our journey to little one {part one}

So…nothing new on the adoption front. We are waiting word that our dossier (all our paperwork) is done getting US state seals & authentications and on its way to China. Hopefully any day now. I am so anxious to hear it has left this country. Of course, Monday is Chinese New Year…so it will arrive just in time to sit on a desk probably, but better a Chinese desk than an American desk!

As I’ve shared a bit about our adoption, I’ve been asked A LOT how we ended up on the specific path of China. I’ve gone back and forth on sharing it. It is hard to know how to share a personal journey without sharing too much personal stuff. How to tell a journey full of crazy details, from a broad perspective? It has been difficult to know what to share. However, I want to share a summary of it. Maybe there will be something about our story that will help someone else considering caring for a child in need. This is the short version of our story. Obviously, so much thought, prayer, discussion took place that is not included here. As much of a summary as this is, it still is too long for one post. I’ll start with the first half today…

(Updated to add: I would hope that if you have read this blog even a week, you would know I am crazy about my four kids. I am beyond grateful for each of them. My life is full and I am consistently humbled by the incredible gift it is to be their mommy. This is the story of our adoption journey, it is not the complete story of our family. It is not the story of how crazy we are about the four kids we have. It just a very small glimpse of our adoption. You can read nearly every post from the past 4 years regarding how grateful I am to be a mom and how much I relish my days with my kids…)

High school years: began becoming exposed to and educated on children globally that were often forgotten by society; knew whether I ever got married or not ~ I’d adopt

2000: spent the summer in Kazakhstan with Chris. We volunteered weekly at an orphanage, where I met a little girl named Sabina (click here to read about her & see her cutie patootie face). Watching Chris interact with those kids made me know he’d be a great dad and that I wanted to be his wife…and that we’d adopt.

2004: Our first son was born

After his birth, we began looking into the process to adopt from Kazakhstan. It was an obvious place to start in regards to adoption because it was what we knew and understood from a personal experience. We grew to love that country and its people. It felt natural. At that time some big changes were happening with adoption and Kazakhstan. There was talk about adoptions no longer being allowed. We decided to wait a bit to see if things would change.

2006: Our second son was born

After his birth, things with Kazakhstan were still changing so we began looking into other countries. China was the first country we considered because it was another familiar country to us. Chris had been several times before and in 2005 we took our oldest son. We looked into the adoption requirements and found out we weren’t old enough to adopt from there. We moved onto other countries and domestic options, it seemed everywhere we looked, we ran into roadblocks.

2008: our third son was born

Shortly after his birth, we began looking heavily into a domestic adoption. I made lots of phone calls, did lots of internet searches, talked to lots of people. In all that searching, we didn’t get much positive feedback. At one point, an organization told us that because we had 3 biological kids, a domestic adoption would not happen…a birth mom would never choose us. (At the time I trusted what she said, back then I didn’t know she was wrong.)

We felt lost. Longing to adopt, but constantly being stopped and discouraged. It made no sense. There were millions of children in our own city, state, country and worldwide that needed homes….we wanted to open ours….and doors just kept closing. Nothing logical about it.

fall of 2008: we were a bit confused on what the next step in pursuing adoption would be, then were surprised and overjoyed to find out I was pregnant

2009: our daughter was born 1.12ourstory-5

We never dreamed we’d have four biological kids. It wasn’t our plan, but goodness how grateful I am that life doesn’t go according to how I plan it. Our plans always included a brood of kids, but not all would share our DNA. I’m forever humbled and thankful for my kids. They bring a joy to my life that can never be explained on a blog. Despite the immense joy we felt in our family, there was an awareness that we were not complete. We were surrounded by families adopting and we were thankful to get to share in their stories…but were still so confused by our own. It was hard. It had been 10 years since we laughed alongside each other in the courtyard of that Kazak orphanage. We had four kids, but were aching to know how God would write the story He began in us so long ago.

Four little ones, the youngest two being close together in age, we knew we needed to delay a bit on the adoption front for our own sanity. We agreed to put all adoption plans and talk on hold until our daughter turned one. It felt like a long wait. Starting the process ~ again in many ways ~ was always on our minds. When we pack up our Christmas stockings each year, we write notes for the things we hope will happen in the following year (then read them when we hang the stockings back up the next Christmas season). For nearly a decade, we have each written “start the adoption process”…and every year when we put those stockings back up, we’ve rejoiced in all the hopes that came to life, but it has also been sad to read that one specific hope did not happen, yet again. It was incredible to read it this year…hope alive.

