if we could sit down and have a cup of coffee

We’d meet early in the morning, before the kids are awake.

I’d make coffee…cream and sugar for me. Yours made to order.

We could sit out back at the picnic table or among the sawdust and nails in the studio. Either one is nice for chatting right now.

If we could sit down and have a cup of coffee this morning, friend to friend, I’d probably tell you something like this:

I’m getting on a plane in the wee hours of the morning tomorrow. I’m headed across continents and an ocean to meet my daughter. And while my heart is about to burst with excitement and joy it is also completely broken for my daughter. You see, my Little One has endured so much heartbreak. For 9 months she heard the familiar sound of the voice and heartbeat of her birth mom. I don’t know the reasons or the details, but I know shortly after her birth that relationship was broken. The voice she heard, the familiar sounds – were all gone. She endured a devastating loss. Her birth family also endured a great loss.

She then learned to adjust and survive among the new sounds and new voices of an orphanage. With about 42 babies in her room and 2 nannies, she has developed survival skills that a baby should never learn. And despite all the heartbreak that goes with her orphanage, it is her home. And we are told the nannies love those babies dearly. On Monday, she will again face a devastating loss. She will lose all that is familiar and be placed in my arms – the arms of a stranger.

I would do anything for her to be able to know my voice, to recognize my face, to see into my heart and know that her future is beautiful. I wish she could see and know what I know. But she doesn’t. And my heart shatters at the thought of the fear and grief that next week could hold for her.

It was 14 years ago that I knew one day I would adopt. Both adoption and pregnancy have always been our “Plan A” and we are beyond grateful that we’ve been able to grow our family both ways. We don’t take that gift for granted for a single moment. 14 years is a long time to wait for something. It is also a long time to research and learn all about the beauty of adoption and also about orphans, poverty that leads to abandonment, human trafficking….and all the other stuff that is part of a world where children are separated from their birth families. It is also a lot of time to learn to let go of any and all expectations. We go into this trip expecting nothing, but hoping for everything.

So much of this journey has been bittersweet. With each celebration, there is a bit of heartbreak. When I fill out a medical form for my Little One, it brings me such joy to write her name with “Campbell” at the end. And then I get to the medical history part and am reminded she will spend a lifetime not knowing so many details related to her start in life. And I hurt for her loss. I gaze at her beautiful face and am in complete awe. And then I also know that most likely that beautiful cleft that I adore might have played a role in why she is not with her birth family. And I ache for the pain she will one day feel.ย  I imagine as she grows I will see so much of myself in her, but I will also wonder what parts of her are from her birth parents. And I mourn my daughter’s loss of not knowing her birth family. You see, next week I will rejoice and celebrate becoming a mom again, but in my celebrating it means another mom does not get to know the joy of raising the daughter she gave life to. And my heart breaks for that mom.

And, yet, I am so thankful for this bittersweet. This is all a part of the work God is weaving in me and in my Little One. So, I will embrace all of it. The grief. The joy. The fear. The excitement. The mourning. The celebrating. The ashes. The beauty. I will embrace all of it.

So, if we were sitting together drinking our coffee I’d thank you for coming along this journey with me. I’d thank you for your support, your encouragement, your excitement and your love. I’d thank you for celebrating my daughter. I’d ask you to pray for her, for her heart, for her healing. I’d ask you to recognize that while we are so overcome with happiness to meet our Little One and bring her home, the journey is really just beginning.

Thanks, friend….I’m so crazy excited and ready for the morning!!!

Would you dare, would you dare to believe

that you still got a reason to sing?

‘Cause the pain that you’ve been feeling

It can’t compare to the joy that’s coming

So hold on, you gotta wait for the light

Press on and just fight the good fight

‘Cause the pain you’ve been feeling

It’s just the hurt before the healing

Oh, the pain that you’ve been feeling

It’s just the dark before the morning

~ Josh Wilson, Before the Morning lyrics

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  • Katy - This is such a beautiful post that brought tears to my eyes to read. I’ve been following you on this journey for about 9 months now, but I’m not sure I’ve ever commented. I’ll be thinking of your family over the next couple of weeks and praying for safe travels, smooth transitions, a lot of joy and love.

  • Anna Joy - Praying for little one and you and the whole family. Go get your girl and bring her home.

  • claire - praying that your sweet baby girl will be at home in your arms!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - My heart is just bursting for you.

    I love you to pieces! Praise God.

