Meet our daughter, Ella Claire Adkins…and yes I do mean daughter, not granddaughter. I am sure this is just the first of millions of times we will have to repeat that. She turned 3 on March 13 and is a child with Down syndrome. She is gladly welcomed home by her two older brothers Scott (24) and Ben (19). Our journey to her is longer than the miles that presently separate us. This journey started in August of 2003, with the birth of our 3rd son, Coen. Shortly after his birth he was diagnosed as having Down syndrome. It was through his life that a love for children with Down syndrome was born in us. Even though he was only here for 17 months, he forever changed our lives. It was during counseling following his death in January, 2005, that adoption was first mentioned; we were talking about all the love built up in a person’s heart when someone in their life is suddenly not there anymore. Our counselor asked us if we ever thought about adopting. Of course we had not at that time, but told her if we ever did it would be a special needs child, someone who might be overlooked by others simply because they are not seen as perfect. That seed lay dormant as we went on rebuilding our lives. We moved back overseas and I (Kathy) started volunteering at a hospital on Saturday mornings. This hospital allowed families to bring their babies there and leave them with no questions asked. It was not until this past month that I realized how God had continued growing that seed without me even realizing it. I spent over a year at that hospital in another country caring for orphans without even thinking about one day adopting. All I knew was that these babies needed to be loved and held and feel a human touch; I loved being able to do that consistently. Once we returned to the states in 2007, I did not relate that experience to the possibility of adopting our little girl one day.
At the end of the Orphan Sunday service at our church in November, 2010, Tracey and I both knew we would be involved in a ministry to orphans in some way. We did not talk about it to each other until January, 2011. At that time Tracey was in graduate school and we knew he would have to finish before we did anything. We committed to pray about our involvement for the next year, asking God to show us how He wanted us to be involved. We were willing to be personally involved, but we thought with our age, God would probably move us overseas to work in an orphanage or we would start an Adoption Ministry team here at our church and would serve as support help for other couples going through the process. That summer we talked to our church’s Children’s Minister about an adoption ministry and how we might be involved. We shared that we were open to personal adoption if that would be the way God led, and that if we did adopt we knew we would want to adopt a child with Down syndrome. He sent us several pictures and I kept Claire’s knowing if we pursued adoption she would be the one we would choose. Tracey did not look at the picture then because he wanted to make sure this was the way God was leading before he fell in love.
Early in 2012, we knew we would adopt, but there were things that I felt were obstacles that I was looking for God to resolve before I would move forward with it. I said that all the way through September with Tracey continually telling me that God did not have to fix everything to my satisfaction; that God would provide all the way through the process. In October we contacted an international adoption agency and started the process. We gave them her name and they checked to see if her file was ready for adoption. They did not have her file but said they would have to request it and it would take a couple of months for them to receive it. They contacted us two weeks later and said her file was on the way because another family had requested it. This was a miracle for us because it meant her file would be here sooner than expected. We told them we would wait and see what that family decided to do. We were satisfied that if God wanted Claire in our family then it would work out, if not, then we would move on from there. Before her file even made it here, we heard from the agency that the other family had changed their direction and if we wanted to be matched with her we could proceed. We sent in the preliminary paperwork and were working on our application when Tracey was diagnosed with cancer. We spent a long day wondering how this fit in with God’s plan. The paperwork clearly states a person with cancer must be cancer-free for 5 years before the application can be approved for adoption. There was nothing else to do except contact the agency and tell them about it. We talked with them and they said to have our primary doctor write a letter explaining the diagnosis, the treatment plan, and the prognosis then they would send it to China and we would have to abide by what they said. God had already worked so many miracles with her file being available and having our finances approved (we are a one income family) that we knew He could be trusted with the outcome of this. It took a few weeks but China approved us to proceed with the adoption.
Since then it has been all paperwork and waiting.
At this time we are waiting for our immigration paperwork to come back so we can send everything though the Chinese consulate in Houston then send our dossier to our agency and get it to China. We received our paperwork from the USCIS on the 18th of September and drove it to the Secretary of State’s office in Jackson that day. The folks there are so helpful. All of our documents that needed authentication from the Chinese Consulate in Houston have been authenticated (thanks to mychinadocs.com) and our completed dossier is now under review at CCAI’s offices in Colorado.