seven years ago

… I wrote my first blog post. And it was so not good.

Tori was 16, Zach was 13, Asher was 6 and Dalton was 4. Isabelle had been home for 7 months and we were knee-deep in paperwork to bring Sophie home.

Things were a little different.

I love to be able to look back at all that has happened since then – not because it’s perfectly captured, but because it perfectly captures our story. With God as the author.

Honestly, there were several times over the years that I considered pulling down my little bloggy shingle and closing up shop. Sometimes it just felt too personal. Sometimes it just felt too hard.

But God. I’m still not sure why God pressed on me to keep writing, sharing and posting during those times that I would have rather not. Honestly, I might never know. But I’m okay with that. Because this blog has become a real source of joy for me, not just in the looking back at our story, but in the sharing of our story with y’all – a beautiful community of friends, family, fellow adoptive parents. And probably a few curious onlookers.

I’ve received emails, messages and comments over the years from some of y’all to let me know that God has used our family’s story to encourage you as He writes your story. And I’ve been so blessed by the blogging community over the years, I can’t even tell you how many times a blog post or a link or a picture has spoken right to my heart.

He’s awesome that way, isn’t He?

But, well… I’m not the best at keeping things together. Or organizing anything. And, because on my 7 year bloggy-versary, I’d love to hear from y’all. Would you indulge a mama with one too many penguins on the iceberg?

Share about you and a bit of your story in the comments below. What God is doing in your heart for adoption. How your story might have been impacted by our story.

Come on, y’all. Pretty please?

And for all you lurkers – especially if you’ve been following silently for a while – please consider de-lurking just this once to say, “Hey!”, okay? It would make me smile so big to get to know you, even just a tiny bit.

And that’s it. That’s what I want on my big bloggy day.

Oh. And I want one more thing. If y’all would please say a prayer on our behalf, I’d be so grateful. I can’t tell you how much your prayers meant to us when Chris went in for that big interview. And ohmigoodness, how I laughed out loud at your guesses on my change of plans post: Secret Service. Pilot for AF1. Roadie for Toby Mac. QVC host. Working with the Chapmans. Or Hershey’s Chocolate.

Y’all are funny.

So anyway, I am headed out for a house-hunting trip for the next few days and we are praying for Jesus to take the wheel and lead us to the perfect house… the one He wants for us, not the one I might want for us. Because I just might be blinded by granite counter tops and travertine bathrooms. And, honestly, we just want His plan.


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Comments

  1. Ok, fine! I will delurk! You and I have a mutual real life friend, Colleen. And I’m sure you’ve heard through her about me because we have both lost our adopted babies before we got to hold them in our arms. :( Love reading about your family!

  2. Oh Stephanie, Your blog has been SO SO valuable to me! Your stories have encouraged my heart on this road of adoption. I found your blog when we were waiting for Tahlia,.. you had just brought Poppy home from the same Orphanage that Tahlia was waiting in. I felt an immediate connection with you and Poppy :).
    You were also so kind to encourage me when we first brought her home and were struggling with how to help her with her nighttime grief terrors. And, it was your encouragement to co-sleep (at least for 6 months) that has made all the difference in her attachment. I CAN NOT tell u that its been easy, but …oh boy, can I see how much it has helped our sweet girl. She still comes to our rooms in the middle of the night for cuddles, and I am COMPLETELY ok with that! You were the first one to firmly encourage me to “let go of my old parenting ideas (w/ bip kids) and helped me to realize that parenting a child who has gone through trauma and grief is SO Different! And, that helped me to LET GO of my old “ideals” It felt so freeing to look at it through new eyes.
    SO THANK YOU!
    ps! I also want to thank you for sharing your photography adventures, it has encouraged and inspired my adventures and passions!
    I love your blog, I love your “realness”
    I love your family!
    Thank you for inspiring and encouraging and sharing!
    God Bless, praying God leads you to His perfect home for your precious family!

  3. I can’t remember exactly how I stumbled upon your blog but was drawn to it because of the adoptions, the photography and your writing. We have two daughters adopted from China 11 going on 12 in June and 9 soon to be 10 in March. Thanks so much for writing your blog, yours is one of several I check in on every day.

  4. Where I am…..well, it’s a journey of trusting God for sure. I have two China dolls and three homegrown babies. My heart desires at least a couple more. God hasn’t moved the heart of my husband yet. So, I not-so-patiently wait for God to fulfill the desire that I believe is from Him.

  5. ElizabethH in CO says:

    I’ve loved reading your blog over the years, seeing your family grow, your adorable kiddos grow, grieving with you over the loss of Esther, looking at your photography. We were planning on adopting before I started reading your blog, but then we had an unexpected pregnancy. Well now it’s been years and we’re waiting on God’s timing to get back into it. In the meantime, I’ll continue to be encouraged by your lovely words and heart for God. And I’ll continue to pray for your beautiful family…for you to get another gorgeous house to go with that perfect job!

  6. I love reading your blog and am so thankful you did not close up shop! After struggling with infertility, God led us to adoption and we are so blessed by our children. I have a real heart for those struggling with infertility as I have walked that long arduous path and now have overwhelming direction from the Lord to advocate for waiting children in China. We have a 3 year old daughter, Grace, who we adopted in May 2011, and we just returned from China 3 days ago with our new 8 year old son, Anthony! We are in the midst of transition and working through the language barrier. God is amazing and blessing us each day with our precious children. We know there are more waiting for us in China! :)

  7. I commented all through Poppy’s adoption journey because I couldn’t get enough of looking at her sweet little face, but I’ve been a faithful reader for about a year and half now. I’m 18 so I can’t adopt yet, but you helped open my heart to it. A family friend was paperchasing to adopt from China (she had to stop due to unforeseen circumstances), and had you on the sidebar for her blog. I love your writing, your photography, your family, and your passion for God. I will continue to read for a LONG time, thank you for sharing your life with us <33

  8. I LOVE your blog and have been lurking for a few years. I love your sense of humor, your photos and your big old family. I have an almost 10 year old adopted from china, as well as a 16 year old bio child. If I had a redo in life I’d have adopted a whole bunch more which is one reason i think I like your blog, I get to see what that life would look like. As it is, life is good, kids are great. Live in LA, write for TV, often write about adoption in my tv scripts, maybe open people’s hearts to adoption that way …

  9. I have been a loyal follower for many years now. I remember when you brought both boys home. Your are inspiring in your faith. And how I would LOVE to be a crazy lady just like you with so many china babies :) Still praying my hubby comes around to another. Praying you find the “perfect” house. Looking forward to hearing the rest of your newest adventure.

  10. I’m Joy.

    I’m a high school friend of Lisa from Waiting for Briana fame although I found her site, ironically, through another friend going through an adoption. When I first started reading your blog, you were paper chasing Shepherd. Adoption is near and dear to my heart althought my husband and I haven’t started the paper chase yet. But we will!

    We’ve been married two-and-a-half years. I got pregnant, shockingly, four months into our marriage after being told that we would have an extremely hard time having biological children. I was 38 when she was born nineteen months ago which would mean I was a single lady cheering for adoption long before marriage and children! I work in radio, although since the birth of the little lady, I now work from home as a writer and narration, and I love it!

    We will adopt. The question is simply when. Thank you for your blog. It’s so encouraging, although after dragging around after a single toddler all day long and complaining about being tired (stop laughing, please), I don’t know how you do it!

    So here’s my delurk.

  11. I found your blog years ago after following your trips to Isabelle and Sophie on My Adoption Website. I was so impressed that you were going back to China a third time for Jude. Ha!

    Your blog, your words, what you have delivered here changed my life. :) I’m sure I am one of many that God has spoken to through you. Your post about being a regular girl who drinks Diet Coke and reads People magazine helped me realize that not only were we being called to adopt, but that we were being called to a special needs adoption. And that we could do it.

    Congratulations on seven years. It sounds like such a long time, and yet, I struggle to remember a time when I didn’t know about you and your family. That almost sounds a bit creepy, huh? But I have clear images of myself sitting at my computer, reading your blog, and knowing that God was talking to me at that moment. It’s powerful, and I thank God that you have kept this blog going. I am a better person for checking in here a few times a week. Thank you.

    I’ll be praying for your house-hunting, and I am looking forward to hearing more about this next adventure God is taking you on. :)

  12. Your blog is a source of encouragement to me in many ways. I’m 34 and still single, but God has laid adoption heavily on my heart. I keep reminding Him that HE is the one who said I’d have a big family, but HE is the one who keeps delaying marriage! Reading about your life puts me a little closer to someone else’s miracles while mine are still on the way.

    Adoption for me was kind of… well, it wasn’t a natural or initial desire. When I was in my late teens/early 20s, I figured I’d have one kid in my life because “that’s what you’re supposed to do.” In time, and with the Chapman’s influence of adopting Shaoey, things changed a little. My heart opened to adoption and I thought… “Maybe having 2 or 3 kids wouldn’t be so bad… 1 or 2 could be adopted!” Over time I began to realize that I have NO desire to give birth to a biological child. My heart leans so heavily toward adoption. It was when I was at SCC’s Christmas concert about 6 or 7 years ago (it’s been that long?! yikes!) that God started speaking very clearly. “Emily,” He asked me, “how many children ARE you willing to adopt?” My response moved from “a maximum of 3″ to “whatever You would have for me, Lord!” At that moment He spoke a number to me that is still unfathomable… less than your family, but not by much!

    And now I wait. I get frustrated and want to move forward, but God is particularly good at making me wait for things in my life… So I do my best. And I connect with families like yours, and read your stories with HOPE for what God has planned–for both of us. That’s my story.

  13. I am torn between …. ‘Wow! It’s been seven years already???’ and ‘It’s only been seven years?’ Thomas has been home 8 years in April. Eli 7 years in May. We were both there together for the first two … and you kept going like the energizer bunny. We both had those [sometimes] dreaded military moves. The special needs. The retirement and trying to redefine life in the civilian world. Much of that captured on the dtc yahoo group. (remember those days???)

    My path to adoption started sadly with the death of our only biological child and an inability to carry another child. Scott and I talked about adoption after we had 3 or 4 biological. God decided otherwise. We were drawn to China because of the agency. At the time, they only did China adoptions. Instead of the dark haired little girl we were expecting, we came home with a white haired little boy. And God laughed. A year later – a fair skinned little girl.

    I refuse to drive a minivan so we had to stop. You, dear Stef, need a 15 pax for your crew. :) Actually there were other factors … we did try to #3.

    Yet – God has been carving our paths this entire time. The journey didn’t end. It is always new and challenging. Just this month we got rid of our final carseat (yippee!!!) and Eli can almost put her hair into a ponytail by herself. Almost. I am entering a new phase in this journey. As you are with Sophie and Isabelle. Please God help us all as the girls grow up.

    I look forward to the day we can sit and visit, watch our kids play, laugh, cry and pray together. One day dear friend. One day.

    Love you and have often prayed for ya’ll.
    Chris

  14. SleepyKnitter says:

    Hi, Stephanie! I’m a lurker. We have adopted four children from China and Taiwan but are down to three (long, painful story). When we started our family five years ago, we were not pursuing adoption as we were happy without children and busy with school, but adoption pursued us when the director of a Taiwanese orphanage who knew my parents contacted us and said that if we were interested in adopting, we’d better get busy (we were nearly 40 :-)). That was five years ago. It’s been a rough ride — we are maybe not a typical couple seeking adoption, maybe not a good choice for parents, maybe not who these kids most needed — but we deeply love our precious children and are working hard to figure out how best to parent these treasures. I spend a lot of time after the children go to bed, reading blog after blog looking for any snatch of wisdom. I feel that many of these bloggers (A Place Called Simplicity, Urban Servant, One Thankful Mom, Nations Around Our Table, etc.) are my parenting mentors in both spiritual and practical matters (if we can separate those ideas). Thank you for writing your blog! Blessings!

  15. What. a. difference. you make. I started reading your blog in 2011. We will travel for our little one late this spring, and your words and photos are every bit as encouraging, uplifting, and FUN as they were then! Thank you for sharing with us!

  16. Hi Stefanie!

    I don’t remember when I found your blog, but it was sometime before Vivi joined your family. I’ve loved it from the beginning. I feel a connection to you for several reasons. One – my precious gift of a son is from the same SWI as your Isabelle. Two – my son came to me with bcf. I emailed you and you answered all my questions so nicely, and I will be forever thankful that you encouraged me to bring him to Iowa for treatment. I was so excited on one of my trips there when I got to see in real life some of your family!

