I know this will bless you you as much as I it did me! On the last day of 2016 I met up with Melissa to photograph her family and I was completely blown away by this family, they are such a reflection of God’s love. I knew I had to share their story with you guys. Some of the story is below along with a few pictures of David through the process. If God has laid adoption on your heart, find someone like this family and talk to them about it. Let them pray with you and help guide you through the process. Continue to pray for David and this family that God would continue to give them strength and healing.
Since early in her twenties, Melissa had always had a special place in her heart for adoption. Throughout the years, John and Melissa would talk and out it, always thinking that “one day” they would add to their family through adoption. In a story only God could orchestrate, He used a small car accident in September 2015 to bring John face to face with a woman whose mission was to foster adult men with disabilities. Through this encounter, God brought the face of sweet David, who Melissa had seen in a PKU support group, to the forefront of John’s mind. John and Melissa began to seek God’s will about this little boy, knowing that he has PKU, a medical condition that when untreated could cause long term brain damage. John and Melissa have 3 biological children, 2 of whom were born with PKU.
After a month of soul-searching, prayer, and research, John and Melissa stepped into the story that God was writing, and said yes to David. The story unfolded routinely at the beginning, with concerns over finances, home study visits, and paperwork. However, God worked on every detail and in his perfect timing. Each time Melissa or John wondered how it would work out, God answered in a blatant way. Every aspect of the adoption led them t believe they would meet David in late October 2016.
On July 20, 2016, John and Melissa received an update on David that made his situation extremely desperate. Upon opening a picture of David, he looked gaunt, frail, and sick. It was clear through the details in answered questions that something was very wrong. Instead of gaining weight in a year, he had gone from 22 pounds to 18 pounds at age 3.5. Fervent prayers were lifted, and Melissa and John began working frantically to get David home as quickly as possible. Paperwork was expedited, and John and Melissa and their community began to pray continually that David would survive the orphanage to be brought home. People who were travelling to China to bring home their children stepped into the story to take specialized formula and to visit David to check his progress.
By early September, they got the call that they received travel approval. Within a week, they were on a plane to Xi’an. Excited, anxious, and nervous, they met their guide around 2am on a Saturday and we’re told that they would go to the orphanage at 3pm to get David. His situation was deemed dire enough to get him as quickly as possible.
Words will never be adequate to describe the trip to the orphanage. David was in a room with 20 other children and one caregiver. All the children in his room were sick and gaunt like him. When Melissa stepped into the room, David was on a mat on the floor, rocking himself quietly and moaning softly. He had such little energy, and each movement took deliberate thought. He didn’t cry, he didn’t smile, he didn’t react. He was literally skin and bones (at now 15 pounds) and would not have lasted much longer in this room.
Melissa and John remained in China for 2 weeks processing paperwork and finalizing the adoption. Slowly David began to eat, but struggled to gain energy or to be outside of the hotel room due to the stimulation. These were the days when John and Melissa relied heavily upon God to give them strength and He answered in mighty ways. Some days it was a holy presence that was unmistakable, other days it was sweet friends sending Scripture verses exactly when we needed them, some times it was sending fellow believers and adoptive parents to meet us for dinner and encouragement, and yet other days it was watching our three children at home Skype with their little brother so excited to meet him finally.
When John and Melissa returned home, they were greeted by their close friends and family at the airport. These were their people…the people who had rejoice, prayed, and cried with them and were rejoicing, praising, and crying again.
David has been home almost 5 months. In this time, he has learned a lot about family and love. He has such a cheeky personality, and laughs with his whole being. He loves to be with his brother and sisters, and smiles so big he could light up the room when he sees his mom or dad come home from work. Since home, he has hit milestones that he never met in the orphanage. He can crawl, he can walk assisted, and he can climb on furniture! David is babbling and many days has a lot to say. He is now enrolled in a special needs program where he is getting support from physical and occupational therapy as well as speech therapy. He has learned to love blankets and has his two best friends to nap with, Slothie and Bigfoot.
Although David has gained so much, it is John and Melissa and their three kids who have gained so much more. It really does sound trite, but it is true: God is using this adoption story to demonstrate our adoption into His family. No situation is too dire that He cannot transform it. Our days are not perfect. We are not perfect. There may not be a storybook ending, but God is in every breath of this story and He will walk every step before us, behind us, and with us.