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Post 5 – PART 2 – The Best Years of My Life {The story continues…and our family grows}

Today’s post follows yesterday’s post

“Where is she Lord? Where do you want me to go? Downtown Atlanta–I’ll go there. Across the world–I’ll go there…just show me Lord–I will go.”

There I stood in my shower of all things talking outloud to the Lord. I had been praying for weeks while rocking my new one to open our hearts to any child who He wanted us to love for His sake. And there in all unlikely of places–I felt I had the call to begin praying to find her. I knew in my heart there was a little girl out there who we needed as much as she needed us…and now–a mommy’s heart was being stirred…and there is nothing to distract a mom who is sure of that call—because if she allows distractions of this world to forget…then neither her nor our story is as beautiful as it could be.

We kept our ears open and our hearts ready–and I think Richard was just as intriqued as I was on the timing of God’s call.

“Now Lord, really?!

We received an email during that month of a sweet 3 year old little girl in Uganda who needed a home. We prayed for her…we even fell in love with her. And by golly, we even sent in our home study to say yes to her–but God said No…this is not the one I am calling you for. Although disappointed, I was sure now God had opened our hearts to bring home another…

The next month, we received an email from a birthmom looking for a home for her little one from a friend of a friend. We knew this wasn’t our little one–but our hearts were led to encourage this birthmom and a beautiful, beautiful friendship was born. It would be through this birthmom that God opened our eyes to where He wanted us to go as our relationship grew. And on one of her visits to our home, I was afraid that she might ask us to be THE family…and that is where God taught me most.

You see, this baby is by the world’s view PERFECT…by the world’s standards. And this precious birthmoms inbox was flooded with emails of family’s who would just do anything to have a beautiful, white, healthy baby. I felt in my heart–this was NOT our child…well, because she was going to be a beautiful, white, healthy baby. That is when God spoke to me again…

Adoption is not about going to where the biggest “need” is. You can’t even SEE the biggest needs–only I can. The poor–you people will always have the poor with you. Only I can rescue them. Only I can provide for them. I am ENOUGH. I do not call you to adopt for ANY OTHER REASON than to bring a child to ME. I do not call you to birth more children for ANY OTHER REASON than to bring them to me. You people of mine–you are all asking the WRONG questions. You say, “WHERE is the biggest need–I will stand there!” as if that is where I would stand. How can you ask that if I see needs differently than the world does. You look at outer appearances–outer circumstances–but I…oh I look at the heart! Does not the beautiful white baby in Beverly Hills deserve to hear the gospel as much as the babe born in a hut in Africa?! Stop looking as the world looks. Because that is adoption for all the wrong reasons. Want to help the poor? Go serve them! Want to be a mother? Then bring them home–and bring them to ME. Let me lead you to your child–and do not worry what anyone else thinks. Do let others tell you where they think the needs are–but listen to me alone. This is for MY glory, for MY name to be known, and for YOU to more deeply trust and know me.”

There I sat…jaw dropped. Perspective rebuked. Heart…opened–and even changed.

I asked the same question I asked on that day months earlier where I was sure I was in the Lord’s presence, ““If it is your will for us to bring home another child–Where is this child Lord? Where do you want me to go? Downtown Atlanta–I’ll go there. Across the world–I’ll go there…just show me Lord–I will go.”

But oh–I meant it in a whole new way…I REALLY meant it…with my whole heart.

God ultimately did not call us to adopt that white, beautiful, baby girl–but I was able to sit in my new friend’s presence and tell her I absolutely would if it were God’s will and I would be overjoyed. What we did do–was begin asking God, “What have we NOT prayed about??”

And I heard…SILENCE.

Instead, I felt like the Lord was asking us to just TRUST Him…to just follow. And we took one day at a time one week at a time. Then one night–I was reflecting on my marriage…while praying for God’s guidance for our family. I started thinking of the night we met–and I had this urge to go find a picture of the night we met. No matter how crazy the day was–how many things I needed to be doing other than this–I went to my closet and pulled down boxes and boxes of pictures. I thought I must have lost it. But then–there was one brown kraft shoebox left…it was full of pictures from our honeymoon on top, followed by pictures of us dating and then there at the VERY bottom…the picture of the night we met. And under it–were trinkets I had put away for a child’s hopechest.