    I have three wonderful blessings from China – 2 daughters (11 and 8), and a 3 year old son who makes us laugh every day. I am so thankful for them all. It’s blogs like yours that helped me know that I could bring the third home, and I’m truly thankful every day that I did.

    Blessings to you and your family, and hoping for many more years of blogging. :)

    Kristin

  17. I am another delurker who usually doesn’t comment. I enjoy following adoption stories, especially the transition like Poppy made from scared to cautious to ok to happy. After reading several adoption blogs for a while, including yours, I now sponsor foster care for an 18 month old girl in China with Down’s Syndrome. So know that your blog inspires others to care for orphans from China. All the best,

    Bob D

  18. Hi! Love your blog (obviously!) I have been blogging for 7 years, too. My story is that after I gave birth to my first daughter, I had one miscarriage and then I got pregnant with identical twin daughters, Vivian and Annemarie. They were both stillborn due to a rare conditon (TTTS) – since that time, I’ve gone on to have two more daughters. I have wanted to adopt for a long time – my husband isn’t really on board with that, but hopefully someday… :-)

    Happy Blog-oversary! I hope you will share what your husband does for a living. I know how it is to try to maintain some privacy. My husband works in the film industry (on big movies and in reality TV) – and sometimes I blog about that, but mostly I don’t. I find it really hard to post about the celebrities we meet/know and the glamourous type stuff- and instead end up posting about taking my kids to the park. It’s just the way it goes…

    xoxo,
    Erika .

  19. Hello there,

    I have posted a few times over the years. I started following your blog right about the time that you were bringing Shepard home from China and then once we were matched realized that he was from the same Orphanage as our Zoe. Over the years I have enjoyed reading your blog and also loved that you were so strong in your faith. I decided I wanted the same thing that you had, wanted that relationship with God. We started attending church the Year we brought our daughter home and I was saved shortly after. Since then each of my four children have accepted Jesus into their hearts and even my stubborn husband has come around and is planning on going on a mission trip in March to Mexico. We are also in the early phases of saving money for our second adoption and leaning on God for it’s timing. I want you to know that I’ve not only been inspired by your love for orphans and your precious family but your love for God.

    Jennifer

  20. Stefanie, I have followed your blog since we began our first adoption in 2010. We now have 2 adopted daughters from China, 3 adult sons and 7 grandkids! You have inspired me to be the best me I can be! Your blog encouraged me to be more patient, more trusting in the Father and more brave. Because of you and Wild Olive, I have stepped out and begun a non profit to help others bring home their kiddos! AdoptiopnPartnerships.org I’ve even tried my hand at photography! I admit i’m not very good at it but I enjoy it much more than before and I’m sure to always have my camera ready cause you never know when you’ll catch the horse laughing! Thanks for all you’ve done and are going to do! I pray God will bless your move and He will be all over the process!

    Cheers,
    LaRita

  21. Ok, I suppose I’ll delurk! I haven’t been reading your blog too long… a think about a year or so. I believe a friend of mine had linked to it which is how I found it. I absolutely LOVE your photography! You really inspire me to work on mine. I finally began playing “Snapshot Sunday” this past Sunday. I will admit that the contest intimidated me since my photos really aren’t that great!

    I am 26 years old and have lived in China for the past 10 months working at a foster home for special needs orphans near Guangzhou. I am the 2nd olest of 7 children, the youngest adopted from China in 2002 which is how the Lord place adoption and China on my heart and long story short, why I’m living where I am today! I long to adopt one day and when my family adopted my sister when I was 16 I began “counting the years” until I was 30 and eligible! However, I’m still single and really want to get married first, but we shall see. All in the Lord’s timing!

    Your family and your faith is an encouragement to me. I love big families and always wanted a big family (I loved growing up in a somewhat large family!) and therefore love reading about yours. Thanks or being so open and willing to share your heart.

    Blessings to you, my friend!

    Anneli

  22. Ni hao! I will also de-lurk! I found your blog via a blog roll right as you were bringing home Poppy. I am an American who lives in Shanghai and I love, love, love the stories and pictures of your family. We have always talked about adopting a baby from China and you make it all seem possible. Thank you for the inspiration!

  23. I have been a quiet reader for several years now. I don’t remember exactly how long but I looked back through some of your posts over the past years and remembered many from 2007 and a few from 2006. I found your blog after looking it up based on what a family from my church had written on their adoption blog about being inspired by your writings. I am a single lady in my late 20s with a passion for orphans and vulnerable children. I have always felt called to work with young children in some way and loved working with orphans and vulnerable children during college trips and internships abroad. I studied cross cultural studies in college and now live in the middle of nowhere in the basement of my parent’s house. Not at all where I thought I would be when I imagined my life so many years ago. My job is a job and not close to what I studied in college. I work full time at a place where I don’t mind the work but I am usually very frustrated with the people. I am in the process of looking for a job elsewhere but it has been hard because I am not sure what I should be doing! I just need to figure out what I want to be when I grow up. ;) I thought I knew what God wanted me to do when I was in college but after many doors were closed I have been second-guessing almost everything ever since . Living in the middle of nowhere I do not have a social life and so online reading has become what I do for fun. I spend hours online as I don’t have anything else to do. I always enjoy reading your posts, seeing your beautiful pictures, and hearing about what God is doing in your life. Your heart for adoption is evident and it has been a blessing to follow along on your journey. Thanks for sharing!

  24. Stefanie,
    I am a single mom and we used myadoptionwebsite.com since Sophie and I’ve been a follower ever since. Olivia came home in Sept. 2006. I was crushed when I heard that China closed it doors to single parents, but I knew in my heart my family wasn’t done growing. I prayed, fasted, and cried and I was lead to Haiti. I was given a referral of a beautiful Haitian little girl On Jan. 10 and the devastating earthquake happened on Jan. 12. She was placed in my arms life lifted out of Haiti on Feb. 13. My life is has forever been changed. My favorite t-shirts are my olive tees and I often give them as gift. So keep blogging, your adventures/daily lives make us all smile. Happy Anniversary

  25. Sue Mom of Two says:

    I confess, I AM a lurker Yours is one of my FAVORITE blogs……never miss it.
    Best of luck in your house-hunting adventure!

  26. Yes! God used you to help change my husbands heart about adoption. Hesaw the beautiful faces and could no longer deny what he knew in his heart to be true. Thank you! We are currently waiting for our 1-800a. Then off to the consulate. Kelleyn

  27. Even though we know each other through AOW I haven’t commented in awhile…..shame on me! Our family was recently blessed with a little last minute addition of little Avery Lynn. A pleasant surprise to say the least.
    I love reading about all the kiddos, admiring your photography, and how you keep so organized (although you might not agree….but I do)
    Congrats on 7 years of blogging and all the best on the house hunt! I hope you find something big enough for even the horsie!!

  28. As of two weeks ago, my husband and I are seriously considering and praying about adopting through the same program you and your family have. I share your story with him often, and we would have never known about the program if it were not for you. My heart has been plucked for a few months now, and out of the blue when we were on a date he brought up the idea. If that’s not God, I don’t know what is. Thank you for the gift.

  29. Yes, I have been “lurking” on your blog for almost 2 years. I love it and and I am inspired all the time by your words. You have such a wonderful family and I hope the blogging continues for a very long time! We are currently waiting to be matched with our daughter (from China), and your blog has been a huge inspiration to me as we have walked this road. Thanks for all you do!

  30. I will delurk as well. I have been reading your blog since you brought home Sophie and I love reading stories about your family and your adoptions. I have three biological children and hope to adopt someday. My husband is still not on board with adoption so I am patiently (okay maybe some days not so patient:) waiting for God to change his heart. Your posts really helped me see that I can push and talk to him about adoption all I want but that he just wasn’t ready and it was adding a lot of stress to our marriage. So for now I do what I can to help the orphans in China, sponsor children, and volunteer when I can. Congrats on 7 years of blogging and for sharing your family with all of us!

  31. Morning Stef – I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember how I found your blog – it’s been a good minute – we started our adoptions BB (before blogs)! but have been blogging since before Braelyn’s and that was coming up on 6 years ago I think, it may well have been that long ago.

    Suffice to say that at times I had “issues” with your thoughts – and other times I felt “unworthy” to be reading – but that’s like any relationship isn’t it? Mostly I’m here because it’s “real” – at least as “real” as one might be willing to share with friends – and a friendship is what I feel like we’ve developed over the years. And that’s a good thing!

    God’s Blessings on y’all as you start the next big chapter in your lives – can’t wait to hear what the new job is and where in the world it will take you!

    Here’s to another 7 years of hugs –

    aus and co.

  32. We have three bio kids, two adopted from China and a dairy farm. Our most recent adoption story has been very difficult since our daughter is very sick one week out of every four. I have been struggling with my attitude but know in my heart and mind that God is sovereign and that he will use this to refine us if we allow him. I’m also praying that God will help me do a better job of balancing between our sick kid and well ones.
    I love seeing the pictures of your kids and marvel that your house always seems to be clean…or maybe that’s why you take pictures outside? :-P Lula looks a bit like our Emily.

  33. I *love* your blog, your beautiful pictures and heart for adoption. Two months ago we adopted our 7th child (first international adoption, but third adoption). Reading your blog made me more comfortable with the idea of traveling to China…although it was HUGE! I feel God calling me back to China for another heart kiddos…just need to find some $, have God show hubby this is His plan, and get through my son’s upcoming heart surgery :)

  34. Lisa Porter says:

    I have been following your blog (as a lurker) since your paper chase to Shepherd and enjoy it sooo much. I wish I were 20 years younger, but being in my sixties, I have to get my adoption ‘fix’ from the daughter of a dear friend, my great nephew home from China this past September, and blogs like yours. My respect and admiration for your and your family is boundless. Prayers go out as you start your new adventure! — Lisa P.

  35. Good morning! You blog is the first one I check each day and have been following since the beginning. Yep. All 7 years and before that on My Adoption Website. Have loved every post. You were one of the first families whose story opened my heart to adoption. My husband and I would very much love to adopt a boy from the special needs program in China. We have started the process a couple of times, but then my husband is let go and we can’t proceed. He is a civil engineer and it has been a rough go the last 3-4 years. He is once again looking. Fortunately I have a wonderful job so we are OK for now, but I’m not comfortable adding another child until his employment is more stable. Already have 3 bio kiddos at home, Anna 10, Ryan 8 and Sarah 3, and 2 step children just out of college.

    Thank you so much for showing us that there is always a way to make room for a child that needs a family and there is plenty of love to go around.

    Praying for the ability to move forward,
    Karrie in southern Indiana

  36. Rachel Stahley says:

    Stefanie-
    I found you many years ago when you were adopting Sophie. My great aunt informed me of you because our Olivia was also from Guilin. I have felt a connection to you from day one. I have rooted for you and cried with you through the years. You are truly an inspiration to me. I still think you have a knack for finding the absolutely cutest kids in China. Their smiles and joy take my breath away.
    Good luck in this latest chapter of your life. One thing I can say for certain….you do not lead a quiet boring life!!

  37. Yes, I have been a quiet reader for a few years. I stumbled upon you from Jean Mulvahill’s blog. Just returned from Created 4 Care and wanted to speak to you, but I am a bit of an introvert. God has given you a significant sphere of influence. Thank you for lifting the name of Jesus higher in the way you write. It has been inspiring, heart warming and challenging to get a peek into your heart and home. May I also say thank you for the way you honor your husband and your marriage.
    A little about us…we have 9 kids, 2 are from Kazakhstan and 2 little tykes from China since Nov. We have a heart for boys so I am in awe of you and Jean as you love on all those girls. We have been married 22 years. It is our joy and honor to say ‘yes’ to Jesus as he leads.

  38. Hi Stefanie. I started reading your blog when you were nearly at the point of travel for Poppy and we were part way through our own Chinese adoption for our Zoe. Watching Poppy struggle and then bloom was an incredible encouragement to me when we met Zoe, because she was deep within herself, grieving and terrified, and much more physically delayed that we had been told. I took comfort in the “blooming” of Poppy as we tried to reach Zoe. It gave me faith to keep trying. And now our Zoe is amazing – not delayed at all, smart and bouncy, and she never stops talking!

    Thanks so much for your honesty in your struggles. God bless your move!

