In 2005 God began impressing upon us the futility of trying to live the “American Dream”. We had built a large home and filled it with nice furniture. We were a two income family with two children and a dog. While I was pregnant with our second child we began to think about our future and what that would look like. Honestly, we did not like what we saw. I never wanted to work full time but I would need to work to pay for our comfortable lifestyle. So we began to make drastic changes in our lifestyles. We sold our large home and bought a smaller one that we could afford on one income. After our son was born I did not return to work but stayed home to raise our family. A few months after our son was born we began the adoption process in China. God began working in our hearts and what began as “us” saving one child from a life of poverty became a love affair with our Father God.  

We mailed our dossier to China in February 2006. At that time, the estimated wait to be matched with a child was between six and nine months. In March 2006 I was standing in the kitchen, I think fixing lunch. I got cold chills and felt God saying, “Your daughter was born today”. As the wait got longer and longer I began to think that day in March was just wishful thinking. If she was born in March she would be two or older before we finally got her and we had specifically requested a child younger than nine months old. Now fast forward to September 2007. We had decided several months before that we felt God leading us to apply for a child with a special medical need. We had already applied for two children but were not matched with them. Of course we were very discouraged because we really felt we were following God’s lead. A new list of waiting children was released on September 11, 2007. I immediately scanned the list and found two children that fit into our age range and the type of medical need we were approved for. I printed their information out to review it with Darren but I still wasn’t content. I kept going back and looking at the picture of a child they called “Angela”. She was much older than what were had originally said we would adopt, but she kept tugging at my heart. I had to print her papers out. We did apply for three girls, including “Angela”. I couldn’t sleep at night without dreaming about her. Finally, on October 4, 2007 we got THE CALL from our adoption agency. We had been matched with “Angela”. I just fell to my knees and cried like a baby. At the time I did not make the connection back to that day in March 2006. A few days later we were on our way home from church and suddenly it all clicked. “Angela” was born on March 20, 2006. She was the little girl God told me was born in China that day in March 2006. WOW!!! I was humbled beyond words. We traveled to China in December 2007 to pick up our sweet daughter Faith Fu Xiang Maas.

On the plane ride home from China I leaned over and told my husband, “you know you have a son in Africa”. Of course, my husband looked at me like I was crazy. However, two months after being home with our beautiful Faith I began looking for Gabriel. We knew that we wanted to adopt a child from a waiting child list so I began searching. I looked for about 2-3 weeks when I saw Gabriel. We immediately knew it was him and began the adoption process.
On that same list was a little boy named Jacob. Jacob was 6 months old and his medical report said that he had Hepatitis B. I inquired as to what my husband would think about adopting two boys. His response was that we had just adopted a child that was considered to have special needs and that was enough for us right now. A month or two passed and I continued to watch the children on the waiting list. As I was reviewing the list one day I was horrified when I saw a picture of Jacob. Jacob at nine months old had dwindled away to 10 pounds and looked very weak. I told my husband that we had to do something or he was going to die. So I contacted the adoption agency to inquire about Jacob. Neither of us had any doubt that we would adopt Jacob.
The agency took Jacob in for a medical evaluation to try to figure out why he had gotten so weak. Our adoption agency would not allow us to officially accept Jacob’s referral until a medical report was received. We sat and waited, while Jacob’s health was not improving. We begged and pleaded with our agency to please let us go ahead and adopt Jacob. We did not care about his diagnosis and would adopt him regardless of what his medical needs turned out to be. Finally, they allowed us to officially accept his referral but not before we signed a waiver stating that we knew his medical information was unknown and that there was a possibility that he would pass away before the adoption was completed. Well, our God works miracles and we slowly began to see Jacob get stronger as we waited to bring him home.
We brought Gabriel and Jacob home on July 31, 2008 on Jacob’s 1st birthday. Jacob has been diagnosed with Quadriplegia Cerebral Palsy. He had an MRI shortly after arriving home which uncovered the reason he has Cerebral Palsy. Jacob has several Congenital Brain Malformations. In fact, he has a large cleft where part of his brain is missing. Turned out he was not Hepatitis B+.
It is funny to think back to the day I saw a little boy that was positive for Hepatitis and we thought we could not handle another child with a health issue. I am so glad that God knows what we can handle and what is best for us. Jacob is such a joy and I cannot imagine not having him as a part of our family.
Our journeys to China and Africa changed our lives forever. We could no longer turn our backs and say, “we did not know”. Proverbs 24:12 says “Don’t excuse yourself by saying, ‘Look, we didn’t know.’ For God understands all hearts, and he sees you. He who guards your soul knows you knew. He will repay all people as their actions deserve.” So, after being home with the boys for six months we felt that our family had adjusted and bonded very well, we made the decision to begin another adoption. Our third adoption journey was full of ups and downs and took much longer than we had anticipated. Through the process we clung to the promise that God was in control and knew what was best for our family and these beautiful children. After several lost referrals we were finally matched with two amazing girls. In January 2010, I traveled to Ethiopia to pick up our new daughters, Grace and Sera.
Grace is a stunning 10 year old full of beauty inside and out. She has a serving heart and has really taken to the role of the big sister.  We are honored to call her our daughter.