When I lived in China (Post 1), I felt in my heart (EXACTLY 10 years ago) that ONE day I would return to China…that one day I would either work at an orphanage or if the Lord led me to marry–bring home a daughter from China. I sat there in my closet floor holding the little hand-painted globe I had bought for her…10 years ago. I had stashed away umbrellas, outfits and books in other places for her…but in this little box were tiny, delicate things that I kept to remind me of what then I felt was on my heart to one day do. And there I sat in my closet–again feeling the presence of the Holy Spirit. For this child I have prayed…and I smiled sitting there–with the craziness of my current reality reminding me to start dinner and tell my husband where I thought the Lord might be leading us.

I took some time to pray before bringing this up to my husband. I was pretty sure we both felt best about waiting awhile before even considering another adoption after we crazily stepped out to be considered for a little one in Uganda. I didn’t want to say a THING to my husband until I felt the Holy Spirit saying NOW is the time. SO…I waited. I called adoption agencies to talk–and I found myself tempted and some times even asking, “SO…what are your needs in China?” AS IF I needed to justify to the world why we were growing our family–the Holy Spirit is enough of a reason. BUT I will say that there are 2,000 beautiful waiting children who are considered special needs…and special needs was something also on my heart. I started researching different special needs and what I felt we could handle well–all the while saying I would trust the Lord in this. Weeks past and then one day I felt that heavy heart–like my heart was beginning to wrap around a child I didn’t even know…so indeed, it was time to talk to Richard.

I told him to sit down and to please let me talk for an hour without saying a word. I knew he’d tell me I was crazy–so I just needed to be obedient and do my part–and get everything off my heart that I felt like the Lord was putting there. I needed to start back at the stories he did know–God speaking to me in December–all the way to that day in early March. My voice quivered as I shared as my heart was already falling in love with a child I didn’t yet know…but I knew I could give this all to my husband and trust the Lord to lead him with it. THIS MEANT…just like in Post 1–on my wedding day as the counselor told me–to leave China at the cross (not again Lord!) and to trust God to lead my husband. Oh I felt this was all the sudden 10 years of a story–yet I had to hand it to the man who leads our family, gulp and be okay with however this man is led by God.

I finished talking–and by the end I was in tears. I didn’t expect to be…and I realized how much I loved her–but more than anything I loved my God and I didn’t want to do ANYTHING out of God’s will. Richard’s face turned a lighter shade–and I was certain we were on different pages…but we weren’t. He looked at me and told me that this is a rare thing in our marriage, but that we were on EXACTLY the SAME page and the LORD had given Him a peace about this–and he felt he was being led to this for our family. Surely, I couldn’t be hearing what I’m hearing–but I was. And I felt like the God I cried out to 10 years ago when I was a scared bride leaving China at the cross had been faithful to me…and my prayers had been answered…He was not only leading us back to China–but He was leading us back to bring a beautiful, perfect, deeply longed for and desired special needs princess home from China.

In March, our family began the persuit to bring home our daughter. While there are 2,000 waiting–we are going to allow our agency to place us (but I will of course still look at the waiting list and have the freedom if led to ask about a child). We are not looking at the lists until we are paper ready and our dossier is in China as we do not want to ask a child to wait longer by choosing beforehand. Because of what the Lord spoke to me, we are being approved for a 0-3 years (up to 4 years old) little girl. Our Laney has been praying for years for a sister–and her prayers are also being answered. Parker is excited and wants to study Mandarin this year–so we are! And Frank and Isaac? Gosh–they are two peas in a pod and they will be pure entertainment for any sweetheart in our home.

Waiting for their sweet sister to come home…

Wanna hear something funny? Richard bought me a 20×20 frame to put our first child’s picture in for our FIRST CHRISTMAS AS PARENTS. Wanna here the quote painted on the frame??? It’s been on our wall since the first year of parenthood–and it’s now in my header on my blog. It’s a line from a poem by W.H. Auden: “I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps over the mountain and the salmon sing in the street.” For SOME reason–I was so DRAWN to that quote and asked Rich for this rediculous picture frame that was completely out of our budget. He got it for me…and now I smile every time I pass it on the wall with Parker’s baby picture in it. This was WAY before we’d ever stepped foot in Africa–and WAY before adoption was EVER on our hearts. Don’t you know how God was smiling when he saw me wipe away tears as I read that quote that Christmas. I just loved that quote so much because it means “I’ll NEVER stop loving you”…this was my mommy heart–but God knew the details of where He’d take our hearts in parenting.

