"Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from Him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them." Psalm 127:3-5

Friday, November 2, 2018

Hello from China!

Introducing Rose Jia Ning Hadsell

It has been an incredible two weeks here in China, to say the least!  Once we are home, and have had some time to process all that has taken place here, I will share more of our journey.  But for now, I will let a few photos tell the story.  (I only have internet on my phone, the computer can't connect, so this post is coming to you via cell phone, with limited capabilities).

The above photo was taken on our "Gotcha Day"--the day I got Rose from the orphanage.  For some reason this is the only photo from that day that my phone is letting me upload to blogger.  But in it you can see the fear written all over her face.  This little girl had spent the vast part of her 32 months on this earth laying in a crib.  Simply being picked up, held, moved from one position to another was overwhelming and frightening for her.  She would cry every single time someone went to pick her up, even the nannies who had been with her for her entire life.  So, they picked her up as little as they could.  I will share more of that story, and pictures from gotcha day when I get back to my computer. 

Fast forward to five days later, and this is what God had already done.

Those are some of Rosie's first real smiles and giggles.  When she first started to smile, it would be a very quick little grin, which would immediately disappear back into a blank stare.  When she first started to laugh, it scared her.  She laughed and then cried.  But by day 5, when these pictures were taken, JOY had begun filling this sweet girl.  On day 5, she allowed me to pick her up without crying.  She smiled and laughed without hesitation.  Love had already begun healing her tender heart. 

Fast forward to day 10, and this is Rose laughing while blowing kisses (a new trick she has learned), all while SNUGGLING!!!  As in, voluntary physical contact, that she sought out, and was happy about!!!

Today is day 12, and instead of crying when I pick her up, she now stops crying when I pick her up.  She gets so excited when she sees me put on the front carrier, and starts flapping her little arms in anticipation of getting in and snuggling.  We have gone three whole days without any inconsolable crying fits. She has learned to blow kisses and clap her hands.  She makes eye contact when I talk to her.  And she smiles and laughs so very much!  

I don't completely have the words to describe what is has been like to watch her come alive.  It has been like seeing the tangible glory of God right in front of my very eyes.  She still guards her heart fiercely, but Love is making its way in.

Rose and I begin our trek home tomorrow morning, leaving our hotel at 4:50am, and arriving in Austin, TX about 24 hours later.  Prayers for safe travels, and for Rose's ability to handle a massive amount of over-stimulation would be so appreciated!  We have felt the power of prayer holding us up during these past two weeks, and we thank each of you for lifting us up, and coming alongside us as we get our little Rosie girl home.  And a huge shout out to our Mimi and Nana, who have stepped in and helped David with the kiddos at home in my absence.  You have truly been God's hands and feet in our lives, and we thank you!!!

With much love from China,
Ashley and Rose

Sunday, October 14, 2018

It's GO Time!

This is going to be a short little update because we are officially in crunch time around here...Rose will be in my arms in less than one week!  We are busy scurrying around preparing things, not only for my travel and Rose, but for life at home while I am away.  It's going to be an adventure on both sides of the world!!     

We appreciate all of the love, prayers, support, advice, and encouragement that you all have poured out during this journey, more than any words could possibly convey.  The words thank you simply aren't enough.  We have seen God's hand all along the way through each of you, our friends and family, and we thank you for being His hands and feet in our lives!   

Check back for updates from China this next week, we look forward to sharing this journey with you all as time, internet access, and God would allow. 😊     

With much love,

Monday, September 3, 2018

I'll Stand

I'll stand with arms high and heart abandoned,
In awe of the One Who gave it all.
I'll stand, my soul Lord to You surrendered.
All I am is Yours

~The Stand, Michael W. Smith

These past weeks I have been silent.  I haven’t had the words to convey what has been happening in our lives.  I still don’t completely.  As far as Rose’s adoption process itself goes, things are moving along just as they should.  We are getting the necessary approvals at each stage, without complication, and are entering the very last steps of the process.  We are now waiting for the official Travel Approval--which means we have successfully completed the two governments' obstacle courses, jumped through every hoop, have been told, "Yes, you may adopt Rose," and are now waiting to be told, "Yes, you may now actually go get Rose!"  It is looking like travel will be mid-late October.  Each letter of approval, or notice of forward movement has brought such joy to our family.  Knowing that we are one step closer to Rose no longer being an orphan, no longer spending her days isolated in a white crib, and one step closer to the rest of her life, the rest of our life, has been such welcome encouragement.  They have been like buoys thrown out to us as we tread some very tumultuous waters, with waves crashing all around us.