Sera is a miracle, full of laughter and spunk. Sera was born with several birth defects affecting her eyes, brain, hands and feet.  Since coming home Sera has been diagnosed with a very rare genetic disorder called Bardet-Biedl Syndrome.   Sera is loosing her vision and is already legally blind.  She also has a Medulary Cystic Kidney disease which will eventually lead to kidney failure.  She has made unbelievable progress since she came home.

God is truly faithful to those who answer His call.  I had felt certain that one of the girls whose referral we had lost during our previous adoption was our daughter.  I did not understand why her adoption did not go through but I knew that my God was in control so we felt at peace.  In fact, after we lost her referral I remember saying to my husband, “she will be back.  I know she is our daughter”.   I had been home from picking up Grace and Sera for about two months when we received an email.  The little girl we had previously tried to adopt was available again.  It had been almost a year since we had lost her referral.  They wanted to know if we were still willing to adopt her.  Talk about a step of faith.  We had just completed the adoption of our two newest daughters so financially it seemed impossible.  There was also the fear of loosing her again.  What if the adoption did not go through again, could we handle that? 
We began the process to adopt Elshaday a few months later.  She finally joined our family in August 2011.  Her adoption has been a test of faith and obedience; however the reward has been great.  While in Ethiopia we had the unique opportunity to travel to the village where Elshaday’s mother lives and spend some special time with her mother.   Elshaday’s mother has AIDS and has been frequently sick.  She could no longer care for her daughter.  Her mother had to make a heartbreaking decision but she felt she had no other choice.  Elsahday is nine years old and HIV+.  Her mother made the ultimate sacrifice to give her daughter life.  If Elshaday had remained in her birth country, where medical care is a privilege many cannot afford, she would have died at a young age.  Elshaday has been a part of our family for three months now.  We are excited to watch our new daughter grow and flourish.  She is an amazingly strong girl. 

After our first adoption from China in 2007 we felt God leading us to Ethiopia for our next adoption.  Soon after, China began tightening their restrictions and there was no way we would meet the new requirements.  Never in our wildest dreams would we have thought we could ever go back to China.  In August 2010 we brought home our newest daughter from Ethiopia.  Although my heart cried out for orphans overseas we knew due to our income that we no longer met the USCIS income requirements for immigration.  We had decided that our next adoption would be a domestic adoption of a child with Down Syndrome.  A little girl from Haiti with Down Syndrome had grabbed our hearts and God opened our hearts a little more.  Plus I really wanted a baby in the house.  It had been a long time since we had a baby.

In October 2011 while chatting with a follow adoptive mom, future adoption came up in conversation.  They were in the process of adopting two children from China with Down Syndrome.  Knowing they were a large family I asked lots of questions.  I soon discovered that it was possible for large families to adopt children with special needs from China.  She shared with me some children waiting for families at an orphanage in China that their agency was working with.    I was immediately drawn to a couple of the kids on the waiting list.  Just out of curiosity I contacted the agency for more info.  The agency had not received the files from China but they said they would contact me when they did.

At the same time God had provided an increase in our monthly income.  He provided just enough income for us to meet the USCIS income requirements to immigrate two more children.  I made sure I informed my husband of this new tidbit.

Two months go by and I had not heard back from the adoption agency so I called again.  Of course, at this time, I had not said anything to my husband.  It doesn’t hurt to just get information, right?  They still had not received the files on the children I was interested in but they again said they would let me know.   Out of curiosity I asked if there had been anyone else call and ask about these two kids.  She said, “let me look at my list”.  I was surprised when she came back and said, “you are first on the list to get information on both those children”.   What???  I had not even told my husband I called and we were FIRST on the list.  