    Laura

  39. Stef…you know our story but i will post it for ya too. We have 4 biological children…Our family met your family when you were in Iowa getting casts forJude! My heart was always on board for adoption, my husbands heart just hadn’t been moved yet! God works in mighty ways because…when my husband chatted with yours when you were here my mans heart was open to adopt! We started our process 5 1/2 years ago…we are still waiting. We chose to adopt from ES and now the completion is looking bleak. We had a domestic case fall through almost 3 years ago. We are available for God to use us! Even if it is through helping our friends bring their kiddos home!!!! Your blog and support through all has been amazing! Wild Olive tees, rocks, too. You and your family are dear friends of ours! I am also thankful our men can converse on work with each other!….we are blessed by your crew! To HIM give all the glory!!!
    Hugs

  40. Judy Boswell says:

    You changed my life too. You gave me my precious granddaughter who was waiting in China. My son and daughter in law were waiting for a healthy baby. The wait got longer and longer. They were hesitant about the new special needs program. I told them about your special needs children. At that time, that was Isabelle and Sophie. They started looking at the special needs program and brought home my granddaughter who has a cleft lip and cleft palate. You couldn’t ask for a smarter healthier child. She is absolutely beautiful too. She has accepted Christ so another wonderful story is unfolding.

  41. we must have started blogging at the same time — my blog is 7 years old too and i do cringe at my first attempts at posting!

    i have so enjoyed following your story– you inspire me to do more with our non-profit. we had only meant to adopt 2 kiddos to finish our family- 1 girl and 1 boys– but God had other plans– our Ben came home with a death sentence 6 months early and that changed our hearts forever— we headed up a non-profit to provide better care for orphans in his province- but even more– it opened up my heart to bring home 2 more sweet boys- with special needs we had always said no to.

    but now– now i struggle… we have 6 kiddos now– all under the age of 10—- parts of me want to be done growing our family and is ready to enjoy and raise it– we’ve spent the last 6 years in some sort of process of adoption– but yet it is so hard for me to say we are done when i know there’s more room in my heart– so that is my daily struggle. i feel God wanting me to focus on advocating and fundraising– a hard transition for me to make!
    :)

  42. Hello Stephanie ! I am Ally , mommy to one beautiful special needs girl form China.
    China adoption has been in my heart since I was 11 or 12. Somehow I just new in my heart that I would not be able to have bio kids and that China was where my daughter was. Fast forward to later in life with a wonderful husband, the year is 2007 and that is when I “met” you through your blog. I love your stoires, pictures and heart. You seem to pour it all out there and I can truley say you helped us move forward to our forever family.
    Thank you for your candor, your kind words and for sharing with us your world. I do follow you and particiapate in Sunday Snapshot and have “met” some really neat people by doing so.
    Happy Bloggy Day !
    And THANK YOU again for all you share and do for the adoption community you are a soure of knowledge and HOPE.
    Ally

  43. Sweet, sweet friend. The Lord used YOU to bring us to heart babies. I have been a reader for years {probably 4+} but it was Esther that the Lord used to convict us to bring home a heart baby. Her ultimate homecoming and your blog post from that terrible beautiful time…put us on the road to Seth. As you well know, and have been so precious to love on me through, Seth and Esther are now praising Jesus in Heaven with perfected hearts and basking in His presence. I imagine she welcomed him right in on that November morning. Esther is in my heart…she led me to my boys. Seth and now our beautiful Gabe whose heart has also been made well {Praise God on THIS side of Heaven} and is right this moment in surgery for his other needs.

    My gratitude to you cannot be measured. I’m so humbled to be your friend. To have been asked by you to share monthly on NHBO. And to see and love the beautiful Jesus in you. Much love to you and yours.
    For His fame~
    Kam

  44. Your blog is one of the first I check each day! I rarely comment, just because I am lazy, haha. I started reading right before you changed the blog name to Ni Hao Y’all. So I can’t remember which kiddo that was. Maybe I found you from My Adoption Website. I use to spend hours on there! We started our China adoption in 2006 and were LID in 2007. After being logged in for a few months I was ready to go SN but God sent us a surprise domestic adoption. Once we got settled with our son and were ready to switch to SN again we found out we were surprisingly pregnant. Once we got settled with baby #2 we FINALLY made the switch to SN and brought our daughter home last year. I would love to do it again, but my husband strongly disagrees. So I am leaving it in God’s hands :)

    I LOVE your passion for God and adoptions. And your pictures are too shabby either ;)

    Julie

  45. I love your blog! I have 2 beautiful girls from China. Traveled in 2009/2012. Your writing is terrific – honest and faith filled. Thank you for what you do!

  46. I have been reading and lurking for many years. I have 2 daughters from Vietnam but enjoy reading all adoptions blogs. I check yours everyday. I wish to lean on God as you do. You truly inspire me. Don’t stop blogging please.

  47. I’ve never posted a comment before on your blog, but read it often. As a pastor’s wife, I know a little of what it is to live your life before the whole world, so to speak. It’s not alway easy. And yes, at times the desire to shut out the public for the vulnerable parts of our lives is very tempting. Thank you for sharing your passion for the Lord and for His children. God has used your blog in my life to open my heart to the need of orphan’s around us. I know that He is not done writing our story, though I wish I could say that it has led clearly to adoption. We keep praying and know by faith that He will direct our steps as we lean into Him. Your blog has helped us see the need and bring it before our church people. It was moving this fall as a team from our church went to Haiti to work in an orphanage there. It was a small step, but a step and you had a part in that. We continue to pray for bigger things from our big God. Keep sharing. Your example and transparency are a breath of fresh air.

  48. Hi Stefanie-

    I believe that I am a lurker. I think I saw your blog on PW’s website and started following your story right before Viv came to join your family, when I was in college. You have been such an encouragement to me as a role model mother and a wife, but especially as a believer in Christ. And then you love my pastor- Matt Chandler! I have felt a tug for adoption and lots of kids, but you show in such tangible ways that it’s possible to follow the Lord in obedience and joy!

    This past year, I got married to an incredible man, and the God has used you to teach me to joyfully submit and trust my husband to be led by the Lord. We are not in the stage of kiddos yet, but we are awaiting the day we are able to extend unconditional love through adoption.

    Thank you for being open with the best and challenging parts of life. Thank you for being authentic in the way that you paint your relationshipa and walk with the Lord. Please know that your time and effort is not in vain. Our Father is using you to teach and mold so many- including a young wife in Texas.

  49. Hi Stephanie! I started reading a few years ago when we were waiting to bring home our son from S. Korea. I’ve been so blessed as I’ve continued reading. I am a pastor’s wife in DE. We have 3 kids, 2 bio and one special needs adoption. Praying about adopting again. Thanks for sharing your story! I fell in love with wild olive tees too :).

  50. Hi Stefanie! I’m Kelly I found your blog in late 2008, a few months after God placed adoption and China on my heart. I was spending my free time researching and reading adoption blogs and came across yours. I was ‘checking in’ every week or so, but by mid 2009 I was a regular follower. You inspire me. I love how you and Chris put the Lord first and your snippets of daily life are so much fun to read. Love your writing and photography too. I’m the one who sent you some embroidered hair bows and the wristlet key fob a few years ago. We started the adoption process in 2010, but faced a job loss and had to put it on hold. It’s been difficult being in the “waiting room” for so long, but reading your blog (and many others) that are constantly teaching and encouraging me reminds me that I am in God’s “work room” as He perfects us for what He has planned- and I continue to believe that involves bringing home a child from China.

    Blessings!
    Kelly in VA

  51. Stephanie – I have been lurking and reading your blog for a while. We were actually in China at the same time as you were last year. I saw you whiz by me at the medical checkup in Guangzhou with Lula in your arms. I wanted to say hi in person but it was a crazy time with our little one crying and screaming during the whole time we were there! And just didn’t manage to make it to where you were in time before we were being hustled out by our guide. Sorry about that. Love the blog – please keep it up. M

  52. Allison S. says:

    I hate to admit it, but I’m a lurker :) I stumbled upon your blog through a random chain of events and am so glad to have done so! Your words have renewed my faith and helped bring me to a very good place with God. And while adoption has been on my mind and heart for years (I’m 28) your story really brings that peace to me that it is definitely in my future. I’m very happy you continue to tell your study and share in such an honest and I am sure sometimes scary way. You’re one impressive mama.

  53. I think I started following your blog while we were waiting to travel to adopt our second son from China, but I can’t remember exactly. You were waiting for Vivienne. I so enjoy following your family’s story, especially because it is full of faith and trust in God. My husband and I have adopted two beautiful sons from China and would love to go back to China again for another little one–or not-so-little one–one day.

  54. You are a breath of fresh air, Stephanie. I love how you are so transparent with your life, struggles, and feelings.
    Keep sharing!

  55. I can tell you, Stefanie that your blog has been a favorite of mine back in the days when I was in the China program. God steered us in a different direction and we adopted our son at birth from my cousin. It’s been amazing to see how our family has flourished with our adoption experience. I can’t even put into words the ways it has changed me. It’s been a true joy to watch your kids really blossom. You inspire me. I am dog tired. Working full time and being a new mom is no joke. All I have to do is think about what you must have on your plate with all of your kiddos and I can somehow muster up the energy to do that one more thing that always seems to need to be done. I don’t know how you do it, but you somehow do.

  56. I found your blog through 3 peanuts. I like to read blogs, but seldom comment. I don’t blog myself, but enjoy catching up on everything and sharing the excitement of others :) I am happily married with 3 biological boys and 2 step children. I love children and seeing how wonderful people like you give them a forever home! I admire the closeness of your family and and your faith. You are an inspiration to all.

    Bridget

  57. Absolutely your blog was instrumental in our pursuit of a Chinese child for adoption. I had become friends with Amie during our Ugandan adoption…and then I was inextricably drawn back to your blog to look at your gorgeous children…loved reading it of course…and then lo and behold God introduces us to our Toby! He was ours! He was waiting around on the Shared List forever…and now we get to travel in a matter of weeks to bring him home! Amen and Hallelujah! Thank you for your sweet blog! Happy Bloggy Day!! :)

  58. I lurk off and on when I have time :) however, I always appreciate your authenticity, humor and obvious love for God and your family. I love your stories and pictures and your heart for adoption; thank you for being so open to sharing your life with all of us! Thank you for being honest in your triumphs and struggles and allowing us a glimpse of Gods work in your life.

  59. Love your blog! I don’t post too often but I read every post :) Love your photography and your beautiful family. Thank you for sharing your faith. I have found it quite helpful, as I too so often pray to follow God’s will. Specifically, these past few months, I have been praying for God to move a mountain, if that is His will. We have 3.5 year old daughter adopted from China in 2010. My heart is so heavy with the desire to return for a mei mei. My wonderful hubby is not so sure. (We also have college age boys and we are not spring chickens). I have been praying for God to stir something in my husbands heart. I may have seen a glimmer of hope this weekend! My husband provides so well for our family, and I know the “financials” of another adoption worry him. Anyway, I will keep praying for that door to be opened, if it is God’s will. Thanks for continuing to inspire so many.
    Ashley

  60. Stefanie –
    Congrats on 7 years!!! I can’t believe I have “known” you for that long…I remember first coming to your brand new blog from My Adoption Website! You know that you have been more than instrumental in planting a seed in our hearts for China. I have always known I would adopt, but had never thought of China before I read your (and a few other family’s) stories!! Since then, you have gotten me connect with AOW – where I am the Fundraising Driector and we were LID for our first little one on 12/24/12!! As I think you know, we were completely surprised when we found out we were pregnant in the middle of our paperchase, so we hope to match with our child sometime after our son is born this spring! THANK YOU for being an inspiration to so, so many people. I can’t even imagine how many less orphans there are becuase of your family’s story!! Can’t wait to follow along on the next phase of your forever!!
    With Hugs, Blessings and so much Gratitude, Ashley

  61. Happy 7th Blog Birthday. It is my blog’s 6th birthday today too!! I hope that you have a successful house hunting trip….

    I’ve been following along since before Shepherd came home and I have often prayed for everything to go well with all of your plans.

  62. Happy 7 Years, Stefanie!! You and Chris have both blessed many people as you shared your personal story of faith and following God’s will for your lives. I have enjoyed getting to know you over the years and it has been a treat to see your ADORABLE children adorn the pages of your blog. May God continue to bless you and your family!!

