Friday, April 28, 2017

A Partnership with Eternal Consequence

In February, Seamus and I had the privilege of spending a weekend with the leadership and "family" of Lifeline Children's Services. We were invited to President's Weekend in Pointe Clear, Alabama and humbly accepted, wondering why us and how God would further His kingdom through our weekend.

It was a weekend like no other. This is true for many reasons. We were blessed to be able to leave our 5 children with family and have an entire weekend of worship, rest, and encouragement. When we arrived, our hearts leapt for joy. We knew we were with family, fellow believers, like-minded brothers seeking hope for the orphan and the expansion of Christ's name. There is an unspoken closeness between brothers in Christ and this weekend was an amazing testimony to this. We worshipped together. We laughed together. We prayed over each other. We mourned upon departure. It was a small glimpse of heaven, this beautiful bond we experienced and still share. Our weekend was restful, joyful, and edifying. But it was even more than that.

During the weekend, we were led in to the heart of Lifeline's ministries. We've loved Lifeline for years, since friends introduced us to their agency for our first international adoption. But this weekend enabled us to really see Lifeline in a new light, to dive deep into its mission and methodology. They are sooooooooo much more than a terrific adoption agency. We learned so much about who they are and what they do. After praying about how God may use this, I am overjoyed to share, here, their purpose and some of the many ways they fulfill it. I'm also excited to share how you can be a part of their vision in bringing the Gospel to the corners of the earth. I pray this post is exhilarating and inspiring, and that by hearing what Lifeline does, you would be driven to be a part of their story, motivated by the love so generously poured out on us. We also want to share some exciting news that has transpired since our time spent with Lifeline... keep reading!

"Lifeline's mission is to equip the body of Christ to manifest the gospel to vulnerable children." While this mission is always at the core, the ways this mission is fulfilled is multi-faceted.

LIFELINE BELIEVES IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF BIRTH FAMILIES. This means loving the vulnerable child but also the biological parents who carry and birth them. This organization is not simply pro-birth, rather pro-LIFE, in the sense that they are loving every member of the family in need. Ministry doesn't halt once the birth child's basic needs are met. Birth mothers often come from very broken places, with little hope. Furthermore, the #1 reason women in the U.S. choose abortion is that they are not prepared for parenthood. Lifeline offers amazing support for these parents in crisis. One way they do this is through a maternity home in Alabama called Lifeline Village, where birth mothers receive services including medical care, mentoring, job-coaching, and Christian counseling.

In addition to Lifeline Village, Families Count is a program designed to promote family restoration and preservation. It targets parents who are at risk for having their children removed from their homes and placed into foster care, and parents who have lost custody of their children and are working toward reunification. Lifeline equips local churches to see families through the program. They refer birth mothers to partner churches, who are trained in the program, and it is the church who uses the program to minister directly to the families in need. Families Count is a 6-week program that offers Biblical parenting education and hand-in-hand mentoring. Churches often provide meals and transportation through the program. In addition to experiencing the program itself, the families have now formed a relationship with a local church family! If this is something you think your church may be interested in, the program can be offered in any part of the country, with no expense for the training.

LIFELINE BELIEVES IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF CHILDREN. In addition to adoption, Lifeline serves orphaned and vulnerable children locally through fostering and globally through (un)adopted. The gospel can transform a child when that child realizes their value and realizes they are loved by a heavenly Father. This happens when a child in a foster home is loved as if they are a member of the family, providing calm and comfort to a traumatic life. It happens when a teenager who will soon age out of his orphanage is able to attend a life skills camp in Monrovia, Liberia, where he learns how to farm and begins to believe he has potential. (Un)adopted provides LSET (Life Skill Education Training) in 8 countries. They use a structured 21-day program for aging out kids, where they receive training plus discipleship. We also learned about a school opened for deaf children in Uganda. Since the success here, a local church has helped open a school for the blind!

LIFELINE BELIEVES IN THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE COVENANT FAMILY. We attest, firsthand, to the loving commitment of Lifeline, to adoptive families. Through both of our adoption processes, social workers carefully walked us through paperwork, prayed with us, cried with us, and answered the many hard questions we had along the way. Lifeline realizes the difficulties of adoption and foster care and equips families, with compassion and expertise. Lifeline is there before, during, and after a child comes home and joins a family forever.

One of the tangible ways Lifeline supports adoptive families is through a training program called Crossings. This is an extensive curriculum that helps to prepare adoptive families for parenting children from hard places. It is thorough and effective. Lifeline parents are well-prepared for many possible scenarios upon arriving home with a new child. We have personally used much of the knowledge and tools from Crossings, with our own adopted children who come with a background of trauma.

Equipped to Love is a resource to help family and friends support the adoptive and foster families in their church. Because God’s people have stepped out in obedience we have many children in our churches who come from foster care and adoption. Often, children who have experienced neglect, abuse, and trauma have challenges and differences that can cause them to not fit well in many of our traditional church programs and settings. The Equipped to Love training curriculum is designed to help individuals learn how to understand the needs of these families and provide them with practical support. Topics in this training include: caring for families, interacting appropriately with children with compromised beginnings of life, demonstrating sensitivity for adoptive and foster parents, understanding the unique needs of children from hard places, exhibiting language sensitivity, and managing challenging behavior. This is another free resource that is readily available for any interested church family!

I've shared with you only a glimpse of the beauty and love Lifeline exudes locally and globally. We have prayed about how God might want us to further partner with such a gospel-centered ministry. Upon praying, we were invited to dinner with the executives, simply because they were in our neck of the woods. Then God led us to President's Weekend in February and our love for their work only grew. Most recently, we've been asked to be on Lifeline's Alumni Council. We are humbled and over the moon excited about this opportunity to be ambassadors for Lifeline and Christ's work through them. It is a privilege and an honor to be asked and we can't wait to see how the Lord works through this for the benefit of vulnerable children and families.