I decided it was about time to gently tell my husband what I had been thinking.  His first response was, “we don’t have room”.    Well, I couldn’t really argue with that.  A few days later I came across a blog post by a fellow adoptive mom titled, “Do you have room?”  This blog post is so powerful I am not even going to try to paraphrase.  You have to go read it for yourself.  Of course, I share it with my husband.  After having a long conversation we decided we could not use “we don’t have room” as an excuse.  I did get a “we will talk about it if the kids files become available”.  That’s progress!!

Here is where God really knocked our socks off.  I had already seen God paving the way but I didn’t expect this.  Several weeks before I had two separate individuals contact me and ask if they could send our kids a few Christmas presents.  Of course, I said yes.  I have made it a policy to never turn away a cheerful giver.  God placed my children on their hearts and I am not about to take away the blessings the giver may receive by following God’s prompting.  One was a former coworker of mind that I have not seen in probably 9 years.  She has stayed connected via facebook and has followed our family’s crazy journey.  The other giver is the company where my sister works.  Every year they sponsor a family for Christmas.  Typically it is a family they do not know but the owner had heard about our family and decided to do things a little different this year. 

The week leading up to Christmas, Darren was given a monetary gift from the individuals in one of the departments in the hospital where he works.  Darren is very humble and rarely talks about our family at work.  When asked he will talk about the kids, but he always makes sure he adds, “ALL glory goes to God”.  Darren works closely with the people in this department and they wanted to bless our family at Christmas. 

When the Christmas presents came from the generous givers I about passed out.   I don’t think I have ever seen so many presents.  I made sure I told my kids several times that they would not be receiving this many presents every year. 

Although the old saying is “it is more blessed to be the giver than the receiver” I can say that we really felt blessed.  Darren and I both felt like God was saying, “don’t worry I will take care of all your needs”. 

Then, came the icing on the cake!  Remember when we said “we have no room”.  God made sure to He let us know He had that taken care of too.  On Christmas Day later in the evening the doorbell rang.  When I opened the door there was a beautifully wrapped present on our porch.  When I opened the box inside I found $1,500 in CASH!!!  The card said “please use this gift to help in the purchase of your new home whenever God makes it available to you”.   PS. “We pray that God will find a way for this gift to be multiplied for you and the He will be glorified!!”  Well, guess God has the house thing under control too!

After that we really did not have any excuses left.  Darren and I walked around in a daze the rest of the day.  We talked the next day and decided that if God made these children available to us we would be “ALL IN”

When we received Lily's file for review, in February 2012, we were hooked.  We said "YES" and immediately sent in our LOI.  We received PA soon after.  We were at the time still waiting on the file for the little guy we were hoping to adopt too.  After some time had passed we finally received "the call", unfortunately it was not "the call" we had hoped for.  Sadly, our little guy had passed away possibly due to a heart issue common to children with Down Syndrome.  After the passing of our sweet Daniel we really did not know how to proceed.   Do we pursue another child?
We finally decided to give it all to God and have him make the decision.  I prayed "God if our son is out there lay him in front of us".  We contacted our agency and asked that they review the waiting children's shared files to see if we could be matched.  We were a little surprised when we were sent a file, as not many families were getting matched.  We prayed.  God answered.  We said YES!!   We never hesitated. 
In November 2012 we traveled to Hangzhou China to meet Isaac Guo Hong and make him our son.   After his adoption was completed we hoped a plane over to Guangzhou China to meet Lily Xin Da and make her our daughter.   It still amazes me how God perfectly matches children into our family. 
 There is still more . . . . .


  1. What a beautiful testimony your family has! I found you through Jennifer Willis' blog hop.

  2. What a beautiful story and a beautiful family.

  3. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story! We added the Lily&Isaac badge to our new blog.

    Have a joyful week!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story - it's amazing to see what God does in and through us when we give everything over to HIM. :)

    I'd love to help you raise funds for your next adoption - please don't hesitate to contact me and we can figure out a way to auction off some scripture prints or whatever would work best.

    God Bless!

    ~Aimee from Red Letter Ink (www.redletterink.etsy.com & www.redletterink.blogspot.com)