  63. Happy Blog Birthday!!

    I haven’t followed that long, maybe a year or two?? Maybe longer.. But I can tell you God has used you, your family and your blog to speak to me, to stretch my heart and mind in regards to adoption. And special needs adoption. Thank you for writing, and thank you for your honesty and transparency. I so hope God will open the doors to allow us to adopt again, soon..

  64. Hi Stefanie.

    I’m de-lurking, I believe for the first time since I added your blog to my Google Reader. Which was… Almost four years ago? I found you when Pioneer Woman posted about Wild Olive, and I was drawn to your story immediately. I started following your blog when I was twenty, a junior in college and what felt like a thousand years from considering children or a family. Your story could not have been (and honestly, cannot BE) more different from my own, and I often find myself wondering if you’d be so quick to talk to me if we met in real life (I feel this way about a lot of my favorite bloggers). I hope you would. Your openness about your faith, the many ways in which you and your family bend and twist and stretch to make room for each new call… I find your honesty incredibly refreshing, in the blogging world where it can often seem like the world is full of wealthy, impeccably-dressed mothers parenting their gorgeous genius children without so much as a temper tantrum or dirty diaper– these blogs have their place, certainly, and I love them for what they are, but I love YOU and yours for the challenges and the heartache you’ve shared so willingly with your readers.
    So, from me (a liberal twenty-four year old congregationalist graduate of a women’s college who lives with a partner whom she can only legally marry in nine states, and who will inevitably struggle–for thousands of reasons– to parent the ONE child she someday hopes to have, whether biological or adopted) to you, thank you for sharing your topsy-turvy, bewildering, messy, loud, joy-filled, faith-bound, perfectly imperfect world with me.

  65. Congratulations on the blog anniversary, and on your upcoming changes in life. Change is scary but so exciting. I do think that always moving forward is the best way. I love your blog, it has been one of my resources in starting our adoption journey. I also think your photography is amazing, and I love your daily updates on all your sweet babies. I’m sad that you are leaving NC, I was hoping to meet you one day, maybe after we get to scoop up our little one in China.

  66. Ever since I was a little girl I knew I wanted to adopt. I always knew that it would be part of my story. When I was a junior in High school I started dating a family friend. His parents had adopted two little girls from China and I became quite close with his mom. I would read her blog and she would send me links to other blogs she read, including yours. Our relationship was always long distance. He lived in California and I lived in Oregon. Everyone often joked that when I came to visit I was actually coming to visit his little sisters. Over the years I was there when they brought home two more treasures. In August of 2012 I married my high school sweet heart and gained a huge new family. It has always been my plan to adopt but I believe God brought my husband and his family into my life. I can’t wait to see what plans God has for us. Thank you for sharing your story. I know that from reading your story and many others that I have been more prepared for the day we adopt. I know it won’t always be easy but it will always be worth it. Through you I’ve learned of AOW and the many other programs that help orphans. You have also inspired and pushed me to work on my photography! Thank you and happy 7th Blog Birthday!

  67. Mostly de-lurking, although I may have commented a couple of times over the years. I’ve probably been reading about 4 years – God’s been working on my heart regarding orphan care over that time. We’ve implemented Orphan Sunday recognition at church, started personally supporting An Orphans Wish, started a fundraiser for an orphans in Ukraine, and an orphan/adoption care ministry is being considered at our church……it warms my heart to type all of that out – as we’ve come a long way, and have a long way to go. I love the story of your family, and am so grateful that you share! Your heart journey encourages me to be open to what God has planned for our family (and church family!). Thank you!

  68. Hi Stefanie,
    I have been following you since you were in China with Shep. You brought much Hope following your story as we waited and waited in the long process to adopt that we started in 2007, October was our LID. We brought our DD home Sept. 2011, after finally heading to the special needs list. We haven’t been happier and I have always enjoyed your stories and hope along the journey! Praying for your needs this week! And thanks for blogging!

  69. Well, let’s see. We started our process to bring our daughter home from China in March 2010. At the time I maintained (that being an important description) a blog that went along with my on-line store and decorating business. Of course once we started the ball rolling with the adoption I found myself searching adoption blogs. And that’s when I found you. I read..I admired…I marveled. I also searched photo listings of children…foster homes in china..everything I could get my hands on. It wasn’t until I checked in on your blog one day to see the face of sweet Esther. It caught my breath I had seen this photo and marveled at that little beauty before…I remember reading the information and praying for her precious fragile heart. All of this to say…minus the details that creep even me out….I am looking at my precious baby who was born with CHD,TOF…as she is napping in her new “so Loved” tshirt and thinking that you inspire me to be brave…to trust Jesus with every fiber of my being. (you are so lucky I didn’t stalk you like a crazy person this weekend!!)

  70. I am also a lurker :) I’ve been following your blog for a little less than a year and your blog is definitely one of my favorites. My story is I never wanted kids — ever — and then God slowly started to change my heart and we have two little girls under 2.5 years. Now I feel God is changing my heart to include even more kids in our family, both bio and adopted. I’ve been researching international adoption for a while now and China was never on my list of countries to consider but now I feel most strongly about pursuing a SN adoption from China when my hubby turns 30. I love your blog for it’s encouragement and peek into what life is like when God says “you’re not finished growing your family.” :)

  71. Stefanie,

    When I first started talking to a friend about adoption she told me that there was a blog I had to read and gave me your address. I have appreciated your writing and all of the insights that you have shared. I actually emailed you asking questions about adoption agencies last summer and your answer really helped my husband and I in finding our agency. We are working with Lifeline and LOVE them. We have PA for a beautiful 2 year old boy from Guangzhou and are currently waiting for LOA. Hoping we can travel in June. I’ve been scouring your past posts lately looking for travel advice :-) Thanks for sharing about your journey; your blog is definitely a ministry to so many adoptive families.

    Debbie

  72. I first came to you when Ree posted about Wild Olive Tees. I am momma to two beautiful little girls and at this moment am pretty sure that is all we have planned but I feel like God is prepairing me for something and waiting to see what it could be. I so enjoy reading your simple stories and seeing your beautiful family.

  73. Tina Lutz says:

    How your story might have impacted our story, you ask?? Let’s just say, the Lord is using your family/blog in MIGHTY ways. My husband recently asked me, “What inspires you, Tina?” Without hesitation, I said, “NiHaoYall & NoGreaterJoyMom”. I honestly sense the Spirit’s nearness when I read about your family and Adeye’s family.
    Thank you, thank you for taking time out of your busy day to sit down and post. I pray you sense the Lord’s pleasure as you continue to allow Him to work through you.

  74. I’m embarrassed to admit that I am a major lurker! Not just on your blog, but quite a few others that I’ve found through your Sunday Snapshots.

    I found your blog about a year ago, I think through NoHandsButOurs, as we were just beginning our adoption journey. I was immediately hooked and spent hours and hours reading past blog posts and enjoying all the pictures of your beautiful family.

    My husband and I had always wanted to adopt, but wanted to have a biological child first. Seven years into our marriage without getting pregnant, we decided that the plan we had for ourselves might not be God’s plan for our family, so we began the process of adopting from China. Two days after our first home study meeting, we were shocked to discover that we are expecting! So now instead of one child in the next year or two, we will be getting TWO!

    Every time I start to feel overwhelmed about how much our lives will change in the near future, I think about you, Stephanie. Your grace, humility, faith and humor have been such an inspiration to me. I can’t imagine how many directions you are pulled every single day, yet you always have a smile on your face, a heart of gratitude and the sweetest, happiest kids I’ve seen. I don’t know how you find the time to blog, but I am so glad you do. I check it almost every day and just can’t get enough. Even my husband, who teases me about reading too many blogs, always comes over to see what you’ve posted if I tell him I’m reading yours. We are both just in awe of you and your family.

    And Poppy is the number one reason we checked “limb difference” on our medical needs checklist. Your recent post about her love for her “little hand” made me cry. How precious!

    Praying for you all and hoping the upcoming move is as smooth as possible. May God continue to bless you!

  75. Hello Stef!

    I want to start out and admit that I am one of your lurkers. I’ve been reading your blog for about a year and I love it! I stumbled across your blog accidentally and I am so happy I did. I have always envisioned that my husband and I would adopt. I thought about this as a child, but never really looked into adoption until I found your blog. I have prayed and fasted to know God’s plan for my husband and me when it comes to adoption and I know this is something we must do. My heart belongs to China’s SN treasures. Unfortunately, we are too young to adopt from China. (I’m 26 and my husband is 27.) I’m not sure what we are to do in the meantime. I love reading your blog. It inspires me; especially when I feel uncertainty is trying to get the best of me. Thank you so much for the time you selflessly give to us. We appreciate it!

  76. Lurker here! Your story has really touched me. I have always wanted to adopt and have a big family, but everyone around me would just shake their heads. Your blog has let me know that being happy and having a big family through adoption really is possible. Ni Hao Y’all and your family have truly inspired me and, most of all, have brought me closer to God. Thank you!

  77. Hi Stephanie
    I’ve been reading your blog since right before you went to China to pick up Vivi!! I found you while we were researching and WAITING for our daughter (who was “suppose” to be from China but turned out being from South Korea! You know how God works!! ;) Our daughter came home Oct 2011, she has CP…and your site NO hands but ours was a wonderful tool to help calm our “fears” about special needs kiddos! Yeah!!! Anyhow…it has been such a joy and encouragement to read your blog. Our family has been blessed to support an Orphans Wish thanks to you bringing it to our attention! And in general I’ve been super encouraged by your honesty, courage, and humor! You are a “friend” in more ways than you know! Gods richest blessings to you as you look for a new home!! Im gonna miss your current home….seriously, the pictures are amazing!! We’re on the west coast…but I would’ve called and asked to come for a visit if I lived closer! haha…for reals! :) Okay, I’ll check in with ya later! ~Carolyn

  78. Hi Stephanie,

    I’m delurking! I’ve been reading your blog since about the time you were waiting to bring home Poppy. I love reading your posts, but I especially love looking at your photos. They are beautiful! God has used your blog and a number of other blogs to teach me about adoption and the value of every child! Thank you for sharing your life! I’ll be praying for you and your family as you make this new transition!

  79. Michelle Parker says:

    Hi, Stefanie. I’ve been quietly reading and enjoying your blog since the summer of 2010. It is safe to say that your blog has been instrumental in opening my eyes to the Lord’s call to care for the orphan. Thank you for sharing your family, faith and passions with the rest of us!

  80. Quickly delurking:

    Friend adopted from china many, many, many years ago, and got caught in the beginning of the slow down. Followed them so I knew some of what I would be in for when I adopted. I found you somehow through them, but I cannot remember at all how, Always had dreams of adopting from China. But I turned 30 right before they nixed singles the first time. Thought “well I have lots of time.” Still single, still hope to maybe some day adopt from China. Health reasons that cropped up in the last 2 years will probably prevent that. But if it will be, it will be.

    In the mean time I support when I can, read what I can, send thoughts to all, and hope. Somewhere, someday.

    Thank you for sharing your story, and your children. They make me smile :)

  81. Awww-look at all that inspiration!! I havent been following you for too long but I am SO thankful you took the time to email me after I emailed you about some of our questions about starting our own adoption. Thank you so much for your support and heart! your heart in following God has inspired many!!! I know in just the short time I have followed you you have inspired me.

  82. I’m a single adoptive mom and am having a case of baby love. I get my fix by reading adoption blogs and living vicariously through the wonderful families I stalk/follow. I really enjoy your blog!

  83. Hi Stefanie, I’ve been following your blog for a few months now. I love reading about your beautiful, mixed-culture family! I am connected to New Day Foster Home in Beijing, though I worked at the school rather than the foster home. I hope to adopt someday from Asia, but would want to be married before making that kind of decision, so I’ll wait until that happens before taking steps in that direction. In the meantime, I’ve started volunteering with the adoption ministry at my church and have really enjoyed it. Thanks for writing!

  84. You’ve become a part of my vocabulary…you’re my “Ni Hao Yall” friend, or “you know, the gal with all the kids” when I tell a funny story to my husband.
    I’ve always felt a pull towards adoption, even before we discovered fertility “issues”. We have one wonderful IVF miracle of a 3 year old and a 4 month old that God provided for us to conceive and deliver on our/His own–shocking us all (except God). So, as I pray that God will still lead us to adoption for our family, he certainly has put the orphan as my heart call. And you, my “Ni Hao Yall” friend, have made me see that you don’t have to look for the “perfect” child to adopt [what is perfect anyway?], but often the broken turn out to be just the right kind of beautiful.

