(Thank you to Melissa for today’s guest post!)
It is very apt that I am writing my adoption story today. It was exactly four years ago that our sweet Gabriella Rose was handed into our arms by the nannies from the Chinese orphanage. One day after she was born, on September 16, 2005, she was found abandoned on the steps of a large financial bank in China. She was taken to live at the Welfare Institute of Suichuan County, China and named Mei Qian (May Chee-in) Long.
When we adopted her she was only nine months old, on the younger end of children adopted from China. I can still see her round face with almond shaped brown eyes staring at me for the first time on Father’s Day in June of 2006. We had been praying for this moment for over a year and a half.
I believe each person’s journey to adoption looks different. I especially believe that the reasons behind why people adopt can vary greatly. For us, it was an obvious calling from God. I suppose the Lord knows we are the type of people that need a bright neon sign in order for us to see what He wants us to do. So that’s just what He did. I hope to be able to tell my story in as few words as possible, however that will be challenging. This was one of those few times in our lives where God touched and communicated so vividly to us, it often left us in tears and astonishment, it’s a story worth sharing and telling over and over.
I had already been blessed with two wonderful biological children, therefore adoption really wasn’t on my mind. My oldest was seven years old and my youngest was five years old at the time. Even though I had always had a hole in my heart that there was supposed to be another child, we had unfortunately not been able to conceive again. This feeling of an absent third child had often troubled me emotionally, but seeing that my youngest was going on six years old, I was gradually accepting that perhaps that was not to be.
That was until one day in October of 2004. Our home school co-op group was meeting to study about birds and specifically we read a book on John James Audubon. I was the one assigned that day to read the book to the children. Upon the pages of this wonderful book Mr. Audubon came upon a beautiful flock of wild swans. I remember being oddly drawn to this painted scene. However the day went on as usual afterwards.
The next morning I stood in my kitchen getting my morning cup of coffee and peering, as I often do, out my back window. Behind us were open fields which were part of a horse farm. However this particular morning, something made me take a second look. Way out upon the ridge stood a very large white bird. It was too far for my morning eyes to focus in on, so I grabbed my binoculars.
By this time my children had taken notice of my excitement and ran to the window to see. Before I could bring the binoculars to my eyes, the kids were shouting out that it was a swan. I dismissed them saying that it was probably a wild goose or something. There was no reason for me to think a swan would be in the middle of a horse field. As I brought the cheap binoculars into focus, my jaw dropped. Sure enough the children were correct.
There stood a magnificent, white swan. My mind immediately flashed back to the day before when I saw the scene in the John James Audubon book, and I marveled at the coincidence.
Now, I’m not normally the type of person who calls up people out of the blue and asks them if we could come see the swan in their horse field, but yep, that’s just what I did that day. Turns out the swan belonged to them, and mostly stayed down on the other side of the ridge where the pond was, out of our sight. But the horse farm owner explained that for some reason that day he drifted up on the ridge. She went on to explain that he had just recently lost his mate. I embarrassedly fought back tears. I don’t normally cry for swans, but I mourned for that poor bird. He was all alone.
She gave us permission to get closer and informed us that he would not let us get that close. Well, he proved her wrong. We got right up close to that beautiful bird and took several photos.
When my husband got home that day I shared with him about our adventures and showed him the pictures and even told him about the strange coincidence from the day before.
I don’t remember how much time passed after that day, it might have been a few days or a week. But one morning soon after as I sat at my computer sipping on my coffee, I opened an email article written by Stephen Curtis Chapman and his wife. If you are familiar with them you know they have adopted little girls from China. This article was all about their adoption story and by the time I was done reading it I was sobbing in tears of conviction. I remember asking the Lord questions such as: “Are you serious Lord?” and “You want me to go to China, God?” and “Lord, you know I’m terrified to fly, and you’re asking me to go to China?” and “Lord, that costs a lot of money, you know that right?”
I immediately called up my husband and informed him of my super huge conviction to which he became silent for a moment and then started asking me a hundred questions, such as “Are you sure?”and “Whoa, we’d better think about this,” and so on. We agreed to let it sit for a few days, pray about it, and asked God to bring us obvious signs.
Well, the feeling wouldn’t rest and we found ourselves surfing the internet reading China adoption stories. We eventually made note that in almost every story we read there was a picture of the family at a certain same hotel. When we had stumbled upon yet another picture with the same hotel background scene we decided to read the caption.
The caption read: “Our adoption group at the White Swan Hotel.”
Yep, there’s our neon sign, huge and bright. We looked at each other in amazement.
After a long silence, my husband simply said…”I guess we’re going to China.” At that very moment I felt my heart grow larger and I fell in love with a little girl in China that I hadn’t met yet. There in my heart existed a hole that God would fill with her. That very hole that had been there all along and I didn’t understand why it hadn’t been filled, until now.
Thus the beginning of a year and a half adventure filled with many more neon signs that I could write about and fill a book with. You see God didn’t leave it there, He reassured us the whole way of what we were doing. Gently guiding us, even through my fear of flying half way across the world. International adoption is a big deal, lots of red tape and hoops to jump through, but our eyes were always on that precious little girl who was waiting for us. She needed a family, and we needed her.
The day she was handed to us, it was as if she had been waiting for us. She was so calm. She smiled a charismatic huge smile that we were sure the nannies had taught her.
We had many adventures in our two week trip to China. And yes, we too stayed at the White Swan Hotel.
Today our lives are blessed each and every day by all three of our children. Some people look at adopted children as standing out, being different from the biological children, but we don’t. In fact, when people look at us funny as we pass in the stores I forget about the reason why they are probably looking at us that way. Then I remember that I have two blue-eyed, blond haired children and an dark haired, dark-eyed Asian child. They are all beautiful to me and all belong the same.
Gabriella Rose is growing up fast, almost five years old now. Each day I’m reassured of her blessing to our lives and cannot imagine our life without her. Distant feelings of a hole in my heart surface up when I think about that. Thank you Lord for the neon signs. And thank you for blessing us with your precious little girl.
(Follow along with Melissa, at “In the Sparrow’s Nest.” Do you have a positive adoption story of your own to share? If so, contact me!