We are the Simmons Family from Texas: Jody and Julie-married 20 years, Hannah-age 17, Josh-age 15, and Caleb-age 7. We are so very grateful to Jessica for advocating for our son through TwentyLess, for encouraging our family throughout the adoption process, and for giving us the privilege of sharing our story here.
In December of 2011, God began stirring in our hearts His desire for us to have a more "radical" faith. We began to pray, asking God how He would have our family serve Him, to further His Kingdom. We agreed that whatever He asked, no matter the cost or sacrifice, our answer to Him would be "YES". Soon after this time, my husband and I both began to feel a call to adoption.
Having supported family members and friends through adoption, both domestic and international, this was not a foreign concept to us. We already had three children: two teenagers and a preschooler, but began to sense that God was not finished growing our family. After sharing this calling with our children and a few close family and friends, we excitedly began to research both domestic and international adoption. However, God would have us wait a year and a half for the child we would adopt.
As we looked at different ways to build our family through adoption, we began to feel impressed that God would lead us not to a specific country or agency, but to the very child we would add to our family. Through the influence of friends who had recently adopted two older boys, and a family in our church who had a precious daughter with Down Syndrome, God began to burden our hearts for older children with special needs.
On April 25, 2013, through the blogs of two adoptive moms, we ended up seeing a precious boy on the Reece's Rainbow website, and we knew immediately that he was our son--the child we had been looking for all this time. He was five years old, had a lower limb difference, and had been confined to a crib in a Chinese orphanage because of his disability. We felt called by God to rescue this boy from his crib--to bring him home as a son and brother, give him the opportunity to walk for the first time, feel the love of a family, and most importantly, have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
We soon found that we didn't meet all of the criteria for adoption from China. This didn't stop us from pursuing our son. We sought out an agency who would help us apply for waivers for the two qualifications we didn't meet. Finally, after months of working with our agency and praying with our friends and church family, we had pre-approval from China to adopt this boy--we would name him Andrew.
We could already see God moving mountains for our Andrew to come home, and we began trusting Him to provide the finances for this adoption, as our resources were few. We started a number of fundraisers, including selling crafts and T-shirts, and had a huge community garage sale; God blessed these efforts and we were able to begin the adoption process.
Even though we couldn't celebrate Andrew's sixth birthday (August 26th) with him, we began to ask God for a birthday miracle for him. We were so concerned about the conditions and lack of care at his poor, rural orphanage, we contacted Love Without Boundaries in China and asked if there was anything they could do to help our son and the other children at his orphanage. They told us they wanted to move him from the orphanage to one of their Healing Homes, but that it would be up to the orphanage director to allow this. We began to fervently pray that God would work in this director's heart, and just before Andrew's birthday, we were notified that he would be moving to a Love Without Boundaries Healing Home! God had granted our birthday prayer for Andrew, and we were overwhelmed with Thanksgiving!
Our very next update from China showed a SMILING boy, and over the months since then, we've seen him begin to blossom.
He is now in foster care at the Hidden Treasures Home, a ministry of Loaves and Fishes International. We are so grateful for God's tender loving care for our son. Our family's adoption verse is Ephesians 3:20-21 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen." We see our God doing "immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine" to bring Andrew home, and we are blessed to have a front row seat for miracle after miracle!
So far, the hardest part of our adoption was back in the summer, for about a month, when the CCCWA in China was switching to a new database and Andrew's file seemed to be "lost". His file needed to be moved to our agency listing so that we could apply for Pre-Approval, but that couldn't happen until the "lost" file showed back up on the system. The wait seemed forever, with lots of panicky moments and nervous e-mails.
Finally, we had to trust that even though Andrew seemed lost to us, He was never out of God's sight and care. After five weeks of waiting, his file was finally found and moved to our agency, and everyone breathed a huge sigh of relief!
There have already been many rewarding parts of our adoption! It's been so exciting to get to know other adoptive parents from around the country and get to follow their journeys as they bring their children home. It's been amazing to see God change and grow our family, and the way our biological children have become involved in the process (like fundraising and learning Mandarin and sign language!). Probably the greatest reward comes from the sense that God is accomplishing something that is so much greater than Andrew and our family. There is a ripple effect as others see God's heart for orphans and the bigger miracle of God adopting us into his family through Jesus Christ.
For families considering
adoption, I would say PRAY, PRAY, PRAY! And don't let fear and finances hold you back. What God calls you to start, He will equip you to finish! That goes for fundraising, parenting a child with uncertain needs, and walking your other children through the transition. For families who do not feel called to adopt, become part of the miracle of adoption by encouraging and supporting an adoptive family, or find out about agencies who care for orphans and or support those ministries. There are so many ways to become involved!The number one way you can support our family is through prayer; pray that God would prepare us for Andrew and prepare Andrew to be a Simmons. Pray for the ministries that have cared for him in China, that their work would continue and flourish. You can also support us financially in several different ways which are listed on our blog. You can visit our blog to learn more about our family, Andrew, and our adoption process. You can also follow us on our facebook adoption page. We would love for you to follow our journey all the way to bringing Andrew home to Texas!
Thank you Simmons family for sharing your story!
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