God is so gracious in gently and patiently moving us through his scheduled timeline of events. We have been on the front lines of what burdens His heart. He showed us the need and command to care for orphans. Then he meticulously revealed to us each ministry opportunity He had planned for us. Adoptions, hosting, advocating, ministering to families and churches, it's all from Him. Now He faithfully brings us to this new chapter with Lifeline Children's Services. It is a gift to be a voice for such a worthy organization. Over the coming months and years, we will share more about Lifeline and the gospel work they pour themselves into. Raising awareness and ministering to families are two of the many responsibilities we've accepted as Alumni Council members. We humbly ask for your help in this new endeavor.

Will you pray for us? Our first council meeting is in May and we are asking God to use our council of 10 families to bring glory to Jesus' name. The council members are from all walks of life, who care for vulnerable children in different ways and from different parts of the world. Please pray for Seamus and I but also for the work of the entire council. Please pray for Lifeline and the work they do for Christ's kingdom. Pray that funds would be no issue, that their ministry would continue to expand and grow, that more and more children and families will hear and believe the gospel, through Lifeline's tireless commitment.

Will you pray about the possibility of joining us in our plight for the orphan? This could mean a financial gift. It could mean helping to organize an event or simply collecting items for an auction. It could mean mentoring a birth mother. It could mean committing to pray daily for a specific child or circumstance. It could mean adopting or fostering. It could mean sharing information about Lifeline's ministries and needs with others. Whatever God has gifted you with... will you please pray about using this gift for something He may have in store through Lifeline? Pray about partnering with us, with Lifeline, in whatever God reveals? We would be incredibly grateful for your commitment to this first step of praying.

Once again, we stand humbled and grateful that God would choose to use us for His glory. We are excited to see how He continues to work through Lifeline and we are excited to be a more intricate part of this amazing ministry! Please stay posted for ways to rally around us in our mission for Lifeline and ultimately for Christ's Kingdom around the globe. Blessings to you, friends!

"See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." (Isaiah 43:19)

Thursday, January 12, 2017

A Voice for Rafe

It's been 5 months since Fu Yi left us to return to her orphanage in China. In case you weren't following, Fu Yi is a beautiful 6-year-old little girl who was abandoned at the beginning of her life. We had the privilege of welcoming her into our country, into our home, for one month. We weren't okay with the oppression taking place in her life. This precious soul, who was born with Down Syndrome, would be left to figure life out on her own. She was "file ready," waiting for a family for too many years. Her chance at adoption was slim but God had miraculous plans for her. While she was virtually forgotten by the world, God hadn't forgotten.

We prayed, worked, and fought to find her a family. The Lord was faithful and provided just that! We are forever grateful that He used us to shed light on her worth. An amazing family in Maryland has assumed the fight on her behalf and currently pushes through the process to get her home.

We fell in love with Fu Yi. You fell in love with Fu Yi. She captured hearts and woke so many up to the reality of the injustice happening to vulnerable children all over the world. Fu Yi represents so many orphans in China and across the globe. While hers is a story of glorious redemption, too many others wait to be loved. Who will answer them? Who will answer God's call to love 'the least of these'? We give thanks for Fu Yi's story. Simultaneously, we ache all the more for so many others. Our participation in God's plight for the orphan continues. We want to shed light on other vulnerable children who wait to know love. We'd love to introduce you to one of these amazing kids now.

Meet Rafe! This little angel stole my heart the moment I saw his picture. I pray his adoptive Mama and Baba are out there and that they quickly recognize him as their son. Rafe is 3 years old and has been waiting too long for a family. Like Fu Yi, this precious child was born with Down Syndrome. He also has a congenital heart defect, which often accompanies DS. Here is the description of Rafe given by his orphanage caretakers when he was younger. “Rafe is a smiley boy! He is described as talkative and likes to babble. Rafe enjoys sitting up, playing with colorful toys, and looking at himself in the mirror. Rafe can follow a noise and looks when his name is called. He giggles when he is kissed!”
The family who adopts him will go through Lifeline, the same agency we used for our adoptions. I can promise you’ll be in phenomenal hands! Also great to know is that Rafe has a $1,500 grant available for the adopting family! We also have some video of Rafe for interested families! Please let us know if we can answer questions about Rafe, Lifeline, or the adoption process in general. We want this child to be adopted into a loving family, God-willing. We are happy to help make this happen in any way we can.
Our family has partnered with Lifeline Children’s Services, as we advocate for Rafe. We are committed to pray for him and will work hard to find his family. Will you join us in prayer for this worthy soul? Will you share this post on your FB page? Will you share his picture and story with your church? Will you then pray that Rafe's family will step forward with hearts wide open? Let's get this boy home!
I am so thankful we have the opportunity to introduce him today. He is not forgotten. He is loved by us and I know he’ll be loved by so many of you. Most importantly, Jesus loves you, Rafe. He is your hope today and forever. I pray you will know that reality one day soon.

Please follow Rafe's progress on our FB page at

Please keep in mind that several families may be reviewing this child's file at one time. At any given time, this child's file can go on hold or be taken back to the Shared List by the CCCWA. Please contact your Lifeline social worker or Lisa Kelly at for more information.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Advent: Hope for the Forgotten

It's Christmas season, the most beautiful and miraculous time of year. If your family is anything like mine, you are soaking it in... the lights, the live nativities, the Christmas music, children's pageants, fires on cold nights, hot chocolate and eggnog, plans to be with family, the excitement brewing over all the gifts under the tree, evening advent readings with the kids, too many sweets. It's wonderful and magical, nostalgic and peaceful. Yet beyond all this earthly cheer lies the greatest reason for Christmas joy. Christ in a manger. What a gift it is that God gives us this season of advent to enjoy and reflect.

God becomes the least. He humbles himself to servant, in order that we would have living hope. Our long awaited King comes to us in the most unexpected, yet glorious way. His humble entry foretells His message that the last shall be first in the Kingdom of God. My eternity hinged on this baby's destiny. Wow. Indeed, Christmas is a time to marvel and relish in this goodness. I give thanks for all of it, the seasonal jubilance and especially the reality that God has come to save. Simultaneously, my heart aches. 

