around us. And there is a little girl right now in China who needs a family – we believe we can be a good family for her, and we’re going to do all that we can to get there and become her family.
And for us, this is one way in which we get to bear witness to the light shining through into the darkness. What we thought was a dying dream is still alive. It looks like we will be able to adopt again. In Psalm 68:6 it says that “God sets the lonely in families,” and we believe He is at work in making a way for our baby girl to come into our family.
Friends, we share this news with you with excitement and humility, and we ask that you consider whether you might be able to be a part of this journey with us. We ask that you consider praying with us and for us through this process. And we ask that you consider helping us to cover the costs of her adoption – we’ve been doing extra work and setting money aside for a while now, and we’ve been able to cover all of the costs that have come up thus far, but we know we’re not going to be able to pull together all of the remaining necessary funds ourselves. We’d be honored if you’d consider purchasing an artwork from Matt’s etsy shop or contributing financially to our adoption fund.
And we ask that you pray for our little girl. She is 2 years old and has deep, soulful eyes and a smile that could light up a room 🙂 The agency with which we’re working is very conservative and asks that we not share any photos publicly until she is actually our daughter, but if you ask us in person or via a private message, we’d love to share a picture and prove to you how adorable she truly is! She has osteogenesis imperfecta (sometimes referred to as brittle bone disease) and is very tiny and rather delayed in terms of her gross motor skills, but we look forward to seeing her develop as she gets the medical care that will help her reach her full potential.
We’re excited to be embarking upon this new adventure and hope you’ll be excited with us and perhaps even be a part of the journey with us. We’ll have many more updates, I’m sure, in the days to come!