It began as a day much like this one. The skies were blue and the air was crisp. It was a lazy day, with nothing in particular on the agenda, other than the usual household tasks. Little did we realize that morning what a turn our lives were about to take.
Around noon, I checked the mail. I noticed a letter from Christian World Adoption, the agency which had helped us more than seven years before to adopt Lacy, our precious baby girl from China. Coming into the house, I quickly opened it. It had been a while since we had correspondence from them. I was always interested to read about news from the adoption community.
Our lives had settled into a nice routine over the past seven years. Brad and Ryan were in high school, Brad a senior, soon to graduate. All four children were happy and healthy. What more could we want?
And yet, out of the letter from CWA that day toppled a flyer with the photographs and short biographical sketches of 20 children from China that the agency was trying to place into loving homes. I was unprepared for the emotional reaction I would have to those photographs. All the boys and girls had special needs. Some of the needs were more serious than others, but most were relatively minor. Many of the children were a little older, between two and four years old.
Abby stood over my shoulder that day and we read all the brief descriptions. One of the little girls just had the most longing look in her eyes. We kept coming back to her. Her name was Fu Long Zhu and she was four years old, a tiny little thing with her hair cropped short, just like a boy. A darling little face. And such a soulful expression.
A few lines from her bio grabbed my heart-- She was a bit shy. She loved to sing. She wasn't picky about food. And she was eager for a family to love her.
"We could love her, Mommy! Do you think Daddy would even consider adopting her?"
I just didn't know. It takes a lot of money up front to complete an international adoption. I suppose 'lot' is a relative term. The agency fees, in-country fees, and travel expenses together cost less than a new car, and most people don't think twice about those. But the part I dreaded the most was the paper work, the mounds of documents, signatures, and seals that are required by the two governments. I did it once and I was pretty sure I couldn't do it again. And besides, she was FOUR! She'd be nearly five by the time she came home, speaking fluent Mandarin and not a word of English! And her eyes, what exactly was the problem with her eyes? She had a white spot on one of her corneas. They said she could see, but how well? Would she be nearly blind?
This was big. Too big, I was afraid.
Still, she wouldn't let me go. I did talk to Tom about it that night. And the next day, and the next night. For five days. We talked. We prayed. We thought. We worried. We wondered.
I already knew I was falling in love with her. She needed us. But more than that, I knew I needed her. I was just waiting for Tom to decide if he was willing to do this again.
He was. Late one night, after five agonizing days, he told me, "Call CWA in the morning and tell them we want her." My heart leaped for joy!
The following morning fear gripped my heart. My husband had said yes and now I was frozen with fear. What were we doing? "Oh, God, please tell me what to do!"
What He said to me that day was as clear as any spoken word I've ever heard. He said, "I won't take you anywhere that I won't be right beside you the whole way." Shaking, I picked up the phone and called CWA.
"We want to adopt Fu Long Zhu. Please take her off the list"
I hung up the phone, still shaking. Abby handed me something. It was the calendar that sat by my bed. The scripture verse for that day was from a Bible paraphrase called The Message. We cried as we read it together:
Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. Matthew 6:24
Updated photo we received during our nine month wait
What a journey it was. God did help us deal with the hard things as they came. And come they did. SARS came, in all its ugliness, and I almost despaired at times that we might not ever meet our daughter. But God was with us and with her. He was there as her fifth birthday came and went, a day I so badly wanted to spend with her. He helped me deal with my incredible fear of flying, a fear so great that I didn't make the trip to China to adopt Lacy. He was there the night Holly cried in anguish as the caregivers left her with us. Miraculously, He calmed her as I prayed, "Lord, please give this little girl the peace that only you can give."
The things we thought might be really hard haven't been. Holly can see very well, and her prognosis for good vision all her life is excellent. She adjusted to her new life better than we could have dared to hope. She loves all of us as much as we adore her. And the little girl with the soulful, solemn expression now wears a perpetual grin.
Adopting Holly has been the most challenging and the most rewarding thing I have ever done. (And nineteen months after we came home with Holly, we were back in China, preparing to bring home a baby once again!) God's promises are always true. He hasn't taken us anywhere that He hasn't been right beside us the whole way.