There are orphans, too many orphans, who know nothing of Christmas. They've never experienced the wonder of the season or even the mention of baby Jesus. I can't forget so many of them who I met and held in China. Many of them starving and silent. Silent because no one responds when they cry. Others silent because they will be physically punished if they make noise. They certainly don't know what a cozy fire is. Only 3 days ago, I read news that the temperature dropped to minus 40 degrees in Inner Mongolia, China's most northern province. This is where our Emily is from. Y'all, these orphanages have no central heat. I remember Emily and the other kids being so sick during the winter months. Many of them don't live through it. Every day life is dire and Christmas is no different. These children deserve to be heard. They deserve to be loved at Christmas time and throughout the year. They deserve hope. Upon lamenting, I turn my focus back to the babe in a manger. This babe who is the only hope of man.

This hope that God freely offers, is it just for me and you? Are we the only lucky ones who can look at the beauty of the season and know we have been saved, will be saved? Can we trust that God offers hope for the orphan too? God himself became a vulnerable baby, destined to be abandoned by His very own Father. He knows the pain of abandonment and it's the entire reason He came as a baby, lived among us, died for us, and lives now for us. His hope is for them too, for those precious souls shivering alone in a crib. His perfect will can not be thwarted and He bids us all to take part of His plight for the orphan. He alone offers hope but we must be obedient in loving fiercely, so that His love may be realized. WE are God's instruments in reaching out to the lost and abandoned. It is a privilege He grants us to be a part of His redemptive plan.

While my heart aches over the reality that is here and now, the birth of Christ reminds me that we are not left here to save ourselves. His life, death, and resurrection remind me that I am free to love the least of these, with no reservation, no fear, and no doubt that He will always provide.

During Advent, we wait expectantly for the birth of Christ, our King who came to save. But we also anticipate His return, His final reconciliation of all things. We long to be made whole again. We yearn for the orphan to be made whole. Until this consummation, let us not grow weary in doing good. Let's be vehicles of God's grace. Please friends, let's be the hands and feet of Christ this season, for the fatherless. While it's beautiful to offer our worship in sanctuaries and even by our warm fires, may we never forget the helpless ones who wearily wait for hope. Let's pray, go, tell, give, adopt, hold, bless, love. Oh come, Emmanuel.

"Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute." (Psalm 82:3)

Not able to go, adopt, physically be there for orphans in distress? Give. I recommend Lifeline Children's Services ( They go. They love. They serve. They equip churches around the world. They bring the hope of Christ to orphans. Your donation will directly affect a soul who needs this hope. God has blessed Lifeline with gifts of organization, physical hands, and relationships with local and international governments where they can make a difference. They simply wait for the financial resources to move forward with each ministry opportunity. Please let me know if you would like more information.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

The End of a Road, the Beginning of Life

Her time with us is nearing an end. In 4 days, I will fly to Chicago with Fu Yi to meet up with her host group, where they will depart together for their return to China. While we are sad to see her go, God has been preparing our hearts for months. From the beginning, we were fully aware that her travel visa allows her here for 30 days. This hosting experience gave us an opportunity for Fu Yi to stay in our home for one month. We knew this time would eventually end. We knew it wouldn't be easy. But it's what God called us to. And for good reason.

First and foremost, our goal through this hosting program was to show her the love of Jesus. We vowed to pour in to her, showing her true love that she's never experienced before. We promised to love her fiercely, leaving our hearts exposed and vulnerable. By the grace of God, this love had a visible impact. We've witnessed physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and cognitive growth. The impact of physical touch, soothing voice, strenuous activity, nutritious food, affection and attention are astounding. There's no doubt these experiences over the past month have had miraculous implications. We give God all praise for this work in her life!

Our second mission, as we felt God intended, was to find her a forever family where she could continue to know the love of Christ. We prayed that her identity as a helpless, voiceless orphan would change to that of adopted, protected, and cherished child. Our prayers have been answered! Her family now fights through the process to bring her home. She no longer waits on a list for someone to notice her. She now waits for her Mama and Baba to bring her home. The paperwork, home visits, training, approvals, and reports will take about a year and at the end of the adoption process, she will be home where she belongs.

This story is nothing short of miraculous. Please stop and thank God now for the privilege of witnessing His amazing work. There was a little girl half way around the world who was abandoned and sat in an orphanage, for 5 long years. A file was all she had to identify her. As far as the world was concerned, she didn't exist. But God, in all His mercy, plucked her from the pit. He called our family to simply say "yes" to one step at a time. We didn't know what He'd do with it but we were willing. He gave her a voice, a face, an opportunity to know love. Then, He called another family to answer the call to love her forever, the way He has loved them. "We love because He first loved us." (1John 4:19) This once nameless orphan has been deemed worthy and forever loved. "Praise be to the LORD, for He has heard my cry for mercy. The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise Him." (Psalm 28:6-7)

The miracles that have occurred through her visit have gone well beyond what is currently visible. What we do know is that hundreds of seeds have been planted, seeds that God will faithfully water and produce fruit from. People have seen the face of the orphan and hearts have been softened. There is a greater awareness of the reality of the orphan crisis around the globe. Fu Yi's light is so bright and shone for so many to enjoy. Without words, she explained to every person she came in contact with that God is good. She is an image-bearer who reflects His glory from within her eyes. May her memory always point us back to how faithfully God provides for His beloved.

So while you may be tempted to feel sorry, to be sad, to regret what has to happen next, please don't. God's promises are real for Fu Yi. "I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you." (John 14:18) God has worked mightily on her behalf and we dare not doubt His love for her, now that the tide rises. He draws closer as we need Him more. He never fails, He never leaves. Do we believe that the God who currently holds her in His hand will no longer hold her when she returns to China? Yes, Thursday will be hard for many of us. But we choose to trust the creator of her life, who never disappoints. We give Him praise and worship for all He has done and for all He promises to do. There is no sadness in His sovereignty and the love He pours out through it. There should be no regret in a journey that He has clearly ordained and promises to complete. Our faces are turned to the One who always comforts. We have asked God to guard our hearts, and of course Fu Yi's. He is already providing in this. We now ask for your prayers of gratitude. Let's storm the gates of heaven with our praise and thanksgiving for all that He has done!

We love you, Fu Yi. You are a treasure and we give thanks for God's redemptive work in your life. "You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever." (Psalm 30:11-12)

Friday, August 5, 2016

A Princess is Crowned

About 3 months ago, God presented an opportunity to us. He made it very clear that it was His will that we follow through and live out what He had planned. We had no idea how faithfully He would provide through our obedience in simply saying "Yes." We had no idea the heartache it would cause us. Or the joy.

