Singing Lyric’s Song: From Hong Kong to Home
Posted: 20 Mar 2013 07:26 AM PDT
By Jamie Huff
They say that you just “know” when you find the child that is supposed to be yours. I am a sold-out true believer of that statement now.
My husband, Johnny and I are re-married, have a blended family, and have had the deep-down desire to adopt since we were older teens
When we were seriously dating we discussed the possibility of our God-given dream coming to fruition. In July 2009, after two years of marriage and many discussions with our children—then ages 22, 20, 9 and 7—we felt the time had come to begin the journey to find “our” child.
We initially started the process with a Christian agency that facilitated domestic adoptions through the state of Texas. We were presented a couple of children during our wait. After reading about them and praying, we knew that they belonged to another family. Those were hard decisions to make.
The last child we were asked about was a little girl with Down syndrome. We had never considered adopting a child with special needs, but we were both drawn to her. I have an aunt who has severe cognitive disability. I grew up loving her sweet demeanor and her playfulness. I also had the fortune of having a classmate in elementary school with a similar disability. The prospect of parenting a child with Down syndrome did not scare me. Actually, we became excited!
However, a short while after we expressed our interest in this child, she developed some medical needs that we were not prepared for. The agency now preferred a family certified for medically fragile children. We were disappointed, yet God had begun to plow the soil of our hearts with this experience and planted a seed that would soon blossom into the plan He had all along.
After a year and a half with the domestic adoption agency, both mine and Johnny’s hearts became weary and unsettled. We knew we were to be going down a different road….but to where?
During an earlier search for adoption resources, I stumbled upon the Dillon Internationalwebsite. I saw that they had a new program with Hong Kong. I didn’t really read the specifics. It just sounded interesting.
When we felt nudged to pursue a different road, the memory of coming across the Dillon International Hong Kong program surfaced in my mind. I told Johnny that I thought we needed to check into it further.
We discovered that we met the program criteria AND many of the children available through the program have Down syndrome!
We did not have the financial resources to complete an international adoption, but somehow we both felt positive and at peace. We began to put the pieces together. Within an hour of requesting a password to view the waiting child list, we read a paragraph about each of the children and we both chose the same one. We KNEW we had just read about our daughter. It was surreal.
We completed some initial paperwork and received several pages to read about the 5-year old little girl, who happened to have Down syndrome, that we were interested in. She was perfect for our family! More importantly, God had known all along that we were the perfect family for her.
I was at work when I received the email with her picture. Surrounded by my wonderful co-workers, I opened the picture file and came face-to-face with my new daughter. I will never forget that moment: I sat there in awe looking at her sweet face on the screen. Several co-workers gasped and with tears streaming down their faces said, “She looks like you!” That she did.
We went ahead and gave her the name of Lyric Grace and claimed her in our hearts as our own. We knew that she was God’s gift to us and was going to be “words to a song about grace” to our family and everyone who would come to know her. She loves music, so it was even more fitting.
The financial piece of this journey was a huge one for us. We did not feel shy sharing our journey with family and friends and asking them to share in the blessing by giving financially. We set up an adoption account at our bank. Anonymous and direct financial gifts came rolling in. We applied for several grants. Even though we did not receive a grant, we did receive a zero-interest loan for half of the adoption expenses through the ABBA Fund. Toward the end of the process, we also received a Building Families Fund grant through Dillon International.
The hardest part of the process—and yes there were many hard parts—was the waiting. There were days when the wait felt excruciating! My heart hurt while I waited for our daughter to come home. There were tears, frustration and plain ‘ole disbelief at the system we had to rely on. Those were difficult days.
Through it all, Jan (Dillon International’s Hong Kong Program Director) was just a phone call away and listened to all of our concerns and questions. She faithfully prayed for us during the entire process….and still does!
All of the pain of waiting disappeared in an instant the morning that Jan called us (at 6:45 a.m.!) to tell us that we had received the High Court Order giving us permission to travel to Hong Kong.
Our trip to Hong Kong to bring Lyric Grace home is a memory we will forever cherish. Hong Kong is a beautiful place with mountains, lush forests, parks, a city that makes New York City look rural, and miles of beach-lined ocean front.
Our first meeting with Lyric took place at Mother’s Choice Child Care Home. The 10 minutes we waited for her to come downstairs seemed like an hour. When Lyric came in, she was dressed in a traditional Chinese play outfit, carrying the family album we had given her. She was slow to warm up, but knew exactly who we were. The staff at Mother’s ChoiceWee Care are incredible at preparing a child’s heart for joining their forever family.
