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Cole and I have been married for 14 years and just moved to Mooresville, NC.  We have 4 children - Case (13), Camden (11), Elon (6), and we just came home with our newest daughter Harper (5).  

God is good!  

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Sunday, April 6, 2014

postheadericon A beautiful story...

Oh my!  I have not updated my blog in months….yikes!  The blog gets the back seat when things get busy.  And needless to say, I have been busy.  Yet, this is my “scrapbook” for the kids (since no other scrapbooking is getting done) so I really need to update, but that is not what I am doing today.  For some time now I have been feeling the need to write out the details of Harper’s story.   I have actually tried to write this out multiple times but writing just does not come easy to me.  I am not a writer.  But after last Sunday’s church service, I found myself back into getting this completed. 

Just a warning, it is long.

I do not share Harper’s story often.  Or I share only bits and pieces.  There are many reason’s why, which I will not go into all of those, but I do feel as though I am not giving God the glory when I keep quiet.  So here I am, stepping out of my comfort zone and writing her story…for us to never forget what God did, for Harper to know God’s unfailing and awesome love for her, and, more then anything, to give God all the praise.

So, here it goes...

Elon had been home about a year and a half.  Our family was just getting in a groove.  The boys were getting older, self sufficient, helpful, even doing the dishes.  Elon had discovered who she was, her confidence had exploded, not only in herself but in her family.  Things were good….real good.  We felt full, comfortable, and content in our family so we were not at all thinking about adopting again.  In the back of my mind (and my heart) I wanted to, but it just didn’t seem like the right time and I knew Cole was not there.

I would occasionally keep up with a yahoo group for parents who had adopted from Shanghai, which is where Elon was from.  One day, a mom I had never met before, posted a picture of some children asking if anyone knew one particular child.  I did not think much about it until she posted this later…

“I didn't want to send this info along with the email about the air purifiers. When I
emailed xxxxxx I asked her to see if she could find out who a particular little girl is.
I have seen her in several photos in the group and she is absolutely adorable....but
always looks sad.  I never read any mention of her so I thought that maybe she was
being adopted by a family outside the US. Wrong. :( Her paperwork was not submitted.
She has leukemia. She is doing well now after treatment and her paperwork may be
submitted at a later date. If  you are a praying person, please keep this little sweetheart
in your prayers. I am going to find out her birthday and send a cake to her. She deserves 
a celebration too and there is no family waiting to bring her home.

She is the little girl dressed in pink at the back of the group in this
photo. I don't have her Chinese name so I am calling her Harper.”

This post eventually changed everything.  After this post, I could not keep this little girl off my mind.  Not surprising since the two passions in my life had been….

1)    Children without a mom & dad, and

2)    Children fighting cancer

Some history on Cole and I…while we were waiting for Elon to come home, we had the privilege of being directors of Camp Debbie Lou.  This is a camp for children with cancer and their families to come and have a fun long weekend together.  To get away from the yuck, the doctor’s, the reminder of cancer, and just have fun.  We had the privilege to meet so many incredible families along with some absolutely AMAZING children…these children truly changed our lives.  These are some of the bravest people I know…no one should have to go through cancer but watching a child go through it is truly heartbreaking.

And then there was “Harper”…fighting cancer, all alone.  No mom to hold her or tell her everything would be all right.  No parents to fight for her.  No one to pray for her.  Knowing just the tip of the iceburg about how hard cancer treatment is, this was too heartbreaking to imagine. 

I joined the other mom’s from this group to pray for this little girl.  I printed her picture.  I prayed her family would find her...that the orphanage would give her a chance for a family and get her file ready.  

One night, Cole and I were talking and discussing “life”.  What were we suppose to be doing?  What is God’s plan for our life?  We knew there was something  “else”…but what was it? 

At that moment, another post came up about Harper….In a jokingly manner, I handed the laptop to Cole and said “Maybe we are suppose to adopt a little girl like her”.  He read her story, and handed me the computer back without a word.  Nothing was discussed and we once again went on with our lives.

Some more time went on, yet I still could not get  “Harper” off my mind.  And obviously, Cole couldn’t either.  He would come home occasionally and ask if I had heard anything else about her.   Other moms would post pictures and I would get a glimpse of her.  I would always show Cole any new pictures.  She was easy to spot now.  I had fallen in love with her just by a few words and a few pictures.  But I had never said or discussed adopting her.  