Almost 6 years old, Fu Yi arrived to us on a Monday. She came with Down Syndrome, scared, exhausted, confused, hungry. She would be staying with us for one month. Our goal, as we felt God intended, was to love her fiercely and pour in to her in a way she's never known. Our secondary mission was to find her a forever family. We would post on FB, tell friends, pray over her, hold open houses where people could meet her, BEG God to soften hearts. She immediately stole our own hearts. Her sweet little stature, that body that appears to be owned by a 3 year old. Her smile and belly laugh that came out in spurts, more and more as time went on. The Mandarin babble she fills the silence with. Her heavy body hanging straight as we hold her tight. She doesn't know how to be loved this way, but she would learn. The nervous chewing of fingers. The eyes that told us so much. All of it. It stole us. So much trauma. Even more beauty. We fell in love.

But would another family fall as hard? I know God has a plan. I know he'll produce fruit from this scenario He's called us to. But what? When? Can we really trust?.....  One, then ten, then a hundred, more messages every day. "Please tell us how to pursue Fu Yi. Can we meet her? When? How much will this cost? How long will it take to bring her home? Can you help us? Have other families inquired? Are we too late? If Fu Yi is not our daughter, still we choose to adopt because of her. Please tell us how to proceed." They flooded in. My personal, heartfelt responses turned in to a game of copy and paste. We couldn't keep up. How can this be? How would God determine who it will be? It was beyond us. It was bigger. It was more than I could keep up with or even comprehend.

Before others, 2 families had contacted the agency at essentially the same time. Both families submitted an application to move forward with the adoption process. 2 families fell deeply in love with Fu Yi. We fell deeply in love with both families. When it became clear that both families were sure Fu Yi could be their daughter, the agency ceased all advocacy efforts on Fu Yi's behalf, as did we. For about a week and a half, the pain was searing, the anxiety was intense, knowing that in the end, one family would not be chosen to parent her. The agency insisted that both spend time with her, that we spend time discerning who would be a better fit. We gave our unbiased opinions of both families and strengths of both. 2 amazing, God-fearing, beautiful-beyond-words families. Please Lord, don't let this be a contest. Reveal to us quickly who her family is. Nothing. Until today.

I received the phone call. "We've made our decision, one of the hardest ones we've ever had to make. Ben and Michelle will be her parents." The family from Maryland who we fell head over heals in love with wouldn't be chosen. This family who we prayed with numerous times, laughed with, cried with, worshipped with, went to the beach with. This family who flew their entire family here to be with Fu Yi, to be with us, most importantly to do what they knew God was calling them to. Not them. Oh the pain. The grief. The feeling of loss and confusion. It's all fresh right now, almost more than I can stomach. God will heal. His plan is perfect and we are so thankful for the rock solid faith this family has in God's sovereignty. We mourn with them but we mourn with hope, knowing His plan is better than ours. Gently God, you break us, all for the glory that you promise to reveal in time.

Ben and Michelle. This other family who we also just met and love so dearly. From the moment they laid eyes on Fu Yi, I am sure they knew. They knew they would love her forever. And we knew we loved them too. Gentle, compassionate, kind, faithful are only a few words to describe this amazing couple who has decided to stand in the gap for Fu Yi. They saw Fu Yi and just knew they had to say "Yes!" They did. Out of beautiful obedience, they are trusting the Lord with each step forward. We are humbled and awestruck by their faith in His plan for their lives and Fu Yi's. Among all the other miracles we have witnessed, it happens that this family lives one hour from us! Yes, Fu Yi, we look forward to watching you grow up in south Louisiana, where you will cheer for the Tigers, sip sweet tea, maybe even suck some crawfish heads.

Oh, my God. You are more. More than I ever imagined. You are beyond my comprehension and my finite faith. You, who are blowing our prayers out of the water, the one who so clearly adores this child, is the God who walked on water, the God who commands angels, the God who rose from the dead, and granted salvation to your enemies. Your miracles are countless and you put them on display for the world to see. I want to see your face God, the face of the One who has not only redeemed Fu Yi but literally hundreds of lives through this ministry. Why us, God? Why do you love us so much that we get to hear your call? Why do we get to sit on the front lines of your unending miracles for the most vulnerable lives, the ones you adore more than any? I am not worthy. I fall at your feet, in awe of the glory you so willingly display.

Fu Yi's story has only just begun. Already she's affected thousands of people. Because of her life and her time here, seeds have been planted, hearts have been encouraged, and quiet longings have morphed in to cross-carrying action for the orphan, the very heart of Jesus. Fu Yi has a family who is fighting to bring her home. Her life has been redeemed and the fruit of that will bud beautifully for all to see over the years to come.

Fu Yi existed as a mug-shot photo orphan with no voice to give life to her generic, inaccurate paper file. God, in all His mercy, has lifted her from that and set her upon a pedestal for all to admire. This beautiful, image-bearer has received the crown she deserves... a Christian family who will love her forever. More importantly, the crown of an heir... heir to her heavenly father, the crown only a princess to the One true King can wear. She has received the promise of eternal riches from her creator, who has pulled her from the pit of despair. May her life here be a beautiful example of what God has done for each of us. From rags to riches, orphan to heir, it's her story. It's my story. I hope it's yours too. Faith in this story is the only requirement to make it so.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Q&A on Adopting a Child with Down Syndrome

