"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

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

"To the Person About to Adopt a Child With Down Syndrome"

This morning, we read a letter written by an adoptive mother about her son with Down Syndrome.  Her words speak of the truth that lives within our hearts better than we could ever express ourselves.  In addition to copying her letter below, we will include a link to the website where it was originally posted.  We hope you will take to the time to read this beautiful testimony of the gift that is Down Syndrome, you will be blessed!

"To the Person About to Adopt a Child With Down Syndrome"

"Dear Parent-to-be,

Welcome to the first day of the best of your life.

There are so many things I want to tell you, I’m bursting. I’m so happy for you that I’m not sure where to begin.

Perhaps I should start with the words the social worker said the moment she placed my son, Charley, in my arms 25 years ago. He was 2 months old then. “Get ready for more love than you will know what to do with,” she said.

I didn’t know it then, but she was right. There are no words to describe this kind of love.

How can you verbalize the magic of those eyes that look so deep into your soul, even you never knew how deeply you existed? It will happen, and you, my friend, will open up like you never have before. Life won’t look the same as it did before.

Your life is about to change. Every parent is forced to change routines, priorities and all the things that go with them. But there’s so much more because the change you’re about to experience is a change in you. A reinventing so profound you may not even see it for years to come, and here’s the wonder of it — it’s coming from the one source who wouldn’t change you for the world.

Although there have been great strides made in awareness of Down syndrome, you may be shocked by the insensitive remarks of others. Or, as one woman said about our Charley, “He’s damaged.” There will even be uninformed comments such as, “Is he still Downs?”

I don’t know how many times I’ve sat in a doctor’s office, only to have some parent shield their child from mine, as if his Down syndrome is contagious. You may see fear on their faces and pity in their eyes. And you will shake your fist at their ignorance. Then, just as angry as you feel, you will find yourself feeling sorry for them. Pity those who don’t know the unbridled heart of Down syndrome; they could use a dose of what you live with every day. Believe me, most people are curious and wouldn’t hurt you or your child for the world.

My husband and I are acutely aware of the gift we’ve been given. Each time we’re knocked down by this thing called life, all we have to do is look at Charley’s face. We see God there. His affirmation. His endless hugs that wrap around us like a warming blanket. His smile that says, “You are still OK with me.” His words that say, “I love you much.”

So often I feel unworthy of him. I believe Charley is exactly who he’s supposed to be — a person who calls those around him to open their hearts. To accept others just as they are. I believe that when God bestows that extra chromosome, it’s His way of saying, “You only think you know what matters.”

People often say we must have incredible patience to have chosen a “child like that,” but they would be wrong. It’s our son who has taught us patience. He had to be patient with us while we learned what it meant to be his parents.

You may have to defend your decision to adopt. I don’t know how many people tried to talk us out of it, but there were several. We’ve heard it all. “Are you sure you know what you’re doing?” “It’s still not too late to change your mind.” “Why would you put yourself in that position?” “It’s a lifetime commitment, you know.”

I won’t lie to you, it’s not an easy journey. It’s not for everybody. It’s a life that demands all of you, 100 percent. You will be tested, sometimes daily. Some days you will know a lot. Other days, you will wonder if you know anything at all. And just like any other parent, there will be those moments when you will want to pull your hair out. But then, just when you need it the most, there will be that hug around your neck, and that sticky kiss on your cheek that will pull you back from the edge. Those are the moments when your child’s eyes will melt you like butter, and you’ll wonder how you ever lived without him (or her), or if you ever could.

The good news is that much has changed for parents of people with Down syndrome since we adopted Charley. There are systems in place that weren’t there before.

There is a community of families who reach out to each other and offer their experience, strength and hope. There are associations, blogs, Buddy Walks, Special Olympics and a host of families on the Internet. Don’t be afraid to reach out. These are the people who will offer you the hand of friendship and much-needed social connections.

