Obviously, the primary purpose of our trip to China is to adopt our daughter. However, we scheduled some time in Beijing on the front end of the journey to spend specifically with our boys. So these first few days in China are tourism heavy as we try to teach Caleb and Joshua a bit about where their little sister is from. For those who don’t know our family’s story, it may help to get a small glimpse of God’s sovereign wisdom in the way He gave us our sons.

For years, Heather and I longed to have children, yet month after month, year after year, those longings went unfulfilled. We wrestled with the many questions that couples experiencing infertility find themselves asking. Why aren’t we able to have children? Why has God given us such a strong desire for children? Is there anything that we should do to address our infertility? How long will this continue? And what are we supposed to do with this constant yearning in our hearts for kids?

We knew a few couples who had adopted, and Heather and I found ourselves saying to one another, “Well, if we can’t have kids of our own, maybe we should adopt.” Looking back now, I see the foolishness of even thinking that way, as if a child we adopt would not truly be “our own.” But in my mind, I suppose I considered adoption to be “second best,” an option to explore only after the potential of biological birth has been fully exhausted. Needless to say, it didn’t take long on the journey of adoption to realize that this was “best,” just as “best” as having children biologically.

So we began the process of adoption, and through a series of events, the Lord led us to the country of Kazakhstan. I barely knew Kazakhstan even existed before this process, but after months of praying, Heather and I submitted our application to adopt a Kazakh child. Shortly after that, I remember telling a woman that we were going to be adopting a child from Kazakhstan. She responded, “A real one?” I thought to myself, “What kind of question is that? No, we’re going to adopt a plastic one and put it on our mantle to look at. Yes, we’re adopting a real child!” Though I responded with more kindness than what I felt inside, the reality began to set in: we were going to be a real mommy and a real daddy for a real son or daughter who, at that moment, had no real family to care for him or her.

With each month of passing paperwork, our excitement grew. The home study was a bit of a challenge since our house had recently been submerged underwater by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Through the help of our family and various churches, we put together a makeshift apartment as fast as we could. Months later, our lives turned upside down as The Church at Brook Hills decided to ask a rookie pastor to lead them, and we moved to Birmingham. And then we waited until finally, we got the call.

A boy. Nine months old. Abandoned at birth. In need of a home. In need of a mom. In need of a dad. I remember getting an email with the following picture, and immediately my heart leapt.

I rushed up to Brook Hills, where Heather was meeting with some friends, and I pulled her aside to give her the news. We laughed, cried, rejoiced, and prayed, and within two weeks, we were on our way to Kazakhstan.

We met Caleb the day after Valentine’s Day in 2006. We held him, fed him, sang to him, laughed with him, and crawled on the floor with him for the next three weeks leading up to “Gotcha Day.”

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Then, on March 7, we stood in front of a Kazakh judge who pronounced that the process for adoption was complete and Caleb now belonged in our family. As we walked out of an orphanage later that day with our son in our arms, our hearts overflowed with gratitude, thanking God for not giving us children the way we had planned in order to lead us to the child He was providing. Indeed, God’s design is always good, even when it seems to conflict with our desires.

Four years later, this is a unique journey for Caleb as he sees what adoption looks like from a different perspective. He loves to hear his own adoption story, and now he loves being a part of his sister’s adoption story. I smiled today as we rode together through Beijing on a pedicab. At the end of this clip, I asked him, “Caleb, what’s the coolest thing you’ve seen today?” I promise I didn’t prompt his answer! But as soon as I heard what he said, my heart resounded in praise as I thanked God for my first son.

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