While everything has been so sweet thus far, we were a bit sad not to be able to use the same agency we used for Ethiopia (this momma does not like change!)–but they have a strict birth order policy–and we have a strict follow the Lord policy…so we are using Lifeline in Birmingham. We realize our little one may not even be 3 years old, and God may have just used this to redirect our steps to another agency. We LOVE our old agency dearly–and of course we called them to see if they would allow us to break birth order maintaining girl birth order–but things are what they are to lead us to where we are supposed to go to bring home our sweet girl…and we are so thankful the Lord has provided another amazing Christian agency to work with to grow our family.

We just have a few more things to do for our home study to be updated, and then we will begin our work on our dossier. Truthfully, we could probably have everything turned in within a few weeks but Lifeline does ask that you wait to submit EVERYTHING to China until you have offiically been home 1 year with any previous adoptions. SO, we will probably be officially waiting July 2nd. With our perimeters we are guessing we will have a short wait–they told us possibly an instant referral…but we’ll wait on the Lord for that one. I’d guess we’d probably have a referral this Fall and travel some time in early 2012 (just after the Created for Care retreat;).

Everyone in our family is so excited about another child. Rico Suave reminds everyone who asks “This is IT! We are done after this!” Which leads them to look at me, where I follow up Rico’s comment with, “However the Lord leads–we’ll follow.”

To our sweet baby girl,

My how this mommy’s heart has LONGED for you. I started dreaming of you over 10 years ago–and when I followed the Lord in walking down the aisle to marry your daddy–I left my dreams of your birth country at the cross trusting the Lord to lead us there if it were His will. We are going back–this time together…and this time–to bring home our daughter…YOU. How the Lord must love you. Oh the ways He has protected you. I feel, already, like I have missed so much–but HE has not. He has been with you–and I can’t wait to have you in our arms. Oh sweet girl–your big sister has prayed for you since the day she could make complete sentences. We can’t wait to have you home…and we already love you to pieces.


A few thoughts from our children…


Parker thinks we need to go to Chinese restaurants every night for several months after we bring our sweetie home. He thinks she’ll like the food–and the waitresses can tell her not to be scared. He has taken it upon himself to learn Mandarin–so he’s downloaded a Mandarin app on my iPhone and this is what I hear DAILY from the back of my mini-van:)


Sweet Loo-bear has been packing away things that no longer fit her to save for her baby sister. She asks EVERY time I leave the house if I’m going to China–and she and Parker ALSO want to come with us…which we are considering! Loo-bear is also banning her room and she has moved in P’s room. She says that she’ll move back in her room when she has a little sister home to share it with.


All I have to say is this–this boy can hardly speak English but he is trying his best to keep up with P and L’s Mandarin learning. He cracks me up–and he is going to be a GREAT brother!!!


Oh my…mess, mess, mess! And full of JOY and my love. He and Frank are two peas in a pod more than EVER these days. We will be moving Isaac’s room to share with Frankie baby (can you say NOTHING but trouble?!) and our sweetie will take over the nursery for a bit in the office off our bedroom so she can be close to momma and daddy in the beginning.

SOOO…we invite you on yet another journey in our lives as we follow the Lord’s plans for our crazy family…

Lara - May 4, 2011 - 12:01 am

So excited for your news to be public! You’ve been in my prayers. I just got good news regarding China as well – my brother found out today he was selected as a Fulbright Scholar and is moving to China!

Elizabeth smith - May 4, 2011 - 12:04 am

Cried through every single word!!!! What an amazing journey and I beyond excited for Eliza to have another Chinese sister here in Atlanta!!!!

karen halbert - May 4, 2011 - 12:22 am

Oh Andrea. Crying tears of joy for you. LOVE the transparency of your post and absolutely love love love how God has not only brought this 10 year journey full circle but seems to have tied a bow on it with that frame. I LOVE this. Truly. One of my favorite adoption stories ever. SO happy for your blessed family!

