Stories: 2018

“But wait, there’s more,” by Laura Corbin

The Corbin Family

On our first date, my future husband asked me what kind of family I saw myself having. I answered him truthfully, that I’d like a big family, and I’d known for a long time that one day I’d adopt. We were ice skating, so we almost landed in a heap as he jerked to a stop. He looked at me strangely and said he’d always felt that way too. Fast forward ten years, five boys (ages 8 to 1 at the time), three homes, one military deployment, and we both knew at the same moment that it was time to start looking, even if it didn’t feel like the best timing in our lives.

I did a quick search that night for “international adoption.” I wandered through the sites to a post on Ukrainian hosting, wondered what that was, clicked on it, and changed our world. The girl we came to know as our future daughter was smiling back at me in a picture. Long story short, we brought her into our home that summer and knew we’d been right, that we wanted to pursue adoption. We started to fly through paperwork, only to find out a few months later that she wasn’t eligible for adoption yet, but she would be “soon.” Okay, we can deal with this. What we really didn’t expect on the day of the second hosting trip was to find out that she had an older brother. We had five children. Jumping from five to seven seemed crazy. We wouldn’t be able to fit everyone in our current car (which seems petty, but logistics are always at the forefront of “Can we do this?). What was crazier was that she didn’t know she had a brother, but here it was, staring me in the face on her paperwork. It took only a day or two to decide that yes, somehow this would be okay. Six months later, both children came for hosting again, as they still weren’t ready, but “soon.” It was obvious they’d had time to build a relationship with each other, and that summer was amazing. We got to know them as siblings, and it just fit.

We had difficulties (you can’t mesh two families together without them), but it worked. We finished our paperwork, brought them for, we thought, one last hosting, got ready to send it all off, and bam–it will be another nine months. So, we waited, then started the paperwork a third time. Everything has to be less than six months old for submission, so redos were necessary. Now, we have hosted the children five times, and we are finally, finally, a few weeks away from travel for an official referral. We’ve gone through heartache over and over, but our family is almost complete. After three years, we couldn’t be more excited to bring them home.


The Corbins will bring “D” home in December and hopefully head back to Ukraine early next year to finish the adoption of two siblings.

Dear Brooke,

Since you asked for updates, I wanted to let you know we have decided to adopt an additional child here in Ukraine. 🙂 With the situation with the first two children we came for, we have been delayed significantly, but we truly feel that this has made it possible to bring home the little boy we were referred to first when we arrived in Ukraine. I never in a million years would have expected this outcome when we arrived, but I think this is why we’ve experienced so many delays since the beginning of this three years ago. We are quickly updating paperwork to allow us to adopt three instead of two, but we expect one child to be home just barely in time for Christmas (fingers crossed), and the next two early next year. Friends are rallying around us to help with fundraising for the extra travel fees, but we could not have made this work without receiving this grant. We are extremely grateful.

You can read more about the Corbin’s journey @ or

“Above all, she needs love and a family to call her own,” by Jen Zeuli

I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Unmarried at 40, I’d surveyed my range of options and nothing seemed like the right fit. Then one day I read an article that mentioned in passing how difficult it is to grow up with a special need in China, and the idea struck me with a powerful clarity I’d never experienced before: I wanted to bring a baby with Down syndrome home.

In 2014 I adopted my daughter, Cordelia, from China and became a single mom. Then two, Cordelia was an adorable baby whose Down syndrome diagnosis would have relegated her to a life in an institution. As a veteran high school teacher, I’d taught a number of students with special needs and was excited to welcome her into my home. She was the piece I’d been missing my whole life, and when we settled in I thought my family was complete.

Not so. In March of 2018 I came across the photograph of another little girl with Down syndrome whose eyes just haunted me. She was described as social, outgoing and a lover of music. It seemed like she’d be such a great fit for us. It wasn’t an optimal time to adopt–I just bought a house last fall, and as a teacher I don’t have much money to spare–but I kept returning to that photo and the sparse information that accompanied it. I felt, so powerfully, that I wanted Cordelia to have a sibling, someone on her wavelength, a partner. And this little girl just seemed to need me. In March of this year, I said yes.

Zhang Su Yun, soon to be Susanna Rose Zeuli, is now four. As of March, she was neither walking nor talking, and she weighed only 22 pounds. Her orphanage has been described to me as one of the “good ones,” and I know how hard the nannies can work to provide for the children in their care, but Susie cannot thrive in an institution. She needs preschool and therapies and sustained medical attention; above all she needs love and a family to call her own.

I have submitted my documents to China and hope to travel in January. Susie’s preschool is already getting ready for her, and the international adoption clinic and the Down syndrome clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital have both reviewed her file. We are ready to shower her with love and attention.