  85. I’m a newbie. I’ve only been reading your blog for a couple of months, but I read the back story on each adoption. I’m a health education professor at a small university. I have two biological children (5 and 1) and am planning on adopting a special needs child from China for our next one. We meet all qualifications except for net worth (student loans) so we’re waiting a few years to see if we can make some progress in that area.

    Thanks for all the information and for sharing your life! I’ve learned a bunch and love looking at your beautiful family :) If anyone has information on a loophole regarding net worth, I’d be all ears!

    Happy house hunting!

    • Carrie K. says:

      Jill ~

      It’s not really a loophole, but I would strongly recommend that you do more in-depth research before you rule out or postpone your adoption based on net worth.

      My husband and I are just beginning our adoption and we were worried about the net worth issue as well. We thought it would be really close or we might have to wait a while to adopt. We have a lot of student loan debt as well as our mortgage.

      Please be aware that there are a lot of things that can be counted towards your net worth. Obviously you would count the equity in your home, any bank accounts, any retirement (401K) or investment accounts, etc. Some of the things we hadn’t thought of counting were the values of our vehicles, our jewelry (engagement ring, etc.) and our home furnishings. The home furnishings value was based on the insurance replacement value listed on our homeowner’s insurance. Check your policy and you may be surprised at how much your belongings are valued at. It put us way over what we needed to meet the net worth requirement. And it wasn’t like we were being sneaky or anything. The net worth form we filled out for our agency actually asked for the insurance values.

      I’m not sure if all agencies calculate net worth in the same way, but please look into it. You may be pleasantly surprised to discover that you can get started sooner than you think!

      Good luck!

  86. Hi Stefanie! I enjoy your blog to the utmost! From the beautiful kids on down to that hilarious horse!! Not sure how I found your blog, but I’m willing to bet that is was Diana of (First a Pearl…). I and my husband are parents to 4 grown kids, 9 grandkids and newly adopted 5yr old. I admire your LOVE FOR THE LORD, FAMILY and all things pleasing to HIM.Thank you for allowing me to follow along.

  87. I started following y’all when Poppy came along :) Your writing is so inspiring and your pictures are beautiful! Happy bloggy day!!!

  88. Hey Stefanie,
    I can’t even remember how I found your blog, but once I did I was hooked and had to keep reading. I think it was right around the time that Poppy came home {probably a few weeks before} and it was so touching reading about you going and seeing the pictures of you together…tear…so very, very sweet. I have been married for 2 1/2 years and last summer God blessed us with our own sweet baby girl. I’m loving being her mommy and I look forward to watching her grow and teaching her about the Lord. I love your big family and I would so love to adopt a Chinese baby as well … we’ll see what God has planned for us though.
    I love your pictures, too. I love taken pictures and just got a sweet new DSLR camera right before Christmas. :D You inspire me!! I look forward to reading how God leads your family to the next adventure! God bless!

  89. PS Happy Birthday! :)

  90. Hi Stephanie! I lurk everywhere. I think I’m one of the rare people who manage to still feel shy – even when hidden behind the great Internet curtain. I started reading your blog just before Poppy came home. You had just been to the Pioneer Woman’s lodge, which is how I found you. It inspired me to adopt! But my hubby wasn’t on board. He flatly told me that he never wanted to raise OPK (other people’s kids). So I shelved the thought and told God that the ball was in his court now. I was open if he wanted to work on hubby. All these years later, we are now foster parents. We’ve had lots of sweet faces come through our home but the best is still here. We have 3 bio daughters and last September we had a 9 day old boy placed in our home. He’s 4 1/2 months old now, sweet, chubby, and wonderful. It doesn’t look like he will be able to go home so we are praying that he can stay with us and be our beloved son. Whatever happens though, God is GOOD and we rejoice that we have been able to know and love this baby. Thanks for being real and showing your faith. It is a true blessing to peek into your world. ~April :)

  91. Delurking to say hey and congratulations on seven years of blogging. I enjoy reading your adoption stories, and though I’m not sure if adoption is personally in our future (my husband is not for it and it needs to be a unanimous decision), you have opened our eyes to how we can give our support in other ways. We now sponsor one of the children at the House of Love through An Orphan’s Wish. So thanks. :-)

  92. Congrats on 7 years of ANYTHING as a busy mama! Goodness!

    I ran across your blog in 2010 when we were ‘chasing for Hannah. Poppy popped up on advocacy sites right when China started officially allowing people to adopt 2 at once, and I remember showing my dh her picture and asking if we could bring her home, too. I guess I still have a soft spot for her, as whenever I see pictures of her here, they make me smile.

    Because of your blog, our SN checklist is much broader this time around. Specifically heart conditions and club foot were added due to how manageable you make them seem. (along with other issues we’ve been exposed to by other APs)

    My dh refers to your blog and some of the other large bio/adoptive mix family blogs as “the bad influences” in jest.

  93. Hi Stephanie,
    I’ve been following your blog for…oh, about 5 years now (really?!) and can’t even remember how I first found you. I have known my whole life that I was going to adopt but didn’t find out until 2007 that I was never going to be able to have my own birth-children. I got married in 2011 to a wonderful, loving man who understood that, and said that he was open to adoption to have a family, but has been pretty ambivalent since then. He’s younger than me, and not Christian, and I know all I can do is wait and pray that God will work on his heart. And he has! There have been times when my dear husband has told me that he wished he had children, but he still wasn’t sure about adopting someone else’s problems. He still has so many things that he doesn’t wish to give up (free time, disposable income, sleep). I’m 36 and about ready to pop with longing for a child. I know, I know that I will be a mother some day, and I know that it’s in God’s hands. In the meantime, I cruise the blogosphere looking for stories of other people adopting so that I can be familiar with the process and some of the challenges we might face somewhere down the road. And I look for encouragement from you and other families who have made it to the hugs at the end of the day, which is where I want to be.
    –Joy

  94. Your blog was one of the first ones I started reading when we first started our adoption process. I have loved watching your family grow through the years and love the pictures of your beautiful kiddos! We adopted our little girl, Haleigh, in May of 2010. She was 4 1/2 at the time and is now 7. For us this was a time of “starting over” as we have four older children, three of which are now married. We also have two little grandbabies. And we couldn’t be happier! :) Haleigh’s special needs were more significant than we expected but you “just learn to go with the flow and unexpected”. We also have an adult daughter with Down Syndrome that lives at home with us and it has been a fun journey watching Megan and Haleigh bond!

  95. Stefanie,
    Your blog has had a huge impact on us. We were doing our special needs checklist and we had said “no” to clubfoot, and it just so happened that stumbled onto your blog one day, which happened to be right before we submitted it to our agency. I realized that we could adopt a child with clubfoot after seeing how happy Jude was and then doing some more research on it. Well, we changed it to “yes” for clubfoot, and we recieved a referral for our daughter Natalie Grace…and she had clubfoot!

  96. Alright since you so sweetly asked, I am officially de-lurking! :)

    I believe I first “met” your family when you were almost bringing Shep or Jude home. I found you through The Pioneer Woman’s site when you had gone to her ranch for the Bakerella event! (that is SO long ago…. sorry for creeping!) Thank you so much for writing, and continuing to faithfully write.Your blog is a beautiful look into what adoption looks like in real life, to trust the Lord in big ways and small, and a testament to how faithful He is! I am a single gal, but orphans and adoption are close to my heart….. Lord willing, a man with the same heart and adoption will be in my future! Your blog is such a blessing. Happy blog-iversary!!

  97. My name is Beth and I’m a professional lurker. Now that I have that off my chest…

    I first started reading after C4C last year. I went to the I drive a bus class. I have 4 children and the oldest is 4 – 2 bio, 1 adopted, and 1 foster, who we found out today we will be able to adopt after a very God-filled day :) Your blog encourages me because in my real life we have very few friends who have more than 1 or 2 children and many people who think we are crazy for adopting our latest foster, especially since she has developmental delays. It’s refreshing to see a woman who understands being called to adopt and following that call even when it means lots or craziness at home, dealing with doctors and therapies, and having children stacked on top of each other in age. When I read i’m reminded that I’m not the only one and that I can rely on God to carry me one day at a time.

  98. I have been lurking for several years and am just amazed with you and your family. We just brought home our Little Dragon on the tenth of January after a seven year wait. Your blog and a few others help me get through some very difficult times during our very long journey. Thank you so much for sharing all that you do. Your photography is beautiful and I so enjoy reading each new post. Sending you good thoughts and best wishes from the “Little Green Thumb Family”!

  99. I read your blog all the time. Your family inspires me even though I’ll never be able to adopt. I’d be very sad if you closed up shop!

  100. Hi Stefanie,

    Congratulations! I have been following your blog since last October, and got so hooked that I went back and read most of your older posts! I love your honesty, your warm heart and your beautiful pictures.
    I am a Mom to two beautiful princesses. My oldest is 6 and has Juvenile Diabetes, she has had this since she was 2 years old.Last year we adopted our chinese princess from China, she is now 3. She has a bone disorder and can’t bend her arms. But that does not stop her from trying to do everything that her big sister does! She thinks she is not three but she calls herself ‘ little six’.
    And now our dossier is in China again and we are waiting for ‘ little number Three’ as the girls call her. We can’t wait to see who God has in mind for us!!
    When we were just married we already talked about adopting one day. But we had no idea that we would become the parents of three special needs kids! God definitely stretched us when our daughter got diabetes and we had to learn how to give shots every day. But through the difficult times life has gotten more precious to us. We value each other even more and we discovered that God has given us a very big love for Special Kids….
    One more thing, reading your blog made me realize that I am not the only woman crazy about sn adoption, faith, photography and family! I don’t know why I never realized that before :) I am really hoping to find some other women like that in my area to build up a friendship with. You know, the kind that you can actually talk to:) instead of just reading their beautiful blog..
    God Bless for you, Chris and the kids!
    Annelies

  101. Happy 7 years blogging!!!

    I found your blog when we first started our own journey to adopt. I did a search for China adoption blogs and yours turned up. When I found you, you were bringing Vive home. I was hooked to see what was happening next.

    When we finally started our process, and were told that it would be a long wait for the special needs that we were interested in, I knew something was not quite right, because I knew you were not having that long of wait with your babies. SO I emailed and asked your advice, and you emailed back, and told me that YES, the agency we had chosen was a slower one, and gave me several others to check in to. We contacted all the agencies you suggested and asked then a slew of questions, and narrowed it down to two choices. AND the hubby made the final choice. By following your advice, we had our daughter in our arms almost a year to the date of our application. AND would you believe, the two agencies we narrowed it down to, actually share guides in Guangzhou?

    Thanks for always having a heart for adoption and being available to answer all of our questions. BLessings to you and yours….

  102. I’ve been following your lovely family story since right around the time Poppy came home. (and have never commented) If I had my wish I’d have a houseful of children like you, but as I’m currently a single mother about 3/4 of the way through graduate school and time, living space, and finances are tight, I’m biding my time until I can adopt and add to my family. Through your blog and others, I get a glimpse of what can be, and some of what it takes to make it happen, and I thank you for that.

  103. Hi! I love reading your blog and seeing the pictures of your adorable kiddos! I have met Amie and Colleen and I am a BIG Wild Olive fan! I have 4 kids (my youngest was adopted from Ethiopia) and I hope to adopt again soon. Maybe from China this time ;)

  104. Love you… love your blog.. love your love of family and God… love that you’re not perfect and don’t profess to be.. love your huge heart for adoption… I’m 50, divorced, no children… not your demographic probably.. but reading your blog brings me so much joy.. and hope for the world.. and reminds me how great God’s love is.. and how cool it is to see it lived out.. not to mention your photography is awwwwesome!! … so Happy Blogaversary! Can’t wait to find out where y’all are going and what you’ll be doing!! woot woot..

  105. P.S. Will you adopt me?? I’d make a great Auntie! :-)

  106. Short time lurker! :) I’m not sure how I came across your blog, but I love reading your posts. I’ve gone back and read through some of your advice posts and they have been VERY helpful. You are so inspiring! I love looking at your pics too! :) beautiful family!