These past weeks and months have been a roller coaster of emotions, experiences, losses, and blessings.  Over the years, we have watched other adoptive families endure similar roller coasters as they fight their way to their children—hard fought battles, leaving their spirits bruised and bloodied.  I have watched in awe of their steadfast faith, perseverance, and strength as their lives take one hit after another—financial, physical, relational, spiritual, you name it.  I have wondered if I would have the strength to endure such battles, or if I would succumb to the fear and doubt and suffering.  Over the past six months, every single shred of our lives has come under fire.  Every.  Single.  Part.  Health, finances, relationships, our faith, our home, our marriage, our future.  Nothing has been left untouched.  We basically painted a huge flashing bullseye on our life when we committed to adopting Rose.  And it’s been a steady onslaught of attacks ever since.  We have known that this kind of adoption is a threat to the schemes of our enemy.  We have experienced that first hand when we adopted Alex six years ago.  We were completely blindsided by it then.  And though we never could have predicted what the battlefield would look like this time, at least we knew to be on the lookout.  To be ready with eyes of discernment, spirits willing to be molded, and most importantly flesh willing to die.  It is on the battlefields surrounding these two adoptions where I have learned to die, and then (and only then) learned to stand.  We must die before we can live.  We must let go before we can move forward with resolve, and steadfast faith and perseverance.

Over the course of my life, I have stood by and watched as death has come to almost every single thing in my life that I have treasured, in one way or another.  Things that are good.  Home, family, commitment, marriage, secure provisions for my children, wide open spaces, a place to offer help and hope and comfort to people in need.  Those aren’t bad things.  They are not the pursuit of wealth, nor riches, nor power, nor glory, nor fame, nor self-indulgence.  They are good and noble things.  Yet death has pursued them at every turn.  I have lived always preparing for the worst, because the worst has become a reality, over and over again.  Always waiting for the other shoe to fall, always knowing that it was just a matter of time before it would.  I have been told that there is a desperation about me.  And it is true.  I have lived with a desperate fear of loss.  I have relied upon man, including myself, instead of my Father.  I have placed God’s treasures in the hands of frail humanity.  I have been desperate for someone or something that I could trust; desperate for the approval of others, to ensure they would not turn their backs on me; desperate for some sense of safety and security; desperate to avoid further death.  As this battle intensified, and death crept closer and closer once again, my eyes were opened and I was given a different perspective, or viewpoint, of the battlefield.    

I have come to a place of realization, or acceptance rather, of the fact that there is but One source of security, safety, trust, hope, and Life—God.  Security cannot be found in man, nor earth, nor money, nor land, nor dreams, no matter how noble they may be.  It can only be found in Christ.  And it can only be found in Christ once we have died to all our human, fleshly clutches.  In the Kingdom of God, death must come before Life, not the other way around.  We must be broken and shattered, brought to our knees, before we can stand.  During these weeks of silence, I have been broken.  Much has been shattered.  I have been dying.  Death is painful, and hard, and scary.  It’s excruciating.  It’s the cross.  It’s where we are tempted to say, “Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?”  It’s where we come face to face with our own depravity, and realize that we are not worthy of the tiniest grain of sand, and must say, “Father, forgive me for my sins.”  It’s where we come face to face with all our fears, with all our wounds and betrayals and suffering.  It’s where we must say, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”    But it’s also where come face to face with our Savior, where we receive Life everlasting, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Grace.  It’s where we meet our Father, and He says, “You are Mine, My child.”  On the cross, everything that can be shaken must be shaken.  And that which remains is none but Christ in us.  Alive.  Standing strong in victory.  
So now, after much death, I can stand in Life renewed.  Though it appears on the outside that much has been shattered, I stand with the hope, “that when anything that’s shattered is laid before the Lord, just watch and see, these are places where Grace is soon to be amazing. I am walking the path that has been laid out before me since before God knit me in my mother’s womb.  I am moving in the direction that God has been leading me for as long as I can remember.  But I could not follow Him into His Kingdom purposes, if I didn’t first lay down my own kingdoms, die to my own selfish ambitions, doubts, fears, and desperate attempts to protect myself.  After much has been shaken—and I say much, because I know not everything has been shaken yet, death is a lifelong process—there is now a bit more room for Christ to stand within me; for me to grow into the fullness of my identity in Him.  It is time for me to stand without being tossed to and froe by the winds of humanity and its waves of emotion.  It is time for me to stand, not on my own merit, but on the victory of Jesus Christ and with the strength of His Holy Spirit.  It is time for me to stand in unwavering trust in my Father.

