With God, all things are possible
A New Addition!

A New Addition!

Just when I was relishing in the thought of how nice it was to not be in the midst of an adoption process- the paperwork, time, money, stress and headache of it all- I made a Facebook post about how NOW is the time to adopt. It certainly wasn’t for ME. We just got home 6 months ago, we’re moving in the summer to KS for only a year, and I’m in my third trimester of pregnancy. As soon as we got home this last time, I got off all the ‘waiting child’ advocacy groups knowing for now we can’t do anything about it, and it’s too heartwrenching to see the posts daily of children who need homes when you can’t give them one. We were NOT looking. I do, however, love to follow friends blogs and posts when they are in China- Monday mornings are my favorite because I can see people I know in the adoption community on their Gotcha Days. I had been anticipating the adoption, particularly, of Chaela’s best friend from her orphanage, Fen. They were like sisters, and I think that has been the hardest part for her of leaving China. Leaving the friends, ‘siblings’ really, that she has grown up with and loved for 11 years of her life there. The family adopting Fen was able to visit her orphanage and she sent me a message about her time there:

“The two boys needing homes are so sweet! One has my heart especially.  The look on his face as we left would tear your heart out.  The other seems to have given up hope. It breaks my heart for them both.”

Naturally, I asked who the boys were that needed homes, and if she could send pictures so that we could help advocate for them. I would gladly encourage any family to adopt an older child from this small orphanage in rural China. Chaela is such an amazingly resilient little girl who has been a blessing to our family more than we dreamed. You can imagine my surprise when this face stared back at me:

Look familiar – from Chaela’s Shop?

This little boy was one I had inquired with our agency about during Chaela’s process, but I was told that he was already matched with a single mother who was working to bring him home. At the time I had mixed feelings about it- while a single mother is certainly not ideal, it’s no comparison to a life spent growing up in an orphanage with no parents at all. My heart ached, though, that he wouldn’t know the love of a father, have a daddy to throw the ball with him in the backyard, or understand the beauty of God’s design of marriage. But, come to find out, the adoption had for some reason fallen through. Once again this beautiful little boy would wait for someone to choose him, or not, and face the distinct possibility of aging out of the system in a couple of short years. How could we let that happen when it is in our power to do something?

The whole crew - the girls are in America, the boys are still waiting.

The whole crew – the girls are in America, the boys are still waiting.

I had the crazy idea that maybe WE could be his family. I didn’t voice this out loud to anyone, not even Joey, and decided to just pray and ask the Lord to take away this idea if it was not from Him and my job was just to advocate. Well, the idea didn’t go away, but became a stronger desire to find out more about the opportunity for us to maybe go back for him. I knew it was against all odds for this to be a reality with so many factors working against us- the move, the new baby, two agency’s having to give their approval and lift their common sense “guidelines” that say adoptions are best when you’ve been home about a year, aren’t adding another child at the same time, aren’t moving, don’t have 10 kids already, and on and on. When I began to bring it up to Joey, he already knew what I was thinking before the words were out of my mouth. He just smiled and said, “I think YES- this is what we do”. I quickly contacted our agency director who has seen us through 3 other adoptions to see if locating his file was even a possibility. The very next day she found his file and e-mailed it to me…though he was listed with another agency. We would still have to convince our home study agency and the agency who had his file to do a transfer- a lot was stacked against us.

He has already overcome much.

He has already overcome much.

When I saw his face again, and his medical condition firsthand, I knew this was not just an opportunity to advocate to find him a family, but we WERE his family. Ironically, one page of his file contained our daughter Chaela’s medical records! A coincidence? Maybe, but a very unusual one at best. This little boy has the same Chinese last name as our daughter- he has been like a brother to her since the day they entered the orphanage just weeks apart as infants, and they will continue to share the same name until they are grown and married. I think it is an amazing story of God caring for the orphan and placing them in families in the most unique of ways. I am so excited to be a small part of it again!

They grew up together!

They grew up together!

