our journey to little one {part two}

*this is the second half of this story, make sure to read the first part (click here to read it)

(This update was also added to yesterday’s post: I would hope that if you have read this blog even a week, you would know I am crazy about my four kids. I am beyond grateful for each of them. My life is full and I am consistently humbled by the incredible gift it is to be their mommy. This is the story of our adoption journey, it is not the complete story of our family. It is not the story of how crazy we are about the four kids we have. It just a very small glimpse of our adoption. You can read nearly every post from the past 4 years regarding how grateful I am to be a mom and how much I relish my days with my kids…)

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So yesterday, I ended with my daughter’ first birthday…

Summer 2010: Our daughter had just turned one and we began talking about adoption again. We were a bit lost where to pick back up. One thing about the adoption world is it is constantly changing. Rules, regulations, open countries….it is a constant stream of change and everyone has an opinion. We started doing some research into a DHS (department of human services) adoption and fostering with the intention of adoption.

Fall 2010: Still trying to figure out which path to start walking down in our own adoption, I received and email from Angie, the owner of Foster Kade Designs. She was working to raise funds for her adoption (a little girl in China). She asked if she could send me a headband or clutch and host a giveaway on my blog (back before I had blog sponsors). I checked out her store ~ gorgeous. She sent me a few headbands and clutches. I began following Angie’s blog as she shared her journey to bring her little Emery home.
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Fall 2010: We were still actively trying to figure out our next step. International adoption wasn’t looking like an option. We didn’t feel God leading us towards DHS or fostering to adopt at that time. In the midst of all that, we had close friends that we watched welcome their son into their family over the past year. They had an open domestic adoption and it was beautiful. We began leaning towards pursuing an open domestic adoption as a direct result to all that we saw in their family and the family of their son’s birth mom. Though we felt we knew what direction to head, we still sensed a big “not yet” when we prayed. So we waited. We waited AGAIN for a green light.
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April 8th, 2011: Through prayer and wise counsel believed it was time to begin, we downloaded an application to start a domestic adoption

April 9th, 2011 am: began filling out that application
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a few hours later: Chris worked on the application while FireCracker ate Oreos by the window.
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a few hours later: I sat in the waiting room at pediatric urgent care for 3 hours waiting for my daughter with a hurt leg to be seen
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the next morning: After the long wait at urgent care, then a drive to the ER, and a surgery, FireCracker would spend the next 3 weeks in traction to set a broken femur. We tried to find moments of humor in all the horrible by thinking about if we had been at the point of a homestudy…please visit us at the hospital for our home visit, our one year old is in traction. We really are great parents.
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May 2011: FireCracker came home sporting a hot pink spica cast. Our application had been sent off. We had been accepted by the agency.Β  We were thrilled and excited to be walking forward. We had every reason to be at peace and hopeful about the process. And yet, I wasn’t. There was just something bothering me. We were finally on a great path after waiting so long. Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling that something just wasn’t quite right. I didn’t have a peace about it. I began thinking of China again. I looked up the requirements…we met them all now. But the websites said the wait was 4-5 years.
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Monday, May 9th, 2011 am: I thought of my friend Angie and how her adoption was going much faster than 4-5 years. I finished things up for the day.

that night at 9:51 pm: After kids were in bed, I was still thinking about Angie…about China…about our adoption. I emailed her asking why her adoption was so much faster.

ten minutes later: Exactly ten minutes later she wrote me back…gushing about her daughter. I read her words. She said they were doing a “Special Needs” adoption. With the words of a mother crazy about her daughter, she shared how her little one was healthy, and strong, and beautiful. She mentioned how her daughter’s cute little cleft lip & palate placed her on the “Special Needs” list.Β  (The “Non-Special Needs” list in China is the 4-5 year wait). She attached a picture of little Emery, still waiting in China. The instant I opened the photo, I knew. When I saw Emery, I saw my child. In an instant, God gave me the peace and assurance I had been waiting so long to know…
Emery

May 11th, 2011: After a couple days of talking, thinking, praying, being both nervous and excited all at once ~ Chris and I made the ‘official’ decision that we would pursue a Special Needs adoption from China.

