I am a little embarrassed to say it now…..but adoption was never something I had on my radar. At all. I remember we used to joke that my missions-minded younger sister would one day adopt a child from every continent. But not me. That was what you did if you (dare I say it?)…couldn’t have kids ‘of your own. ‘

Yikes. Just even typing those words make me sick to my stomach now. So much has changed. And I am ashamed I ever thought that way.

Our path to adoption didn’t come in a straightforward kind of way. Much less, our path to “special needs” adoption.  We’re not on a path I ever imagined. But it’s a path that I wouldn’t trade for the world.
We were extremely blessed when we decided to start a family. I got the baby bug and next thing I knew, along came Jonah. I got the baby bug again. Along came Reagan. Literally, I wanted a baby…I got a baby. Easy as pie. And I don’t say that in a prideful sort of way. I say it because I think it defines part of our story. 

You see, we didn’t have fertility issues. We didn’t struggle. We had a perfectly healthy boy and girl. Everyone’s dream, right? Well, when the time came that we started thinking about kiddo #3, we assumed getting pregnant wouldn’t have been a problem. But pregnancy wasn’t the plan.

Almost out of nowhere….adoption was the word.

It shocked me. It scared me.  A lot.

About the time I was due with Reagan in 2007, my friend, Rachel, brought home Mia, from China. Her little Asian princess.  I followed their journey with great interest and emotions. Emotions that, at the time, I chalked up to hormones, especially since I was excited about my own little girl coming along. But still, I was fascinated. With rapt attention, I followed their planning, and journey to China and the formation of this newly expanded family. I was in awe of their immediate love for this little stranger. A little girl from the other side of the world, who looked completely different than them. Who had zero blood ties to them. It was a miracle I was watching. One just as awesome as birth. One I was captivated by.

Reagan was born and the first year or so, life progressed as projected. I remember talking to Rush a lot about Rachel’s trip and Mia, but certainly not thinking he was as interested as I.  So, I kept my mouth shut for the most part.  Thinking the idea of a potential future adoption was an emotional whim that would go away, I kept quiet.  I focused on my baby and my then-3-year old son and lived life as usual. I tried to put the adoption idea out of my head.

But it didn’t go away. That little voice, just a whisper at this point, kept speaking up.

And I couldn’t help but wonder if there was more to it.

And then, one day, we were painting our dining room. Out of the blue, Rush mentioned he thought he might want to adopt.

Say what?

I thought I misheard him.

I didn’t.

I wish I could remember more of the conversation that followed…when I told him what had been going on in my head. When we realized we both were thinking the same thing. But I can’t remember much other than green paint and shock trimmed with a baited excitement.

So, the research began.  Agencies, countries, costs, etc. Overwhelming uncertainty is the thing that comes to mind when I recall that period. The thought that a LOT of work, waiting, trusting, and challenges lay ahead.
The country was a given. China. Not because Rachel chose it. But because we had a very certain sense that was where our child was.  Gender? Girl. I have no idea why. It’s just what we felt. At the time, China’s adoption program was predominantly providing girls, due to so many cultural issues, which I’m not going to get in to here, but that broke our hearts nonetheless.

Everything else fell into place. Over the next few months, we completed our stacks of paperwork and sent our dossier to China. We were officially registered with China’s Center for Adoptive Affairs in January of 2009. We expected to wait a few years for a referral, which was fine since Jonah and Reagan were so young, and we didn’t want to disturb our birth order.

After being in the waiting game for a while, we got the sense that we should check out the Waiting Child Program, aka the program for kids with medical needs.

We did, and after a lot of discussion, we switched to that track. Some needs were simple, some more complex. We made the tough decision of what we thought we could handle.

And we waited.

May 23, 2010, a Sunday afternoon, I randomly looked at our agency’s photolisting of waiting children….something I did not do often.

And, there she was.

Our daughter.

I can’t truthfully say I was 100% sure that was her. But I was probably 95% certain I had just found my daughter. I don’t know what it was. I had seen lots of other kids. But none of them did to me what Rylie did. She just seemed to really grab me.

I yelled for Rush. He came and looked and the next thing I knew, we were requesting her file.

She was 17 months old. Born with a cleft lip and palate, lip repaired. From Nanchang, Jiangxi, China. And I thought she was beautiful.

The next day, I had to work. Our agency emailed us her file. I looked it over while I was at work. I talked to a couple of doctors while I was there (a perk of working at a hospital!) about her needs. I called Rush. He cried when he saw her picture. And he laughed.

And we knew.

That afternoon, I got home from work and called our agency.

We wanted to proceed.

Over the next almost 4 excruciating months, we planned to go to China to get our girl. More paperwork ensued. More waiting. It was tortuous.

And then…..September 17, 2010, we boarded a plane, and headed to the other side of the world.

I was so excited, but I remember crying the whole way from security to the plane because of leaving my other 2 babies at home. 17 days we would be gone. And that seemed like an eternity to me.

The rest is history. It’s recorded here on the blog, including round 2, where we brought home our son, Jude.

Rylie and Jude have changed us. They have changed our family. And they've taught us that adoption is amazing. It is possible to love another child just like you love biological children. It’s possible for them to be just as much “your own” as the ones that look like you. It’s possible to look beyond yourself to the needs of others.

Adoption isn’t a plan B.

For us, it was God’s plan all along.

He adopted us. And made us His own.

And we will do the same.

This is a phenomenal book I would highly recommend to anyone thinking about adoption. 
It is written from a Christian perspective though....just to let you know!