How Adoption Ruined my Big Kids

by Kristin Wooten

I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom. A mom to 2 kids to be exact. That’s the kind of family I came from: a boy and a girl. Seemed like the safe, midwestern thing to do. Until adoption entered my worldview and changed everything.

When I was pregnant with our first child, we met a family who had adopted from China. We were broken by the stories of kids without homes. Very quickly, my husband and I knew adoption is how we would grow our family in the future. When our son was a year old, we started looking into adopting from China. We weren’t old enough and we sure didn’t have the finances to support an adoption. So, we let the idea pass and had another biological son. (Good thing–we would have missed out on a cool kid!)

Another year had passed. I came home from work excited to tell my husband that something called a home equity loan existed and we could use it to remodel our kitchen! You see, we had the tiniest kitchen, a few inches of counter space and no room for a dishwasher. My husband’s response: “Yes, we could do that, or we could use the money to adopt. I’m open to either. You can decide.” Well, no real decision to make there, off on our journey to adoption we began.

Zoe joined our family in 2005. Zoe still teases me saying “Dad chose me mom, you were going to get a kitchen.” We were complete. Life was full with 3 kids five and under, a job, and a husband.

I remember going to a conference and hearing Donald Miller speak. He told a story of a friend who had a teenage daughter who was making poor decisions, doing drugs and dating a boy the family didn’t approve of. The dad knew his daughter needed a better story. Their family had a meeting where the dad announced they were going to raise money to build an orphanage in Mexico. His daughter ended up jumping on board with this plan, traveled to Mexico and eventually, dumped the boyfriend. That story really resonated with me. I knew I wanted to build a story for my kids that would be more attractive than the one the world was painting for them, but I had no idea what that story would be.

The kids are now 10, 12 and 14. We had always told our kids we would go to China one day so that Zoe could see and explore the country she was born in. It was important for our boys to come too and do this as a family. One night, I was researching heritage trips to China and landed on an adoption agency website that said “Effective, January 1, 2015, a few requirements for adopting from China have changed” and it went on to list the changes. Changes were made that would make us eligible to adopt from China again. I got that crazy feeling in my stomach, I just knew what this meant. I sent a text to my husband to tell him about the requirement change and his text back said, “I guess I know what our China trip will be”. Oh my gosh, he’s thinking the same thing, we’re adopting again!

We shared the news with our big kids. The youngest were onboard immediately. They have always wanted to adopt again. Our oldest, not so much. He’s our responsible one. He was worried about the time it would take away from the other kids, the money, how could we afford the adoption, let alone raising another child. Others were worried too. You have such great kids, aren’t you afraid this will ruin them?

They were right. It did ruin them. In all the right ways. They were with us every step of our adoption process. When each donation was made, they rejoiced with us. When we received grants, they got to see God work. When our adoption was fully funded, they got to experience a miracle. When we got each new picture of our future daughter, they got to oooh and aaah over her. When they

traveled to China with us, they got to see how other kids live. They saw how hard life in China is. They learned how to bond with their sister, how to make her laugh, how to comfort her.

My boys have gotten to learn dad skills. At 16 and 14, they know how to protect a girl. How to make her lunch. That taking her on Starbucks runs makes her so happy. These are things that most boys don’t get to learn until they are dads themselves.

My older daughter, Zoe, isn’t the type of girl that babysits or naturally knows how to take care of kids. But, her younger sister adores her and calls her “sissy”. She feels more confident and can change a diaper like a pro now.

Our family experienced something together that was so special and brought us together. Their faith in Jesus is stronger. I’m grateful that adoption ruined my big kids.

These adoption stories are funded by YOU.  All grants provided by the ONE17 Foundation are made possible through the generosity of our donors.  To become a one-time or recurring monthly donor, click here. Donations are tax deductible. Thank you for creating a ripple.

It will be the Best Family Christmas Ever!

by Heather Dunn

The Dunn Family!

We are The Dunn Family. We are Jeff and Heather and we have two grown children, Genevieve, age 23, and Jeremiah, age 20. We are on the edge of an empty nest but have decided we have some great years in us to still parent and there are lots of kids waiting for their forever families! We are in the process of bringing home an amazing little boy, a waiting child from China, publicly known as Ryker.

After our daughter, Genevieve, came home from a trip to China in the summer of 2016 working with orphans she shared with us about the culture, the orphan crisis, and the KIDS! The photos and stories of these children broke us. There was one little boy that found a special place in our hearts, Ryker.

Ryker is currently in the care of Maria’s Big House of Hope (MBHOH), a care center run by Show Hope for orphans with medical needs. Ryker is 8 1/2 years old. Ryker was born with Spina Bifida and relies on the use of a wheelchair. He is one of the oldest kids at MBHOH. He has waited a long time for a family of his own. He has asked volunteers visiting MBHOH to take him home and be his family.

Ryker is smart. He is learning english and sign language. He even helps teach American workers at the care center Mandarin (Chinese). He likes to teach other children in the care center to share.

Ryker is creative, he LOVES craft time. I hear that his favorite is glue, or as he says it, “ga-loo.” Ryker loves taking pictures. When he comes home our phones will be filled with sefies galore! Being a photographer, I can’t wait to share a love of taking photos with him.