In exactly one week, a 5-year-old little girl who lives in an orphanage in China will arrive in the United States. She may not understand what's to come but will be covered in love as she stays with our family for one month. We are praying boldly that a family would step in to the gap for this precious soul, that she would be adopted as their daughter and sister. Her name is Fu Yi and while her disability does not define her, it's important to know that she has Down Syndrome.
As you pray about the possibility of Fu Yi being your daughter, perhaps you have questions about what this adoption may look like. We have been blessed with a community of friends who have not only adopted from China but have adopted children who have DS. A couple of these families have graciously agreed to help us answer questions that we are not equipped to answer. More importantly, both families have made it clear that they would be happy to discuss any concerns or further questions with interested families.
This blog post is simply a Q&A format. We've asked them questions, they've answered. One family's answers are in red, the other in blue. We pray that this brings some clarity to families who may be asking these questions silently. We encourage you to contact us through email ( with any other questions you may have about Fu Yi, the adoption process, or Down Syndrome. May God stir and soften hearts now and over the weeks to come...
1. DS children need special attention, as do typical children who are adopted internationally. How do both needs together play out at home?
Honestly, I feel like the dominant needs of my child are related to her Down Syndrome diagnosis, not as much the challenges she experiences as an internationally adopted child.  The attachment was far less of an issue than I have observed in my friends who have adopted children.  I think the best way to articulate the dual needs is that perhaps her beginnings in an institution have increased the severity of her need.  For example, she has major feeding issues for multiple reasons including poor oral motor skills and sensory issues relating to the Down Syndrome, however, these issues were amplified because of lack of therapies and awareness of the orphanage. We have had a tremendous amount of therapy to assist her with delays that could have been helped had she gotten early intervention.  I rarely seek support through the typical adoption communities because our needs and experiences are so vastly different.  There is a small community of families who have adopted children with Down Syndrome and it has been a great resource to me.
Since this is my first international adoption, as well as my first child who has Down syndrome, it is hard for me to compare which issues stem from being adopted at age 8 internationally and which issues stem from our daughter’s special need.  Showy is such a sweet, joyful child, so her need seems pretty easy to handle most of the time because of her excitement in the little things.  We obviously have to care for her need, as far as pretty constant supervision and help, however she is extremely easy going and willing to go with the flow of our family of 8.
2. What is the greatest challenge in raising a child with Down Syndrome?
I think our challenges will vary greatly depending on her stage of life.  Honestly, the greatest challenge right now is the sheer physical-ness of her care.  She really cannot be unsupervised, and every meal is one of trying new foods, self-feeding, etc.  Even teaching her to walk from Point A to Point B can be taxing. Potty training can take up to a year. I am constantly aware of her presence and her needs, and I think that detracts from my relationship with my other children at times.  However, I think as she grows older there will be different challenges of finding the appropriate education, how she will interact with society as an adult and in what role, etc.  
I think the greatest challenge is knowing how much to expect from our daughter.  Is it too much to ask her to brush her own teeth, put on her own clothing, eat by herself, etc… Evaluating her capabilities is difficult when dealing with a child with Down syndrome, especially when adopted internationally because of the communication barrier.  The easy answer for greatest challenge is of course communication, but expectations is one that I deal with on a regular basis as far as knowing how to challenge her and want her to learn and grow.
3. What does your family have the privilege of experiencing through this child, that you all wouldn't otherwise have?
My daughter has taught us about joy, pure joy.  She is an open door to the gospel, and constantly draws me back to our Father in Heaven.  She is a gift, a good and perfect gift, given to us to show us the true depth of our Father's love for us.  She has shown me how to love well and fiercely, and I wouldn't change her for the world.
We have already had so many wonderful experiences in our short 4 months home that we would never have been part of had we not adopted Showy.  We have been able to share with churches, families, friends, and even friends of friends about our experiences and our daughter.  We have joined several groups for families who have Down syndrome, and we are connecting with families we have never met.  We are stopped in public by people constantly asking our story and wanting to know more about adoption and Down syndrome.  Showy meets new friends for us all the time!
4. What therapies or medical attention is generally required for a child with DS?
It varies greatly.  When we came home, we did physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy privately.  Now she receives the PT and OT in schools, and we only do private speech therapy.  Some parents only do the therapies they receive in school.  My daughter did not have heart or hearing issues, but some children with Down Syndrome do.  
This varies based on the severity and specifics, but many children with Down syndrome have vision, thyroid, and heart problems.  Our daughter doesn’t have vision or heart issues, but her thyroid may need some attention in the future.  She also will likely participate in therapies provided by the school system including Speech, Occupational, and Physical Therapy just to help her learn with a little more attention.
5. How have your other children been affected by this adoption? How do you suspect they will be affected in the future (long-term living arrangements, etc.)?
My deepest fear when walking through the adoption process was what this meant for my children.  It kept me up nights, sometimes all night.  It brought my idols and my sin to the surface, and I had to release my children back to God, knowing He is their only perfect parent, and he cares for them and loves them with a wisdom that I do not possess.  And now that she has been in our family for two years, I cannot imagine our family life without her.  My three children fight over who gets to play with her; their love and affection for her has been unwavering.  It has been the most beautiful part of our journey to watch them love her so unconditionally, so well.  There has never been a hesitation on their parts, not one doubt, not one flash of resentment or anger, and her presence has asked much of them.  I don't know what the future holds for my children, but I no longer lay awake at night wondering whether or not this adoption will damage my children or our relationship with them.  
My other children have been changed for the better…for good.
Not only has their new sister changed their hearts and brought more love than we know what to do, but at least one of our biological children plans to adopt.  She also will likely take care of Showy if she happens to need assistance and we aren’t around or able to help.  Our children love adoption now. Our children love others with Down syndrome now.  The joy in our home is contagious. 
6. Please add any information you think is important about adopting a child with DS, as well as any additional personal feelings or advice you have for prospective families.
There are many challenges, but many greater joys!
I would absolutely love to speak to anyone who has any questions or concerns about an adoption with a child with Down syndrome.  I can personally tell you that our life has never been more full.  I see the joy of the Lord in our daughter and can’t imagine life without her.  We already had 5 children in our home, and adding her to the mix has been such a blessing.  Everyone seems so united in our love for her and for adoption.  Please feel free to reach out and let me know if you need anything.  If you live anywhere close to Central Alabama, let me know and I would be happy to let you meet our sweet little one!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It's Almost Time to Meet Fu Yi!

It's hard to believe but she will be here in 2 weeks! We are gearing up for her arrival in so many ways. There are clothes and other essentials to shop for, meals to plan (that may suit her taste), events and meetings to coordinate, reports to process, children to talk with, and lots of praying to do. We are excited, nervous and hopeful all at the same time. We are opening our schedule and wanting to just be available for her. We've rejected expectations and are open-minded and open-hearted, ready for whatever she brings.