  • Lisa - Oh how your words resonate with my heart! I “penned” out some of these exact same feelings and emotions 16 months ago. I completely understand so many of the very same emotions you are going through! Praying that God will receive all the glory in your journey….each & every step has been orchestrated by Him, the giver of every good & perfect gift. This journey won’t be easy, but God never asked us to do the easy. He asked us to trust in Him, knowing full well that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Our adoption journey has made me so very dependent on God, and I truly would have it no other way! Blessings to you, as you finally feel the weight of your daughter in your arms!
    Looking forward to your updates! This was one of the sweetest parts of our trip…..refelcting on the day, sharing God’s graces, and reading all the comments & prayers being sent our way. It was such a huge blessing when being so far from home! May God quiet your hearts, and grant you His peace that passes all understanding.
    Prayers & Blessings to you!

  • Georgia - Well, I don’t drink coffee so I would probably bring my QT Diet Coke. But I would tell you that I am praying even believing that God has knitted you (and your whole family) into her heart. And that when she is placed in your arms, that she will KNOW (in every cell of her being) that she is finally home! Prayers and blessings on your journey.

  • Fiona Roil - I am writing from the other side of the world. To begin with, I logged on to see the sun shining through your amazing photos – its winter here (and your beautiful firecracker is so much like my daughter!) but I am hooked. I find your blog so inspiring, we have made a few of your crafts and we love them, and am in awe of your journey. Will be following closely and my thoughts are with you and your family. I know you feel fortunate but that is one lucky little girl. Safe travels, Fiona. New Zealand.

  • Gemma - I have just discovered your blog, and read your story of adoption. And it has brought me to the verge of tears and back again. Your faith and love is inspiring. I am young, but I aspire to have a relationship with God and a love for his children like you obviously do. Your story is truel beautiful. Thankyou for sharing it with us

  • Amanda - Congratulations to your whole family! Thanks for sharing this exciting journey! Can’t wait to see pictures of all 7 of you :)

  • Dorota - You’re one very strong woman – with lots of love in your heart and I know that your daughter will feel that and, though she will be afriad, in time she will love and cherish you… This is one and the best gift you can and are giving to her – having real home, parents, siblings and… love! Fingress crossed for you all!

    We’ll patiently wait for the photos of you guys – may it be in 1, 3 or 5 days/ weeks/ months – we will wait… as we know it takes some amount of time for everybody to get to know each other and to settle down. At the moment she just needs you – you and your family… We know her already, too :) Thanks for sharing!


    Dorota, Ireland (from Poland)

  • barbara Janaina - Dear Ashley, Ia just want to wish luck in your trip, I will be praying that everythings go just fine! You have no idea how your life and your fight is a example for me , Thanks a lot, to be who you are!
    Kisses from Brasil
    Someday who knows can be me on this jouney!

  • TinaPow - It has been such a joy to be able to follow your story and experiances, I hope the next few days (and years) bring you much joy.

  • Christy - As an adult adoptee I just want to tell you how you so completely hit the nail on the head in this post. I know you’ve had years to learn everything you can about the adoption process, but even still, so many people don’t really understand the things that an adoptee carries with them their entire life, no matter how wonderful their life may have turned out. There are so many hurts, doubts & sometimes just plain anger. It’s wonderful that you understand these things.
    I have been following your journey & several others & it has helped me so much in my own healing process & I have even been feeling the tug to adopt myself. We (my husband & I) are a long way from being able to do this (small apartment, debt up to our eyeballs… etc) but I can’t help but feel that God is tugging on our hearts.
    Anyway, thank you so much for the inspiration…. I can’t wait to see the rest of this story unfold & I know that sweet little girl will be so happy that God gave her you!

  • Angie - The Lord is truly good. He takes the broken things of this world and weaves a beautiful song through it all. He uses our small efforts for His purposes. May He receive all glory! Praying for your family in the journey. Great blessings are ahead for you all.

  • Danielle - Well what a cup of coffee that would be… you would have made me into a blubbering idiot, lol. My birthday was the 22nd, born just after 11pm… so not quite the wee hours of the 23rd but close enough to make your long awaited departure the most beautiful gift I received this year. Much love to you & yours.

  • Meg - Best of wishes and safe travels.

  • Roianne - Praying for your families journey! Can’t wait to “meet” your daughter :)

  • Julie - Safe travels and Godspeed!!

    Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
    โ€œWhom shall I send? And who will go for us? โ€
    And I said,
    โ€œHere am I. Send me!โ€
    Isaiah 6:8

  • Amy @ PaintWineRepeat - Thinking of you all. Good luck on your journey!!

  • Maggie - Safe travels~ will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers Ashley. :) so excited for you & your family. big hug xo Maggie

  • karen - let’s go little one!!!!!!

  • Kathie - Ashley, thank you for taking me on this journey with you! Your writings are beautiful and I can’t wait to visit China again through your eyes and your voice. Wrapping your family in prayers for an amazing journey. Can’t wait to see your Little One in your arms at last! God speed.

  • Sara - Ashley – you don’t know me, but we are good friends with your central IL family. We are in the very beginning stages of the adoption process, and we too are being led to China, likely to a girl with cleft palate also. I’ve been reading your blog for a while and am always inspired by your words and your openness. So glad that right now you are traveling to see your little one. I’ll be praying for you, as I imagine myself on the same journey in the near future! Praying for safe travels, lots of smiles, and an easy transition for your baby girl. :)

  • beth - with tears in my eyes, i wish your little one and all of you the easiest of transitions during this hugely emotional and amazing time….your blogging world is supporting you in more ways than you’ll ever know. i hope you can feel it….feel all of us !!

  • Harriet - Praying with you. What an incredible journey. Your girl will be in your arms before you know it!

  • Staci - You have such a lovely way with words. Like many others you brought me to tears with that coffee. I am a foster parent & have adopted 2 children already. I can really identify with your bittersweet feelings. I have to thank you though for the reminder of the pain the birth family experiences. As a foster parent we do know all of the sometimes horrible details of why their birth family can’t be there for them. It makes it very hard to have compassion for them when your momma claws come out because you just want to protect your babies.

    I will be praying for your safe travels & for God to provide the peace that only He possesses as you start this new journey.

  • Meghan - Thinking of you this week. I’m relatively new to your blog, but your story is captivating. Can’t wait to “meet” your little one! Is that weird???

  • Kaly - I think I wandered onto your blog through Pinterest, and have been awed and inspired by your story. Good luck and God be with you (and your little girl!) in this, the greatest journey the three of you will make!


  • jade - oh no im at working reading this trying to hold back the tears :) tears of joy :) i hope you have an amazing first meeting with your daughter. Praying for your family God bless x

  • Emily - If we could sit down and have a cup of coffee I would have mine with cream and sugar, too. I would tell you that no, this won’t be easy (becoming a parent-even for the fifth time-never is). And no, she has not heard you voice, or seen your face, or smelled your mommy smell.
    But then I would share how certain I am that when things happen that God plans (no matter our age) that our souls are stirred and moved. That her soul will recognize yours. And no, it won’t be easy. But it will be beautiful.

    Thank you for sharing your glorious journey. Praying for you all.

  • Alice - I love following your story. Your loving family touches my heart and makes me want to be a better, more loving mother to my little girls. Thank you for inspiring me to want to try harder for them.

  • MixedMolly - What a lovely post. That song is beautiful, one of my favorites. Can’t wait to meet her!

  • Lacey - Thank you for sharing your story. You are inspiring in so many ways. Safe travels. Praying for all the blessings to be bestowed on you and your growing family.

  • Julie B - So happy that you’ll be flying. Prayers for the journey now and for the one ahead. We’ll all be here to support you through it and to welcome that sweet baby home!

  • molly june. - prayers & hugs & tears & courage & faith be upon you. your story has touched my heart to it’s core. may God continue to bless you, and keep you, and may His face shine upon you & your family all the days of your life. i have never heard an adoption story told like you have. such grace & heartbreak wrapped up into one. what an incredible story this little one will have to tell one day! amazing grace, how sweet the sound!

  • Melissa Lomax Speelman - So beautiful . . . thank you for sharing your journey with us :).

  • Erin - Simply beautiful! Will continue to keep praying!

  • andie jaye - oh gracious! sooooo excited for you! something happened to my feed for you and i’ve missed all of this…. off to catch up!

  • Carrie Stephens - Oh- I have longed to adopt for so long. I hope it is something God is able to do for us someday. I am so happy for you! enjoy your sweet baby girl!!! She is precious!,

  • if we could have another coffee date » ashleyannphotography.com - [...] Last time we sat down for coffee, it was the day before I boarded a plane bound for China. [...]

  • thinking about a year ago » ashleyannphotography.com - […] was reading the post I wrote for this day last year….these lines jumped from the […]

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