As I touched her little face and hair and hugged her tiny frame, my spirit was leaping for joy that we were finally united with the one God had chosen to be a part of our family. I am still in awe when I think of how our God knew when this little girl was born—and given by her birth parents to the Hong Kong government halfway around the world—that we were her forever family. We are more thankful than you can ever know.
Since coming home with Lyric, our family has transitioned nicely. It is both harder and more wonderful than I imagined. Lyric is 5 years old; however, cognitively two years behind her peers. Most days it is like she has eight arms! She’s extremely fast, running about the house or wherever we are, exploring. We feel very tired at the end of each day.
My other two children, who live in our home, have come to love Lyric. It is so sweet to see my 13 year-old son and 10 year-old daughter play with their new sister. Our family dinners are filled with laughter every night as Lyric says and does things that make us smile. She’s loveable, funny, smart, gives the BEST hugs, and keeps us laughing. I thoroughly enjoy being along for the ride watching her soak up the new world around her.
She knew some English, being that both Cantonese and English are spoken in Hong Kong and at Wee Care. Her vocabulary, however, was limited and has grown by leaps and bounds since coming home. She loves all kinds of food. We don’t know where she puts it all, though: she’s a skinny little thing. It is true that kids with Down syndrome are more like “us” than different.
Having a child with special needs, we had to identify resources in our community to aid us in her upbringing. We’ve learned about IEP and ARD meetings and occupational, speech and physical therapists. By trial and error, we learned what age Sunday school class and schedule is best for her. I am involved with two different support and dinner groups for moms of children with special needs. I learn so much by meeting others in our community who are navigating the same road.
We meet with our social worker once a month for six months to share how Lyric and our family is doing until we finalize the adoption in a U.S. court. We’ve come to really enjoy these visits and the support we receive.
We know that internationally adopting an older child with special needs is not for everyone. However, if you are considering this for your family and you are prayerful about the decision, you will “know.” We would never have imagined the road this journey has taken, but we are thankful that we allowed God to be in the driver’s seat! Singing a song from Hong Kong to home has been the fulfillment of not only a forever family for Lyric, but a dream for us.
Editor’s Note: Thursday, March 21, 2013 is recognized as World Down Syndrome Day. To learn more about children with this special need awaiting the love of a forever family in Dillon International’s Waiting Child program, please visit http://dillonadopt.com/int-adoption-waiting-view.shtml to complete a screening form and view waiting children or email email@example.com with specific questions.
Little Hero, BIG HEART - the story of how a Dillon adoptee with cerebal palsy is overcoming odds and inspiring others along the way.
Argent Family, MISSOURI-
"When my husband and I began the process for our daughter, we had NO idea the plan God had for us. We already had one son through Dillon and felt God's leading to adopt another child. I had the opportunity to go to Korea on one of Dillon's mission trips. I got to see first-hand how the wonderful staff at Eastern took care of the babies. I also got a better understanding about the wonderful medical care and information that is provided on babies with special needs. It was there that I felt very sure that God had a child for us. We knew in our hearts that God wanted us to take a baby with special needs. When filling out the paperwork, we prayed over the special needs list.
We felt sure about many of the needs on the list including cleft lip and palate. To our amazement, just a few weeks after we turned in our paperwork, Dillon called us about a baby girl with a cleft palate. She was a waiting child. To our surprise, she had been born a few weeks after I had been in Korea. Our daughter is an incredible child and has added so much to our lives. When I look at her, I can't believe that she was a waiting child. We feel so blessed that God brought her into our family. We feel it is important to tell others our story because special needs adoption doesn't have to be scary. We learned how many things classified as special needs are minor or with good medical help, can be cured, fixed or helped. We hope others will prayerfully consider these special children and wait for an answer from God. One of these children may just be the child they have been praying for."
Jenkins Family, TEXAS -
The Jenkins family went from an empty nest to parenting two teen girls adopted from Russia. Though their days aren't always drama-free, this family loves each other.
Culbertson Family, OHIO-
"We have three children whom we adopted through Dillon's India program and each one was considered a child with special needs. We chose these children because we felt that despite their physical conditions, each one had so much potential and we had the love and resources to help them reach for it. It took a leap of faith to begin each adoption, but we've been rewarded by seeing each child blossom in his/her own way once they were part of a loving family. It is an awesome honor and responsibility to love our children and to be loved by them in return. I wish that I could bottle up a little of my kids' love and share it with anyone who is considering special needs adoption so they could experience what a blessing it is."