  107. About 6 and a half years ago I found you all on My Adoption Website and immediately fell in love with your family! Fast forward from then until now… I have adopted two children from Guatemala and recently came home with a beautiful daughter from China!

    p.s. after reading one of your journal entries and finding out you had a blog… I felt like I hit the jackpot! I was so excited that I would be able to read about your family and see pictures on a regular basis! =)

  108. Having just begun our own adoption process in March of 2011, I was always looking online for encouragement, information, other families who had adopted, etc. I began to notice many bloggers followed this site called “Ni Hao Y’all” and decided to click on it one night while at the beach with my family. Sometime around 2:00 am I had to MAKE myself stop and go to sleep, only to return the next morning! You were in the waiting process to bring Poppy home. Andy and I fell in LOVE with your sweet Poppy and followed your journey every single day from that point on, cheering her on, just waiting for her to smile! I remember thinking, “Wow. This family is serious about the Lord. And serious about adoption. They make it seem so doable And so fun.” I have shared your blog countless times, only to have others tell me how inspired and touched they were. You guys are leaving a HUGE mark on the world. Sometimes, I don’t think you even realize how big. The Lord is using you, your writing, your photography, your family to bring honor to Him. And to help people consider or take the next step toward adoption. You know the rest of the story :) You’ve all been such an incredible blessing and important piece of our adoption story. Thank you for sharing your heart and family with the world. I am grateful!

  109. Hi – I started following your blog in early 2010 when we were waiting to bring home our son (home in August 2010). We also have 2 older children and I love seeing your children all blended happily together. Our oldest were not at all thrilled at the idea of our adoption. BUT now that Andrew is home they are WONDERFUL with him. And we are now LOA to bring home a daugher. So I’m back watching all my favorite blogs more closely again! Good luck with all your new changes and excitement. We are also wanting to have a move in our lives . . . but struggle with having a JR in high school and another To Be in high school but who has been with all the same friends since kindergarden. So there are always lots of family issues and dynamics to see how others face. Thanks for sharing all your experiences! Sarah

  110. I am another one delurking for the first time! I’ve been reading since you posted on My Adoption Website for Isabelle’s adoption. My husband and I have 2 daughters adopted from China (10 and 8 years old) who were adopted while I was in the Air Force (now retired after 21 years). Our adoptions were a little complicated because we moved to Germany between referral and travel for the first one and completed the entire second one from there. I am happy to say that I have been able to allay some of the fears of both potential adoptive parents and bio parents when confronted with special needs due to things I have read on your site. Love your posts, love your pictures! :)

  111. I’m actually brand new here & a brand new blogger. I’m blessed by what I’ve seen so far on your blog. Thank you for sharing your story. My family dreams of adopting one day. For now, my life is caring for the five blessings we already have:-)

  112. Oh, Happy Day Stef…
    I joined in somewhere between Shep and Jude! Your stories, creative writing and out pouring joy and love has kept me lurking for years now. You have a gift, Please don’t quit!! Correction… Many gifts! You go girl!

  113. Hi stefanie,
    Since you made such a sweet request, I’m coming out of “lurkdom.” I’m a 20something newlywed and hope to have a house full of bio and adopted kiddos one day (not quite as many as yours;) I am an adoption social worker and proud “auntie” of a china girl so I love reading your stories, you are an inspiration!
    Kelli

  114. oh my! I clicked on the link to your first post..and I totally remember those pictures of Sophie! She and my Hannah I think were on the same LL list. I know we *almost* traveled together, but alas my TA was slightly later and you went the month before me. But I treasured reading your journey to Sophie because I knew I was so RIGHT BEHIND YOU. And she was the same age as Hannah so I devoured your journey for “what to expect” when I got there. Since then, I’ve enjoyed following your blog..sometimes regularly and sometimes in spurts and have celebrated over each child you’ve brought home. But I gotta say, probably because she was one of the first “bloggy children” I followed and because she was so close (in time and age) to my first, miss Sophie has always had a place in my heart. She’s looking quite grown up and oh so beautiful by the way! You have a beautiful family, a beautiful heart, and a beautiful way of capturing it all with your words.

  115. I’ve been lurking for about 2 years now I think. I love reading your stories! I hope to adopt someday but as of now my husband is back peddling as he feels a little overwhelmed with baby #3 ;) thanks for sharing your life with us!

  116. I’ve been a quiet lurker for quite some time, but I’ll de-lurk in honor of your blogiversary! :) My hubby and I have been officially “paper pregnant” since July for domestic infant adoption. I love reading adoption stories! I started following here sometime before you brought Poppy home. Thanks for an encouraging beautiful blog! (Also, your last paragraph on this post really spoke to me. We are thinking about moving – same town, just time to get out of our little starter home. I have been anxious because the house I fell in love with has a contract. BUT it is so reassuring to think that God has the perfect house for us – even if the kitchen cabinets aren’t white like I want…) :)

  117. Emily Bennett says:

    We adopted 3 children from foster care and are working on our next adoption. Even though our journey looks a little different than yours, I think the emotions are the same. We have a few family members who have also adopted, but we are the vast minority. It feels good to know you are out there. I enjoy seeing and hearing about your beautiful family.

  118. Hi Stefanie, I have probably been visiting your blog for more than two years now. I came across you through Wild Olive tshirt site. I love the idea of “getting my verse on.” :). I thank God that He led me to you and your prose that encourages us to draw closer to Him. I will be praying for you all as you continue on in the path that God has for your wonderful family. :). BTW … I am a homeschooling mom too! This is my fourth year. We started when my daughter was a sophomore in HS and my son was in seventh grade. Oh yeah – definitely a story there! :) It’s been an amazing (and yes, challenging) time for us but I am so thankful for God’s guidance through it all. He is faithful! I’m also very interested in photography and really enjoy yours. Thank you Stefanie so very much for allowing us in and sharing your love for Christ and your family. :)

  119. I have been lurking since a little before your announcement of Poppy’s referral. Our youngest came home from China almost 5 years ago. My hubby and I used to ignorantly think, “What is it with these people that adopt like 5 or 6 kids! How in the world can they give each of them the love and attention that they need?” Your blog has so clearly shown me that those 5 or 6+ kids can certainly get the love and care they need. And that God gives you all you need to shower them with His love and yours.

  120. Stephanie says:

    Hi, Stefanie. I don’t really remember how I stumbled upon your blog, but I do remember that it was just before you travelled to China to meet Poppy. Because of you my eyes have been opened to the needs of the many orphans in the world. Before I found your blog I never really thought about it that much; I knew there were orphans out there but I didn’t know how many, or much about the conditions they often lived in. It simply wasn’t something I thought about. I started following a few other blogs at the same time as yours, but you have been the most influential. I love hearing about your kids and I love the pictures you post of the kids, the scenery, anything! You really are an inspiration to me and I find your blog to be so encouraging. I currently sponser Maya through An Orphan’s Wish and hope to someday adopt a child (or children) of my own. At the moment though, that isn’t a possibility (too young and far too broke :) ). But I can’t wait to see what the Lord has in store for my life. I definitely feel like I found your blog for a reason- to open my eyes to the needs of the orphan- and it’s taking my life in a direction I hadn’t really imagined or expected. I know you get that feeling too, when you feel called to do something you had never expected, and that’s why when you share your life on your blog it is always so encouraging to me. So I want to say thank you for that and everything you do :)

  121. I started following your blog a little over a year ago in the middle of the *gawsh* series. We were thinking and praying about adoption and I was in serious research mode. As we are expats living in China, our road has looked a little different but I have been thankful for all the wisdom, down-to-earth-ness (how would you say that?!), and how you have shared your journey and not just the pretty parts.

  122. Good morning! I too am a lurker but have commented occasionally. I was in your DTC group way back in 2005, before you switched to SN and brought home your beautiful Isabelle. I traveled to China in Oct 2005 with your friend Nicole B. to bring home my gorgeous daughter Sabrina, who is now turning 8. Unfortunately her transition issues were too much for my X to handle, and we divorced a year later … which closed my opportunity to adopt again.

    Fast forward 6 years, and I have met a wonderful man and we are getting married this year! My little family of 3 (2 bio) plus the addition of 2 more step-children is exactly as it should be … as is your family. I have lived vicariously through each of your adoptions, and I am happy to hear that this next phase in your family’s life is about to begin!

  123. Been a lurker for about 3 1/2 years… all the way from London England.

    I think I happened to google China Adoptions for a paper I was writing for school, followed some links, and ended up here. Love your blog, your family and your openess. You’ve inspired me with different things to think about, challenge myself, and my interest in photography and images comes from you – I’m so grateful.

    Looking forward to continuing to read your next set of adventures and thank you for being so open and honest. :)

  124. Hey Stefanie!
    Your blog was the first one I found from a China Special Needs adoption Mama back in October when I started looking for the “real” story and how all of it worked and how the kids adjusted. I’ve read through all of your kids adoption blogs from start to finish, even little Esther’s which broke my heart.

    Your blog has touched many of us. Not just to gain info on adoption, but to see what a wonderful blessing these kiddos are. The fact that your photography is great enhances of the beauty of the story you tell on here even more. When my husband started questioning if adoption really was the right path and expressed concerns, yours was the first blog I showed him so he could see that these are just kids that need a family. They are more than what their file says, more than a condition…

    Thanks for your blog! I am so glad that you did start it 7 years ago! What a beautiful story it has told. What beautiful stories it has inspired and will continue to inspire…

    Thanks,
    Fannie

  125. I’m a lurker who’s been following you for a couple years now. (I read you through Google Reader, so it takes a deliberate choice to click through and comment!) I have had a heart for China for a long time, especially Little Flower Projects (an amazing organization that some college friends worked for years ago)… and reading about your beautiful sweet family has given me a hunger. This isn’t the time for it, and I understand that, but I have this feeling that I have a daughter that I’ve never met. I have some families in my life that have had wonderful adoption stories, and others with adoption horror stories, but everyone’s openness to life and love is so inspiring.

  126. OK, you caught me lurking. I love to see your pictures of kiddos and I enjoy following the links on Sunday Snapshot. I haven’t been following long, maybe a couple months, and I am not in a place that I could consider adoption but I appreciate the fact that others can and do. I am sending up prayers for your move and your husband’s new job, whatever it is.

  127. Laurel Gatesman says:

    Congratulations on seven years! I stumbled on your blog about a year ago. My third child stopped eating at 13 months old and I had been searching the web for information on feeding disorders in children. The only people I discovered who talked about various feeding issues in children all were adoptive families. I began to read several of these blogs regularly and at some point someone had a link to you. As an artist, I fell in love with your photography. After reading your archived posts, I discovered that we have so much in common that your blog became a favorite of mine to read.

    My husband and I talked about adoption years ago and dropped the idea due to the overwhelming cost involved. We watched several friends have disastrous experiences with private domestic adoptions and after looking in foster care adoption, we discovered that one of the two CPS departments in our area is too aggressive in removals and terminations, while the other isn’t aggressive enough. So the idea of adoption was dropped. We have since revisited the idea because our son, with all of his developmental issues, is a child who would have most likely become an orphan in one of countless countries around the world.

    Our family has a complicated connection to China. As a result we would love to adopt from China. I’m not certain it will ever be possible. My husband’s income, our only income, has been affected by the economy significantly. Add in the double whammy of our investments for retirement being decimated (which is recovering at a snail’s pace) and the evaporation of every dime of equity in our home, we are left not qualifying. My husband returned to college to gain more career mobility and by the time he’s done the debt will have erased our gains in our investments. It has been a serious kick in the rear to have spent our entire adult lives making responsible decisions and to have nothing to show for it. We really only see a China adoption possible if agencies stop treating waivers like a four-letter-word or China changes their requirements again to something more favorable to families like ours. Since adoption advocates working with sending countries are so vocal that the downturn in adoptions is a result of families only wanting “healthy babies”, I just don’t see either of those changes occurring.

    I think that what is most influential about your blog is that you make people like us feel normal. There are other wonderful families out there with big blended adopted/biological children and who adopted multiple special needs children that blog about their lives, but the majority of them come across as a bit crazy. You make it normal to want to welcome eight, ten, twelve children into a home. You make it normal to take on multiple special medical needs in the children you choose to add to your family. You make it normal to make every decision in your life based on a morality grounded in faith. The rest of the world makes people like us feel crazy for our devotion to orphans and especially special needs orphans. It makes us feel crazy for basing our priorities on our faith. And when the only families you have anything in common in look crazy too, you start to think maybe the world is right, maybe we are nuts. I think your blog reminds us that there are other regular families who share the same priorities and values that we do and we are completely normal.