We've planned several opportunities for you to meet Fu Yi. These are group settings, very casual, no commitment. This is a chance for families to discern if she could be their daughter, but it's also a chance to enjoy her company and love on her while she's here (even if adoption is not on your heart).

Sunday, July 24th, 1:00-5:00 - Open House at friends' home in Tchefuncta Club Estates. (Translator present)

Saturday, July 30th, 2:30-4:30 - Birthday party at Coquille Splash Pad. Her first birthday celebration ever... We'll celebrate the first 6 years of her life! Please bring about $10 per family, in lieu of a gift. These funds will go toward her adoption grant.

Saturday, August 6th, 9:00AM-noon - Brunch Open House at the Loman Home in Madisonville. (Translator present)

There will also be days during the week when we will spontaneously plan to play at the park or other location. I will post these play dates on our FB page so you can join us when you're able.

We had planned to host a pancake breakfast fundraiser on July 23rd but for various reasons, have decided to cancel. We feel it's in Fu Yi's best interest that we're not focused on planning and putting on an event while she's here. We are currently selling raffle tickets for an overnight stay at Southern Hotel in Covington and a $100 gift card to Ox Lot 9 restaurant. The winning raffle ticket will be drawn on July 23rd. This will be the last fundraiser for her adoption grant, along with the funds we are requesting in lieu of a birthday gift.

While these group gatherings will be meaningful, we are also available for one-on-one time, as well. If you are praying about the possibility of adopting Fu Yi, we would love for you and your family to hang out at our home, separate from the group times, and privately if you so choose. We would love to come to your home as well, if you prefer having her in your own environment. One of us can bring Fu Yi so our entire tribe isn't distracting.

We are also open to bringing her to worship at your church if you feel there's an opportunity there. We can help educate and bring awareness or simply let her mingle with your congregation, whatever you and your leadership feel God desires. If you think of other interactions that could lead to an adoptive family stepping forward, please bring that to our attention!

It's possible that God will call a non-local family to adopt Fu Yi. If you do not live in our area and are feeling called to explore further, please consider visiting during her time here. If travel funds are not something you have, let's chat. We would love to think of ways to help fund your trip here. We don't want distance to be a hindrance in something that God could be calling your family to. This is too important, and we will help you get it worked out!

While we plan these gatherings now, we ask you to be patient if at any moment we decide to cancel. Fu Yi's heart and behavior will dictate all things. It's important that while she's here she feels safe and loved and that all her needs are met. If we feel she needs to be nurtured quietly at home, we will let everyone know as soon as possible. While we don't know what to expect, we do feel hopeful about these opportunities for you to meet her. Certainly we will have to address some trauma along the way, but we are anticipating plenty of joy and excitement from her as she meets new people. We are grateful for your patience as we enter these unchartered waters!

The latest snippet of information we've received on Fu Yi is that she is "tiny and oh-so-precious!" This wasn't really news but it makes me giddy hearing anything about this sweetie. We are looking forward to seeing and meeting so many of you over the coming weeks. Please contact us with questions or if you need help coordinating a visit with Fu Yi. Our home is open and our schedule is flexible, in order that Fu Yi's forever family can spend time with her and realize she is their daughter!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

An Answer to Hard Questions

Hard questions are being asked. Good questions. Meaningful questions. Well-intentioned questions. We've actually asked them, as well. These questions were on our hearts before beginning the process to host an orphan. I believe one in particular deserves some extra attention. You've asked the question too, just maybe not out loud. Perhaps this question prompts you to doubt what we are doing. I'm thankful that our closest friends and church family have asked it directly. It absolutely needs to be asked and if we aren't considering it, we have done a disservice to many. This question needs to be answered with truth. I will attempt to do that now.

Is hosting Fu Yi for one month really in her best interest? We are pulling her out of her comfort zone. As horrendous as her circumstances may be, they are familiar to her and these children cling to anything that feels familiar. She will experience atrocious jet lag and severe confusion. Certainly a 5 year old child who has Down Syndrome and lives in an orphanage can not comprehend the explanation that she's "going to camp in America." She will be met at the airport by a couple who looks nothing like her, a couple who doesn't even speak her language. It is our understanding that her nannies may tell her to call us "Momma and Papa." Exhausted, confused, and scared, she will be told to come with us. And if this trauma isn't enough for her already battered soul...

We will whisk her away to what seems like paradise. Our expensive car, a house she never dreamed could be so big, all her needs immediately met. She will feel love like never before. She'll have so many people doting over her and making sure she is always comfortable. She will have her own bed, be celebrated, entertained, read to, played with, hugged, held, fed, and loved like a daughter.

4 weeks passes and this couple who has shown her the world is driving her back to the airport. Once again, she stands confused, perhaps feeling abandoned once more. How can her little mind possibly understand why we haven't kept her? Why would this family, who seemed to love her so much, now send her back? Back to the muck, back to the hell of living as an orphan.

This is going to wreck her, on so many levels. And I haven't mentioned how it will wreck us. It's going to be painful from all perspectives. So, that question nags again... Is this really what's best for a child who has already experienced unthinkable tragedy and trauma? Clearly, we have considered the ramifications of hosting this child. We asked the important question, the same one you've asked. We've prayed over it and ache just thinking about her fragile little heart.

Yes. Yes, this is what's best for Fu Yi. It's what's best for our family. It's what's best for every person in this community who has the privilege of meeting her. And it's best for the Kingdom of God.

Without this opportunity, Fu Yi may never know what it feels like to be loved. Can one month of unconditional love have a lifetime effect? We believe so. There are countless studies that show the positive and lasting effects of being loved, even for 2 weeks. "Being loved" includes tender touch, eye contact, meeting of needs, etc. We have personally witnessed firsthand, 2 of our own children make exponential progress within 2 weeks, after leaving an orphanage for our loving arms. It's tremendous to witness.