Jeff and I have been approved by the China Center for Children’s Welfare and Adoption (CCCWA) to pursue the adoption of Ryker. We submitted our official adoption contract in January. It’s been almost a year long process to bring him home.

Our family of 4 is on it’s way to be a family of 5! We are expecting to travel to China in December of 2017. We are expecting a to be with Ryker ON Christmas Day! It’ll be the best family Christmas ever.

You can read more about the Dunn’s journey to Ryker on their blog Bringing Home China.

These adoption stories are funded by YOU.  All grants provided by the ONE17 Foundation are made possible through the generosity of our donors.  To become a one-time or recurring monthly donor, click here. Donations are tax deductible.  Thank you for creating a ripple.

We Could Find No Reason to Say No

By Vicki Starting

The Starting Family

Our adoption story began about two and a half years ago. At the time we had six children and my husband felt we were done having children. I still felt a yearning for more children though and knew that if God had more children for us, that he would stir my husbands heart.

Up to this point my husband had said my that if a child was “dropped in our laps” that he would never say no.

In June two years ago, we received a text late one night asking if we would adopt a little boy with Down syndrome that was in foster care. We were overwhelmed and it wasn’t at all a story I had imagined, but our hearts were stirred and we took that little boys in as foster parents (something we had been certain we would not do with all our young children) and eventually little Joby became our son.

Healthy, Happy Joby.

He is almost four now and though he is lots of work, he is also a blessing and joy in our lives. He changed our family.   By this last summer we were both feeling like we would not pursue another child, that indeed God would have to once again “drop a child in our laps”.

We got a message from an acquaintance telling us there was an 11 year old girl, named Octavia from Poland that they were advocating for and searching hard for a family that would host her. We could find no reason to say no.

Three weeks later she was in our home. It was a very different kind of experience from taking in a baby- she had emotions and a will and drama and fears that we didn’t really experience with Joby. In other ways, the experience was very similar. When she sobbed in our arms, begging to not go home after her visit, we knew quickly that she had brought her to our family for us to fight for her and to offer her all that we have.

We had been certain that we would never do an international adoption. We live frugally on one income and could see no way that we could come up with the money for such an adoption, let alone the time away from work for my husband. I couldn’t see how I could home school 6 kids and care for Joby’s needs AND fundraise at the same time. But we had committed to this child and were going to find a way. We are amazed at the support that people have given in the first three months but we still have a long way to go. We are leaning hard into Him to guide us, prepare us and provide for us.

We think the best “voice” for adoption is people living it out. People have watched us adopt Joby. They’ve seen him transform inside a loving stable family with all these children loving on him, challenging him and stimulating him- he has blossomed! His kidney’s have healed dramatically, we taught him to eat and his g-tube was removed after one year, he learned to walk and sign and is just doing amazing. Not only that, but people have seen my reticent 15 year old who didn’t really want Joby fall in love and be transformed by Joby in his life. God has shown the beauty of adoption in our home and family and we want to continue to be a living picture of this beautiful thing called adoption.


You can read more about the Starting family and their journey  on their YouCaring site and on their Facebookpage.


His First Mommy

By Susanna Filippi.

When my husband and I first discussed adoption, I knew that my preference would be to pursue an open adoption. I’d learned about how much it helps a child incorporate adoption into their identity in a healthy way when they know the story from where they came.

When we met our son’s birth mom, my hope was that we could be great friends. I imagined all of us together cheering him on at baseball games and watching him at school plays. I figured that conversations about adoption would come more naturally if we had relationship with his birth family, and he would simply have more people to love him.

Shortly after we took our son home from the hospital, his birth mother came for a visit. I remember how intimidated I felt at those first few visits. I wanted her to see that we loved and cared for him well; that she had made a good choice in placing him with us. I felt insecure in my new role as a mom and I worried she would see that.

She seemed so comfortable with him as she scooped him up and cooed at him. She commented on his eyes and his hair and his fat little legs. He was so content all curled up with her. They fit together.

I sat there watching as they shared these precious moments, wanting to document them in my mind for my son. I wanted him to know how much his first mom loved him. What she had sacrificed for him. The thought brought tears to my eyes.

Then I heard her coo, “Mommy loves you!” In that moment I felt my heart leap in my chest and the air escape from my lungs. I hadn’t heard her refer to herself as “Mommy” before.

My mind scrambled, searching for a thing to say. “Mommy” was mine! But it was hers too. My heart and my head battled. I acknowledged that she was his first mom, but hearing her say it, I felt this growing roar rising up inside of me. This protective battle cry to defend my place and say something.

In that moment, I chose to stay quiet. Everything about motherhood and adoption and navigating relationships with his birth family was new to me; and I hadn’t slept much either. I didn’t trust my feelings to navigate the situation well.

As I thought about that moment over the next several weeks, I determined that if I truly wanted for him to understand her place in his life, I needed to be okay with her as his first mom. As hard as it was to hear, I needed to fight the urge to correct her and silence the mama bear within. She’s his first mom and she always will be. She is a part of him. I want him to know that I’m okay with that.

These adoption stories are funded by YOU.  All grants provided by the ONE17 Foundation are made possible through the generosity of our donors.  To become a one-time or recurring monthly donor, click here. Donations are tax deductible.  Thank you for creating a ripple.