I could go on and on, but I’ll leave it at this: When you’ve had this gift in your home, when you’ve been loved like no love you’ve ever known, when you’ve had your soul opened up, don’t forget to pay it forward. There are people who need your story. Help them to know your child. Help them see what you see.

The words I heard 25 years ago still echo in my thoughts today. They’re the words I now say to you: “Get ready for more love than you will know what to do with.”

Welcome to the first day of the best of your life."

Sherry Palmer is the “Author of Life With Charley: A Memoir of Down Syndrome Adoption.” Please visit Charley on Facebook at: Life With Charley – And Down Syndrome.
Click HERE to visit The Mighty, where we retrieved this letter from.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Why on earth would you do that?!...Q&A

Many people have asked us why we would choose to adopt another child, and especially one with significant special needs.  While this is something that has been on our hearts for longer than we can remember, we are continuously reminding ourselves that it is a totally new curve-ball that we have thrown at our family and friends.  We know that it is out of genuine concern that many people have questioned this decision.  We truly are grateful that our family and friends care so deeply about us, and want nothing but the best for us.  Walking into this adoption, we know that it is not a path most people would choose to take.  So we are going to answer some of the questions that we have been getting as we have shared the news of our little Rosey girl.  

1.  Why do you want to adopt another child, don't you have enough kids already?

The short answer to this question is yes, we do indeed have enough children already.  Our hearts and hands are quite full with the five children God has blessed us with.  And if adding more children to our family were the motivation behind this adoption, we would not be pursuing it.  The thing is, we had "enough kids" when we just had our first two biological kids.  We were in the throws of beginning to home school, we were farming full time, and we were completely strapped financially.  But when we received the call about our third child, we knew beyond any doubt that we were to say yes.  Similarly, when we found out we were pregnant with our fourth child--which came as quite a surprise, because we had been told by doctors that we would not be able to have any more children--our hearts and hands were extremely full.  We were starting a new business, struggling through the first year of a very challenging adoption, and again, financially strapped.  But that did not stop us from rejoicing at the news of our new little blessing.  Now, if we are being completely honest here, with the news of our fifth little one being on the way, it took us a moment to catch our breath, and to see the wonderful blessing that would be our fifth child.  Our hearts and hands were really full with the four kiddos we already had.   And again, if we are being honest, that precious little boy has kept our hearts and hands really really super full since before he was even born.  So yes, we have "enough" children.  But this is not about adding more children...

We firmly believe that all children are gifts from God, no matter how many or how few we might be entrusted with.  If God had only granted us one child, that would have been more than "enough".  But nowhere in the Bible does it say that once you have had one or two children, that's enough, you should then take every precaution to prevent any additional children from being created or added to your family.  God's word clearly states the opposite--that we are to be fruitful and multiply, that children are a blessing from the Lord, like arrows in a man's quiver, and blessed is the man whose quiver is full.  That is what God tells us about children.  We believe that God is sovereign over every single life that is created, that the creation of life rests solely in His hands, and the decision as to who will be entrusted with those lives is entirely His to make.  Resting upon that faith, we will say Yes whenever He asks us to.  Ultimately, God will decide when we have "enough" children.  (That's not to say that we don't have a few words to say about the matter 😅).

2. Why would you choose to adopt a child with Down Syndrome?

There truly is no rhyme or reason (as far as we can see) why Down Syndrome, specifically, has been placed on our hearts.  There has just been this deeply rooted "knowing" in the back of our minds, for many years, that we were called to children with Down Syndrome, in some form or fashion.  When we would see people in our community who have Down Syndrome, it would bring a smile to our faces for no particular reason.  We have been given the eyes to see individuals with Down Syndrome for the beautiful reflections of God that they truly are.  We are not blind to the challenges they, and their families, face.  We simply see more than the challenges, we also see the value and the blessings.  Many parents are faced with a pre-term diagnosis of DS in their unborn child.  They are faced with the agonizing decision of whether or not to terminate the pregnancy.  If they choose to proceed with the pregnancy, they too are inherently choosing DS.  God has called us to not only say yes, but to pursue with great tenacity this child with Down Syndrome; to go to the same lengths and costs for her, as we would for a "typical" or "healthy" child.  We can only hope that God would be glorified in that pursuit; that it would be a reflection of how He chose to pursue us as His adopted sons and daughters through Christ.  He chose us--even in our sinful, weak, spiritually handicapped state--He chose and pursued us to become His children.  He was willing to cross every border to get to us, including the border between His kingdom and Earth.  He was willing to sacrifice everything, truly everything, including His only Son, to save us from our depraved condition.  May God be glorified as we seek to extend a mere glimpse of that same love in our pursuit of sweet Rose.

