When my wife Stacy came to me saying she felt God speak to her about adopting a child with Down syndrome, I thought there was absolutely no way. Based on everything I’d always heard, I just didn’t think we could manage this particular special need with our busy lives. We are an older couple with three (adult) biological kids and had already adopted four children from China, all under the age of ten. It felt like we already had our hands quite full.
Hints of Down syndrome kept randomly showing up in our lives though, despite my attempts to pretend I didn’t notice. This went on for about a year, and then one day Stacy saw the face of the little girl she felt God had been calling her to. She showed me the picture of this fragile little one, and I remember commenting that she was already five years old and really needed someone to say “yes” to her.
The biggest question I had was – “Is it supposed to be US?”
We didn’t really even discuss it. It was one of those known, yet “silent” conversations we could have without actually having it. I knew what it meant when she first came to me with a picture. (It meant start packing your bags buddy!) She knew that my silence didn’t mean NO, it just meant that I heard what she was saying – but had serious reservations.
If I’m being completely honest, I was not on board yet, and inside I was hoping that our lack of conversation about it over the next few days meant the topic wasn’t as serious as I had thought. That being said, I began to google everything I could think of regarding Down syndrome “just in case.” Turns out that few days of silence meant that Stacy had been very busy and had literally finished ALL of the paperwork necessary for another home study in a matter of days. She only needed a few signatures from me along with my physical and bio metrics appointments which happened to be scheduled for the coming week. Yes, Stacy’s kind of a pro at this paperwork thing now, and she was prepared for me to say “yes” just in case. That’s how sure her YES was that this was our daughter!
Fast forward just seven months later, and we were on a plane headed to China to adopt this little girl whose special need was pushing me FAR beyond my comfort zone. As we boarded the plane I said, “Just so you know, I’m still not sure about this.” Stacy just smiled, shrugged her shoulders, and said “Okay.” She is obviously much better at being obedient than I am, but I’m learning! I remember thinking… IS THAT IT?!? Just a shrug and an “Okay”?! Nothing else was said – just another silent conversation, but this time with God. It was a conversation where she was saying, “God, please prepare Josie for us and guide, guard, and protect us along this journey” while I was saying “Lord, help me! I’m going to need your guidance here because I’m not sure about this!”
A couple days later, the tiniest five-year-old I have ever seen was placed in my arms, and I sat there wondering, “how could I possibly be afraid when this tiny little girl was being so brave?” She looked up at me with the biggest, emptiest eyes and she never shed a tear. Then, a little hand that resembled that of a baby doll, reached out and graciously offered me a bite of her snack.
Three days later, we were in the hotel room watching Josie play in a mirror and I looked at Stacy and said, “I don’t think she has Down syndrome because she doesn’t look like it to me and even her behavior is nothing like I ever imagined it would be.” My wife smiled and said “That’s because now you see your daughter, and not “a child with Down syndrome.” Now you see her with your heart and not with your eyes. Your heart sees your precious daughter, Josie.”
She was right…again.
After we’d been home a few weeks, I was watching Josie and thinking about how terrified I was to say “yes” to bring her home. When I look at her now, it’s like – what in the world was I ever afraid of?! She is the most precious little girl, and she is so amazing. She’s not scary at all. In fact, she has been our easiest adoption out of the five! She is beautiful, sweet, smart, and very loving. I can’t imagine anyone ever looking at her (or her picture) and seeing fear like I did at first. She is fully capable of anything she sets her mind to. She has added a new level of joy to our family, and I feel so blessed to be her daddy! There’s a great big world of opportunity waiting for her someday, and I cannot wait to give it to her.
This Story first Appeared on Open Hearts For Orphans Facebook Page as part of their #Storiesofyes mission. Open Hearts for Orphans was created for the purpose of ministering to the needs of orphans worldwide through medical intervention, financial assistance for adoptive families, and providing the most basic necessities to all of God’s children. Their “Stories of Yes” are moving personal testimonies from adoptive families.