June 2011: Our beautiful girl learned to walk again and we began walking in regards to our adoption again
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And so that is the short version of how we got to where we were when I began sharing about our adoption here. We fully believe in fostering to adopt, adopting through DHS, open adoptions, special needs adoptions, non-special needs adoptions, domestic adoptions and international adoptions. We have looked into any and every option, and we have waited. We have prayed. We have cried. We have been confused. We have been anxious. We have been sad. Now, we are no longer waiting to begin. We are walking….even in the paperwork wait, we are learning to walk.

Ultimately we chose the path that we believe God has led us to through numerous ways. The right choice is different for every family. Kids need loving homes. Most people think we have just begun the adoption process. In reality, it was started a decade ago. We have waited and waited and waited. We are now possibly a few weeks or months from reading our little one’s name and seeing our little one’s picture for the first time. I can barely even write those words, it so hard to believe. We are so, so close!

It is crazy how after waiting so long to begin, now in what is kind of our final days…I am so impatient.

Let’s get a cute little bum in that chair! NOW!!!
1.12ourstory-20You can read all the posts that came after we finally got to the point of starting with China on our adoption page (click here).

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  • Harriet - Thanks for sharing a bit of your story! I was stalking your blog this morning waiting for part 2. I was able to function much better after reading this post! ;) It is so wonderful when you can clearly see the Lord at work. What an encouragement to hear about something that the Lord placed in your heart years ago being put into action now. His timing is perfect, and we don’t always know why things don’t happen sooner. But the Lord has it all planned. What a blessing. So thank you for giving us a glimpse of what the Lord is up to with your family just now! I am praying that your little girl will be sitting in that chair, and with her family, soon.

  • Debbie - Wow…such an amazing journey. Some church members of ours have been waiting, fundraising, praying, etc. for a long time to adopt, and they just got their child’s picture a few weeks ago! I can hardly imagine the joy in their hearts after going through such a difficult, long process. So excited to be following you on your journey!

  • Molly - Thank you for sharing….definitely an inspiration! A friend of mine adopted from China and just celebrate one year with their little one. Their daughter need clef lip and palette surgery. It is amazing what those surgeries have done! You can’t hardly tell. Just think you are not only giving her a family and more love than she could ever ask for. You are going to let her be the beauty God intended!! It is a beautiful journey you are on!

  • My Oatmeal Kisses - Ashley,
    Thanks so much for sharing your whole story. I loved it! It give me context to why you are so driven to adopt! What an inspiration you are to thousands of readers. Maybe that’s a second reason Heavenly Father led you on a long meandering path to adoption, so others would feel your adoption pangs and begin to feel them as well. Love your blog! And I love your honest words. Good luck with all of your paper work!
    Love,
    Kate

  • Jen - Oh this made me cry! I am so happy and excited for you! My boys came to our family through international adoption. Every day I feel blessed to hear them call me mommy.

  • Debbie - As an adoptive mama of two, I know your journey. Our two came from birthmoms in the US. One with a private adoption and one with foster care. You are quite right, when you say, every family has a path. He definitely shows us which way to go. He knows where each child’s family is and where each family’s child is. He’s the perfect match maker when we follow Him!

  • Kara M - Thank you for sharing! I love how you stress that this is your process. How beautiful that God guides each of us differently! Josh and I were introduced to a WONDERFUL ministry called Loving Shepherd Ministries. They help pre-adoptive couples make sound decisions. They keep up with the changes and advise couples on their options (FOR FREE). It has been such a blessing to us as we begin this journey!! I can’t imagine the beginning of the journey without them.

    Can’t wait for the day you tell us you received your referral! Blessings!!

  • Kimberly - That last picture made me tear up for some reason. I loved reading about your journey.

  • Leslie - This is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  • Bobbi Jo - Congrats! Our two beautiful children are from China too. My son was on the special needs list. As we contemplate a third child we know that we would only consider the special needs route. (My blog hasn’t been updated for more than a year, but you can see our kids there.) Soon enough you will see your beautiful child’s face!! Best wishes!!!!