My daughter, Cordelia, is such an ambassador for adoption and for Down syndrome. Now six, she is in kindergarten and learning to read. Her determination, resilience, and empathy touch teachers and classmates alike and her school is a warmer and more inclusive place because she is in it. Other parents have begun to consider adoption after meeting my child, and I’ve mentored two families through the adoption journey. I know that Susie will touch those around her in a similar way–her classmates will be more compassionate, her teachers will be more welcoming of those with differences, and those in our larger community will be less afraid of Down syndrome and more aware of the orphan crisis in China and elsewhere. In just a few months, there will be one fewer orphan in the world, and our family will indeed be complete.

You can read more about Jen and Cordelia’s journey to Susanna on Jen’s blog

Below is a video of sweet Cordeilia reading to her mom.

“The Chance to give someone a mother and father is a privilege,” by Jennie Mayes

Our adoption story started many years ago. Nathan was adopted from South Korea as a young child. Growing up, he went through many ups and downs related to being adopted. Out of his own life experiences, Nathan has had the desire to provide a loving family for a child like him. The chance to give someone a mother and father and brothers and sisters who will love them is something that we feel is such a privilege for our family.

We have been married for 13 years, and from the very beginning, we knew that adopting a child of our own would be part of our family story. I (Jennie) have had the desire to adopt since I was a teenager, and combined with Nathan’s life story and desire to adopt, it was something we have talked about often from the very beginning of our marriage. We now have three biological children, ages 11, 9, and 5, and we feel that God is leading us at this time to pursue adoption. We are very excited about this journey we are on, and our children are also very excited about adopting a new sibling.

We have actually been on this adoption journey for 4 years now, but after initial doors were closed, we took a break to grieve and to think and to pray. A few months later we felt God directing us in a completely different direction, to adopt from Africa. Africa has always been a place that God has laid on my heart (Jennie) since I was a young girl, and to think that He may have orchestrated it all for this moment in time is beyond incredible.

We are adopting a young child from Ghana, Africa. We are currently waiting on the referral of a child, which we are expecting to receive any day now. Once we accept our referral, we will be permitted to travel to Ghana where we will stay with our child for a one-month fostering period prior to adoption finalization.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story and for allowing us to share it with you.

You can read more about the Mayes family’s adoption journey on their Blog and on Facebook.

“His adoption began a legacy of hope and promise that could not be forgotten,” by Erin Morrow

Over many years, long before Zawadi and Erin were even married, God was weaving together a beautiful story, made possible through adoption.

Zawadi was unexpectedly adopted from a rural village in Congo at just a few months old, as his mother died in child-birth with him. His adoption was a miracle that saved his life (traditionally, his tribe blames the baby for the death of the mother and usually the baby is tragically buried with the mother). His adoption began a legacy of hope and promise that could not be forgotten. We want to continue to be a part of that magnificent legacy and hope that comes through a family loving each other fiercely and walking together through all that life brings.

We plan to adopt our daughter – 2.5 year-old En Dan, from China. She is a beautiful little girl, who has albinism, vision impairment, and delayed development. We can also tell that she is full of much joy, strength, love, and resiliency! She is 16 days older than our biological son, so essentially we will have artificial twins! Our son talks about her all the time and when in the car, often asks if we are driving to China to get his sister. Our family will be a beautiful kaleidoscope of color and culture.

We’re grateful for those who’ve already supported us, and are excited to see how provision is made for the remainder of the funds. Due to our biological son’s health needs, much of our income goes to special care for him. Zawadi is a full-time Worship Pastor, so our income wasn’t ever large. Though our finances unexpectedly changed due to [our son’s medical needs], which was outside of our original “plan”, our faith is stretched by this endeavor, and we believe that we are being equipped to be Daddy, Mommy, and brother to our little En Dan in this way.

Adoption is messy. Adoption is raw. Adoption is needed because our world is broken. Adoption is needed because it redeems brokenness. Adoption is needed because it is healing salve. Adoption brings light. Adoption fosters much grace. Adoption is a journey of faith and is a visible Gospel. We were changed in tremendous ways when we gave birth to our son, Cohen. We are ready to be changed once again, by our sweet daughter who is waiting for us.

You can read more about the Morrow family @

You can further support the Morrows on the following sites:

This family – what was left of it – shouldn’t be separated,”  By Brian Martin

Our adoption story is one of being filled little by little, step by step, as God was quietly preparing us for a beautiful plan. And of all things, he used Facebook to put the final piece into place.

The ripple effect of adoption hit us when some old friends, who have themselves adopted seven children, posted an advocacy push for a sibling pair from Costa Rica – a brother, age 5, and a 16-year-old sister who is deaf and has no language. (In fact, One17 posted the advocacy push as well!) As we read the stories of these two children, we couldn’t get them out of our hearts and our minds.

A blurry photograph, pseudonyms, and a profile including special needs are not the stuff of magnetic and unfathomable connection…usually. And yet here were these two siblings in need of a forever family. We already have three wonderful biological children of our own. But there were two more… And over a series of phone conversations, lots of prayer, and careful consideration, we knew they were our two.