Shelly Roberts - May 4, 2011 - 12:27 am

LOVE hearing about your journey, my friend! I just got done blogging about our oldest who is working his way to Bible college … much of that endurance and determination was learned during our adoption journeys. AMAZING how God works!

Debb - May 4, 2011 - 1:11 am

PRAISE GOD!!!! I told Jeff after the Created for Care Retreat that I just knew in my knower that you were going to adopt again! And soon! He thought I was crazy! SOOOOOOOOO SOOOOOOOOOO GLAD God is bringing you full circle, back to China! Beautiful how He intertwined this already precious story ~ your love for China, Laney’s prayers for a sis, and even the picture frame! H.o.l.y. c.o.w!!!!! Truly amazing story. Can’t wait to follow along on your journey and see this precious one’s face! LOVE how God blesses our obedience! You laid China at the foot of the cross………and He continues to bless your sweet surrender.

Sally - May 4, 2011 - 1:11 am

I don’t think I’ve ever commented, but I guessed it from the first post!!! We are so close to bringing home our daughter from India and I love to read your heart that believes…simply believes that Jesus is who He said He was! Thank you for these beautiful posts!

Mama Mimi - May 4, 2011 - 1:19 am

Ahhhh!!!! Are you KIDDING me?!? I’m SO excited for you Andrea…and your family! When I first read that post about you and your husband meeting and China I thought, hmm…I wonder why Ethiopia and not China? SOOOO excited to see WHO God has chosen for your family! Thrilled to be following along in your journey again.

Sara - May 4, 2011 - 1:24 am

Incredible! I am so excited for your family! My sister ( adopted a little girl from China two years ago–also their fifth, and a little more than a decade after she first felt the stirring to adopt from China. Love how God works. And I love the picture with the chair waiting to be filled. Beautiful.

April - May 4, 2011 - 2:19 am

Congrats, Andrea!! It has always been my dream to adopt a girl from wonderful for you, and your family!!

Kim - May 4, 2011 - 4:08 am

I cannot imagine there is anyone more excited than me (outside your precious family and Abba Father of course). I am selfishly praying your trip brings you thru Hong Kong. I already LYLAS and cannot wait to hug your neck and hear your laugh. Your story gives me hope. Ten years huh? I pray my turn is not that long! Love & Blessings from Hong Kong, Kim

Kim - May 4, 2011 - 6:25 am

Yay, I knew it! How awesome for your family. Can’t wait to follow along your journey, Andrea. Hugs!

Tracy - May 4, 2011 - 6:43 am

Wow Andrea, beautiful story ~ I soo love your heart! Congratulations!!!!!

Larisa Maibach - May 4, 2011 - 6:57 am

Andrea, we have been so blessed by your beautiful family and your heart for following God. We are so excited for you as you share this exciting news, and we can’t wait to see how God leads you in the days ahead!

Makenzie - May 4, 2011 - 6:58 am

Amazing news!!! I love that your heart for China is coming full circle. God works in amazing ways!

Gini - May 4, 2011 - 7:18 am

What beautiful news! Can not wait to watch God working in all of your lives. 🙂

Christy - May 4, 2011 - 7:25 am

Oh my goodness. I was crying through all of that… so excited for you. (And hoping it’s similiar to my story someday with answering my daughter’s prayers for a sister too!) 🙂 How cool Richard WAS on board after all! 🙂 Praise the Lord. SO excited to watch this journey unfold, and so blessed to have you challenge the rest of us along the way.

Taryn Harvey - May 4, 2011 - 7:31 am

YAY!!!!! So excited for you guys, praying 🙂

Rebecca - May 4, 2011 - 7:44 am

Congrats! What a beautiful thing. God has been working on me in the same way. We have a daughter from China, and are waiting on ET. Been feeling lots of doubt about ET though, and lots of people have informed us about the lack of “need”. At this point, we are just waiting on God’s leading and are begging for discernment.

I have to say, in reading your “best year” posts, I wondered if a China adoption was in your future! God is so in the details!

Kandra - May 4, 2011 - 7:53 am

I had a BIG feeling this was the announcement…;) SO overjoyed for you and your family! Much love and many, many prayers are going up! 😉 Can’t wait to hear and see pictures…and will be looking forward to updates!