3. What about your other children, won't Rose's needs take away from them or negatively impact them?

There is no denying that adopting Rose will be hard, and that her needs with be great.  There is no denying that those needs will be costly.  There is no denying that our other children will have to make sacrifices as we meet those needs.  And there is no denying that there will be the inevitable struggles for attention as we transition from a family of seven to a family of eight.  It will be hard.  For all of us.  And it will be hard not only for a season, but for a lifetime.  We brought those concerns before our other children, especially the three oldest, very early on in this process.  Before we had officially committed to adopting Rose, we talked with our kids about all that this decision would entail.  And as best we could, we tried to explain all the implications, including the possibility of Rose outliving us, her parents, and needing her siblings to take on her care.  Each one of them expressed the most profound willingness to do whatever it takes to bring Rose into our family, to follow God wherever He was leading us.  As parents, we have never been more proud of our kids, nor as humbled by their child-like faith.  That very first conversation we had with our three oldest kids about Rose is something that we will never forget.  If only we could all come as little children to the feet of Jesus!  We know that as a result of this decision, our children will have to make sacrifices, and they will have to endure hardships.  We trust that "these tribulations will lead to perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." (Romans 5: 3-5)  That is our trust and faith in the goodness of God, and in the knowledge that He loves these children far more than we could ever imagine loving them ourselves.  He has a purpose in all that He does, which works for the good in all who believe.  And we know that adopting Rose will also bring great joy to our other children.  It's not all trials and tribulations.  They will experience a whole new kind of love, and there will undoubtedly be lots of smiles and laughter, snuggles and cuddles, playing and silliness!  In fact, Rose is not even here yet, and she has already brought us inexplicable joy, and that beautiful peace that surpasses all understanding.  

Thank you, Father, for entrusting our family with Your Rose.  

With Much Love,
The Hadsell Family  

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Our dossier is on it way, now what do we do?

We have officially entered the "hurry up and wait" phase of the adoption process!  Our crazy, maddening, wild paper chase is over, and we mailed our dossier to the adoption agency last week. It is currently under review, and then will be sent to China within the next couple of weeks. (Edit: our dossier is being mailed to China TODAY! 6/8)  So now, we wait.  We wait and prepare for the next chapter in our family's story.  We finish our parent training requirements; we gather all the goodies for little Rose's suitcase; we prepare a place for her in our home; we pour as much love and attention into our five kiddos before their new sister arrives; and we fund raise...

That last part is undoubtedly our least favorite.  We live in a society where independence is valued above all else.  Survival of the fittest.  Each man for his own.  Asking for help, whether it be financial help or physical help, does not come easily.  It goes against everything that has been ingrained in our minds since we were children.  The problem is, that was not God's original plan for His people.  He created people for relationship, for interdependence--not independence.  He created us to depend upon Him for all of our needs, no matter how great or how small.  He created us to be a body--with each part contributing its specific job, working together in harmony to accomplish His purposes.  He did NOT create each of us--each part of the body--to be able to do it all alone, independent of the other parts.  The hand does not perform the duties of the ear, the nose does not perform the duties of the eye,  etc.  Do we view our hands as weak because they cannot hear?  Do we view our eyes as lazy, or incompetent because they cannot smell?  Of course not.  We know that every part of our body is interconnected to the rest, each depending on the others to function as a whole.  Why would it be any different for the various parts of the body of Christ, or the body of the human race at large?  We need each other, people.  We aren't supposed to do it all alone.  Above all, we need God.  He is the only One with all the answers, all the power, all the resources, all the honor, and all the glory.  He is the only One that can ever truly meet all of our needs.  His Word says to "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow, or reap, or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?"  (Matthew 6:26 NIV)  Is Rose not much more valuable than the birds?  While much of the world might say no she isn't, we say YES SHE IS!  We know that Rose is immeasurably valuable to our Heavenly Father, and we know that He will meet her needs.  