  • Jen - Thank you for sharing your journey through adoption. I have been following your blog for some time now, and when you first shared, it was thrilling to read about. Thank you for sharing so openly and willingly. Your family’s life has been so inspiring to me as I long for our family to grow. My husband and I are in the process of filling out the paperwork to adopt, after praying and learning more about it for the past year. It is an exhausting yet exhilarating ride. :) Can’t wait to see your lil one join your family photos… and your family’s loving arms.

  • Beth Saukas - Its truly a beautiful story.
    May God keep blessing you and your family in this journey.

  • Amy D - Wow, I had no idea the whole process started so long ago for you! Loved this, thanks for sharing. It is so.stinkin.hard. to wait for a baby to come home, but a friend of mine just finalized their domestic adoption today, and I saw pictures, and it did wonders for my heart to see that adoption really does happen eventually… Sometimes it feels so far off sometimes. But today, there’s light at the end of the tunnel!

  • libby - awww congratulatuions! so glad evrything is falling into place. WHERE did you get your headband?! it’s lovely.

  • Amy - Now that is a story worth waiting for! Thank you again for sharing your journey! I can’t wait to see who your precious little daughter is going to be!

  • liz - SO excited for your family-thanks for sharing your story to adoption…praying many other families will respond to the call to adopt! we just started fostering in texas- hoping to adopt from Haiti too! blessings to your family!

  • Julie - Ashley it’s been so good hearing your story/journey to and through adoption. It has been my husband’s dream to adopt someday and I was always for it until we had our own children. I’m crazy about them and I have worried for years that maybe my heart wasn’t in adoption after having biological children. It’s been so good to hear you reinforce how crazy you are about your four kids and that it is possible to love equally and completely uniquely between them. I look forward to hearing your thoughts after you finally bring home your new little one. What a great family to be adopted into! You are pretty amazing!
    -jules

  • Georgia - I love the stories of how God leads a family to a specific child in a specific country. You would think it would be random. A child needs a home, a family has a home to give…bam you have a match. But God orchestrates each family’s child just as intricately and beautifully as He knits a child in a mother’s body. Love it !!!! Can’t wait to see your little girls sitting in that chair!

  • Georgia - Oops…I meant “Can’t wait to see your little girl sitting in that chair.” or maybe you have 2 on the way. :)

  • Sara W - Great story – thank you for sharing it. May the Lord continue to lead you as you raise your family and serve Him.

  • Shannon Phillips - I just cannot wait for your precious little to come home from China! We pray for her and for all of your adoption details to fall into place so that she will be here this year. xoxo

  • a - Awesome! How did you get to specifying a girl to adopt? Would you consider a special needs boy?

  • RachelSD - Thank you for sharing all of this Ashley– I know it’s not the ***whole*** story, but it is so inspiring and honest and thoughtful anyway. I can’t wait for you to meet your new daughter!

  • Alison - Thank you so much for sharing your beautiful journey towards the children God is calling you to love as your own through adoption. I am encouraged and inspired as my family is beginning what seems to be a long journey as well. We so feel the call on our heart to pursue the waiting child program in China. At this point we do not meet the age or financial requirements. Wondering whether to be patient and do what we can to prepare, learn, pray now or pursue things anyway to see how readily waivers are given for such things. It can be so hard to wait upon the Lord when you are so convicted of something. sometimes i feel like adoption is all i think about anymore … the thought that it could still be years down the road is such a lesson in patience and faithfulness to the “not yet”… i think our hearts seem to be very much the same in this. I rejoice with your family that the time is drawing near for that extra chair to be filled! Alleluia!

  • Stephanie - Thanks for sharing what I know are only the highlights of your heart journey. I have no idea how God wants to use this in my life right now at this time, but it is interesting timing. I’ve been waiting for 8 years to begin “walking” as you say. My husband is a pastor and we were about to begin the process a year ago to adopt a special needs baby from China when we were called to move to another church half way across the country. To say the transition across country has been difficult is a huge understatement! What appeared so clear before the move suddenly became so cloudy during our families very difficult move and adjustment. I’ve wondered so many times and asked God “Where has the call gone? Was it really there? Is it still there and I just can’t see it? Were we completely crazy? Did you really call us to adopt a sweet baby from China?” In the last few months it seems God has oh so gently once again been stirring my heart. At this point I still have no idea where God is leading us. I do know God is moving though. This fall, my husband and oldest daughter will be traveling to China to visit with a
    family we know from here. One of the places they will visit is a special needs orphanage. I really don’t know why I’m sharing all of this craziness with you other than just to simply share it with someone who understands the journey. I think it just helps to know we’re not alone in this journey but that there really are other families out there that totally understand. So, thanks so much for sharing your heart. I can’t wait to see the chair filled.

