Our journey to adoption was as much a leading to enlarge our family as it was to enlarge our faith…..a God-given journey to our 2 youngest children that would change our lives forever. It was YEARS in the making….. the early 90’s….yes early 1990s! My pastor husband, Mark, and I had been blessed with 3 biological children, but I would often call an adoption agency after my heart was once again touched by stories on Focus on the Family about children who needed families or families who had adopted. Each time I would receive the packet of information and look it over, I would be stopped by that inevitable same problem. It takes money and LOTS of it…and that’s where it would all end. Or so I thought.
Fast forward to 2004. Mark had been called years before to step out of pastoral ministry into Crisis Pregnancy Center ministry with many different centers across the country. We were watching our God perform jaw-dropping miracles in the Crisis Pregnancy Centers in which Mark was the Executive Director because HE created life and wanted to show HIS glory in providing all that was needed for these girls/women and their babies. And then HE did it again!! All that year, He plowed up that same soil of my heart which had always wanted to be obedient to the call, but didn’t know how. I was so incredibly broken time and time again in 2004 listening to adoption testimonies, seeking His heart and finally seeing the many, many children who were orphaned in the Tsunami of December, 2004. While watching the coverage together, I sat and prayed, “Lord, I know I may not be able to help those children right now, but I will be obedient and follow You to the child you have for us.” As Mark and I prayed and talked about adopting a child, we were in full agreement that we would begin this journey of faith and signed our first paperwork on January 16, 2005. It would begin a journey of listening ever so closely to the Lord’s voice in even deeper ways than I had ever experienced.
We knew we were headed to China to adopt a baby girl and daughter. God had already confirmed that to us. As most families at that time, however, we were encouraged to adopt a healthy baby girl, as young as possible. To be honest, the list of “special needs” was a bit overwhelming. How would we know what we could handle anyway? Our dossier was completed, sent to China and accepted in July 2005. Little did we know, our expected wait of 5-6 mos for our daughter’s referral would begin to extend out as China slowed the process down. But, God had a plan. You see it was during this slowdown that I began to read other families’ adoption stories of waiting children….children with “special needs”. God began to speak into my spirit that our daughter was a “heart” baby and to look for her on our agency’s list. The Lord was even so specific that I was impressed that we would have her referral before my birthday on April 20, 2006. On April 3, 2006, our agency received their “waiting children” list for that month which included one sweet, baby girl from Jiangsu Province with a “heart defect” called Tetralogy of Fallot. I knew immediately that she was our daughter!! Knew it! We had her file reviewed by two pediatric cardiologists who both said she was a good candidate for surgery and to bring her home. Well…..9 other families also thought she was their daughter. All 10 families were presented before the agency’s matching committee, and we were chosen as her family on April 17, 2006….just 3 days before my birthday!! We named her Kaylin Mei Lian.
The Lord gave us such a peace about our sweet girl…so many unknowns…but that He was in control. This time, the Lord gave Mark the impression that we would travel to bring her home in June 2006, but our agency said it would not be until July. Once again, the Lord’s promptings and impressions were confirmation to our walk of faith as we left on June 13, 2006 to bring her home….EXACTLY 1 year to the day of when she was left to be found on June 13, 2005! HE wanted us to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she was our daughter!
God had already performed the miracle of providing all the financial needs for us to bring Kaylin home by this time, but little did we know that He had already performed another miracle. We arrived at the Nanjing Civil Affairs office to receive her on “Gotcha Day” on June 19, 2006.
Our own hearts were beating out of our chest as we waited for her to be carried in the door by her nanny. Here she was, our beautiful, 13 mos old, Kaylin. She was oh so quiet, just watching and listening to the other families who were also receiving their crying children. As they handed her to me, the orphanage director told us that Kaylin had already had her open heart surgery.
WHAT? Did we understand that correctly through our guide who translated it? She had her surgery? It wasn’t in her file. Our agency didn’t know it. We didn’t know it. Yes, Kaylin had already had her open heart surgery 6 MONTHS previously back in December 2005!! WOW!! God had truly surprised us again!!
It wasn’t until we were home and had her first cardiology visit and evaluation that we would understand what her open heart surgery had meant for Kaylin. Because her orphanage director petitioned the Tomorrow’s Plan for Kaylin to have her open heart surgery, it meant she did not have to suffer the effects of her ongoing Tetralogy of Fallot spells of turning blue and purple from lack of oxygen as her nanny documented over and over again. It meant that her fingers and toes were saved from the effects of clubbing. It meant her lungs had been saved from damage, too. The surgery, itself, was excellent as told to us by her cardiologist.
Along with the many positives of her surgery, unfortunately, were the negatives of it being done in China for our precious girl. She had to be hospitalized for 6 weeks before they could perform her surgery. We are assuming she was extremely critical and unstable. She spent close to 2 months in the hospital in China….by herself….going through open heart surgery….by herself. The emotional ramifications of enduring these months in the hospital by herself would show up at home in sensory issues. Just as her physical heart was healed through surgery, she continues to heal emotionally as she is loved and learns to trust and understand she is now safe.
