I've been dreaming about the day I could write these words, presenting our beautiful fourth child to the world.
It's funny how we perceive how things will turn out, and when they don't result in that way, we realize that God's plan is always so much more uniquely creative and glorifying!
Let's rewind to Monday, September 24th. It was the monthly matching night in China. We anxiously awaited a phone call, wondering if our turn had come. The phone call didn't come. The next morning, we learned that no families were fortunate enough to be matched with a child through our agency. The monthly list was very small this time. Again our hearts were discouraged, but we trusted God for His perfect timing once again. On Thursday, September 27th, our world was changed, and we didn't even realize it. I had always pictured seeing our daughter's face after an emotional phone call and a hastily opened email file, and falling in love at first sight with tears running down my face, but on that night, I was just browsing on the internet. I look at our agency's waiting child lists from time to time so see how many of the kids are being matched. These were lists of kids who were in a different category than the program we were in- children who were perceived by China as more difficult to place. I noticed that there were several new children posted that week, many of them young. My eyes fell on a little girl who was only 13 months old. Her small, shy grin and sparkling eyes caught my interest. I said to Kris "Look at this little girl. It doesn't say she was matched" He looked at her and dismissed it, saying "I'm sure that if she didn't have many health problems that someone would have matched with her by now. She's already had 400 people see her video". I asked Kris if we could write our social worker anyway just out of curiosity and he said, "that's OK". So I did. I didn't even notice she had written back until the next afternoon. She said, "There has been no interest expressed in this child yet. Would you like to see her file?" We realized something big was happening. Kris said with a nervous tone "Call her right now!" I must have asked a dozen questions about what was happening when I got our worker on the phone. She assured me that if we realized this child would not fit with our family we would still be in line to be matched with another without additional delays. She told us that if we were interested after reading about her, we could hold her file while getting a doctor's advice about her medical records before requesting to be matched with her. Her file arrived in our inbox immediately. I read her story and cried. We read about her daily life and what her personality was like. We were amazed. I saw her development and medical records and they appeared to be normal, if not better than expected for a child her age. She was described as "clever, quiet, with a quick smile, and loved eye contact and interaction with others". What does she love to do? They answered "Play outside, play with musical toys and watch tv" I was in disbelief. I thought, "You've got to be kidding me- she plays outside???? The kids at the orphanage we worked with in China last winter weren't allowed outside until they were 3 or 4!" We immediately contacted our local pediatrician. Within a few hours, she was on the phone with me to discuss this baby girl's file. She was very favorable of her health! We contacted our agency to put her file on hold. By that evening, this baby girl was on hold for the Dixons!
For some reason, Kris and I still could sleep and eat. We had a peace that God was in control and He knew what He was doing. We held in this deep secret for days, waiting and praying, and praying, and praying.... We chose to talk to another doctor specializing in international children in Memphis before going forward, but had to wait 3 days. On Monday night she emailed us sharing that she saw this baby girl as healthy as well. We were amazed. After some more phone calls the next day, on Tuesday, October 2, we were stunned at the timing of God's perfect plan to match us with our daughter. I will share more about those phone calls in a later post. It was nothing short of a "God thing". We called our agency requesting to be matched with our daughter. On Friday, October 5, all of our paperwork was received at our agency with our formal request to adopt "Jian Li" (her nickname, meaning healthy and beautiful) from an orphanage in southern China. We were told to not make our match public until we received official preliminary approval from China 10 to 17 days later. Only five days after being received, our social worker called us tonight! She was bubbling over in excitement as she shared that we indeed had preliminary approval!! We are now preparing a package to send our daughter so she can see our photos, have warm clothes from her mommy and daddy for the winter, and have special gifts for Christmas.
Our being matched with our daughter was not done the way we were expecting. She was supposed to be picked out for us. Instead, we chose her. In reality, God chose her. Her story will be so unique. My Dad told me on the phone tonight "She is going to have such a testimony to share about her life". She indeed will. God wove her in her birth mother's womb. He made her uniquely special. He knew as He made her that her birth parents would abandon her, she would be in an orphanage for her first 18 months, and then she would be grafted into our family. She will grow up with both a proud Chinese and American heritage. She will have a story to tell the world of how God had such a special plan for her and her family and blessed us. She will be able to share how God has adopted (or wants to adopt) each of us through Christ into His forever family. When I see her sparkling eyes and inquisitive grin in her pictures and video, I see a life that's going to glorify her Savior in so many ways.
So what's her name? We are going to call our fourth flower Anna Faith Dixon. The name Anna is in honor of an amazing Christian doctor with the English name of Anne who has been my closest friend in China for the last two winters. She loves life, and wants all of China to know that God has created us and has a plan for our lives. In her honor, Anna will always have a piece of China in her name and a unique story to share about her namesake. Anna means "favor and grace". It's a perfect fit for her. The name Faith stands for so many things for our family. As Josiah says "Her first AND middle name are in the Bible!" Faith is a name we always have wanted for our first born daughter, and we are so blessed to finally be given a daughter to bestow it to.
Now a time line. The first thing we have been asked after introducing Anna Faith is "When are you going to get her????" Since we were matched earlier than anticipated by our agency, our travel dates have moved up! Anna Faith is likely coming home between mid-February and mid-March, but nothing is concrete. With each milestone in our paperwork, we will have a clearer picture as to a travel date. Four to five months seems like a long time, but we pray the days will pass quickly. We have three other children to invest our lives into and make memories with and we don't want to fast forward time. Every day is a gift from God and a blessing whether Anna Faith is with us yet or not.
We would love to share Anna Faith's picture with all of you, but because of security, we will only carry around her photos for now. If you would like to see her and you see us in person, please ask! We will be mailing copies of her photos to family in Michigan soon for my (Tonya's) family to see.
Please continue to pray! Pray for our boys as they are itching to get their little sister home soon. Pray for Anna Faith that she will remain safe, healthy, and cared for. Pray for the paperwork to run smoothly and for a travel date to be sooner than expected. Thank you so much to ALL of you who have encouraged, loved on, and prayed us to this point. God has been so good through each step along the way.