I am sharing my story now, because it points to God’s infinite power to redeem even the most broken, most excruciating parts of our lives.  It points to the reality that each and every trial we face is an opportunity for us to let go of another piece of our sinful nature, and grow that much closer to God.  I know there are so many of you facing trials much harder than I can even conceive of.  But I also know that your pain and suffering will not be unredeemed if you bring it to the cross, and lay it down at the feet of Jesus.  He will meet you there.  Every single time.  He will not forsake you.  He has not forsaken me.  In the darkest hours of this battle, as I cried out to the Lord, I reached out for prayers and support from a community of fellow believers and adoptive parents.  Their response was breathtaking.  So many words of encouragement, understanding, and pin-point accurate prayers.  So many voices saying that they have been there, and that it’s hard, so so hard, but it’s SO SO worth it!  Voices encouraging us that we will be able to put back together all that falls apart during this battle, and find new order along the way—the right order.  Prayers for restoration, strength, and peace.  Prayers from people who are in the midst of their own battles, right now, as we speak.  Their stories served as further reminders that God does not forsake us when we meet Him at the cross.  He will bring us new Life, more amazing than anything we have lost in the battle.  He will guide our steps, as we brave the roaring seas—as we choose to get out of the boat, and follow Him out onto the water.  How amazing it is that He is so faithful, so good, so trustworthy, that we can stand and praise Him IN the storm—not just after the storm passes!

We are shattered, Lord.  We are broken.  We lay down our own kingdoms—our hopes and dreams, our frail attempts to make life work, our ways and our visions—we lay them before You, and press on with the hope of everlasting Life in Your Kingdom.  We pray for Your mercy, though undeserved it most certainly is.  We pray for Your grace upon our family, especially our children.  You have always been faithful to bring new life and restoration to all that has passed away in our lives.  When this battle comes to an end, we don’t know where we will be standing, nor what our world will look like.  But we do know that we will be standing, our arms lifted high and hearts abandoned.  We will stand in awe of the One Who gave it all—Who suffered betrayal, bore our sins, and died so that we might live.  We will stand, our souls, Lord, to You surrendered.  All we have is Yours.  Rose is Yours.  The physical adoption process is long and complicated, tangled up in bureaucracy, greed, and SO MUCH PAPERWORK!  But in Your Kingdom, Rose’s adoption has already been fulfilled.  There is no price too high to pay for a child’s life.  That is what You showed us on the cross.  We press on in this battle for our daughter, standing on the victory that has already been won.  We embrace the death that must occur on this battlefield, and we receive the life You have for us as a result of Your shed blood.  This battle has been widespread, and many have endured great suffering.  We pray for Your mercy on each of us, and we pray for Your work here to be accomplished in its fullness.  Then we will stand and say, with great thanksgiving, "It is done."  In Christ’s name we pray, Amen.

With much Love,


Sunday, August 19, 2018

Revised T-Shirt Design

We have revised the design for our t-shirt fundraiser, removing the wording ~OurRoseInBloom~ on the back.  We wanted to provide shirts that are not so specific to our family, so that more people can feel comfortable wearing them.  They are still available by clicking on the link on the righthand side of the blog, entitled "Rose's Village".

