Blessings – Adoption Across America Photography Project

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As a college student, I (Mara) remember going to concerts and listening to Stephen Curtis and Marybeth Chapman’s China adoption story and just crying.  I told my best friend all the time that I hoped I could adopt some day.  When Jeremy and I met, I remember we had a more than one conversation about the fact that we wanted biological children but that we both had always felt that we would love to become a home and a family to a child in need through adoption, as well.  I was excited that he shared the desire to adopt!

Not quite a year after we were married, we found out we were expecting our first child and we couldn’t have been more excited.  Maryn joined our family in March and when she was 9 months old, we were surprised to find out that our next little bundle was on the way!  When Brynlee arrived, being parents to an 18 month old firecracker as well as a precious but colicky newborn sent us into an overwhelmed period of our lives during which we questioned whether the dream of someday adopting was actually going to come true.  We both felt DONE.  Two beautiful girls…  Our family was complete…  Right?

When Brynlee was about a year old, we felt like we had come up for air.  And… we had started to consider that maybe we weren’t DONE…  We had a conversation around the fact that maybe now we should start to consider that adoption we had discussed a few years back before we got married.  Jeremy was on board but then the fear set in on my end of all the unknowns that come with adoption.  The financial aspect, especially, just felt like an insurmountable obstacle for our family. Would I feel different about a child I had adopted than a child I had given birth to?  I told Jeremy I just didn’t know if I could say, “Yes”.

But, God knew the plans he had for our family and He didn’t let up.  I worried and fought with Him for months – just so afraid and unsure of how we would make it happen and whether I would be a good adoptive parent.  Meanwhile, the Lord found a way to bring adoption to the forefront in so many different ways.  Nearly every Sunday at church had me in tears because it ALL was about adoption (whether it really was or not).  Jeremy, through all this, was patient and chill (ever the laid back and go-with-the-flow guy that he is).  One night, about 6 months after we first felt the nudge from God to reconsider adoption, I was up late, late into the night working on a birthday cake for my daughter.  I felt God tell me that I needed to, right then, send an email to a friend who had adopted from China and ask her if her family could meet with our family and help us answer some questions and some fears.  I went to bed that night still nervous as heck but, knowing that this. was. happening.  I told Jeremy the next morning that I felt ready to go forward and he said, “Let’s do it”.

God showed up big time throughout our process in so many ways.  He showed us again and again that if we trusted in Him, we had nothing to fear.  We had family and friends, classmates we hadn’t spoken to since high school, and strangers we had never met come alongside us to support us and to help us emotionally, spiritually, and financially.  About 10 months after the day we decided to begin the adoption process, we were matched with a precious 13 month old little boy who had a heart condition for which he had had surgery in China as a tiny baby.  We decided to name him Kai which means “Triumphant” in Chinese.  We knew that God had already begun the process of allowing him to triumph over the circumstances of his birth as a very tiny, very sickly baby whose family was forced to leave him an orphan in order to get him the surgery he needed to live.

The day we met Kai in China, he came to us sound asleep.  He slept through being handed over to us, slept through the paperwork, and finally, he slept through the only familiar face he had left in the world leaving to head back to the orphanage.  As we sat looking at the little boy lying in the little white crib in our hotel room, we worried about how terrified he was going to feel when he woke up in a strange place looking at two strangers that looked so different from the people he was used to.  God used this moment as one more way to reassure us in our fears. When our Kai-Kai finally stirred and blinked his eyes open at us from the fluffy pink Winnie the Pooh bedding, he took one look at us and shot us one of his prize-winning smiles.  He then began to giggle and play peek-a-boo with us with his blanket.  He has been a perfect fit for our family.  His sisters just love their wild and crazy little brother and we can’t imagine life without him.  We hope to make Kai a big brother sometime soon to another little boy waiting in China for a family to love him.