Stories: 2021

” It all started with the prayers of a five-year old.”

The Simmons Family!

By Melinda Simmons

Listening to my five-year-old son pray every night at bedtime for a little brother with Down syndrome had a profound impact on our family. Those words softened my heart toward Down syndrome adoption and set our family on a path that would eventually lead, many years later, to us bringing home our sweet Ezra James from China in 2019. Being Ezra’s family has been such a blessing, and it all started with the prayers of a five-year-old. It would have made sense for us to believe that our family’s story of adoption was done. Wrapped up in a neat little bow. But God has other plans.


On Ezra’s birthday, in November of 2019, Jason and I saw the face of a little girl on an adoption advocacy website that took our breath away. We just knew that we were having a “this is my child” moment, just like we did when we first saw Ezra’s face. We reached out to our agency a few days later, only to find that she had been matched with another family. We were disappointed, but we knew that this was God’s way of letting us know that he wanted us to consider adopting for a second time. We decided to put our yes on the table once again and made the announcement to our family and friends that we were starting this process again. Many were supportive, some questioned our sanity. Twenty-twenty hit and, like so many others, we were using all of our energy to figure out how to manage life in this new normal. Our adoption plans were put on the back burner. Once again, it was a sweet little face that pushed us into action in the fall of this year. And once again, that precious girl was matched with another family before we could get our home study done. Rather than give up, we chose to believe that this was another catalyst in reminding us that we needed to keep moving forward. So we started moving at an extremely fast pace, fully believing that God was in it all. We were home study approved and accepted the referral of a five-year-old little girl with Down syndrome from China in October. Upon receiving her medical file, we were given the most beautiful confirmation from God that this was, indeed, our daughter, when we saw that she was from the SAME province in China as our Ezra! I remember feeling so connected to the city we lived in for a week when we met our son. Now I know why. It’s because my daughter was there, living in an institution in that same city. God had already begun to weave together the fabric of our story with the story of our little moon girl. Our Luna Pearl. He is making a way and we are just along for the ride.

You can follow along on the Simmons’ journey on their Youtube Channel and on Melinda’s Instagram.

“From the beginning, adopting a sibling group and keeping siblings together was very important to us”

By Hanna Sanders

Adoption has always been a desire of our hearts, even before we knew each other. It sounds cheesy, but our desires to adopt were a pretty big factor for why each of us began to fall in love with the other. It’s not often that 20-something single people both know they have been called to adopt their future children and then talk about it on their second date. Since we both knew we wanted to adopt, it wasn’t a surprise when on our honeymoon in 2018 we felt the Lord telling us to prepare for what He had for us as He began to lay adoption from Latin America on our hearts. When we returned home, we quickly started to pursue learning Spanish and purchasing a home. Through conversations with our Spanish tutor and attending the Beauty Amidst the Ashes’ Hope Adoption Conference in 2018, we quickly knew we were being called to adopt from Colombia. We have since purchased a home, continued learning Spanish, and are spending time working on education for adopting children who have faced trauma.

From the beginning, adopting a sibling group and keeping siblings together was very important to us. We do not have any biological kids, and we each feel the Lord has equipped us well in our professions (Jake is a youth pastor and Hanna is a school counselor) to care for a sibling group. When we began researching adoption agencies, we found Lifeline Children’s Services on Instagram and loved their philosophy and mission to care for all vulnerable children, not just those being adopted. We submitted our initial application with them in January of 2020. We also loved their perspective of adoption as being a family’s mission and calling. Every step of the way, our agency has continued to support and educate us in such a way that we not only continue to feel better prepared and equipped, but we have also felt led closer to the children God has prepared for us.

Hanna & Jake Sanders

When our caseworker, Jordan, called with a referral for a sibling group of four this past October, although we originally thought a sibling group of two or three was right, we both knew almost immediately that this was the group of kiddos the Lord had planned for us. A huge sense of peace and comfort came when hearing about their stories and their files even though it was a larger group than we originally thought we were seeking. Since that time, we have submitted a Letter of Intent for this sibling group, and we are in the final stages of completing our dossier. Our hope and prayer is that we travel and bring our kids home in the first half of 2021.

You can follow along on the Sander’s journey on Hanna’s Instagram

“Her Worth & Priceless Beauty Deserves to be Known.”

By Jacqui Mcneill

Jacqui McNeill

In 2017, I was blessed to travel to India. I spent four months at a home for children with special needs. While there, I felt the call to apply for international adoption. In April of 2018, I signed my first document.

This adoption journey has been road block upon road block. But through God’s grace and waiting 11 months for India approval, I was granted permission to match with a child! On July 6, 2020, I finally was given the file of my little girl! She will be three, in March 2021. Her needs are severe, but mostly unknown due to the fact I am not sharing them publicly at this time. Her worth and priceless beauty deserves to be known. She deserves to be loved and to know what it is to be loved by her family.

Adopting as a single mother has not been easy. Especially as I am adopting a child with severe needs. Her needs are severe, but not something I share publicly at this time. Her worth and priceless beauty deserves to be known. She deserves to be loved and to know what it is to be loved by her family.

Last month, I found out that I cannot accept a $7500 grant that I had been awarded. Because this specific grant is for agency fees only. I have $8,000 left to raise for in-country and flights.

Due to COVID and working in a school for children with autism, I was unemployed and unpaid March-August of this year. I am waiting for a court date and summons to pick up my little one. I would be so grateful if you were able to help with the funding needed to go and bring my girl home, after almost three years.

Jacqui’s Journey

I have been working three jobs, and countless fundraisers to make extra funding. Recently, praise God, major movement has happened in my adoption. I could be called to India as soon as March.

You can follow along on Jacqui’s journey on Instagram and at her blog. She hopes to travel in the next few months.