Kelly - May 4, 2011 - 8:27 am

YAY!!!! 🙂 Praise the Lord!!! So happy that you both are following the Lord’s calling and have a clear vision together! What a ride! 🙂 SOOOOO happy for you all!!! I just can’t stop smiling!!

Allison - May 4, 2011 - 8:40 am

Oh this is so sweet and such exciting news. I cannot wait to follow you all on this journey!!

Erica - May 4, 2011 - 8:51 am

This was a beautiful post Andrea. Congrats to your family!

Deborah L. King - May 4, 2011 - 9:03 am

I’m so excited for you. A beautiful new addition. So happy for Laney that it’s a girl. What a wonderful plan God has for your family.

Elle J - May 4, 2011 - 9:16 am

And another journey begins – what a precious moment for your family and how sweet the story is when GOD is in control. YAY YOUNG FAMILY OF SEVEN!!! =)

jenn - May 4, 2011 - 9:46 am

Well you know we are thrilled for you and have been praying for your next adventure. We need to talk…lots going on here…but still praying for BIG things. So happy the news is out so I don’t have to be secretive anymore – HA! Congrats…what a special time of hope for your family!!!

Katie F - May 4, 2011 - 10:42 am

Been following your blog for a while and was absolutely thrilled to read this post this morning! Oh how big our God is! How He loves His children! Thank you for your faithfulness to follow His leading and to trust Him to provide all the grace that you need. I’ll be praying for Him to give you peace in the waiting!

Brittany - May 4, 2011 - 11:00 am

So sweet and such a joy to read this morning. I wish ya’ll the best as you become a family of 7, and cannot wait to follow you on this journey!

Bobi Bobbitt - May 4, 2011 - 12:21 pm

Andrea!! I am beyond excited for your sweet family! This fabulous news has made my day! It was the first news I read upon waking and coming to the computer this morning! I hurried to work to pull up you blog on my computer in my office and read all the wonderful details! What a blessing!! Cannot wait to see your new baby girl! (: Love you, friend!

Erin - May 4, 2011 - 2:14 pm

Oh…how my heart rejoices with you! I have tears in my eyes at the incredible workings of our Lord. He is so, so, good. And the lesson He taught you about the greatest need…I TOTALLY needed that. I’m preparing and praying to return to Uganda for missions work and have been praying to know which org. to work with, which has the greatest need. oh man. Thank you!

Praying for you all as you embark on this journey!!

Jenni - May 4, 2011 - 2:30 pm

I am so excited for you!! I have enjoyed reading your Best Years posts, but never thought it would end up here!! We are in the process of adopting waiting siblings from Ghana. It’s great when you begin in one spot and God leads you somewhere unexpected. Tha has been our adoption journey as well.

Alison - May 4, 2011 - 2:48 pm

YAY, Andrea!!!! I just knew that she was going to be from CHINA!!! How wonderful! Jody and I always thought we would bring a daughter home from China one day! We were totally surprised when God told us she was in Ethiopia! But I still have a soft spot in my heart for China too! My friend, Jennifer, just brought Alice home from China. They were with Lifeline! I got to meet them in person a few weeks ago…PRECIOUS!!! So excited for ya’ll! Can’t wait to follow your journey!

Susanna - May 4, 2011 - 4:05 pm

Thank you for sharing how God spoke to you re. where the need is. Wow – exactly what i needed to hear!!!

Amanda - May 4, 2011 - 4:15 pm

Such an amazing story! I absolutely love seeing the progression of God working in yours and your husband’s lives, even before you knew each other. Everything fitting perfectly together because God was weaving it.

I’m at a point in the ministry I’ve been called to where I’m hearing silence and after reading what you wrote, I know it’s God asking me for my complete blind trust. He’s asking me to trust even when I don’t see or understand or what’s happening doesn’t make sense. I have to stand and know that HE IS and that’s enough.

God bless your family on this journey!

Erica - May 4, 2011 - 5:39 pm

Pretty much a mess of tears. Beautiful story of Gods plan, can’t wait to see who HE has picked… how God works in the hearts of mamas. Giggling in a big way about Rico’s DONE comment. Sounds familiar. Pretty sure that’s why my husband wanted a Z name. Yeah for the five club!!