2010: our daughter turned one and we began talking about adoption again

Chris says it is mean to cut the story off here, but it feels like the most natural place to pick back up tomorrow.

So, the happy side of this long process I’ll get into next ~ to be continued…

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  • Lisa Johnson - I’m so glad you are telling this story Ashley! And it is fun to see pictures of your precious “big” kids as babies!
    I can hardly wait to hear more

  • Molly @ mixedmolly - love everything about it πŸ™‚ you’ve encouraged me to share our adoption story and pending adoption story. Thanks!

  • Ryan - Chris was right! πŸ™‚

  • Jen - Lovely to read this part of your story. Indeed, God closes doors, puts in speed bumps, and redirects our paths to exactly what He has planned for us. Three times we began to adopt from China. Three times the door was closed in various ways. We decided to try plan B – domestic, transracial adoption. Bingo. Six months later we finally brought home our Gracie. And it was the same thing we pursued four years later when we brought home our son. Can’t wait to see that post someday in the near future when you write of holding this little one in your arms for the first time; in that moment, you’ll know it was all for THIS one, not SOME one.

  • Rebekah M - Your story so far has struck a familiar cord…so very excited for your family!!

  • monica - I love your story. I also would like to adopt someday, but since Spain is also very complicated …

  • Kimberly - Chris is RIGHT! BUT will be looking forward to tomorrow’s post. Thanks so much for sharing personal stories in your lives πŸ™‚

  • Kirsty - So precious to read. Thanks for sharing with us. πŸ™‚
    xx Kirsty

  • Julie Van Boening - Ashley,

    Thank You so much for sharing your story, and allowing us the privilege to join you in your adoption journey. As a single Momma of a little Kazakh girl, I feel your heart, and share the anticipation of the joy that will soon be your own. Like you, there were so many hurdles and heartbreaks and even more closed doors I experienced before being divinely directed toward Kazakhstan. And, as Jen so aptly stated, in the end, you too will come to the conclusion that ALL of it was for THIS one, not SOMEone. God’s timing is PERFECT!!! It’s absolutely how I feel about my own little blessing … as a Single Mom, adoption was not necessarily my dream or heart, but it was God’s. And though it is cliche’, there is not a day that I don’t thank God for certain unanswered prayers. I could not be more in love than I am with the little girl that I am sharing my heart and home with … she is my miracle and the greatest joy I’ve ever known. Bless you in your journey … I can’t wait to read the ending of YOUR story!!!

  • cailan - This is a very good story. : )

  • emmybrown - Yay!!! LOVE it all….can’t wait for part 2! πŸ™‚

  • Aja - Hi Ashley! I’m the one who bugged you at the park yesterday! πŸ™‚
    Thank you so much for sharing this story. You have such a precious family and I am so excited to see what’s next- meeting your new little one! Can’t wait to hear more!

  • tara - thanks for sharing your story! i feel like in a lot of ways our stories are similar. with 2 biological kids at home just 12 months apart (and only 3 and 2) and the pull to adopt i feel like door after door after door is being closed. at first it was very discouraging. then i decided to just look at it as God saying “just wait … just wait … just wait and I will take you to your child.” so that’s what were doing … waiting. well, that and researching … my mind sometimes feels like it can’t be still and just wait. haha. but, anyways, your story is so encouraging to me … so thanks for sharing it. ♥

  • MG Atwood - I was fortunate to travel to China last June. I was mesmerized by the children. So beautiful…I took zillions of photos, and filled a book for my husband. I’m reading, praying and waiting to see the beautiful child that will be yours. I don’t know what the pull is, but something about Asian children has always been on my heart. All the best to you, and waiting for the continued….

  • bella - Thanks for sharing your story, you tell it so beautifully. πŸ™‚
    Looking forward to part 2!

  • Mrs. Saukas - Hello Ashley,

    There are some weeks, i found your amazing blog searching about artesanal candles, and since then, i’m here everyday reading about the beautiful things you create and your stories that touch our hearts. I also praise God who plant beautiful dreams in our hearts, and i praise Him for yours beautiful hearts.
    I’m brazilian, married with a american, who also loves orphans and there are 3 years, i’m volunteer like a project manager in one orphanage in Brazil (even, now, living in America). For now, i’ve been helping with the projects, but, i also have a dream about adopt a kid anyday. It’s a dream in God’s hands, and in His proper time, it’ll come true.
    Blessings to you and your family.

  • Amanda Torres - Really, really, wonderful timeline story!

  • Lauren - Our stories are never written as we would choose to write them. I think in the long run it makes life so much better. Enjoying the story!