What began slowly, with years of consideration, suddenly needed to move quickly. With the girl’s advanced aged for adoption consideration, the Costa Rican authorities were moving toward separating her file from her brother’s if no one came forward. Our hearts were filled again with the heavy notion that this family – what was left of it – shouldn’t be separated. Instead, we knew their family could become a part of our family. So our family submitted a letter of intent so they would not be separated, and now the race is on to raise money, fill out paperwork, and learn an entirely new language (ASL) in the shortest amount of time possible. And so we pray and we wait and we work…and we hope we will be able to get them soon.
We also know that telling our story is a part of the bigger Story, and that if He can inspire us to adopt partially through the story of our friends, that maybe someone else is being called through our story, too. So we feel called not only to live the story, but to share the story.
We are waiting for our official match (we have a soft match already) in the coming weeks and then travel arrangements are made. We are expecting to travel in July or August this year.

Read more about the Martin Family and follow along as they travel to Costa Rica @

“Once you open yourself up to adoption miracles appear”, by Daniel Hoffman

It started with the cover of a NYTimes, a beautiful Chinese baby. Patty showed it to me and said she would like to adopt. I replied maybe someday after we were done raising our three children. Not long after that Patty became ill and we realized that we would never be able to conceive again. In Patty’s heart this was her greatest sadness. Then one day Patty simply told me to “freshen up”; we were going to an adoption seminar. It didn’t take me long to realize that my wife’s prompting was starting to blossom in my heart. I wrote two words and quietly pushed a note to her. “China or Vietnam”. Patty smiled and circled “China”. We tell people that once you open yourself up to adoption miracles appear.

On our tenth wedding anniversary, August 10, 2000, we renewed our vows. Months later our referral call came for FuJieShan, Julia, born August 10, 2000, and I gasped, “Are you sure? The same day we had renewed our vows, our daughter was born in China! During our adoption trip, I visited her orphanage and met a four-year-old that followed me with a sad face. I was struck by my new friend and kept mentioning her in e-mails home. Patty told me that she knew I wanted to go back to adopt her. I remember saying “Now that I know she is there how can I not try to bring her home?” Adoption was not just a concept now it was a person! We gave our expected daughter the name Anneliese.

One night, Patty received an email from a lady inquiring about the orphanage our Julia was from saying she received a referral of a four-year-old. We got a sinking feeling. Could this be the little girl with the sad face that had followed me and stole my heart? The same girl we thought was our daughter and named Anneliese? We asked if she could send us her picture, never indicating our situation. Each child – until referred – does not belong to anyone. It was a picture of that same girl. Her mom wrote: “Here is a picture of our little Anneliese.” Her mom had chosen the same name we had chosen for her; confirmation that she was going where God had intended. Our agency director said that two girls received a family because you said yes. Only because he told China that we would adopt her did they compile her dossier matching her with a family who specifically requested a four-year-old.

In September 2003, we traveled to meet our own Anneliese, JinWanYi. Later we met the other Anneliese in Disney, no longer carrying that sad face, but a happy one. Last year, Patty showed me the picture of yet another little girl. I prayed again. A few weeks passed when I suddenly thought to myself, “Yes!”. ZhouGongru is our sixth daughter. We are waiting on this little miracle to join her five big sisters. She has Congenital Heart Disease (tetralogy of fallot, cardiac function II degree 2). After committing to adopt her we have suffered job loss, financial loss as a result, delays and expired paperwork, but we continue to press on knowing that miracles abound and adoption is not just a process or journey… is a person!

Read more about the Hoffman Sisters on their Blog!  

Adoption is our PLAN A, by Jared Thompson

International adoption has been on my wife’s heart from her childhood and is something that she revealed to me about a year and a half ago when we began discussing starting a family. Of course, things such as cost and all the other details were concerning and I struggled with it being a numbers guy, but God began to move and before long we were talking to an adoption agency about adopting a child from Hungary. Throughout the paperwork, the home study, the fundraisers, grant applications God has truly shown us time and time again that this is what He has called us to do as a family.

Currently my wife and I have no children. Adoption is our plan A and we believe is one of the purest expressions of living out our faith. We are currently members of First Baptist Church of Tifton, GA where I volunteer on the worship team and help out part-time with the youth band. My wife works in the nursery and we have been there about a year. It was actually my home church that I grew up at and is where we plan to stay and set down roots as we begin our family. We truly believe in the mission of the church and we are pleased to say that we have found our home there.

We are adopting because of not only my wife’s dream since she was a child, but because we recognize and understand the need and feel that God has chosen us to provide for that need. We believe that God sees no borders and that He has called us to love and care for all of His children. We were led to Hungary because we wanted to adopt as quickly as possible and because we felt that God pointed us in that direction.

We are thankful and excited to say that we have been matched with a beautiful little Hungarian girl named Reni. She is 4 years old and she has lived in a foster home since she was 10 days old. We are currently scheduled to leave in 2 or 3 months and are currently fundraising trying to bring our precious daughter home. We truly believe that God will provide.

Congratulations to the Thompsons!  To read more about their journey, please visit Julie’s Facebook page, where she shares the latest updates.