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"The Lord uses many avenues to speak to the hearts of his people and call them forward to adoption.  For some that call comes from the Bible and teachings of the church, for some that call comes through knowing people who have adopted, some people meet the vulnerable in orphanages and fall in love, and others struggle with a longing for children that cannot be satisfied.  


14 years ago we were expecting our first child and navigating our first difficult pregnancy.  It was the cross that we bore in that season of life.  Sometimes we carry our cross with grace and strength, but sometimes the weight of that cross brings us to our knees.  The weight is unbearable and weariness takes hold.  We show our vulnerability.


In that challenging pregnancy, fear of what the future would bring took hold.  Fear of how our family would grow, knowing the challenges before us, crept in.  There was no pregnancy glow.  There were no plans for maternity photos.  There were no emergency runs to satisfy ice cream cravings.  There were prescription medications.  There were nights on the couch.  Days of fighting to stay hydrated.  There was a husband cleaning up vomit and doing everything to keep the air scent free.  There were weekends in the hospital getting IV fluids.  


But God...God can make all things beautiful!  He brings beauty from ashes and joy from suffering.  Only God can do that!  In that dark and bleak moment my husband first proposed growing our family through Adoption in the future.  It was a gentle suggestion.


He planted a seed that we nurtured and dreamed of for 10 years.  We prayed and discerned.  We continued to talk about the “someday”.  We struggled with infertility, miscarriage, and two more difficult pregnancies.  We read books on adoption.  We took extra notice of families who we met that had adopted.  We welcomed two more biological children.  We survived 27 months of pregnancies with Hyperemesis Gravidarum.  We grew as a couple.  We grew in our faith.  We loved our three children.  But there was a voice that kept whispering, “there is more”.  


We don't know many families who have adopted.  Neither of our extended families have grown through adoption.  We knew a sacred few--- a family from the pool, a family from baseball, another family from swim team.  Those families sealed the call for us.  Those families just living life, drew us in.  The beauty that resonated from their very being, to our hearts was life giving.  Their presence, their witness, their light were the encouragement we needed.    


On August 8th, 2015 we were traveling home from a family vacation, listening to an audio book on Marriage and it was then that God said, “You have a daughter just waiting for you.”  We both felt strongly that their was a 4th child that God had planned to be a part of our family.  That was the day we began our journey to our daughter.  


Adoption forces you to look in the mirror.  It forces you to see your strengths, faults, and fears.  It forces you to change--- to be more like Christ.  You are being called to be Christ to your child.  You are being called to walk out on to stormy waters and trust that God will provide the Grace to navigate the unchartered waters.  In those very tough moments of self reflection all our fears surfaced ten fold.  But our love for HER life was so much greater than all the fears.


On March 27th, 2016 we submitted our Letter of Intent for a 15 month old, chubby, baby girl, with a contagious giggle, living in Ningxia, China.  We would wait 4 more months before she would be placed in our arms.  The Lord made it very clear that our biological children would travel with us.  Our prayer from the beginning of our process was that the Lord would shape all of our hearts to be more like His.  The opportunity for us to travel as a family was an intentional gift from the Lord in response to that prayer.  The excitement in the house was tangibly felt in those days of preparation.  We tried to busy ourselves with special family time, house preparations, and travel plans for our 3 weeks in China.


It was a beautiful sunny day with clear blue skies the morning of July 25th, 2016 in Ningxia, China.  Shortly after 9am, Alexa Mei was brought into the Conference Room at the Ningxia Childrens Welfare Institute and was placed in my arms.  In that moment, grace, mercy, and love flooded the room and our hearts, as we greeted our daughter and allowed her to grieve the tragedy that brought her to us.  As I rocked her and wiped her tears, her Daddy, brothers, and sister watched as her soul seemed to be reborn.  

We spent 22 days in China to finalize her adoption.  The days were filled with joy and tears.  There was grief and bonding happening simultaneously.  It was a beautiful and hard chapter, but in the Lord's wisdom we traversed it together as a family.  We made memories that none of us will forget.  Memories that quickly bring all of the emotions back.

Alexa has been home for three years now.  She fits perfectly and seemingly has always been with us.  The kids are a tight unit of siblings, with equal parts best buds, fierce competitors, and all the typical sibling squabbles.  We are forever grateful for the way the Lord used adoption to shape us and mold us, and grow our family.  Adoption has taught me more about the Lord than any other experience.  My need to rely upon Him has become clear, while my trust in His plan has become far stronger.  For I know that the Lord can do impossible things...he brought broken hearts together from 7,000 miles apart to show the beauty that is possible from ashes.  He used our family to show another moment of redemption.  Adoption is PURE GIFT, 100% worth fighting for.  

Through our experience many families have shared with us that they "always talked about adopting someday".  Our family prays that ARISE will act as a catalyst for couples to take the next step, from "talking about adoption" to submitting that application and journeying into forever families."

-Jill Lieser, Hudson, Ohio

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