  128. I have been lurking for about 3 or 4 years now. I found your blog through a friend’s blog (Funny Little Pollywogs). I was so taken by how selflessly you have given yourself to the world of special-needs adoption. I don’t have kids of my own yet, and I can’t say that I have ever thought about adopting, but you definitely put it on my radar.

    I adore your beautiful family, and I LOVE your photography! Sunday Snapshot is my all time fav!!

    Continue being you!

    Jess

  129. Hey Stephanie, I have been reading your blog for awhile. Another blog I read linked to it but I don’t remember which one. My husband and I waited for 5 years for a little one from Colombia but we were never referred. We were told to expect another 4 year wait after the birth of a bio child and we were devastated. I could so relate to the pain you experienced during Ester’s death. I am an amateur photographer as well and have been for about 13 years. Your lens post about a year or so ago has inspired me to ask God for some big things when it comes to photography and ways that I could use photography to glorify him. I would love to adopt a little one (or two) but my husband gets hives whenever the “A-word”is brought up in conversation :) There is still a good bit of healing needed for us in that area. Thanks for sharing your story with us.

  130. Hi! Reading about what God is doing in your family is an encouragement to me. We live in Iowa, have two bio kids and two Chinese babies. It is fun to know that there are others out there enjoying this crazy amazing journey of being blessed by many kids! I wish I could sit down for coffee with ya…maybe in heaven!!!

  131. I am one of those lurkers. :) We have adopted from China twice and your blog has been a constant resource and go to place for encouragement and support. Thanks so much for being willing to share your faith in God and being such a blessing to those you do not know and most likely will never meet. Your family is such an inspiration to others. Blessings

  132. I read your blog regularly. I love it. My dream would be to have a big family, built through adoption. (But still figuring out what God’s dream is) So I LOVE your big family. We have three bio children and are in the process of adopting our son from Guinea Africa.

  133. Julie Hand says:

    I first visited your blog when another blog I frequent had asked for prayers for you in regards to Esther’s passing. I have been a regular ever since. I may have commented only once or twice before. I have 2 sons from China and I live in the South. I LOVE my “So Loved” shirt (that I got in Jan. at Created for Care last year) and I share your story every time I get a comment on it, which is quite often. Your photography is beautiful and your writing on faith and family is inspiring. I love all the ways you encourage others to help care for the orphans. Thanks for sharing and allowing me (and the rest of the blog world) to see God’s work in and through your lives.
    God bless you!

  134. Hey from the Great White North!

    I can’t remember when or how I stumbled upon your site — I’m guessing it was via another adoption blog. I also have a baby girl from China — not so baby anymore as she will be seven in less than two weeks.

    Happy Blog-iversary and good luck with your move!

    Rae (a lurker)
    Saskatchewan, Canada

  135. Hi, my name is Terri and I’m a lurker :-)

    I stumbled across your blog sometime around the time you were bringing Vivi home. I’m a single mom of a beautiful 11 year old daughter adopted from Jiangxi, China in 2002. I love how you share your stories and how they encourage all of us. And your photos? BEAUTIFUL! Makes me wish I’d kept up with photography all those years ago. Blessings to you and your family!

  136. Hi Stephanie! I’ve never been one to spend much time reading blog comments, but all the above comments are so amazing…there’s such a story behind each and every one. Who knew your followers had their own story to share?

    I actually adopted my little girl from Russia in 2008 when she was 18 months old…out in Kemerovo, Siberia, where Russia, China, Mongolia and Kazakhstan meet. She wasn’t a SN child, but a lot of the children adopted from Russia have been affected by the rampant alcohol/drug abuse there. My daughter went through drug withdrawals after delivery. She’s not affected physically, but I wasn’t sure if it would affect her ability to learn when she started school. She started Kindergarten this year and is already way behind in reading, but is doing fine in the other subjects. I think Kindergarten is too early to start kids reading anyway, but I got a tutor for her as she’s feeling bad about her reading skills. I’ve been told it’s an ESL issue, but in the back of my mind, I’m still wondering if she’s affected by having drugs in her system while her birthmother carried her.

    She’s a wonderful, happy child and I’m so glad I adopted her. She’s opened my world to so many things. I had her follow Lula’s fishy face directions with great success! We tried your caramel recipe for Christmas…I made them and she ate them….yummm! She didn’t want me to cut them into little squares, but rather just pull globs of it out of the pan. She could eat only so much of it, so not to worry.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog…especially it’s Christ-centeredness. I found it through the Under the Sycamore blog, another SN Chinese adoption blog I love.. I should find Russian adoption blogs to follow, but maybe I don’t want to know what Russian kids are going through. I’ll start wondering if my daughter has their issues too (I tend to worry a lot). I need to follow my own course for now. I really love China anyway and it is close to my heart. My brother and SIL adopted an 8 year old SN boy from China two years ago…he’s wonderful. My grandparents were missionaries there, and my grandpa and aunt are buried in Shanghai.

    I’m praying God will show Himself to you through the house search. Begin to look for “coincidences” during the search…it’s alway a sign for me that God is working behind the scenes!! God Bless!

  137. EVerytime I think my plate is full with 3, I think of you. While I don’t feel God telling us to expand our family again right now, your family is one I often think of when wondering if I can do it again. I also thought of sweet Esther just yesterday. My friend is in China now to get sweet Olivia, and she wore her “So Loved” shirt on gotcha day. http://www.fortunateblessings.blogspot.com. I also would have never know about No Hands But Ours without your blog. Now I point people there when they have questions about special needs. Also didn’t know about Wild Olive before your blog! Now everyone in my family has at least one WO shirt.

  138. I am a lurker! But I have been reading your inspiring little blog for almost five years now, and love it!
    We have an almost five year old daughter whom we brought home two and a half years ago, and we just received our LOA for a two and a half year old boy with club foot…we were actually planning to adopt a child with a heart condition like our daughter had, but God gave us this boy! We have been looking back and poring over your archives reading about club foot…trying to learn all we can!
    Thanks for being so honest and open…I appreciate that more than you can know!

  139. Kate Hawk says:

    Oh Stephanie! I came to your blog through Colleen. She and I worked in Colorado together. I made a few comments during your first Daniel fast!

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your blog! I love watching God move through your family, not to mention all the precious faces we get to watch grow up! Your entries are all from the heart, and I appreciate your honesty, transparency, and your incredible Faith!

    Right now, my family is in the middle of a transition period. We are preparing for a few changes…, just as you all are. Since I was a young teenager, God placed something special for the orphaned child in my heart. Right now, we help support a few orphanages in Ghana, and when my husband travels there for mission work, he always stops in to see the kids and offer his Chiropractic services. I’ve had dreams and visions of a child I believe God might be preparing for us, so we shall see what His plans are!

    So right now, I want to thank you for sharing your real life experiences with us, your honesty, and for the opportunity to see His mighty work in action!

    God Bless your family! May His favor and annointing pour out over your family, more than you could ever contain!

  140. By the River says:

    Long road – been there since the beginning. So much has happened, your kids are growing up fast, and before our eyes, so is ours. Favorite blankie has been replaced with an MP3 player and Adele. Singing in the shower, making towel animals for grandma’s visit, Can’t wait to see what is in store for us and for your family. Blessings

  141. Stephanie,
    I guess I’ll de-lurk also. When my husband and I were in the process of adopting our special needs daughter from China in 2005, I searched for adoption blogs. Yours is the only one that I kept and stayed with. Have to tell you, I’m in awe of you. God Bless.
    Oh, and I missed a few days of reading, but wanted to add my “guess” for your husbands job. Hmmmmmm, would it have anything to do with religious ministries?

  142. Hi Stefanie!

    I am a lurker since 2011……. :) I found your blog right when you lost sweet dear Esther. We had just begun our adoption journey at that time and although we had put “congenital heart defect” as one of the “special needs” we were open to, it scared me more than the others. In fact, I think I secretly prayed that God would lead us to a child with a different need, one of the many others we had checked on our form other than that one. Thank goodness God’s plan for us is always soooo much better than our own! We brought home our “heart baby” last March and life is just amazing now! He was 23 months old when he was placed in my arms and his transition has been truly amazing. Although the first few months were difficult (mostly because I was so stinking T.I.R.E.D.!). I cannot imagine life without him and his “special heart”. Adoption has changed me, for the better. Following blogs, such as yours, has changed me, for the better. I want to go back. Not just because I want another child (even though I do), but because the purpose of adoption is so much more than that to me now. It is part of God’s plan. And I L.O.V.E. His plan!! Little did I know when I was going through years of infertility that God was preparing my heart to ache for a child of my heart instead of my womb. Little did I know that He knew my heart was open and that He would sieze the opportunity to fill my heart in such an amazing way. My view of the world changed, my view of family changed, my view of my God changed, all for the better. I finally learned to TRUST my God….I finally learned to LEAN on my God….And I finally learned how to BELIEVE in the plan my God had for my life. Following your blog has been an inspiration to me! It strengthens my own faith and challenges me to stretch myself in ways I never would have before. I even finally bought a “real” camera this past fall and am hopelessly trying to figure it out because it was always something I wanted to do and you inspire me to try to learn more! Not to mention how impressed I am to see you get through each and every day with such a large crew!! I can barely manage one two year old some days!!! LOL! Hubby and I are discussing when to start again and hopefully it will be sometime this year. Many blessings to you and your crew! I can’t wait to hear more about the upcoming move and “the job”!!

  143. Well, I’m only delurking in the sense that I’m bad at commenting. :) I love your blog and your heart… you are a mama mentor to me, whether you know it or not! I keep hoping that you announce you are SURPRISE! moving to Midland, TX so I can have coffee with you in real life and add my wee one to your crew when I need to go run an errand, because seriously – with that many kids, I’m sure you wouldn’t notice one more! Hah! :) Thank you for sharing your journey… you bless me!

  144. I have only recently found your blog. I have the feeling, though that I have been here before. I am not an adoptive parent nor am I adopted myself but I have been changed forever by the adoption process. I lived in China for four years and while there I volunteered weekly at an orphanage. Some amazing women set up a school there. I was just a volunteer but I got to see it from the beginning. I got to see the difference it made in those sweet children who came to us each day. Then I got to see something unexpected. I got to see children changed by the adoption process. That they were changed was not unexpected, but that I got to witness it was. I never thought I would get to meet one of the adoptive families or receive photos from them a year or two after our sweet children left to go live with them. What an amazing gift! It is one of the richest experiences in my life to see first hand how the love of a family (even after only a week) can truly change a child. The love of those families truly SHINES in their little faces. And the longer they are together, the more love I can see on those faces. Bless you and all the amazing families that welcome these children into their lives as FAMILY. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Even though your children may not have been at my orphanage, in a small way, you are giving “my” sweet kids everything I prayed for for them each and every moment I was with them.

  145. I think I did already comment before, but here I am in any case – still like your blog and sure hope you will continue to share the love of your family with the rest of us!
    And yes, thank you for showing your smile and courage through all of it… It shows me that it IS possible!

  146. Hey Stef!

    I don’t know when I found you exactly.. But, I remember following your trip on MAW to Sophie!!! I remember reading a poingnant post about one of your experiences, and I have been here ever since…. For two friends who have never met in person, we have traveled some miles together.. Remember “Lindsey?” How you helped, how you prayed, how you posted when we lost her file… And, you helped connect me through your friends with the “Stunning girl with Thalassemia!” You connected me immediately to the THAL Yahoo group, and you cheered me on.. We missed each other by less than a month when we got Poppy and Emme Jade.. I have laughed with you, grieved with you, and celebrated with you, brain stormed with you… I have been blessed to raise money for the “Least of these” with you… I have talked to you, texted with you, shared photos with you… In the 5 years I have “Known” you I have been so inspired by you! Thank you for sharing your heart, your gifts, your humor, your joy, and your love of Christ with me! You are a blessing!!!! So excited to see where God is moving you… And, I look forward to the next 5 years as you go where He leads!! Happy “Blog-versary!”

    Love,
    Diana

  147. Joyce Hartley says:

    Stephanie,

    I have followed your blog since shortly after you came home with Shepherd. I adopted my Chuzhou Sweetie in Feb of 2003 and she is now almost 12 and headed to junior high next year. I have so enjoyed your words over the years. You are a true inspiration. Thanks for letting have this opportunity to delurk and let you know how much you mean to a lot of people.

    Good Luck in the house hunt and new job.