Tiffany - May 4, 2011 - 6:24 pm

China! Oh my! Love this post and your willingness to follow God’s calling. We are coming up on two years logged into China…and I have the special needs form sitting in my paper pile right now…praying that God will show us how to check the boxes. Wonderful news and what an amazing journey it will be. Could it be that there will be two families…so geographically close…with one little one from Ethiopia and one from China? God is so good!

Shelly - May 4, 2011 - 8:35 pm

Absolutely DELIGHTED to hear this news shouted from the roof tops! THRILLED for your family. We LOVE the Youngs!!!

Allie - May 4, 2011 - 9:23 pm

Soooo excited for your family. I LOVE the picture of all the kiddos with the empty chair for sister. SO precious. I love reading your posts. I can just feel the love of Jesus pour out from your heart. To Him be the glory! I can’t wait to hear about the rest of your journey!

Kelly Johnson - May 4, 2011 - 10:08 pm

Oh Andrea, I am so very happy for you and your family. The part about the quote truly made tears run down my face! You’ve got to have that painted/framed/something inside your house! :c) I will be praying for your whole precious family on this journey to your new girl.

jenny - May 4, 2011 - 10:53 pm

Andrea!!! Beyond thrilled for you guys! We have felt the tug to China SN many times in the last few months (I’ll have to share details with you sometime)…..we are still waiting on ET for today, but just praying through what that planted “seed” for China is going to be used for. Just in awe of how the Lord has brought your family full circle with a desire HE put in your heart for China years ago. Cannot wait to watch this next journey unfold for your beautiful family! Praying her home! Much love!

Ross - May 5, 2011 - 8:43 am

Just found your site! Your post reduced me to nothing!!I was hit by a wave of emotion as I read on and on. Mostly because you share a similar story to my family. You see we adopted our oldest daughter who’s 7 from China and then our youngest daughter who’s 4 from Ethiopia. You are truly blessed to be bringing home another child. I am so happy for you even though I don’t know you. I will be reading your updates!

marci - May 5, 2011 - 11:24 am

This is so wonderful ! I am inspiredby your obedienceto our sweet Lord. He works on all of us through people like you,Andrea. Blessings for growing and hearing your call.

april - May 5, 2011 - 1:10 pm

i think even if i wasnt pregnant, i would still be bawling my eyes…thank you sweet sister in the Lord for sharing this journey with us…the things God shows you and you then share with us…really are things I need to hear and be reminded of…your faith, your family, are so inspirational!

Beth Templeton - May 5, 2011 - 3:58 pm

Andrea this was a true joy to read. I love it that the Lord had stored up that gift you gave Him on your wedding day, trusting Him with your heart’s desire, and has now giving it back to you in a form far more precious than you could have imagined then. Just beautiful. His plans for you all are full of goodness and adventure in Him!

Heidi - May 5, 2011 - 5:54 pm

Wow I’m just so excited for you and your family … it gives me goosebumps to see how Clearly God revealed himself to you to lead you to your 5th child! What an amazing story to share with her someday!! I’m just so excited and will be following along praying for this precious child!! YAY screaming with excitement from Fla:)

christi ucherek - May 6, 2011 - 1:40 am

miss your blog for a few days and THIS…………WOOOOTTT!!! So excited for you! This crossed my mind when you mentioned the 2,000 waiting on the listserve… thrilled for you and you can trust that you are being prayed for in IL!

Ashley - May 6, 2011 - 7:26 am

Oh Andrea…I am SO excited to read this! Can’t wait to follow this new journey to another sweet child. I just LOVE the way the Lord’s plans for our lives are always so much better than what we could ever dream up ourselves. =)

Dawn - May 7, 2011 - 9:23 pm

WOW!!!!!!!!!! My heart is sooo Happy for you!!!! You do realize that we said 3 is good….we’ll just foster for any children that need a place…..and then when we had 6 we said oh forget it and let’s go to ETH….then why not 8? he he he….

PRAYING for you new journey following Christ, and for your daughter that will be coming home! To a home that will love her unconditionally and show her the face of Jesus!!!! YEAH!!!!!!!!!

Carissa - May 11, 2011 - 10:07 pm

So, so, so very excited for you guys!!! And blessed beyond measure by your posts. Thank you for sharing how God has led you, esp. how you listened and waiting. What a great reminder that I need to do this every day.