It is with that faith that we ask you to come along side us as we walk this road, in any capacity that God places upon your hearts. We are reaching out to the rest of the body to accomplish God's purposes for Rose.  We must fight against both pride and unworthiness to do this.  But we know it is not us who are worthy...it is Rose, and above all, it is our Father Who is worthy of all that we have.  For it is by His grace and mercy that any of us have been granted stewardship over His resources to begin with.

We have already been blessed by so many along the way.  Yesterday, when we went to print out our fundraising flyers, the owner of the store read our story and offered to donate all our flyers at no cost!  Thank you, Michael Brewster of Kwik Kopy in Brenham, TX.  We were blown away by your generosity!  Below is a copy of the front and back of the beautiful flyer Kwik Kopy made for us.

The owner of Honeysuckle Cafe and Bistro in Chappell Hill, TX offered to place flyers on her counter to help spread the word.  Within minutes, a customer came in and saw the flyers, and was able to recommend a treatment facility that a close friend of hers takes her son with Down Syndrome to.  A dear friend has offered to help spread the word to friends, family, and local churches.  Another awesome friend has offered to help fund raise as well.  And we received our first donation, $200!!  Our community rocks! 

We are so excited to see how God is going to finish this work that He has called us to--rather, how He is going to get us to the beginning of the work he has called us to!  Completing Rose's adoption is merely the dawning of this journey, the first of many mountains to be moved. 

With Much Love,
The Hadsell Family 



Friday, May 25, 2018

Rose's Story

We would like to share a little bit about Rose's story.  Our sweet girl turned two in February of this year, and has spent the majority of those two years in her orphanage.  It is very difficult for birth families to raise children with special needs in China, due to the lack of resources, and societal pressures.  Sadly, it is very common for birth families to abandon their babies born with disabilities, in hopes that they will somehow have a better life in an orphanage, or even possibly be adopted.  Because of the increasing number of babies being abandoned, China began instituting a system of "Baby Hatches".  These are small buildings, sometimes attached to orphanages or hospitals, that contain baby beds or incubators for birth parents to place their baby in.  The parents then ring a bell to alert the staff that there is a baby waiting, and then they are able to leave--anonymously, without fear of prosecution.  Before baby hatches developed, and even still, many babies are abandoned on streets, sidewalks, and far worse.  We believe our Rose was very much loved by her birth family, because she was placed safely in a baby hatch, and was immediately tended to by medical staff.  Additionally, she was about 1 month old when she was abandoned--which means her birth family struggled for an entire month with the decision of what to do with their little girl.  Our hearts ache for them, and what they must have endured when deciding to relinquish her.  A piece of them will forever be missing.  But because they chose to relinquish her, Rose has been given another family to love and protect her; and she will have the opportunity to receive therapies and services that would have been otherwise inaccessible to her.  She will be given every support available to help her reach her fullest potential...whatever that might be.  Their selfless act has given her a chance to have a full and happy life, where she will be loved and treasured for exactly who God crafted her to be. 

While they might not know it, they also gave her a far greater gift.  They gave her the chance to come to know her Heavenly Father, and to receive salvation through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.  Christians are persecuted throughout China, our faith being all but snuffed out.  Whether Rose's birth family know the Lord or not, whether they long for her to have the freedom to follow after Christ, they gave her that chance the moment they placed her in that baby bed and walked away.  She will be loved by her adoptive family, and she will know the immeasurable love of God.  They gave the most important gift any parent could ever give their child.  We will forever be grateful to Rose's birth family, and they will forever hold a very special place in our hearts.

