We are the Kladder family: Ben, Holly, Bereket, Ellie, Ezra, and XuBin, who is waiting for us in Henan Province, China.
From the very beginning of our relationship we talked about adoption. It wasn't a matter of if, but when. Both of us felt a prompting and a call to build our family through adoption. That call was so strong in our hearts, that after we had been married for three years we chose to begin the process of adoption, prior to trying to conceive. We were young, 24 and 25 years old, and we surprised both of our families with the news that we were pursuing the adoption of a child from S Korea.
Ellie came home in December of 2006, at the age of 6 months. She was a Child of Promise, or a child considered to have special needs. When we accepted her referral, we knew there was a chance that the virus she was carrying had been contracted in-utero, and that she could experience life-long struggles because of that. Knowing that information did not deter us from pursuing the child we felt in our hearts God had chosen to join our family. We wanted to provide a family for a child who may not have one otherwise and we felt strongly that Ellie was perfect, exactly the way she was.
In 2008 we again felt God tugging on our hearts, but this time He was pointing us to Ethiopia, where AIDS had claimed the lives of entirely too many parents, and children were left alone to fend for themselves. We saw the long lines of prospective adoptive parents waiting for a healthy infant 0-2 yrs in age and knew we couldn't join their ranks, not when there were children aged 4 and older who had no one lined up to adopt them. God was also pressing another plan into our hearts, that of adopting a child with HIV. At first we were scared, namely because we were so very uneducated about HIV and modern treatment options. But God wouldn't drop it, so we educated ourselves and then we amended our homestudy to include that we were willing to adopt a child with HIV.
Bereket came home to us in August of 2008. Her health status was the least of our concerns compared to the difficult transition we faced. She was full of fear and insecurities, and battled us to control every minute of every hour of every day. It was with God's help alone that we were able to make it through that first year, and through the second as well. We learned the true meaning of unconditional love in the years following Bereket's adoption. Today, thanks to modern medicine, she is physically healthy with an undetectable viral load. And thanks to God and the power of love, she is emotionally healthy as well, with a heart bigger than the ocean and a joy larger than life.
After Bereket had settled into our family we decided to try to conceive. It was heart-breaking to find out that we could not. The desire for a little newborn, and to experience the natural bonding that is only possible through birth was so very strong. A war was waged in our hearts and we almost allowed bitter envy to take root as we witnessed several instances where young unmarried women conceived a child. It was temptingly easy to say "We did everything right! We were "pure" before marriage! We answered the call to adopt! We love you God and we follow after you, and this isn't fair!"
God is so patient. He is so very, very patient. He allowed us to throw our temper tantrum and to sit in self-pity, but He was waiting for us to see the truth. We had said that we wanted to serve him, that our purpose in marriage was to serve Him better together than we could apart. Our joy was not supposed to be dependent on whether or not we could conceive a child. It was not supposed to be dependent on ANYTHING other than the knowledge that we were precious in His sight, that because of His love, He gave His one and only son on our behalf, and that He had invited us to take part in His Kingdom work here on this Earth. There is no greater joy! Not only that, but we could not love our girls any greater, even if they had been born to us. Yes, they came to us because of tragedy. Yes, we had to work harder than others to build strong relationships of love and trust with our children. But God himself gave up His only son, so that through pain and rebirth, we could build a relationship with Him. He is so good.
Ezra came to us through domestic infant adoption in 2011. We had been open to all races and many special needs, but Ezra happened to be completely healthy. After the difficult transition with Bereket, and the pain of infertility, he slid right into our family, hardly making a ripple. However, it was not lost on us that had we conceived we would not have pursued a domestic infant adoption and would not have our precious new baby boy. That was almost too painful to even think about.
At this point in our life, we thought maybe we were done with adoption. We were not done with orphan care of course, and would always be involved in some way... through sponsorships, through advocating, through supporting organizations that supported at-risk women and children. We also talked about getting licensed for foster care and opening our home to these children once ours were a little bit older.
Then in the Fall of 2013, we saw a picture of toddler twin boys who were living in a very poor orphanage in southern China, who were available for adoption. We both felt the familiar convictions and rush of adrenaline that came with each of our previous adoptions. We researched adoption from China, looked into several agencies, and even wrote a letter of intent. Although another family was eventually matched with the twin boys, we knew that God had used their story to show us a door opening before us, and that He was inviting us to follow Him to China.
We found Xu Bin on CCAI's Special Focus list in late December, just before Christmas. We inquired about him, and his entire file was in our email inbox that very day. No other family was reviewing his file. He was listed as having a Cleft Palate, Hepatitis B, and a third small private issue. We spent Christmas break reviewing his file and staring at his picture. But it was the meaning of his name that pierced our hearts as we wondered if God truly was asking us to step out again into another international adoption. Xu Bin translated means "having both likeness and appearance of the rising sun". Our long-time favorite scripture and life verses are Isaiah 58:6-12. It is the scripture that we have come back to again and again as we try to follow after God. Vs 10 says, "If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday." It seemed to us that God was using our favorite scripture to confirm that in His goodness and mercy, He had chosen Xu Bin for us, and us for Xu Bin.
And so it is that we find ourselves mom and dad to another precious child. How did we get to be so blessed? We cannot wait to welcome him into our home and teach him what it means to be a part of a family. Our greatest desire for Xu Bin and for all of our children is that they will come to know the LORD in a dynamic and personal way and that they will find their identity and security in Christ. We want them to grasp that the greatest joy in life comes only by following the way of Jesus, and that joy is independent of life circumstances. We pray that we are being living examples of love, mercy, peace, and justice.
If you would like to follow along as we pursue XuBin, feel free to visit and like our Facebook page.http://www.facebook.com/lovexubinhome
We are expecting to travel to China in either October or November of this year.Thank you so much to the Kladder family for sharing your adoption story!
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