    Joyce Hartley
    Boise, ID

  148. I started following your blog, when my sister was going through her ups and downs in her China adoption( her name is Stephanie) I have 3 little ones and have a heart for adoption. My husband is not open to adoption, but I keep praying. Your blog is amazing and my sister and I would read it as she waited. It helped to understand how everything works in the whole process of adoption. I’m glad you haven’t given up on blogging :-)

  149. Hi hi! I started reading your blog when you brought Shepherd home!

  150. My name is Ashley, and I’m currently in Nanchang getting to know our precious new little one: Mina! Thank you for blogging — you’re such a light! Happy Blog-versary!

  151. Hi there…I am one of your lurkers. ;). I found your blog about 6 months ago through your photography. I pop in every once in a while to admire you photos and to see what is going on. I am 43 years old and have no children of my own but would so love to be a mom. My fiancé and I plan to start our adoption journey very soon; I would love a couple of china dolls so very much. I hope I am not too late. If you have any words of wisdom/ advice I would surely love to hear it. You are an inspiration to many of us and a blessing to so many. Thank you for all that you have done.

    Caroline

  152. I think I happened upon your blog through the Wild Olive Tees website a while back. Maybe? I can’t remember now. I know I connected with you being an Air Force wife. We have 4 boys ages 5 and under, our youngest through domestic infant adoption. I love seeing your pictures and reading about your family–you all seem to have a lot of fun and embrace the crazy. And I love it.

  153. Hi Stefanie,

    I’ve been a reader since before Vivienne came home. I don’t even remember how I happened upon your blog, but it captured me immediately. The beauty and wonder of how God orchestrated the littles into your family just totally opened my heart to what He might have in store for us. My husband and I have felt that adoption may be in our future but we’re waiting for His time. Your family and lives inspire me continue trusting in the God of the impossible for His plan in regards to our family. Your work on No Hands But Ours has been a blessing as I spent many summer hours (I’m a teacher – so I had a lot of time to peruse) investigating international, special needs adoption.

    Thank you for sharing your life and family with others.

  154. Where do I even begin. A friend and adoptive mom encouraged me to read your blog in late 2011 when we began considering adoption. I was hooked and felt empowered but your authenticity an believed that if our God would carry you through 8 adoption processes so faithfully and so unmistakably He would for us too. I read every day and followed as you brought Tallula home this year. It was inspiring for us because we were in the midst of paperwork overload. We share a love of photography and the Lord and if we were neighbors i bet we woukd be great friends as well.

    Then in July I saw a sweet face of a girl named Kate who took my breath away. She was the girl “So Loved” who would receive a surgery in honor of Esther. I immediately shared your link with my caseworker at All Gods Children and learned she wasn’t on the database. I had her picture on my phone. I showed her to some friends. My husband also had it on his phone. Even our 13 & 11 (at the time) year old kids asked “can she be ours?!?!” We were advised well by our agency that it would be almost impossible for Kate to be our referral. We were in the middle of moving and had several documents to re-do before sending our dossier.

    On 12.12.12 we gotta referral call. As I learned details of this child I realized it was Kate. Our caseworker had forgotten her and even she was crying in awe of Gods sovereignty. Nothing is impossible with Him. So, because of your blogs I saw our sweet daughters precious face in July and fell in love. Because of your love for orphans and your heart for the fatherless, she will have a life saving surgery very soon. How God has used you to change our family and our life is unmistakable. Your story has forever changed our story. Thank you for being so used by The Lord. You are So Loved.

  155. Another delurker. :D I am from Malaysia. (yes, you’re that famous). Big fan of you and fellow special needs adoptions families. Was sooooooo impressed you have a dozen of kids (Seriously!). Your story is very inspirational. Don’t stop writing! Pretty Please!

  156. Oh, wow, I think I’ve been following your blog since we were in the process of adopting our daughter from Gutian way back in 2004. Actually, yours was the first blog I regularly followed and it’s still bookmarked and checked regularly. Later I was so thrilled when your family adopted Jude from the same orphanage our girlie is from. We waited, sometimes patiently and sometimes not, for God’s go-ahead to adopt again (we have 5 bios very close together in age) and are thrilled to be planning to travel to bring home a 10 year old boy from Guilin in the next couple of months. I don’t know if I would have had the courage to do this if I hadn’t been watching you do this faith walk so beautifully, so honestly, over the years. So, a big thank you from KS! Praying that our faithful Abba gives you grace to continue reaching out for the least of these, being His hands and and feet for these precious kiddos.

  157. Rachel C. says:

    so I check your blog every morning before work (this sounds so weirds to write out!!). I’m a Christian school teacher in Hawaii and I’m constantly ‘preaching’ adoption to my kids. The fact that I’m surrounded by mostly Asians makes your blog that much ‘more special’ to read.

    There are co-workers that were adopted, students that were adopted; co-workers that are adopting, friends that have adopted. As I am single and full-time teacher, coach, counselor, aunty, chauffeur, and other things at school, I am encouraged by those who “take care of the fatherless” and show them Christ’s love and grace.

    I found your blog through a friend’s and I appreciate very much you sharing publicly all that God has and is doing with you as well as your family. Thank you again!!!

  158. Not a lurker here by a long shot. Rather, I’m afraid I’m a bit of a stalker :) After all, you are my first bloggity crush. Which is well documented in the 5 years of my blog history. It’s almost embarrassing – but not quite :) LOL!

    I believe I started reading here when you were bringing home one of the boys and instantly found a place that put into words things that have been on my heart for years. Your real-ness and your passion for building your family God’s way without fear of man or fear of “what you are taking on” has inspired me and challenged me. Your posts almost always make me think about how to do this adoption thing well – from how it interacts with my faith to how to parent to how to step out in faith. In fact, some of your posts in this last year, about being willing to step out in faith and take big risks, big “firsts” and laying it all out for HIM is one of the things that made me realize that we can DO this thing God is asking us to do – both in even adopting again AND in taking a child with the need that Brynna has. Not my will but His be done. NOT by sight or feeling but by faith.

    And you’ve also helped me show my kids tangible evidence of what love can do. Once, when you were posting about Poppy’s attachment and the journey toward healing her (in-country), I shared the post with a couple of my kids. And to this day, one of them in particular often asks how she is doing now. When I show her Poppy’s radiant face and sweet smiles, my daughter KNOWS that God’s love changes everything.

    Hugs to you my friend. Happy 7th Blogoversary. And yes, I’m still crushing. I’ve just matured enough not to talk about it on my blog all the time. Or to scare you with my crazed stalker intensity :) I’m still also trusting the Lord that at some point, I’ll be able to hug your neck in person and tell you to your face what your blog here has meant to me! XOXO

  159. Françoise says:

    I am another who usually doesn’t comment , just because it is difficult for me to write in english
    But i love your blog
    Thanck you for it
    Françoise from France

  160. Hello! I’m another lurker who has been reading your blog for about 2 years. I can’t remember how I found it, but I was hooked as soon as I did. You and your beautiful famliy are very inspirational, and remind me that we can often do more – even when we think we are already doing as much as we can. Your children are beautiful, as are your photographs. Your blog has made me and my husband start considering adoption for ourselves – something we have never thought of before. Thank you, and all the best as you embark on a new adventure!

  161. You have at least one reader in Austria! :)
    I somehow stumbled upon your blog a few months ago but I´m sure it was God leading me to it. My husband and me are in the beginning of our adoption story which means we know that we´d like to adopt. Unfortunately in Austria it is very difficult to adopt, especially international. I don´t even know one single person who adopted from abroad. I´d LOVE to adopt from China but it´s not possible in Austria along with a whole lot of other countries. We don´t have adoption agencies here, you basically have to do it all by yourself. I try not to think about those difficulties too much because I get so discouraged. Then I have to remind myself that God is mighty and sovereign and that He will make it possible. So your blog helps me to finally “know” someone who adopted internationally and you constantly encourage me to trust God. It´s the same God here and there, isn´t it?
    I hope and pray that we will have a successful story to tell in a few years (or maybe months??)
    Thank you, Stefanie!

    Iris

  162. Oh, I am not sure when I become a lurker….that word sounds kind of devilish:)
    Reading your heart and everyday life stories made a major impact on the peace I received that I, too, could adopt.
    Thank you for being so willing to sacrifice so much in sharing so much!!
    Your photography work also guided me to Lisa’s class!! We all love Lisa and her classes!!
    We have four boys–16,13,13,11 and one little princess–3
    I can’t wait to read about what God has in store for you in the coming months….
    Many blessings to you,
    Meg

  163. Hello! I’m delurking just to say that I have been following your blog for almost a year now and I am always inspired by your faith.

    I very much hope that one day, I will be a mum too.

    Much love xxx

  164. Time to de-lurk! I am a Swedish mother of two Asian-born children, and hoping to add to that little crowd. Being a mom in Sweden is different – I work full time, and so does my husband, so our life is far from home-schooling. We also can not adopt as many children; regulations kind of forbid that, at least i practice. So I read your blog, really happy for you, but also just a LITTLE jealous;)! Keep sharing, will you, please? Blessings, Suss

  165. Ok, I’m officially a lurker. I started following your fun blog when you were in China to pick up Poppy! I couldn’t believe how beautiful she was (is) and just enjoyed reading about your time in China. (I grew up in China, my parents have lived there 26 years) As we started our China adopting journey I became even more interested in your family, and how you manage all your children!! My husband thinks I’m nuts when I tell him about your adventures with adoption like I “know” you… he’s always saying, “now, who are these people?” :)

    We have 3 home grown kids (I like that saying) and one newly adopted from China in November. Our first child was born at 23 weeks gestation and has severe special needs because of her prematurity. The Lord has used our experiences and heart ache with her to open our hearts to see the hurting people around us. Our new son is precious and cute… although adoption bonding is different than I could have imagined.

    You are amazing and I admire how you make things special for your kids… princess dishes, birthday fun etc. And of course I love hearing your “honest” thoughts on adopting and raising many children.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos and gorgeous family with us all! I know many people are encouraged by you.
    -Patty in Alabama

  166. I am a lurker, too. Adoption’s near and dear to my heart… My grandma was adopted and a good friend has two kids who are adopted. I appreciate your honesty and humor and admire your parenting. I’ve got three little ones and enjoy peeking into your life through the blog. I’ve been lurking since just before ViVi came home.

  167. De-lurking to say Happy Blog-iversary! I am not sure how I arrived at your blog, but I really enjoy reading about your family and journey with adoption! I appreciate your humor and genuineness. You have an amazing family and wonderful kiddos!

  168. Happy Blog-iversary! I may have commented a time or two but I’m mostly a lurker. I read every post! You are inspiring. I’ve been reading since i stumbled upon your blog while in the process of adopting my daughter from china in 2006. We brought her home in January of 2007. She was born with spina-bifida and is the oldest baby to come out of starfish from sweet amanda. She is our oldest. We have another daughter that we adopted in 2008 from birth through a domestic adoption. We were in the process of another domestic new born adoption of a baby boy in 2011 who passed away a few days after birth. We have thought, and told everyone that we are done but a few weeks ago God laid a special needs boy in China on our hearts. I was completely taken off guard. Not sure if he is supposed to be ours or if he was just to soften our hearts and prepare us to adopt again. We just don’t have the money and it’s weighing heavy on my heart. Thanks for encouraging the de-lurking, adoption and love!

  169. Lisa Anderson says:

    Stefanie,
    Sorry to be so late on commenting, but better late than never!
    I am a literature teacher at a small Christian school in Minnesota and I teach 5th-9th graders.
    I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. Right before you went to get Vivi, I started sharing your blog with my students. The students LOOOOVE it Whenever there is a new post, I always put a smiley face on the board as a symbol to get the kids excited. I always hear several people say things like, “Yes! New Ni Hao Y’all post!” and “I wonder what the Sunday Snapshot is about?”. Once the bell rings I put it up on the projector and read it to them. We all love your family and seeing what God is doing.
    When you announced that you were adopting Poppy, Esther, then Lula, we were overjoyed. When you posted about losing sweet Esther, my classes were in tears. Even my 9th grade guys. We also include y’all in our prayers at the end of each of my classes every day.
    I’m also happy to say that a girl in my 7th grade class showed her family your blog, and they prayed, and they are adopting a 2.5 year old girl with clubfoot from China!
    I’ve also had several students get into photography because of seeing your Sunday Snapshots every week.
    God is using you and your blog in big ways! Thank you!
    Lisa Anderson

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