We know very little about Rose herself.  We have been told that she is developmentally behind other children her age with Down Syndrome, that she is quiet and introverted, but loves being cuddled by her nanny.  How we long to give her all the cuddles in the world!!!  Her medical records do not indicate any other health problems, such as heart conditions common among babies with Down Syndrome.  We will have her thoroughly checked out once she is home, but we are hopeful that she is healthy and strong.  She recently learned to roll over from her back to her stomach, can grasp toys in her hands, and babble various sounds.  That is about all we know, for now.  The picture in the upper right corner of the blog is the most recent photo we have of her, taken a couple of weeks ago, in May of 2018.   

Below are some of the pictures we have of her from the time she was an infant:

 Isn't she PRECIOUS?!?!


Thursday, May 17, 2018

Our Adoption Story...Let The Journey Begin

Sees the Invisible
Believes the Unbelievable
Receives the Impossible."
~Corrie Ten Boom

While our journey of adopting Rose appears to be just beginning, its roots go back many years, and the above words are the banner over our story.  Adoption has been on our hearts since childhood, and we always knew that God would grow our family through adoption (though we never could have predicted just how He would do it!)  In 2006 and 2007 we welcomed our fist two biological children.  Then, in 2010, we came across Reece's Rainbow--an organization that advocates for, and raises awareness about children with Down Syndrome, and other special needs, around the world.  They also serve as a non-profit adoption grant foundation, which helps families raise the necessary funds to adopt internationally.  During the past eight years, our hearts have been drawn to so many of the sweet faces on the Reece's Rainbow website.  Each child has taught us something new, and brought us to new levels of trust and relationship with our Father in Heaven.  But we never got the green light to move forward with the adoption of any of those children.  We began the process in earnest, but each time the Lord brought us to the place of having to let go of our little ones, and wait for His perfect timing.

In 2012, we adopted our third child, an 8 year old little boy with cerebral palsy, from a disrupted adoption.  He came to us in the most unexpected way, and at the most unexpected time in our lives.  (That story will have to be it's own post, but the short version is that we received a phone call about him one day, and picked him up the very next day.  We didn't even have a home study yet!) In 2013 and 2014, we were then blessed by two more biological sons.  Our hands and hearts have been so very full with these precious five children that the Lord has entrusted to us.  But we knew in the back of our minds that God had one more little one for our family.  A very special little one, who just so happens to rock that extra chromosome!

In 2013, God spoke to us of a daughter named Rose.  During the pregnancies of our last two children, we waited anxiously to see if perhaps the little baby growing inside could be our little Rose.  When they turned out to be our precious little boys, we were left wondering if or when we would ever meet our Rose.  Fast forward about five years, to the early morning hours of February 15, 2018--Ashley's birthday--when the Lord prompted a visit to the Reece's Rainbow website once more.  Over the years, it had become extremely difficult to look at all the little faces pictured on their website,  and not be able to bring one of those children out of orphanhood, and into our family to be loved and nurtured.  So it had been quite a long time since we had seen the children that were listed on their website.  While scrolling through the pictures on February 15, up comes a precious little girl named Rose!  Could this be our Rose?!?  Over the next days and weeks, we prayed, we talked, we wrestled with the questions, and we talked to our other children.  When we first approached our three oldest children, we were unsure what their reactions would be.  We were blown away, and so incredibly humbled by their responses.  They all recognized that this would not be an easy undertaking, but that if God is asking us to do it, there is no question as to what we should do.  They were excited about the prospect of having a little sister, and were in total agreement that we should move forward.  Within two weeks, we received the green light we had been waiting for all these years.  God flung the doors wide open, paved a way to get to our Rose, cleared every hurdle, and granted us the most inexplicable peace as we committed to adopting her.  We have been so amazed at how such beautiful peace has rested upon this adoption journey.  At one point we were told that Rose was most likely on the lower end of functioning, delayed beyond other children with Down Syndrome.  But even in the face of that possibility, we knew that God was asking us to say Yes to even "the least of these."  Our children have rallied around us, and we are all working as team to bring Rose home.