Potts Family, TEXAS -
The Potts family has adopted three older children from Russia. They believe parents and adoptive children both have baggage. They also believe both sides can overcome their baggage, because all children deserve a chance to be in families.
Bayer Family, OKLAHOMA-
"The moment we saw our daughter's video we knew she was ours. She was 8 months old. She had had one previous assignment of a family who had decided not to pursue the adoption. She was shown to several other families who also declined. We like to think of her as our unexpected gift from God. In other words our hearts were opened to the child God had planned for us, whatever her special needs were."
Wilkins Family, TEXAS -
Russian orphans, upon graduating from orphanages, receive their ID card stamped with the word "Orphan." The Wilkins adopted two older children from Russia, giving them a new start, an opportunity to thrive and a chance to lose the stigma of being an orphan in Russia.
Nancy T. -
"THE PERFECTION OF AN IMPERFECT CHILD…My son is two years old. He cannot four-point crawl. He cannot walk without aid. He cannot stand on his own. He cannot drink from a cup. He cannot eat with utensils. He cannot catch himself if he falls. And, he cannot run and play with his older brother.
Yet, he can smile so brightly that he lights up a room. He can love unconditionally. He can willingly accept his "lot in life" and never feel as if he has been cheated. He can find pleasure in the laughter of other children playing. Because his life moves at a slower pace, he can take the time to notice the things that many of us pass by. The gentle rustle of the breeze, the symbiotic flap of the bird's wing, the grainy texture of a piece of sand. And, he relishes the thrill in "small steps" the way an Olympic athlete relishes winning a medal.
He has taught me the greatest lesson that I have learned in life so far, the lesson that no one wants to learn voluntarily--that one grows by suffering. I am a different person than I was 1 ½ ago. I am stronger, I am more compassionate, I am better. I have learned that although I did not think it, I have the perfect life. To many this is unimaginable and yet I would not trade my experiences for the chance to walk an easier road. My son has taught me that life is short and we must each celebrate every day that we are given. We cannot count on there being a tomorrow. I have learned that there is beauty to be found even on a rainy day. I have learned to love more and to hate less. And mostly, I have learned to live life with no fear and no regrets.
Thank you, sweet baby, for all you have given me -- for being my teacher, lighting the path, and showing me the way. "
Titony Family, -
"Although it is extremely difficult for me to express in words how the world opened up to me and my heart and life was filled with insurmountable love for my blessed baby Zoe, I can tell you that not a second goes by that I am not eternally grateful to the gift of a thousand lifetimes that we have been given. I pray that in some way, somehow, some day, Zoe's biological mother could see how much she has blessed us and filled our lives with joy. Everyone wants to change the world. International adoption is a pretty good place to start!"
Ybarra Family, -
"We have two beautiful sons. Our youngest son came to us from Korea through the wonderful world of adoption. We feel so blessed to have him in our family. We struggled with infertility for many years and then chose to adopt.
We chose Dillon International because of the very personalized care and attention we received from their staff. All of our fears and concerns were addressed BEFORE we could even ask the question "What if ?"
Dillon's care and concern for your family doesn't stop after you get your child home. The on-going support and the programs that they offer are fabulous. There truly is not another agency like Dillon out there that could give us the "family" feeling we were looking for.
We feel very blessed and honored to have a son from Korea and are very thankful to all the Dillon staff for making our adoption journey a good one."
Skaggs Family, TEXAS –
"Our family came to international adoption through God's divine plan. We had a fantastic son by birth and wanted more children. After several years, we realized our family would be built through adoption. We researched many agencies before hearing about Dillon International from another Dillon family. Based upon their glowing report, we attended a Dillon workshop. We walked out of our first pre-adoption workshop in January of 2000 knowing Dillon was the agency for us. We have since completed two Korean adoptions. The agency is not just an agency, but an extended family! They are truly committed to their families for life."
Argent Family, MISSOURI –
"We have adopted 3 beautiful children from Korea. After 10 years of infertility, we truly felt God leading us to adopt. We had no idea the blessing He would give us when we began our journey. Dillon International has become part of our family. They have been with us along each adoption and are here with resources to help with our concerns or questions now. Dillon International is a wonderful agency with loving and supportive people that only want to help families come together. "