remembering 2011

I have been wanting to do a ‘year-in-review’ of 2011 for a while.

But it sounds sooo much easier than it is.

Every time I would start thinking of every thing that transpired in 2011 – no matter where my thoughts would begin – they always took me to the same place.


Man, that sadness just does not go away. But, I suppose, it shouldn’t. And I’m not even sure I want it to go away, in a strange way. Sadness can break you… or sadness can grow you. And it is my hope that my sadness over losing sweet Esther will make me more into the person God wants me to be.

And so, without further ado, here is a glimpse back at our 2011.

In January:

I was distracted. Distracted, in a good way, by all that was going on in our family, our lives and our adoption plans for Poppy when Esther came into our lives.

In February:

After working tirelessly to try to bring Esther home, we received some devastating news. With the final homestudy in hand and countless hours of effort on our part, the new agency we’d contracted told us that – due to an unwritten policy – they could not sign off on our update. And without an update, there would be no way we could adopt Esther.

In March:

Our grief was replaced with joy. After exhausting myself with grief over ‘losing’ Esther, I turned it all, every bit of it, over to Him. I knew I had no power, whatsoever, to make Esther part of our family. And I just rested in Him. Well, He rocked our worlds when we were told by our original homestudy agency that they would, indeed, complete the essential update to help us bring Esther home. Honestly, it still blows my mind to think of all He did to make that happen. Only Him.

In April:

We officially announced that Esther was joining our family. Oh, my… what a glorious time. I was bubbling over with all He was doing to bring our girls home. We also – with much trepidation and much excitement – launched So Loved to bring Poppy and Esther home.

At the end of April, we received our LOAs for both of our girls… overjoyed does not even begin to describe all the emotions we felt.

In May:

We finished up the So Loved fundraiser. It was a mind-blowing experience, witnessing the outpouring of love and support from so many to help us bring Poppy and Esther home. So very loved, our girls were, and we were, by y’all.

And then.

I remember every detail of what I was doing, what I was hearing, what I was thinking on that day, May 9th. The kids were just getting home from school. And, as God would have it, Chris had taken the day off. He was standing at the screen door, welcoming the kids home when the phone rang. It was our agency and the voice on the other end asked me if I was sitting down. Our precious Esther had passed away.

In June:

We were stunned to receive a package from Esther’s orphanage, containing many of her ‘things’: her teddy bear, her referral picture outfit, her favorite toy. Even notes detailing her day to day activities and milestones. Now some of my most treasured possessions.

And as we continued to grieve Esther, our arms ached to hold our sweet Poppy, and we waited for word when we might, at last, be able to bring her home. Especially after received updated pictures of her in tears.

We also decided to offer the So Loved tee. And – in honor of Esther – to give 100% of the proceeds to fund a child’s future heart surgery in China.

In July:

At last, Zach and I traveled to China to bring our Poppy home. It was a journey fraught with tears and anxieties… sweet Poppy grieved so. But God punctuated that trip with moments of indescribable joy. He carried us during that time, as only He can.

And we celebrated, and mourned over, what would have been Esther’s 2nd birthday.

In August:

We came home with Poppy. And oh, how she began to bloom. It was an incredible blessing to witness.

The kids started school and we all began to settle in to our new house in our new ‘hood on our new end of the East Coast.

In September:

We celebrated Poppy’s 2nd birthday. And man oh man, the fun she had.

And I, after months (years?) of considering it, finally took the plunge and went red.

In October:

Asher began homeschooling.

We celebrated 3 months home with Poppy and we continued to feel the blessings of His hand in our new home.

And I’d be remiss to leave out Poppy’s first Halloween. Such fun.

In November:

I partnered with two wonderful friends to help “Fill Their Stockings” – to benefit the children at An Orphan’s Wish.

And, at the end of the month, my biggest babies came home and we celebrated Thanksgiving with my sister and her crew.

In December:

We finished up “Fill Their Stockings” with a bang by raising over $5200 for the children at AOW.

We trimmed our tree and celebrated the birth of our Savior.

And we remembered the day, December 12th 2010, that we had first laid eyes on our Esther.

Whew. Looking back, 2011 has really been quite a year, I tell ya.

Of glorious mountaintops, and terrifying valleys. And in all of it, we can see so clearly where God was directing our paths.

And we give thanks.

“God’s voice thunders in marvelous ways; He does great things beyond our understanding.” – Job 37:5



  1. Stefanie, thank you for taking so many of us along for the ride. Wonderful and horrible as it was. I admire you for your transparency in all that has transpired, your willingness to admit that you have been broken and your unyielding faith that has carried you through…

  2. What memories! And what a blessing it was to share the ride with you!

  3. I never put 2 & 2 together, until just this moment. The worst day for you… was one of the best for us. I was actually wearing my So Loved tee on May 9th – the day we met our son. I’m really so sorry for your loss. Though I don’t know you personally, there are many times throughout any given month that I will scroll through all of your kids’ pictures & always stop on Esther’s. She was so beautiful. Your story has touched so many, including me, even though I can’t possibly know your pain. God Bless You for all you have done for these children & gone through in the process. I hope 2012 holds many glorious gifts for you!!

  4. Thank you for always honoring Him through your blog, your family, even your loss. I know these reviews take time to create. Mind did but it gave me a bigger picture of all God is doing in my life.

  5. Oh Stefanie, how your heart must ache still…I am working on a 2011 re-cap and I just can’t seem to get past May….Esther marked all of our Mays with her sweet precious life. I praise God for how you have glorified Him and how He has been MAGNIFIED through this year….He is all over every month that you have written about…

  6. Thank you, my dear, for allowing us to laugh, cry, and rejoice with you. You are an inspiration to many!

  7. Thank you for sharing your year. My heart stopped a bit at May 9th. I think about your story often and wonder how God will finish writing it in regard to Esther. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems unfinished. Your sweet Poppy is such a precious child–her pictures put a smile on my face. :) Hugs!!

  8. Michele/Ohio says:

    Dear Stephanie,

    May God richly bless you all this new year. Your story amazes me. You are an incredible woman, in every way.

    I wish you peace, in abundance.

    God bless always.

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