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red thread: jaelynn comes home

If you’ve followed this blog for very long, you’ll know that I have a heart for adoption and seeing God bring children into forever families. Months ago, I shared with you that there were 2 parts to the “Red Thread.” The first involved a journey with my children, who caught the vision of God’s heart on adoption. The second part, I’m finally sharing with you today.

I have partnered with Red Thread Sessions, a group founded by photographers, to celebrate the miracle of adoption through photography. I am so very excited and humbled to join with this team to help welcome home sweet little children or to capture their families within the first several months of the adoption.


Soon after being accepted into the program, Katie contacted me, to see if I would be willing to document her new sister’s arrival home from China. I may have jumped up and down a few times when I read their story. I was so touched and was overjoyed to be selected to preserve these memories! I knew from the get go that I wasn’t there to capture perfect images, to position, pose and guide people, but rather to capture perfect moments. Pure, honest, raw emotions. I wanted these photographs to tell a story- a beautiful story about love, hope, acceptance, joy, a family’s collective obedience and I wanted them to touch the depths of the soul. I wanted these images to be those that for many years to come, bring back memories of all God did to bring Jaelynn to this point- the moment where she was united with those who had spent countless hours praying her home!

To grasp the incredible journey, the intense emotion, the beautiful joy, the power of people working together- you need to hear this story from the mother of these amazing children:

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In June of 2011 our oldest daughter graduated from High School and just a week and a half later left on a short term missions trip with Show Hope to Maria’s Big House of Hope. My husband and I were certain this trip would forever change our daughter as she was able to meet, love, and play with the least of these. What we were not prepared for, was how this trip would impact our hearts and rock our world.

Through pictures that Katie took while visiting MBHOH and blogs we found on the Internet we met Jaelynn. Almost every blog or post we read about this little girl told how sweet, smart, and sassy she was. We continued to learn more and more about this little one. We found out that she had been admitted to Maria’s Big House of Hope in August of 2009, when she was just two years old. Along with being malnourished, Jaelynn also had/ has spina bifida, scoliosis, and bilateral club feet. Despite those scary diagnosis’ our family began to feel like God was calling us to be this little ones “Forever Family”, but we weren’t sure how that would happen because of the cost of adoption.

We prayed about it and were confident that God was calling us to adopt, so we took a leap of faith and began the process of adopting Jaelynn. We started our journey with $0 and almost immediately God provided the funds for the initial fees through a family who had t shirts designed and printed for us to sell as our first fund raiser. Our whole family was also on board and helped us get a kick start on many of theses fees. We had several other fund raisers including a spaghetti dinner, bracelet sales, 2 large yard sales and puzzle pieces. A few churches even let us share our story and my husband also shared a message about the Christians responsibility to care for orphans. These churches took a love offering for our adoption. We also received two very significant grants (from Show Hope and Gift of Adoption) and that gave us just what we needed to complete our adoption.

On November 14, 2012 my husband and I left the US to go meet and bring home our newest daughter. It was an amazing experience to meet her for the first time. We enjoyed getting to know her for almost two weeks before we returned home with her on December 1st. When we were flying from Atlanta to Tampa, we were quite emotional as we checked Facebook and saw pictures of our three children and other family members post status’ and pictures showing their excitement about meeting Jaelynn. We arrived at Tampa International Airport around 11:45 PM and were welcomed by our family and several friends.

It was so wonderful to be reunited with our other children. We missed them so much!

 
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Jaelynn was excited and enjoyed getting to know her siblings on the 2 hour drive home. Jaelynn has been home for almost 8 weeks now and is doing amazingly well. We have an appointment on January 16th with a specialist and hope to get answers to all of our questions about her many medical conditions. This has been the hardest part of our adoption. We want so much to “fix” everything, but ultimately we know who the Great Physician is and know that His ways are higher than any plans we have for our daughter. We would love to see Jaelynn walk one day, but we know that God’s plans may not include this and that no matter what happens her smart, sweet, and sassy personality that God gave her are going to serve her well as she grows up.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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We were so incredibly honored to share these moments with Jaelynn and her family. I could not even put into words what happened in the airport that evening. I just couldn’t do it justice. Such anticipation,  then tears flowing, hugs and kisses coming from every direction, intense laughter as a little girl stole everyone’s heart-  a beautiful welcome home celebration. It was simply amazing… but that’s the kind of God we serve.  May He receive great glory for this reunion and may He bless Jaelynn and her family for many years to come!

 

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