Fu Yi sits in an institution, eligible for adoption but with no one pursuing her. This program allows us to advocate on her behalf. We will work hard to find a family willing to adopt her. Her chances of being adopted increase dramatically as a result of being in the hosting program. If she is adopted, the residual trauma doesn't immediately disappear but it does begin to dissipate more and more over time. Being adopted into a loving family has miraculous implications on the progress of these children. This is true for physical, psychological, and cognitive developmental issues. The love of a family truly changes lives. Having Fu Yi placed in a family (God willing) will not erase what's been done but will allow for major healing.

Think about the possible implications for our friends and this village as a whole. Fu Yi represents every orphan around the globe. She is a real face, a real child to hold and hug. She is only one orphan but will give face to so many who have no voice, no connection to the outside world. Our prayer is that this community may be changed forever by her visit. We believe hearts may never be the same after meeting and caring for this child. She will bring awareness and education for those who may never otherwise be aware of the harsh reality around the globe. We know God will use this experience to change the hearts of everyone who comes in contact with her.

What about our family? Is it fair to set our kids' hearts up for breaking? I think back on so many journeys where we have exposed them to difficult reality, in order that they too may grow closer to Jesus. I look back at both of our adoptions, for example. I remember being genuinely concerned about how the adoption may effect our kids. The concern is valid but hindsight is so much richer. Yes, our children have been changed. They now argue over who will adopt first, or who will get to care for their younger sister and brother. They pray about missions and have an understanding of orphan care that most adults do not. I also think back on the time we hosted 3 little girls from Uganda, for 3 days. When they left, we all grieved. I remember Anna Grace sobbing because she couldn't understand why they couldn't be her sisters. We had many talks that we would never otherwise have had. Talks about how they are already our sisters, and what it means to be connected to other Christians around the world. Talks about what these children experience in their every day lives. Talks about how they want to be missionaries for God's Kingdom because of what they've seen and experienced. Yes, they've been hurt, there has been pain, and sometimes confusion. But God has always answered with His faithful healing and refining. Yes, they've been changed and we expect they'll be changed by this as well. Praise God! May we never shelter our children in order that we may "protect" them from truth. When we think we're doing something wise, we may actually be preventing them from truly understanding who our God is.

Is this situation ideal for Fu Yi? No. But while asking this hard question, we must consider another. Is it ideal that this child was abandoned right before her first birthday? Is it ideal that she sits in an orphanage with no one fighting on her behalf? Absolutely not. Adoption and orphan care is never plan A. In a perfect world, devoid the fall, these children would be loved by their biological fathers. But sin has prevailed in many of their lives and as believers in a loving God, we must be His hands and feet in working out His plan of redemption for these victims.

There's one answer to your question that outweighs every other answer I've given above.

As followers of Christ, it is our life's mission to know Christ fully and to make Him known to every  soul in every nation. " Therefore go and make disciples of all nations..."(Matthew 28:18-20) We believe that God uses every means in order that we would fulfill His great commission. We know that God will use this hosting opportunity to work in Fu Yi's life. She will hear the gospel while she is here. We will remind her of it often. This will be, by far, the most important thing she receives while she is here. While we absolutely want to find a family to adopt her, our ultimate goal for Fu Yi is that she comes to love Christ. He is her saving grace. He is her key to salvation. If our goal as Christians is to make Him known, then this is exactly what we must do for Fu Yi. By hosting Fu Yi, we feel we are being obedient in Jesus' final call to make disciples of all nations. It's messy and it's painful. Hearts will be broken. But we want... God wants redemption for Fu Yi. We must remember what Jesus experienced in order to redeem souls.

I was an orphan. I was lost, separated from my father, scrounging on the floor of an orphanage, awaiting hell. I was comfortable in my misery. I didn't know I needed to be rescued. But God knew. And He knew it would cost everything in order to rescue me from that orphanage. And He loved me enough to do just that. He gave everything. He gave His dignity, His security and comfort, His spot on a heavenly throne, His life. He went to hell where He was completely separated from His own Father. He literally experienced what it means to be an orphan so that we could be adopted as sons into our Father's forever family, His eternal Kingdom! Did it hurt? You bet it did. Infinitely more than you could ever imagine. Was salvation of souls worth it? He promises it was. I pray that you see the gospel in our story. I pray that you see glory through the darkness.

We have to tread through the muck, and drag Fu Yi with us, in order to enter the other side. But her soul is at stake and it's worth the fight. We can't risk the possibility that she may never hear truthful, good news. Following Christ and being a part of fulfilling His will is difficult work. If we want to be like Jesus, if we want to be a picture of the gospel, we must be willing to carry our cross, even go to hell in order for souls to be redeemed. It's all His work but we are His vessels and we gladly go where He calls us in order to find even one lost soul. "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?" (Luke 15:4) Fu Yi's soul is too important to her Shepherd. We must be willing to face the pain, go wherever He leads, and do whatever is necessary, in order that she be found.

This subject has been discussed among friends who have hosted in the past. Here are some of their thoughts on the matter.

"I do worry that I will be inflicting more trauma, but at the same time, they only have 2 years until they age out. It's more traumatic to spend the rest of your life without a family. And I pray it not only helps these boys, but also other older boys who wait."

"This is the first time we've heard of this program and we never considered an older child. Now we will be bringing home 2 amazing children!"

"This child would have died had he not had the hosting opportunity with us. His file was way off, medically speaking and in general. Words typed on a paper cannot ever fully tell a family about a child but we were able to tell everyone about his adorable laughter, the way he was so polite and knew boundaries, the pictures we took to share with potential families were photos that were not staged. They were live action and spoke volumes about his development. No piece of paper could have ever told an interested family how absolutely precious and smart our little guy was! Hosting allows for all this and so much more! Our guy needed medical treatment ASAP (which was discovered by doctors here) and he received that. He now has a mommy and daddy who hold him and tell him his story, how he came to us so we could help him find them, and how we all love him to pieces!"

"This is probably the last shot for some of these kids. It's now or never."

"It's not perfect. It's not our first choice. It's our last choice. But more hard-to-place kids are coming out of the orphanages because of hosting. It's a heartbreaking journey, yes. But it's the last chance in a road of waiting and waiting."