It is by faith that we see the invisible blessings and joys of raising a child with Down Syndrome.  It is by faith that we believe the unbelievable, that somehow God will make a way for us to complete this adoption, as a family.  It is by faith that we will receive the impossible, a love that many will never know, second only to the love of our heavenly Father.  God has given us the eyes to see the beauty of Down Syndrome, not just the hardships.  While we know this will not be an easy journey, it is so often the case that the hardest things in life are the most beautiful when following in the Lord's footsteps.  We know beyond any shadow of doubt, that we are walking in the middle of God's will for our family.  We will keep our eyes upon Him, stay in His peace that surpasses all understanding, not only during this adoption journey itself, but far beyond that as we raise this precious girl in the years to come.

With much Love,
The Hadsell Family 

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Rose

Some say love, it is a river, that drowns the tender reed.
Some say love, it is a razor, that leaves your soul to bleed.
Some say love, it is a hunger, an endless aching need.

I say Love, it is a flower, and You, its only seed.

It's the heart afraid of breaking, that in You, learns to dance.
It's the dream afraid of waking, that in You, takes the chance.
It's the One who won't be taking, who only seems to give.
And the soul afraid of dying, that in You, learns to live.

When the night has been too lonely, and the road has been too long.
And you think that Love is only for the lucky and the strong.
Just remember in the winter, far beneath the bitter snows,
Lies the seed, that with the Son's Love, in the spring becomes the Rose.

-Modified from the original lyrics to Bette Midler's "The Rose"

“Mié (Rose) Jia Ning”

We are so very happy to introduce the newest member of our family, Rose Jia Ning Hadsell.  We are in the process of adopting Rose from China, and hope to have her home in August or September of this year!  Rose has been diagnosed with Down Syndrome, which simply means that God crafted her with one extra chromosome.  That extra chromosome carries with it various challenges, but it also carries an extra measure of truth, love, honesty, trust, and JOY!  We are so thankful that God chose us to be her family.
Her Chinese name carries profound truth about our little girl.  Méi translates into Rose, the flower most often associated with great beauty; Jia translates into Family; and Ning translates into Peace.  Ever since with first laid eyes on our little Rose, and began praying about whether or not it was God’s will for us to pursue her adoption, our family has been graced with the most inexplicable, beautiful, peace.  International adoption is not for the faint of heart, but through all the trials and hurdles to cross, this peace has not left our family.  It is with great honor, and humble hearts, that we hope to bring the same beautiful peace to Rose, as we pour out God’s love—that He first poured out for each of us—onto our newest little blessing.  Our prayer is that in Him, she will learn to dance, take chances, and truly learn to live; that after all her lonely nights, after the long road to her forever family; after being passed by for the more "lucky and strong"; that far beneath the bitter cold of institutionalization, lies the seed of God's Love that will become our Rose.  
We would love for you all to follow our adoption journey as we complete the final steps of this process.  Rose also has a sponsorship page on the Reece’s Rainbow International Down Syndrome Adoption Grant and Advocacy website—https://reecesrainbow.org/125177/sponsorhadsell.  (You can also reach her sponsorship page by clicking on the picture of her on the top right-hand side of this blog.)
In lieu of the customary baby shower gift registry, we are prayerfully fundraising through her Reece’s Rainbow sponsorship page to cover the final “ransom” fees for her adoption.  Please consider donating to her grant fund, and/or passing along this information to anyone you feel might like to come along side us on this journey.  Most of all, we humbly ask for your prayers as we fight to bring Rose home!
                                  With much love and gratitude,
                                        The Hadsell Family
(David, Ashley, Jadon, Addison, Alex, Noah, Luke, and Rose)