Then one day….out of the blue…Cole comes home and said “I think we are suppose to adopt again…but not just any child…we are suppose to adopt Harper.”

First response…“What?”

Second response…“OK!”

What next?  Then the questions and concerns came…
She is not paper ready!  We have not even begun to think about adopting again!  The paperwork!!!  What adoption agency should we use?  We did not even know if this was possible.  This is not how adoptions work in China!  Would the orphanage even get her file ready?  Is she really in remission?  How long has she been in remission?  What type of leukemia does she have? 

<Insert scream here>

There were so many unknowns at this point.  And all those unknowns, nerves, and fears began to creep in….What if this was not what we are suppose to do?  What if Cole heard incorrectly?   What if she is really sick? 

And then the obvious….What if her cancer comes back?

Many questions went through our minds.  BUT, ultimately, we felt this was how God was leading us.

Only one way to find out….We must take a step. We were given some of the best words of wisdom when we met a Bulgarian Pastor on a mission trip several years back….

“God cannot correct inactiveness.” 

We have to move and step in a direction for God to be able to correct our steps.  If we stand still, He cannot correct, or direct, us in the way we should go.

So we decided to call our previous adoption agency.  Tell them this crazy story.  They will most likely tell us “no”, this is not the way things are done.   We prayed that if this was not God’s will then He would shut the doors, but if this was His plan for our lives & for this little girl, then make the path straight.  Remove any obstacles.

The conversation went a little like this….”Hi, we have this picture of this little girl.  We are pretty certain she is in Shanghai.  We don’t know how old she is.  We don’t know her name.  We heard she had leukemia.  And we think she is our daughter.”

Guess what they said….”You will not believe this but we have just established a relationship with Shanghai (I believe she said that the director had just visited their office a few weeks earlier, but this may be incorrect), send us the picture and we will have our in-country staff call them to see if they can find out about this little girl”

The next day, our adoption agency called us back and said “they found her, yes she had leukemia, she is in remission, and they will get her paper ready since there is a family interested”!!

REALLY???  Someone must have hit the easy button, because that sure was easy!!

But the best and most amazing part was what God blessed us with next….

You know all those unknowns that were scary, well they did not go away, they were still there BUT the peace that followed truly was a peace that “transcends all understanding”.  Just taking that first step of FAITH, trusting God in the way we felt Him leading us, the peace we felt seemed tanglible.  I had never felt God’s peace like this before or since.  It was so real.   I felt as if He was in the car with me at times because of the magnitude of the peace I felt in those months. 

I would think, “I should be nervous”, or “I should be scared”…but all I felt was Peace. 

God’s Peace. 

During these first moments of saying “yes”…the word Faith really came alive to me.  We knew that just by saying yes, and knowing that God was placing this child with us did not necessarily mean everything was going to be easy.  I prayed for easy!  But we prepared ourselves for all situations.  We knew, that no matter WHAT came our way…God was with us.  We even felt it.  He would be with us through any and every situation. 

We did not have to be afraid because He is with us.

We had been calling this precious little girl “Harper” for 5 months now (thanks Sharon!!), and not realizing that we were praying for our own daughter.  We loved the name and knew it was to be her name once she came to America.  I also felt very clearly that her middle name would be Faith. 

Harper Faith…..

Then I remembered back to a moment, 2 to 3 years earlier, (I actually could not believe that I remembered this very small detail)…..We were in the “waiting” stage to bring our daughter, Elon Grace, home from China.  We were close to traveling and at that time the only thing we knew about her, was that her name would have “Grace” in it.  (“Grace” is a whole other story J)  We were at our new church (we had recently moved to Statesville) and this Sunday we were actually able to meet our pastor for the first time.  At the same time, we met another mom who had already adopted from China…her daughters name was Hope. 

“Grace and Hope”, our pastor laughed and then asked… “Who is going to go get Faith?”

Little did any of us know that it would be Cole and I…only 4 years later.

There were no bumps in the road as we pursued Harper.  Everything went quickly and smoothly.  We started the adoption process and all our paperwork, at the same time the orphanage got Harper’s file ready.   Once it was ready it was released onto the Shared List, our agency was looking for it and they locked her file for us.  The rest is history.  At this point, it did not matter what that paperwork said, we knew she was our daughter.  

