Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Giving Thanks To God For Our Hannah Grace

What a roller coaster ride we have been on over the last year or so. We finalized Joshua, Sarah and Elizabeth's adoption in March 2008, and by the end of March we were already applying to adopt through All God's Children.

In May of last year an email was sent from AGCI about a little girl that they wanted to find a family for. She was only a few weeks old and she had multiple special needs, including severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and spina bifida. I have to admit that Dawn is the one who sees the faces of the children and falls in love first, then she leaves their pictures on the computer screen for me to see, or she shows the kids how beautiful a child is, wins them over, and then I have to cave in!

After seeing this little girl for a few days and letting the Lord speak to our hearts, we felt moved, and with joy asked AGCI about her. At that time we were informed that another family were interested and were gathering more information about the medical prognosis. After feeling so moved we were disappointed for ourselves that maybe we were too late. We waited (impatiently) and after what seemed like forever we got a message on our machine saying that the other family had chosen not to pursue adopting her. We were so overjoyed, ran back to the computer, looked at the pictures, and kept dreaming again...... (Ever done that over your child?)
So, one year ago, this very week, after falling in love with a beautiful baby girl, we requested the referral of Lidya, whom we chose for her the name "Hannah", which means "Grace", so we felt the name Hannah Grace would be perfect.

Knowing the medical situation was serious, doubled with excitment, we moved as quick as we could to do everything. We're talking Homestudy, dossier, training credits, fingerprints - you name it all achieved in a matter of just about 3 weeks (Thanks to Dawn's amazing ability of pushing it to get it done, as opposed to my gift of procrastination). We were on the way! Our doctor was very concerned that we needed to bring Hannah home as quick as possible, as she would need lots of specialized medical attention, including surgeries, so with her help, and the gracious help of AGCI, as much as possible was being done to bring her home.

The next few weeks of the summer were hard (The waiting), not that we had much time to twiddle our thumbs as we are in full time camp ministry, so July was busy, and with bugging our senator, and USCIS to make sure everything was being done, as well as having to make changes to our letter of favorable determination to include a child with special needs! We were at least on the home stretch! We had notification that we had a court date!!! It was to be on August 4th. We knew we'd be traveling and holding our baby girl within weeks.

On Friday July 25th, just 10 days before court we received a call from AGCI to let us know that they had received word from Almaz that Hannah had become very unwell, and they were very concerned that she would not survive. This is an excerpt from the email we sent that afternoon:

"Our hearts are just breaking right now, and we have been on our knees as a family praying this lunchtime for her, for those giving her care and for strength for our family. Why does this happen so close to us bringing her home? We are yearning to hold her, to tell her she has a mommy and a daddy and six brothers and sisters, and that God loves her, made her and has a beautiful plan for her life. We have pictures of her in our home, we've been buying pink outfits for her, our kids talk about Hannah Grace all the time and are so excited to meet their new sister. We are wanting the best out of this situation, but fear the worst. We know she's in God's hands, and right now there's nothing physically we can do about it, just pray and wait.."

We felt so helpless, yet utterly dependent on God's strength. Isn't it crazy that after we heard the news about our Hannah that on that very day in the mail came our I-797C/Letter of Favorable determination form the USCIS. I forwarded a scan of it to Julie at AGCI, and she prayed with us on the phone - wow - an agency that prays with you! The plan was to wait through the weekend and talk again on Monday to see how she was doing.

Then before the day was through we received another call from Emily at AGCI, a call I know must have broken her heart to make, telling us that they had received word from Almaz that our sweet, precious, beautiful Hannah Grace had gone home to be with Jesus.

The utter grief that tore our hearts was the worst feeling we've ever had. We loved this baby girl with our whole heart. Why had we been led by God down this road? Why did he bring her into our lives? Why did we fight so hard and pray so much only to lose her? Why couldn't we have held her in our own arms? I know it sounds selfish, but even now as I type I have tears in my eyes and a sadness in my heart that Dawn and I never got to hold her and tell her we love her.

We know fully now that God took us on this journey to make sure that this little girl, who in the world's eyes did not hold much value, would not leave this world without having a family willing to fight hard and pray much for her, and to claim her in their hearts. Isn't this the mission we all share on our journey together - that each and every child has someone who claims them in their hearts? It's so important for us to do this, not so that we receive the "reward", but that we give selflessly and unconditionally out of joyful obedience to God. In turn the rewards are real and truly "out of this world", and we have a special connection to God through this obedience, however tough and heart-breaking it can be along the way.

So, we will always feel a deep sense of loss over our Hannah Grace, but a deeper sense of joy knowing that God entrusted our family with the responsibility of being a mommy and daddy, brothers and sisters to His precious child. What a privilege and an honor he bestowed upon us. Not only that, but I can barely fathom that through this journey he blessed us not only with Hannah, but also our sweet baby boy, Jonathan Caleb. We could not imagine our lives without him, yet if Hannah had come home with us, we would not have brought Jonathan home. I see it this way: God planned our journey - a special, unique and tough journey to strengthen and deepen our relationship with Him, to not just bring one child home, but to give us the gift as a couple and as a family of two precious children of God: Our Jonathan to bring home into our arms, and our Hannah Grace to hold in our hearts and hand into the arms of our Heavenly Father.


  1. Beautiful, painful story. I love how God works in the pain, to bring beauty.

    Thank you for sharing.

  2. That's so beautiful. Thank you for sharing that wisdom - that God wanted Hannah Grace to have a family that wanted her here on Earth before she went to her eternal home.

  3. I found your blog from the AGCI list serve and have loved reading about your family!! Your children are so beautiful!!


  4. Extreme Makeover: Jesus Edition

    Because I am leaving a comment on your page, that means I am a “follower” of your story I am not a random person just posting for posting sake.

    I don’t know if this breaks blog etiquette or something. But I am risking it anyway.

    I have posted a blog called “Extreme Makeover: Jesus Edition” about a family that needs our help.

    Go, read, if you feel led.

    Side note: for you adoption/foster advocates, there is another post that is “messing” with me if you care to check it out and comment. It is the previous post and it is called “Living Freely: Foster Care and THE CHURCH”

    Hear my heart fellow bloggers, I am seeking nothing selfishly. Just trying to do the will of the ONE who sent me. Praise the Lord!

  5. I remember praying for little Lidya, so many families did. What a sad day it was for us all to hear of her passing, my heart so broke for your family. Thank you for sharing your side of the story. Too many little ones don't make it home in time.

  6. I just wanted to say that I am on my knees in prayer for your beautiful family today. Your story blessed me beyond words. Thank you for sharing your journey and thank you for your heart. Amy

  7. Hi. I found your blog on the Riggs's site. What a beautiful heartfelt post. It's always a wonder to me how God works in our lives. I love to see and hear stories about how we can see His hand even in the tremendously painful.

  8. That was beautifully written...I have tears streaming because of sweet, kristi

  9. That was beautifully written. Thank you for sharing Hannah's story.

  10. I remember Hannah! We were in the beginning our our adoption that time and I remember seeing her pictures come through on an AGCI email and then later hearing she went to be with the Lord and being so touched and sad for that precious baby girl!

    I had no idea that you were the