With much love,
The Hadsell Family

Friday, August 10, 2018

It Takes A Village

The saying, "It takes a village to raise a child" is so very true, and even more so in the case of international adoption and orphan care.  We have launched a t-shirt fundraising campaign to raise funds for Rose's adoption, as well as a sizeable donation to her orphanage in Tianjin.  From the recent accounts of other adoptive families who have adopted from her orphanage, we now know that it is extremely understaffed, and unable to provide for costly surgeries and other medical therapies that many of the children are in desperate need of.  With not enough hands to feed all the babies, if a child cannot hold their own bottle to be fed, they simply aren't fed.  Without enough hands to hold all the little ones, they are simply left in their crib to soothe and entertain themselves, by any means they can--hand flapping, hand chewing, head banging, rocking, etc.  More caretakers would mean more one on one interaction, more eye contact, more physical touch and healthy stimulation, and more love.  The nannies do care about these children.  But they can only do what they can do with what they have.  There are children who need surgery, medicine, and therapies who simply go without for as long as their little bodies can hold on.  With donations directed specifically towards medical care, some of those children won't have hold on until it's too late.

While the orphanage donation is a completely voluntary expense, it is the one that holds the most value in our hearts.  The money goes directly to the needs of all the little ones we will leave behind.  Walking out of those orphange doors, holding Rose in my arms, will be one of the hardest things I will ever have to do.  Because I will be walking away from hundreds of other children just like her, some in much more dire need.  Some have faces that I have already seen, burned into my heart, which is aching to get them out too.  But just like the nannies, we can only do what we can do with what we have.

So we are asking all of you, our friends and family, if you will consider being part of Rose's Village--not only to bring her home, but to help all those that we can't bring home.  It will take a village to bring Rose out of orphanhood, a village to raise her, and a village to meet the needs of the children who remain in the Tianjin Children's Welfare Institute.  We are so grateful for the village that God is raising around us, and we know that He will continue bringing people to come alongside us as we walk out this journey.

To purchase a t-shirt for our fundraiser, you can click on the link on the righthand side of this page entitled "Rose's Village".  The shirts are available in six colors, in both youth and adult sizes.

Thank you for being part of Rose's Village!

With much love,

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Glimpses of Rose

In recent days, we have gotten more tiny glimpses into Rose’s past, as well as a growing understanding of what her current world looks like. Through the wonders of Facebook (which I have avoided at almost all costs for many years), I have connected with so many amazing women who have walked this road of adoption before me, or are walking it right alongside me. We are complete strangers, and yet share a common ground that instantly unites us. It was through one of these fellow adoptive Mamas that we got the old pictures and videos of Rose that I talked about in the last post. And it was through that same friend that I have been connected with three other Mamas who are adopting from the same orphanage where Rose is. She knew that all four of us were currently in process to adopt from Tianjin, and started a group chat late one night. As it turns out, one of those Mamas was actually on the plane to Beijing at that very moment—she was three hours away from touching down in China, and with the amazingness of modern technology, she was able to chat with us via messenger from the air! It was incredible. She kindly offered to try to see Rose, and the other little ones in our group, and get pictures and videos of them for us while she was there getting her little girl. The adoptive community is truly like none other. The fact that she would offer to take the time to see our children for us, on the very day that she was receiving her own, blew me away. That was her Gotcha day, which was sure to be wrought with every emotion under the sun, and demanding of her full attention. And yet she was willing to carve out moments for each of our families, to give us the best gift anyone can give during the adoption wait—little tiny glimpses of our children, firsthand information about how they are doing and what their world is really like. It was a gesture that I will never forget, and I hope to pay it forward for other families when I am there getting Rose. We weren’t sure if the orphanage director would allow her to see our little ones, so we waited anxiously on pins and needles for any news from Tianjin.

In the wee hours of Sunday night/Monday morning, my phone dinged with the words, “Your Rose is so so so precious!!! I caught her at mealtime, but we got to see her.” Thank You, Father, for those words! Then, moments later, two pictures and a short little video popped up.

She looks so big in these new photos, she is growing so fast!  They said she looks to be wearing about a size 2T, which is much bigger than we had anticipated based on her last measurments from the orphanage.  And her sweet expression in the video, as she looks up at her nanny, oh my word...it melted me into a giant puddle.  It's just a brief glance, but it's a glance of recognition and responsiveness.  A tiny glimor of hope.