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Waves of Mercy

"The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice; the seas have lifted up their pounding waves. Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea- the Lord on high is mighty." (Psalm 93:3-4)

I sat on the edge of our bed last night, as Seamus assembled the toddler bed for Fu Yi. "I'm sad, Seamus. I have hope but my heart hurts," my voice trembled. I felt like bursting in to tears but I knew that would be ridiculous. "This is only one wave, Laura. There will be many more." Sigh.

He was right, this was only one wave. That's a scary thought because the waves in life sometimes feel like more than I can bear. The breaking and crashing of a powerful wave is sometimes enough to tear us down. We know there will be more, so my perspective must be in order. I can let these waves drown me, or I can find a way to float atop.

Exactly one week ago, a lady contacted me. She saw my post on FB and was moved by what she'd read. She and her husband wanted to learn more about Fu Yi and said they were interested in adopting her! Our conversation continued for many days. They asked questions. They requested her medical file from the agency. They prayed. And after a lot of back and forth, I received a message that brought tears to my eyes. "We really believe she may be our daughter, Laura." You can imagine the joy that filled my heart.

Fu Yi has been dealt a crappy hand of cards. She was born with Down Syndrome, abandoned before she turned one year old and was left to fend for herself in an orphanage. The trauma she has experienced in the first few years of her life is overwhelming to consider. I'm not blind to how children are treated in these orphanages, and I've certainly seen how children with Down Syndrome are at an even higher risk for abuse and neglect. It physically hurts to imagine Fu Yi's past and present circumstances. But now! Now I could actually imagine redemption in her life! Could God have seriously revealed His plan for Fu Yi so soon? Of course He could! He is the God who gave up everything to redeem!

Soon after receiving this elating message, I received another. "We've prayerfully discerned that Fu Yi is not our daughter, after all. God has called us to adopt an older child..." My heart sank. I sobbed. I took a deep breath and responded, "I am thankful for your listening to God's will in everything! I give Him praise for that. I am also thankful that you will be pursuing an older child. How wonderful! Please be in prayer for Fu Yi and ask the Lord to direct our steps in advocating. Thank you for being so open and honest. Big hugs!" With a broken heart, I hit send.

The biggest waves in my life manifest themselves through the unknown. I don't know what God's plan is for Fu Yi. That scares me. A lot. It shouldn't. That fear is nothing more than a lack of faith. Has He or has He not promised to work all things out for His glory and for my good (Romans 8:28)? With our eyes fixed on the One who calms the waves, we overcome, even welcome them. We become stronger, we grow closer to our God who has a plan to redeem.

Who am I to question, for one second, how God is working in Fu Yi's life? Do I really believe He doesn't have huge blessings in store for her? I confess. My grieving the loss of this family was essentially saying that God doesn't know best. While God certainly calls us to fight on her behalf, I have zero say in what her destiny will be. He used this recent experience in order that I would repent, turn back to Him and His sovereignty. He so graciously and gently reminded me that His ways are not mine (Isaiah 55:8).

No, I can't control whether or not Fu Yi gets adopted. I can't remove her current circumstances. Yes, God has a plan and I'm not privy to it yet. Here's what we'll do as instruments of God's will and purpose. We will pray boldly, asking God for huge miracles. We will love her with whole hearts, completely vulnerable. We will fight fiercely on her behalf. We will speak truth and we will never be silent. She has no voice but that ends now. The waves will not overcome us. They have no power against a God who owns them. "You rule over the surging sea; when its waves mount up, you still them." (Psalm 89:9) We will embrace HIS waves of love and unending mercy. We will rest knowing that the God who loves orphans infinitely more than we do, will fulfill all things good. "The least of you will become a thousand, the smallest a mighty nation. I am the Lord; in its time I will do this swiftly." (Isaiah 60:22) He is the song for the suffering and at HIS perfect moment, redemption's tune will overwhelm Fu Yi. Of this, I am confident.

You call me out beyond the shore onto the waves! (Great song;)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Life-Changing T-Shirts!

We can hardly wait to love on Fu Yi while she visits us this summer. Showing her the light of Jesus and the love of a family for one month will be monumental in her life. In addition to how we relate directly to her, we pray to also have an impact through advocating on her behalf. One aspect of advocating for Fu Yi includes providing assistance for the future adoptive family. We know that this assistance and support might be the difference between finding her forever family or not. We want to provide families the opportunity to get to know her. We will provide medical care and further information about her health. We will pray for and with this family, and we are happy to answer questions as they arise.

Another support we can offer is financial assistance. We do not want the cost of adoption to be an obstacle for anyone willing to welcome this child into their family. We have an account set aside specifically for an adoption grant. Any donations made through our Paypal account ( from now until the end of Fu Yi's visit, will go directly toward this grant. Please feel free to click "donate" on our blog homepage at any time, in order to help fund Fu Yi's adoption expenses. We will also be hosting a few fundraisers over the coming months, in order to fund the grant. We will keep you posted on the grant balance as we move forward.

Our first fundraiser is beginning now and we'd love your help! We've had t-shirts designed and want you to wear them with us! These shirts are the super soft material and come in adult and youth sizes. The shirts are pictured below. The adult shirt color is not exactly the same as the youth shirt color (see below). The cost is $20 per shirt (please add $2 for 2XL and 3XL), plus $4 per order if you would like them shipped. If you don't want your order shipped, you can pick them up in Madisonville (we will email you with our address). Wear them for our summer events with Fu Yi, or give them as gifts! Everyone loves super soft tees and the cause is so worthwhile!

To order t-shirts, please send payment ($20 per shirt plus $4 shipping if applicable; *Please add $2 for 2XL and 3XL shirts) through Paypal with the quantity and sizes (YS-YL, AXS-A3XL) written in the notes section. To access our Paypal account, you can click on "donate" on this blog homepage or simply use our email address ( We will take preorders until June 1st, and shirts should arrive in mid to late June. This will allow everyone to get their shirts in time for Fu Yi's arrival!

Thank you very much for all the love and support we have already received through this hosting process. Fu Yi is already one loved little girl, that's for sure. She really hasn't been given a chance in the first 5 years of her life but together we will be her voice! Your prayers have been heard on her behalf. God DOES place the lonely in families (Psalm 68:6) and will work mightily in Fu Yi's life. Let's continue fighting for her by beefin' up this adoption grant. Get busy ordering some shirts!