We saw that first picture of Harper in June 2011, we made the first call to our agency in November 2011, and 11 months later we met our new daughter on October 14, 2012. 

Harper has now been home for a year and a half. She is amazing.  She is a joy.  She is smart and lovely and even feisty!  I am so, so, thankful that we did not let fear come in the way of one of the most incredible blessings we have ever received.   I am so thankful for God’s peace to get us through those months that we could have turned around and ran away from receiving this precious gift. 

On April 16th we return to her Oncologist for her FIVE year post treatment check-up.  That means she has been in remission for FIVE YEARS.  Praise God!!  After this check-up, Harper will only see her Oncologist once a year!  Her health is doing amazing, and she actually seems to be the healthiest of our four children J

Things have gone very smoothly, but of course, with all children, there have been a few challenges, but you know what…God has been with us!  He has seen us through them all. 

Harper’s story is full of miracles….

Miracle 1:  She could have died in China.  She didn’t.  Her birth parents were faced with a decision that if they kept her, they would have to watch her die….If they abandoned her, she may get the treatment she needs through the government.   Most people in China cannot afford to pay for minor health issues much less major things.  They do not have insurance and they often have to make payment upfront.  Their choice is one I could never imagine being faced with. Their choice saved her life.    

Miracle 2:  The government ACTUALLY provided the treatment she needed.  Good treatment.  Enough said.

Miracle 3:  We should not have even known about Harper.  What are the odds that a mom in South Carolina, would notice a little girl in the back of a picture and then start asking about her, and then proceed to share that info…I know now that this was a part of the puzzle of us finding out about Harper.   But still miraculous in how it all fell into place.

I see so many miracles throughout her story and I am thankful for each one. 

Harper's story is still being written, but the most amazing part of it happened just this week.  On March 3rd, Harper wanted to pray and ask Jesus into her heart.  That is it, that is the ultimate!  God had a plan for her, and He has a plan for her….and now this little pumpkin will one day spend eternity in heaven with a Father who loves her dearly.   

I am so thankful that I get to sit on the front row and watch this story play out.  I am so glad that I get to be the one she calls  “mommy”.  I am so glad that fear did not win.

If God is leading you in some way, I would like to encourage you to not let fear overtake you or stand in the way.  You may miss out on one of the most incredible blessings of your life.

Have Faith that God is ALWAYS with you!  Have faith to take that first step & continue to have faith that God will see you through.  If He is leading you to something, He will be with you no matter what comes your way, even if it is not “easy”.  He WILL be with you and He WILL see you through.

And If you can see God's love for Harper in this story….just know that He loves you like that too!


Anonymous said...

That was wonderfully written! And yes, what a miracle indeed!
Cathy (Naomi's Mom)

likeschocolate said...

She is such a lovely child! She is a miracle and it is a miracle that she came to your family in the way she did! Sometimes it is so hard to take the leap of faith and listen to what God has in store for us, but when we do it really is more amazing then we could have ever dreamed for ourselves. I am so happy my husband listened to the Holy Ghost and answered the call of adoption. He is so in love with our new daughter. This is really a miracle because he told me he would never adopt and never thought he could not love a child who was not biologically his! He adores this new child of ours. She is such a blessing a such a joy! Thank you for sharing Harper's story.

Preppy Pink Crocodile said...

Tears- that is such an amazing story! Thank you for sharing!!

KK @ www.preppypinkcrocodile.com

Sharon Millender said...

I can never say it enough...thank you for loving "my Harper" and for seeing what I could see in those sad little eyes. You will never know what you and Cole mean to me just for loving Harper.

A Gibson said...

Beautifully written and shared! Tears are a flowing!

Brad & Michelle said...

I can't get enough of this story. So glad to know you all

Paige said...

She is so very precious!! Our story to Janie is similar as well. That peace, and the quiet confidence only God can give you is so amazing to experience!!

Anonymous said...

Dawn, that was Beautiful !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love you Dawney

Craig Harper said...

Your not supposed to make a grown man cry! I have an emotional attachment with a simple sharing of a name (my last name and her first name). Praise our Lord and Savior!

Paula said...

Wow!!! Simply wow!!! And look at Harper now! Love the pigtails!

Maureen said...

This is such an awesome story. She is such a doll. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing your journey to Harper! I am happy for you family! Harper is such a pretty name and so is so daughter!