The next night, again in the wee hours of the morning (because Tianjin is 13hrs ahead of us), my phone dinged.  This time with another message, and more pictures of our Rose.  She said that she hadn't wanted to send this next group of pictures the previous night without an explanation first.  She said that Rose seemed to get agitated after they had been standing by her crib for a little bit.  She then started rolling around in her crib, which looked painful, so they decided to step away at that point.  That is behavior which is all too common in children who have spent years in an institution.  Though their minds and bodies need human interaction, physical touch, and mental stimulation...they are indredibly uncomfortable with it.  They resist the attention of others, and even the warm embrace of a caregiver.  They have recoiled into a protective shell of survival, wanting nothing to do with other people.  After all, people can't be trusted.  People haven't met their needs as they should.  People haven't cared for them as innocent children should be cared for and nurtured.  I have gone back and forth about whether or not to share the following pictures.  Some of them are not easy to see.  But it's not just the beautiful parts of Rose's story that will bring glory to God.  It's in the the most painful, the ugliest, most broken parts of her story where Grace will be found, and the Light of God's redemption will shine the brightest.  These pictures show the effect of institutionalization, and the lack of touch and loving interaction.  They show our very broken little Rose.

After hearing this new information about Rose, and seeing the above pictures, my "It's the middle of the night" brain fell right back into panic and fear.  All the doubts and fears and what if's came flooding back, again.  If a few kind, but unfamiliar, faces standing around her crib were too much stimulation, too uncomfortable for Rose to bear, then what on earth is she going to do when she comes into our loud and somewhat chaotic family?!?  There will be constant stimulation coming from  completely new people and places, with new kinds of sounds and activity going on all around her.  God, are you really sure you chose us to be her family?!?!  Did we hear You all wrong?  Have we made the biggest mistake of our lives?  Is this what is really best for Rose?  Can we really do this?  Is she too broken for us to help?  Have the effects of institutionalization shattered all hope for her future?  Will she ever be able to receive love?  Will she ever learn to walk, or speak even a few words?  Will she remain isolated, shunning human interaction?  Ya'll, I am trying to be as transparent as possible here.  I think that if we are telling God's story, we must do so with complete and total honesty.  This is hard stuff, with life-long impacts on everyone involved.  Not to mention eternal consequences in the heart of our Father.  

As the morning light came, and my mind started coming out of the dark fog of night, I started doing the only thing I know to do--diving into research mode, seeking out understanding and resources to equip me for whatever challenge I am facing.  I called the medical/developmental specialist that we plan to take Rose to soon after she gets home, to make double sure that our insurance covers their practice.  They do, which was a huge sigh of relief, but only a tiny balm to my aching, scared, doubting spirit.  That same morning we received an email telling us that our dossier had completed the review process in China, and that we should recieve our long-awaited LOA (letter of approval) within two weeks.  Had that news come a couple days before, it would have been the best news ever.  The news we have been waiting so long to hear.  But now, that news came amidst the merkiness of doubt and fear.  And we were at the point of needing to send in some of our final paperwork to our adoption agency, as well as another large payment.  Decisions had to be made.  

David and I talked over all of our concerns, all the things that had been brought to light, all that looked different now.  We talked to our three bigs, and explained a worst case scenario of what life might look like with Rose, and asked them how they felt about it.  Did it scare them?  Did they think they would be able to handle the amount of time and attention she would require from me?  Did it change the way they felt about her adoption?  I fully expected them to voice at least some degree of concern.  But they didn't.  They each said that they understand why she is the way she is, why she will need so much, why it may not be fun or cute or happy all the time.  They understand they will have to make sacrifices.  But they each believe that God has called us, our whole family, to adopt Rose.  And if God has called us to it, then why are we questioning it?  You guys, few things in life could be more humbling than hearing those words from your children.  That is what faith looks like.  No amount of doing or thinking or talking can replace true faith.  Faith is what happens when we place all of our thoughts and questions and doubts at the feet of Christ.  Faith is what happens when we trust in Him, not in our own understanding or abilities.  Faith is what happens when we say "Yes, no matter what."  Faith is what happens when...

"Life breaks and falls apart.
But we know that those are places
where grace is soon to be amazing.
It may be unfulfilled.
It may be unrestored.
But when anything that's shattered is laid before the Lord,
just watch and see, 
it will not be unredeemed."