    The thing I love most about your blog… is that it always reminds me you are a real person. Happy Day! Hope the news comes quickly.

  • Stephanie - Looking forward to reading more!!

  • Debbie - Wow, what a journey! Can’t wait to read the rest tomorrow. I keep thinking of Proverbs 13:19…”A longing fulfilled is sweet to the soul.” πŸ™‚

  • Laurie J - i love this. i can so relate. we’ve been blessed 4x (3 boys, 1 girl) and yet my heart aches for someone i know God is stirring in my heart (and slowly my husband’s too…) to adopt. it’s a hope, a dream, and yet not a reality in process yet. thanks for the encouragement!!!
    <3 <3 <3

  • Melissa - I REALLY enjoy reading your posts on adoption. It’s really interesting…can’t wait for your continued post tomorrow πŸ™‚

  • Kacey - I think it’s wonderful that your hearts are open to adding more to your family. Adoption is a beautiful thing. Best wishes to you as you continue this journey!

    (On a side note, I don’t think comparing your wait to adopt a 5th baby to the heartbreaking plight of childless women is a very sensitive statement. That’s a hurt that no woman with a house full of biological children can understand. Not that your wait isn’t difficult, it’s just VERY different.)

  • Jane Marie - I really love this story…What a beautiful family history and exciting future! πŸ™‚ Looking forward to Part 2…

  • cynthia - Love this story. Best wishes on your new addition!

  • Becky - What a great story! Love reading your updates!

  • Trae Kendrick - I’ve definitely been wildly blessed by your blog and site! So glad I stumbled on to it. Lifting prayers for all that God has in store for you and your beautiful family.

  • Gus&Otto - Congrats on moving forward with your adoption! What an exciting time for you and your family. Can’t wait to read more.

  • christina larsen - I love adoption stories, I can’t wait to finish this one!!! I know it is hard to wait for the paperwork to get finished and get where it needs to be; but trust that God knows when it will get there and it will be in HIS timing that it does. πŸ™‚

  • Amy - Ashley,
    You shouldn’t ever feel weird about sharing your story. God has brought you on this amazing journey that will, no doubt, encourage others to follow God’s will for their life. What a blessing your blog is to me! On the other hand, it is mean to cut the story there! :o) Can’t wait until tomorrow!

  • tiffany - I really adore you Ashley. Thank you for sharing your story. It makes my heart warm.

  • cheryl - I enjoy reading about people’s adoption process!

    And I don’t want to be one of “those” comments, but when you say:

    “…and every year when we put those stockings back up, it has been sad to read that our hope did not happen, yet again…”

    It sounds ungrateful (and somewhat insensitive) for the 4 beautiful and healthy children you have. I understand you REALLY want to adopt another child, but you have so much already.

    Like I said, don’t want to be one of those negative comments that stick out, but I had to say something…

  • Sara W - Thank you so much for sharing your story and your heart.

  • Laura Cornia - Don’t think of it as doors closing, maybe it is God saying “Not yet, dear one.”

  • Laura Chavous - I do not like that comment from the individual @Cheryl: who said you sound ungreatful. That implication could not be further from the truth. That comment seems to be essentially saying that you have four kids you have enough and therefore you should withhold your love from another child who so deserves it. I honestly find that infuriating and it offends me. And I am annoyed when people put “I don’t want to be the one putting negative comments” it didnt stop you from posting something negative or soften the blow!

    And Ashley: Adoption is something that God birthed in your hearts as a family -not only that I believe it is a biblical mandate -taking care of the widowed and orphaned is true religion. I know what you mean and I regret that people feel the need to judge you on this. You felt God was calling your family to do adopt and your inability to fulfill that up until now was disappointing. I totally get you! I just want you to know you’re my hero. God bless you and your growing family. πŸ™‚

  • Amy - I agree with Chris… that’s totally mean.

    Just kidding πŸ˜› I am loving this post and its history. Thank you for taking the time to share your personal story… I think it will change some lives and hearts!

  • Laura Chavous - And also I forgot to add that I love that you are sharing the whole story πŸ™‚ I’ve been wanting to ask you for some time what led you to your decision to adopt and how you were able to keep trying. Thank you!!!

  • Kelli - That is beautiful. Sometimes the path is long, to revisit it at different spots is to precious.

  • Alison - Thanks so much for sharing! But you don’t need to prove anything to us (okay, me), or really anyone. I hope you don’t feel like you need to! There are some things in life that some people just aren’t going to understand..ever. And it’s not worth you or anyone’s time to pound your head against that wall, or make you feel bad about yourself. Your family is lovely and full of love, and I for one cannot imagine not enjoying this blog for one second!