  • Alecia - Thanks for sharing your story! It is really helpful! I am praying you get your little one soon!

  • Allison - beautiful, lovely, Congratulations!!!!!!!!

  • Ivy - Your blog is so refreshing Ashley. I’ve been reading for over a year, but am commenting for the first time. I so appreciate your thoughtfulness of sharing your journey with us. My husband and I have talked about adoption and reading about your story and the whole process is extremely helpful and encouraging to me. Yours is a beautiful story written by our Creator. Thank you so much for sharing it…adoption, DIY, and photo tips. Love it all :)

  • Michelle - I am so very happy for your family! Our oldest son was born with multiple birth anomolies/special needs. Wouldn’t trade him for the world. Occasionally I’ve looked at domestic & international special needs adoption. We aren’t there yet – but there is a reason we are our son’s parents – just as there is a reason that this is the direction your adoption walk has taken. I look forward to watching the next chapter unfold!

  • Mandee - My heart is just bursting right now! February 1st will be two years since we first held our little girl in China! Your story sounds so familiar in many ways. We have two boys (bio) our little girl. We knew before we were married that adoption in some way would be part of our lives. After complications during my second pregnancy we “began” the process. We researched every possible adoption avenue over and over and would start somewhere only to feel it wasn’t right and then start the search over again. Four years after our son was born we finally decided on China even though it made no sense and the 4-5 year wait made me cry but no matter how hard I tried to go a different way we always came back to China. It wasn’t until after we had started the process that we discovered the Special Needs program. Even then there were many bumps and boulders (we went throught 3 agencies before it was all done) along the way but in the end it all led us to our beautiful girl. If things had worked out faster or if we had stayed with the first agency, we wouldn’t have our little Maggie. I believe without a doubt that God’s hand is in every part of adoption and he will guide you to the sweet little spirit that is meant for your family. Congratulations!
    Mandee
    dudesanddaisies.blogspot.com

  • Heather Campbell - Best of luck…adoption is a beautiful thing….as I sit here on a layover in Tokyo airport catching up on your blog as we wait for our flight to Chicago after picking up our adopted daughter from Taiwan last week…and her big sister from china sits next to me working on her brain quest workbook

    Email me any time if I can be of any help….adoption is amazing

  • Lindsey - Hi Ashley,
    I feel so encouraged by this post. I know firsthand about the miracle of adoption. Similarly, God began a work in me when my littlest sister came home from China nearly 12 years ago and made us a family of 6. What an amazing gift. My husband and I plan to build our family through adoption, and I feel so enocuraged by your prayerful heart and persistence. How easy it is during the waiting game to become discouraged and disheartened! At any stage in this process there seem to be insurrmountable challenges, and I know we’d be lost without the help of our unfailing God. We are still in the “saving phase” but I feel like a little one is already growing inside my heart. I’ll be praying for your family as you wait, and I am so happy for you.

  • Carissa Miller - Amazing. Beautiful. Inspiring. Thank you for sharing.

  • Honey Bee Mama - every post i read on your adoption overwhelms me with love and gratitude and hope and thankfulness and grace. my spirit sends that to your family during this time of waiting and hoping and preparing. what a different pregnancy you are experiencing!

  • CK - Thank you for sharing your story right from the beginning. I remember working at an orphanage and fostering kids into our home when my family lived in Quito, Ecuador and I was only 12 years old. I’ve done a lot of work with international orphanages and adoptions throughout the years (I majored in social work and served through 2 different international internships). Right now I am a stay-at-home Mom but I imagine that adoption will be a part of our family journey as well (we already have the bank account building as well…) It was so inspiring to read your story and learn how the Lord guides us in such an important decision, especially with timing. Thank you!
    -CK

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