~From "Unredeemed" by Selah

Rose's life has been broken and fallen apart, it has been shattered.  Her purpose remains unfulfilled, her little spirit remains unrestored.  But we have laid these shattered pieces before the Lord, and we know that these are places where God's Grace is soon to be amazing, and Rose's life will not be unredeemed!  Though she resists love now, how much more beautiful will it be when she can melt into the safe embrace of her Mama and Daddy's arms.  How much sweeter will it be when she can cry, knowing that her voice will be heard, and her needs will be met.  How much more joyful will it be to see her smile, or hear her laugh.  How much more glorious will her redemption be, knowing how broken her life has been.  And how much louder is her Mama Bear now roaring to get her home!!!

I said earlier that we also received more glimpses into Rose's past.  We now have pictures of exactly where Rose's life started falling apart.  It's not just an idea in our heads, it's a real life place.  If the walls could talk, they would tell stories of agony and desperation.  Stories of parents making the hardest decision of their lives, to walk away from their children in hopes that somehow they would receive the medical care they so desperately need; or in hopes that they would someday be adopted by a family that could provide for them.  This is where Rose was left, the safest of all places in the hardest of situations.  This is the Tiajin Infant Security Island.  There is a sign at the front of the building telling parents that, "The only true safe island for a baby is at home."

This is the inside.  A tiny little room in which parents may spend thier last few moments with their children, saying goodbye in total privacy.

There is a crib for older infants/children to be placed in.

There is an incubator for newborns or more fragile babies to placed in.

There is a table with a notepad, and a sign asking parents to leave a note with their baby.

By the door, there is a doorbell that parents can ring if they want their child to be found immediately.  There is also a sign telling parents that the Island will be checked hourly to see if any children have been left.

There are signs posted around the room listing resources for various medical conditions and disabilities, last desperate attempts to get parents to reconsider abandoning their babies.  But unfortunately, all too many parents simply cannot afford to pay for those resources.  All medical services in China must be paid for up front, before any services are rendered.  This leaves so many parents feeling like there is no other option for their child than to abandon them, and leave them in the care of the government institutions.  This was Rose's reality.  This very room is where her mother or father brought her to say their last goodbyes.  We don't know if they left a note with her, but I doubt it.  In her file, her birthdate is listed as February 28, 2016.  She was found in the Island on March 28, 2016.  It is highly likely that they estimated her age to be about one month old, and thus assigned her a birthdate of exactly one month previously.  Had there been a note, there would probably have been an actual birthdate for her.  

This little pink room is the place where Rose's life first broke and fell apart.  But it is also the place where Grace was soon to be amazing.  The call was put out about a little girl named Jia Ning who needed a family, and Grace cast our eyes upon her sweet face on February 15, 2018--almost two years after she was laid down and left in this room.  Grace paved the way for us to bring her home.  Grace will fulfill her purpose.  Grace will restore her spirit.  Grace will redeem all that was shattered in this room on March 28, 2016, because Rose was not simply laid in a crib to be found by orphanage staff...she was laid before the Lord.

Thank You, Father, for Your amazing Grace.  Thank You for giving us hope when all seems to be lost.  Thank You for reminding us of Your merciful power to redeem the most broken of Your children, to make Your face shine upon them, and give them Life eternal.  Thank You for making beauty out of ashes.  Thank you for Rose, and the story You are writing in her life.  Thank You for choosing us to be her family, and trusting us with this most beautiful of Your treasures.  We are not worthy, and it is only in You that we will be able to walk this out.

With much love, and heart restored with hope,



Friday, July 27, 2018

Mama Bear

Two days ago we received some new information about our little Rose.  It was actually old information, but new to us.  We went from being elated to have these new glimpses into her past, to being swallowed up by a wave of intense fear.  When we first inquired about Rose, we were immediately told that she was severely delayed, way behind other children with Down Syndrome of the same age.  We were told that she would never be one of those children that comes home and catches up to her peers.  I heard those discouraging words, and sat with them in the quiet of my heart.  I heard whispers of autism in the depths of my soul.  I asked God if He truly had chosen us to be her family, because autism has been one of my biggest fears as a parent.  I will never forget breathing a sigh of relief when our first son turned two, and then four, and finally coming out of the “danger zone” when many children are first diagnosed with autism.  It’s been this deep-seated fear for so long, and I’ve always thought that I could handle anything except that.  So, when I started hearing those internal whispers of autism with Rose, I felt an indescribable sense of panic and fear.  But we said yes amidst those concerns.  We knew without a shadow of any doubt that God was asking us to trust Him, and to say yes to even “the least of these.”