  • Nadra - Isn’t it amazing how God just leads us to the country we are supposed to adopt from and at just the right time? Our initial plan was Azerbajan, but God had our first child in India. Our second was in Vietnam. Stay strong during this greuling wait. Your biological kiddos are precious. I’m looking forward to following along on your journey to China.

  • Julia - love the story. can’t wait to hear the rest!

  • Vanessa@DesignsbySessa - My husband and I have had the desire to adopt ever since dating and we have finally started our process! We feel like the Lord is leading us to try DSS, but I can already tell this is going to be hard. Today, I called to find out when the next orientation was. I find out and get excited! We have a date on our calendar! It feel so official! Before I know it, my mother in law walks into my house that afternoon and immediately starts telling me all this negative stuff about DSS that this lady at our dentist office experienced! I guess I should have been prepared for some opposition from Satan, but I wasn’t!

    Anyways, I wasn’t going to write all that, but I did want to say that I am so excited for you guys and this journey you have been on! I know it will be worth it! A verse I am meditating on is Matthew 6:33. I have this adoption journal that inserts your name into the verses and so I will just insert your name… Ashley, seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.

    Can’t wait for the rest of the story…because that did leave me hanging! haha!

  • angela@wondering - Ashley, my husband and I discussed adopting before we were even married. We have seven children (never thought that would happen!). One is adopted and six are biological. None of it happened how we thought it would. What a blessing to hear part of your story. Praying for your little one to be home soon!

  • Sarah A - Thanks for sharing your adoption journey – I am so excited to hear how God has been at work in your lives in this way! Your blog has been so encouraging to me as a new Mom and I so appreciate your example and challenge to enjoy my son (and coming second child) in the chaos of our lives.

    I have to add that I was disappointed to read that comment by Cheryl. I completely understood (at least I felt I did) your comment about being disappointed by not having your adoption hope fulfilled each year. I am not a Bible scholar, but I have heard that Psalm 37:4 (“Trust in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart”) means that if you trust in the Lord, He will place the desires that He wants you to have in your heart. Obviously He has placed this adoption desire in your heart. It is only normal to want it to come to fruition! Sorry for the long comment, but what a joy it is to be able to walk with you and your family along this journey of trusting in the Lord and seeing your desires – His desires – be given to you. God bless!

  • Kat - I can’t wait to read on – I love hearing stories like these and I hope yours has a very happy ending.

  • Michelle Baylor - Argh, you left us hanging… Can’t wait to read more tomorrow–thanks for giving us such a personal peek at your journey with God.

  • Amy - I love that you are sharing this. And I have no doubt that the Lord is using your openness & your story to do His work. Adoption has always had a soft spot in my heart. I’ve always assumed I would one day adopt. I shared some of this w/ you before, but it seems like everywhere I turn I’m hearing an adoption story. Even Sunday at church it was the premise of our pastor’s sermon! What is the Lord telling me?!?!?!! πŸ˜‰

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Thank you so much for sharing your story. I love hearing it! I’m going to Oklahoma, just so I can babysit πŸ™‚

  • gina k. - as a mom of 6 who has adopted 4, adoption is something near and dear to my heart. We definitely never planned on 6 but that is what God planned as there is no way we could ever have put our family together the way He did. You and you family have been in my prayers since you mentioned your quest for adoption and i have no doubt that your family will be brought together in the most perfect way! Thanks for sharing your story and helping teach that adoption is a good and positive thing!

  • hellolala - I love all your kids! Especially your 3rd son! he’s so handsome!

  • Sonnet Gal - I am an adoptive parent and no matter what the reason behind adoption, it is truly a gift to the child, but above all to the parents. Blessings to you on this journey!

  • waiting for holden « thelittleeverydaythings - […] I read some posts on a great blog, Under the Sycamore, about a family’s wait for the child they are adopting. Mom, Ashley Ann, […]

  • Carley - Hi there! I am so grateful for the documentation of your adoption journey. Thank you for sharing it with us. I have found much inspiration in your blog. My husband and I have four beautiful children (7, 5, 2, & 9 months). We feel a calling to adopt and always have. We are starting to think about it again and wondering if this is the time God has planned for us to move forward with the process. While we have always felt called to adopt a child with special needs from China, your story of adoption has opened my eyes greatly. What advice do you have to offer those who are in the initial stages? Did you work with a small local agency or a large agency? We would love any advice you have to offer! Thanks in advance!