As most of you know who have followed our other adoptions, this is our fourth adoption in less than four years. Charlotte came home in 2013, then Carrigan in 2015, and Chaela in 2016, and we hope against all odds to travel before we move in early July 2017. We have had back-to-back adoptions almost every year, in between the births of (almost) three biological babies. We’re busy. We’re tired. We’re living on one income, yet we have seen the Lord provide for these children to come home, and he’s restored our bank account each time enough for us to be able to begin the process to do it all over again. This time we had to start from scratch- a brand new home study, full fees and process, and no price breaks in agency fees or reductions for the home study- we have spent approximately $12,000 in the last 60 days on adoption fees while at the same time totaling one of our cars so that we are sharing a vehicle, putting two children in braces and retainers, and preparing to have a baby during the Christmas gift-buying season which also contains two other birthdays in the immediate family.

A good looking guy!!

A good looking guy!!

International adoption costs between $35,000-$40,000- this time towards the latter end or more with having to start all over and do updates after the baby is born. We have chosen that we aren’t going to do extensive fundraising and grant applications this time around. It takes precious time away from our other children, and family time is a rare commodity with Joey’s busy schedule. It is also the case that at this point, we have maxed out our grant receiving capabilities as most of these agencies have already helped us in the past- and sadly, most are low on funds or completely out and not accepting applications anyway. We are also weary of asking friends and family for help to fund our adoptions. It happens to be the same faithful few who support us each time and they will likely do it again whether we push the message across on social media or not. We are trusting the Lord to provide, He knows what we need, and he hasn’t let us down yet! I lay it all out now so you that you can know the need, and there may be an occasion where I give an update in this more private forum, but you won’t see active fundraising repeatedly in public forums. At this point, I think we are just annoying to many in this aspect- though those people are likely not reading this anyway!

So, if you would like to help our family bring this precious little boy home, here is how  you can help:

  1. adopttogether.org/odell –  here you can give straight to our adoption with a tax-deductible donation.
  2. Donate Marriott rewards points from your account to ours. Contact me for details- it is really easy and takes one quick phone call. This will help us to stay for free in and out of the country, and possibly in Guangzhou, too, where the adoption is processed and our new son’s visa is made so he can immigrate to the U.S.
  3. Donate United Airlines miles to my account or Joey’s so we can work toward a free flight or two to get us to China!
  4. Pray, pray, pray! Pray for our new son, pray for the process to be smooth and quick, and the Lord to provide every penny we need to bring him home! Pray we can travel at the end of May/early June before the move. If we have to wait until after the move, we will have to do a home study update again (another $1,000 or more) and it means I will have to travel alone to China with the baby and my new daughter-in law to be. It is not ideal as both parents should be there for initial bonding and attachment.

I never would have dreamed of doing this again so soon if you would have asked me within a few weeks or months of returning home with Chaela. Our time in-country with her, and initial adjustment home was hard. She grieved and rejected me initially. She has come so far in the short time she has been home. She understands and is beginning to speak fluently in English while keeping her Chinese reading, writing and speaking through practice (she has been able to Skype pretty regularly now with 3 of her friends who are now also adopted into the U.S.!) and weekly visits to Chinese school and Chinese church. She has even done Facetime once with the director of the orphanage who served as a mother figure to her for over a decade. She has been through so much, but we continue to see her blossom and grow and she is the sweetest, most helpful and well-attached, and I would say overall easiest adjustment at this point 7 months down the road of either of our previous two adoptions. She grieved hard because she knew some version of love, and therefore is able to more readily transfer that to give and receive love within the family.

She is hungry to know of spiritual things, questions she has kept in her heart for all these years and has never had answers to. I love hearing her stories of her time in China now that she can communicate, and it isn’t so raw and painful for her to open up to us. We have an inside scoop on what our new son will be like, what they did together, and what her life was like growing up in a rural Chinese orphanage. It broke my heart to hear her say that she used to ask the nannies, “who made me? Who made the trees, and the sky?” They would tell her they don’t know, and change the subject. Even the missionary group who goes to visit and teach English there regularly has their hands tied, as they are not allowed to teach religion or speak the name of Christ. We have the privilege now of getting to answer her questions, and to show her in the Bible of the God Who made her and loves her. These are truths she likely never would have had the opportunity to learn had she stayed in China.

She has fit right in.

She has fit right in.

I am so thankful that the Lord chose me, our family, to be His hands and feet to these beautiful children of China, to be able to present a gospel to them that they otherwise would not have heard in this closed country, to give them a family, a home, and love that they would never had experienced, even in the very ‘best’ orphanage that exists- the love of both a mother and a father.