I met Michelle during our adoption process because Michelle works for Reece’s Rainbow, which is where we found both of our girls. Until now, I had never heard Michelle’s testimony and I am in complete awe of the way in which God worked through painful circumstances in the life of her family and in the life of their daughter. What a perfect example of the way in which both the family and the child are blessed through adoption; we are all blessed to have found one another.
In 2007, we were expecting twin baby girls. We were heartbroken when one of our daughters was stillborn at full-term. We didn’t know until after the girls were born that they both had Down syndrome. We didn’t care about the diagnosis, we were just thrilled that our daughter Ruby was alive and healthy.
Sometime after losing our daughter, Lydia, we came across the Reece’s Rainbow website. Through Reece’s Rainbow we learned about the abandoned children with Down syndrome in other countries who were available for adoption. My husband, Brian, and I talked about adopting SOMEDAY – but we thought we’d adopt a younger girl, a baby – SOMEDAY.
In late 2009, I was helping to advocate for an older girl who was at-risk of transferring to an institution from her orphanage. Getting involved in advocating showed me a couple things; kindergarten-age children are considered “older” in adoption, and maybe we were ready to adopt after all. This experience definitely triggered some interesting conversations between Brian and me . Our house was set up for a family of six. We were prepared to have four children, losing Lydia left a permanent empty space in our home. We knew we would never be able to replace Lydia, her loss will always be with us, but we were missing a daughter. What would be the best way to honor her memory; by keeping an empty chair at the dinner table, or by bringing home a child who doesn’t have a family?
We figured we would start planning and saving up. We would adopt when the time was right. I asked Brian to check out the at-risk girls on the Reece’s Rainbow website. There were a few that stood out to us, but one little girl named Lilya repeatedly drew our attention. Amazingly, she is a twin. She was given up at birth because she has Down syndrome, but her twin was taken home. We lost a twin. This little girl was a twin without a family.
Lilya’s listing picture on RR:
Lilya was 5 years old and at risk of transfer to the institution. Once we saw her face and read her profile, we no longer had the luxury of “waiting until the time is right.” Within days we had committed to Lilya and jumped headlong into a home study. It seems like just yesterday, but Lilya has been home with us for almost SIX years now.
Lilya went from a tentative, sweet, little orphan, to a loving, sweet, darling daughter and sister. The little girl who couldn’t walk up and down stairs is now a confident cheerleader. She loves to swim, sing, and jump on the trampoline. Her favorite weekend activity is grocery shopping with Daddy. People sometimes hear our story and tell us that Lilya is so lucky to have us but they’ve got it backwards. We are honored and lucky to have her in our lives. I can’t wait to watch her continue to bloom.