Her life-saving surgery also meant that she began to grow and grow. And oh this girl has GROWN!
Kaylin has not been the “typical” heart baby from China. At now 7-1/2 yrs old, she continues to be in the 90th percentile on the American charts for her height and 50th percentile in weight at almost 53 inches and 55 lbs. She is expected to be 5’8” or taller. I cannot tell you how excited she is that she will be taller than her momma who stands at only 5’3”!!!
I wish I could write that she is also the typical ToF kiddo when it comes to her next expected surgery. All the documentation we read and all the cardiologists we talked to said that usually these kiddos need a valve replacement in their 20s to 40s. However, as everything with Kaylin has been a surprise, it was a hard day emotionally when we heard that her heart is beginning to enlarge already as her pulmonary valve is no longer functioning properly due to the regurgitation, and it was much, much sooner than expected.
As we did when we were adopting her, we pray for God’s continued healing hand over her heart and life and put her in His hands as she has always been. We don’t know from year to year what cardiology issues may arise for Kaylin, but we know the Lord has provided everything we needed to bring her home and will continue to provide everything needed for her future. She loves school and to swim and has the sweetest personality along with a good dose of competitiveness which we are sure the Lord will use as she grows in Him.
Once we opened our own hearts to Kaylin and adoption for our family, they remained open to adopting another child. We wrestled with whether to bring home another daughter and sister for Kaylin or a son and brother. As we prayed earnestly in 2010, Kaylin told us, very adamantly I might add, that she wanted a “brother from China who looked like her!” Well, ok then. There was our answer! Knowing that we would adopt from the “special needs” list again, I began to pray and fast and ask the Lord to show me what special need our child would have as there were so many children with an untold number of special needs. How in the world would I know who was to be our son?
Because our God wants us to fully know His direction, He made it very clear one day as I was reading the book, “One Fish, Two Fish” by Dr. Seuss to Kaylin.
We turned to this page and the Lord clearly said to me, “Your child has a limb difference.” WOW! I told my husband and our older daughter and then remembered the smiley face of the sweetest looking little boy from Guangdong Province with a limb difference whose pictures I kept returning to over and over again.
Not only did he have a limb difference (missing thumb), he also had a repaired VSD (ventricular septal heart defect) which, in my mind, also made sense so that Kaylin would also have a sibling with the similar surgical line of healing from open heart surgery running down her chest. As we would discover in review of his file, he was diagnosed with a syndrome called VACTERL as he had 3 of the 5 anomalies including a VSD, a missing thumb and a half-vertebrae. In all honesty, the day before we said yes, we said no! One of the medical reviews we had received sounded so scary that we thought his medical needs might just be more than we could handle. But as we continued to pray over him, we could not say no. He was our son whom we named Kaleb Alan Liang.
I named our journey to Kaleb exactly what it was - Faith Walkin’ to Kaleb as we had that financial mountain to climb once again to bring him home. This time the Lord stretched our faith even further and showed His Glory even more as we needed the entire amount for Kaleb’s adoption. In only 7 months, the Lord provided $31,000 through lots of prayer and fasting, fundraisers, our church family, other families who came alongside us as well as grant agencies, to supply all that was needed to bring Kaleb home.
Though Kaleb had spent almost 6 years in his orphanage, he came bounding to us in excitement and anticipation of his own momma and baba and family on April 10, 2010 and has never looked back. His outgoing and exuberant personality has helped him adjust wonderfully to his new home and family.
Once we were home and settled, he, too, went to see his cardiologist for his open heart surgically repaired (in China) VSD. He was given the A-OK and needs seen every 3-4 years for follow-up. All of our concerns about his medical needs before his adoption soon dissipated as doctor after doctor, test after test showed how healthy and what non-issues they were. God also reminded me of when He told me that this child would have a limb difference and the page in Dr. Seuss we were reading. Even down to the 4 fingers on one hand, Kaleb was our son with 4 fingers on his hand with his missing thumb. The Lord could not have been any more specific!!
Kaylin and Kaleb, as you can see from this picture, are this wonderful duo all wrapped up in FUN!! They have their debates together as Kaleb is actually 2 weeks older (DOB 4/21/05) than Kaylin (5/5/05), but they are quite the pair!!
I can tell you, without hesitation, that it would have been so easy to continue to allow the fear of the financial needs, the medical needs, the unknown to have stopped us from following the Lord to either Kaylin or Kaleb. But look at who we would have missed out on!! Oh my goodness!! Tears come to my eyes as I write this thinking of that possibility. Instead, we stepped out into the unknown holding the Lord’s hand, watched Him provide and bring more joy into our family than we could have imagined.
About the time I write this and say our family is complete, the Lord may surprise us again and tell us not quite yet. So instead, I will just share that our family will always be open to the direction of the Lord in expanding our family as He directs through the amazing miracle of adoption.