In May, we received an update from China, with one short little video of Rose.  In the video, she rolled over from her back to her tummy (a new accomplishment at 27 months old), she reached for and interacted with a toy, and for the briefest of seconds she smiled.  I cried when I saw that little tiny smile.  It was like a heavy weight was lifted off my chest, and I knew that no matter what, I could handle whatever needs she might have.  I saw a tiny little glimpse of joy living within her, and that was all that mattered.

And then, two nights ago, we received some old videos of Rose.  They are much longer than any of the newer ones we have.  I was first struck by how unbelievably precious she was.  Oh my goodness, she was such a CUTE little baby!!  But then I was struck by how lifeless her little eyes looked.  They are like two beautiful brown wells of deep, deep loss.  Like her little spirit is in there somewhere, but it’s lost in some kind of murky darkness.  It’s hard to find the right words.  It’s just like she is lost.  She doesn’t respond to her nannies as they try to call her name, get her attention, play with her, give her toys, love on her.  They do care for her, you can see it.  But she just looks empty.  Those whispers of autism came back, much louder than before.  And the wave of fear became impossible to overcome.  All I could do was ask God, “What do we do?”  We can handle anything.  Anything but this.  Not this.

I had heard other women talk about the intense grief they felt when they were told their unborn baby would have Down Syndrome.  They would say that they grieved for the child they thought they were going to have, the life that child would lead, the milestones they would reach.  It was hard for me to completely understand their grief, because I know that Down Syndrome is not a death sentence.  I see that extra chromosome as an extra measure of God's mysterious but wonderful blessings.  So to me, their diagnosis just meant that their child would be different than what they had originally thought…not less, or worse.  Two nights ago I felt their grief.  I now know their pain.  I get it.  Seeing how incredibly “different” Rose is from other children her age, even those with Down Syndrome, shook me to my core.  She isn’t the happy, bubbly, playful little girl that some of her peers are.  She isn’t just developmentally slow.  She isn't just cognitively delayed.  It’s more than that.  Much more.

After sitting with the grief, the loss, the pain, and the overwhelming fear of not being enough for Rose, I was finally able to utter those words to God, “What do we do?”  And He answered.  Immediately.  Indisputably.  He whispered into my spirit, “You go get her, Mama.  You love her with the fierceness that only a mother can.  She’s yours, and you are hers.  She needs you, and you need her.  She is beautifully and wonderfully made by Me.  Go get her.”  With those words, the Mama Bear inside of me raised its head and roared so loudly I wouldn’t be able to silence it if I tried.    I felt more in love with her than ever before; more determined to get to her as quickly as possible; more convinced that she is ours and we are hers than I ever imagined.  The fear and sadness are still there, but they are tempered by God’s Love and Grace.  My heart is broken by what she has endured for two and a half years, the impact that it has had on her, the loss of what could have been.  But that is part of the story that God is writing.  It’s all part of His greater plan.  And to Him be all the glory.

No, we don’t know if Rose has autism.  It’s just a suspicion.  We won’t know anything until we have her home, get through the initial transition, and start with medical and therapeutic assessments.  Even then it will likely take quite a long time to see the real Rose emerge...to see Our Rose In Bloom.  Either way, she is beautiful, made in her Father's image, crafted by His hands.

So, we move forward, one foot in front of the other, with the tenacity of a mighty Mama Bear.

We ask you all to pray for Rose in the coming months--that her nannies would continue to care for her to the best of their ability, and show her compassion despite her challenges.  That she would know Love, before she knows the love of a mother and father.  That she would find Joy, before she experiences the joy of a family.  That she would have Peace, before she knows the peace and security of a safe and loving home.  And that God would prepare us in any and every way necessary to be her Mama and Daddy.
With much love,