Gazing Upward



See this beautiful face? This is the face that captured my heart over a month ago. This is the face of an amazing 11-year-old girl who will become our daughter and join our family in 2011! We are heading back to China to adopt again.
Shocked?? Yes, I know…we are too. This was an unexpected development in our lives, and we are still awed that God has led us in this direction.

Here’s a summary of how things developed…

August 30th: After our 5th miscarriage, I pray that God would change my heart if I am not supposed to have another baby. Or at least another baby in the near future.
September 2nd: I unexpectedly have a complete change of heart. I no longer desire to have a baby. I am puzzled and shocked because I don’t necessarily fear another miscarriage, and for over two years, I’ve desperately wanted to carry a baby. I can only figure that God has changed my desires. It is a little unnerving, but I feel completely content with my two toddlers and our stage in life.
September 3rd: On the drive to the lake for Labor Day weekend, my friend Emily and I talk about the PBS adoption special that recently aired. I confess that I still long to adopt an older girl at some point. “Some point” meaning at least a few years from now. (You may remember the older girl I fell for last year before we were matched with Grace.) In fact, I had been staying away from adoption and advocacy sites so I won’t fall in love with any children.
Later that afternoon: I receive a mass email from our adoption agency, Lifeline. They have been given the priviledge of advocating for a group of children ranging in age and special needs. I see an 11-year old girl’s beautiful face and realize her need is one that our extended family is very familiar with. On impulse, I respond that I would like to request her file. My dear husband laughs and groans when he hears what I have done. 🙂 We both know we are in no position to adopt again, especially so soon. The timing is just way off.
September 7th: After a holiday weekend, I finally hear back from Lifeline that this girl’s file is already being reviewed by a family. In fact, there are a few families ahead of us. Would we like to be added to the waiting list? I respond that we do. I’m not sure why. I know the chances are slim that we’ll ever see her file. I feel unexpectedly bummed that we won’t have the chance to consider adopting her.
September 21st: I randomly check in with my contact at Lifeline. I really just want to make sure this sweet girl is being adopted. I am told that there are still a couple of families in front of us to review her file. I am assured by my contact that she has seen it work out, time and again, with the family the Lord has chosen for each child. Again, I feel bummed that we’re not that family.
September 22nd: Lifeline contacts me…the families have declined to adopt her at this time and we are next in line. Would we like to see her file? I feel guilty even asking for it now because I know there’s no chance we’ll adopt her. Yet I pray and feel God telling me that it’s okay to say yes.
September 22-25th: After reading this girl’s file, I fall in love with her personality and story. She is smart, talented, thoughtful, beautiful, and so deserving of a family. But each day, I think through all the reasons why we can’t adopt an 11-year-old. After all, we’ve just recently reached a place of normalcy and routine. We’re not in a rush to expand our family. In fact, nothing about the timing of this makes sense. Scott says he’ll pray through it, but he does not foresee us deciding to adopt her.
I’m head over heels for this girl, but I want to decline the referral as well because it seems to be the easiest thing to do. However, at the end of each day, I have this feeling that we’ll bring her home. In fact, I will forever remember the moment in my kitchen when I prayed, “Lord, what in the world do you want us to do?” And His answer was so clear that I got chill bumps over my entire body. I heard, “Bring her home.” And I argued, “What about Scott?” He replied, “It’s in my hands.”
I realize that many of my concerns and fears are more about cramping my style, leaving my comfort zone, and altering our lifestyle. The valid and legitimate challenges and issues that come with adopting and raising an older child… I’m not afraid to face and walk through them if God is calling us to.
Realizing the potential impact of adopting out of birth order, I ask Carter if he’d like a baby brother/sister or a big sister, like my cousins’ kids. (They’re in the same age range.) After thinking, he replies, “I’d like a big sister!” Over the next few days, he says things like “Let’s go to China now and bring Liyun home!” When I ask what he would say to her first upon meeting her, he thinks for a second and replies with a big smile, “Me your BROTHER!!!” Although I know Carter may not fully grasp the implications of adopting another child, I still melt at the sweet spirit and accepting heart that my son has!
God begins to confirm His plan in a number of ways. After wishing that we could meet a Chinese family to help translate and facilitate this girl’s transition into our culture, I meet a Chinese family at the Hoover Library the very next day! They speak Mandarin. They live five minutes from our house. And we have an instant connection.
After wondering who else in their right mind has adopted again so quickly, I get connected with an amazing Christian woman. They adopted their daughter at 16 months, just like Grace. Just a few months later, she unintentionally fell in love with a child, just like me. She requested the file before asking her husband. Just like me. 🙂 The file was for a 12-year-old girl. And her husband came around in his decision. They knew the timing was off, but God made it clear to them that this was His plan. Seeing a family who had the same circumstances and timeline helps us realize that God’s timing and plans override ours, no matter how crazy it all looks from a worldly perspective.
The list actually goes on with others signs of confirmation from God. On Thursday night, September 30th, Scott sits me down and says he believes God is leading us to adopt this beautiful girl. My jaw drops to the ground. You see, I can’t talk my husband into something “just because.” While I’m the dreamer, he’s the practical one. And he’ll only step forward if he knows God is calling us to. With such a dramatic change of mind, I know God has placed this conviction in his heart. We pray, sleep on it, and awake the next day to find that we’re both still unified in our decision and feel led to move forward.
We are both a little scared. We know this will be a big change in our family. We joke that it’s our “surprise pregnancy.” We also realize people won’t understand our decision at all. Some people may think we’re absolutely crazy. We certainly never imagined our family would grow this way, but we know that God is calling us to bring home Liyun. And crazy or not, we can’t imagine not walking the path God has laid out for us. We’re just striving to live out His will for our lives and for our family. And as the confirmations continue to come, we feel stronger every day that God wants this specific child in our lives, and us in hers.

Our timeline is unknown at this point. We’re in the process of updating our homestudy, so it could be anywhere from 5-10 months before we travel to bring Liyun (her Chinese name) home.

There’s so much more to share, and questions to answer, but it’ll come in time! Just wanted to share our news!


  • Comment by Leslie Ann Jones — October 7, 2010 @ 3:48 am

    What big news, Kelly! I'll be praying for you and your sweet little ones as you begin working toward this major transition. And yes, she is beautiful 🙂

  • Comment by e — October 7, 2010 @ 3:54 am

    You are amazing. I can't wait to watch this new chapter unfold! Blessings to the Browns and your open hearts!

  • Comment by Amber — October 7, 2010 @ 3:54 am

    WOW Kelley! It is crazy, because God specifically laid you on my heart tonight and I felt compelled to check your blog. So I want to encourage you and let you know that I will be praying for you, Scott and your whole family as you move to bring this beautiful girl home! I can't imagine the in's and out's of bringing home an older child, but trust the Lord! He is already there and will give you mercy, grace and compassion to take every step. Just go one day at a time. Praise the Lord that this sweet girl will have a forever home and the chance to know Jesus as her Savior! Who cares what the “world” thinks.

  • Comment by Courtney — October 7, 2010 @ 4:07 am

    I just want to tell you how thrilled I am for you! As you know, we traveled in February 2010 to adopt our little boy from Shaanxi, and just four months later we submitted Letter of Intent for another precious boy! We are waiting on our LID right now. God has called you to this and I couldn't be happier for you!

    Courtney (MCK on RQ)

  • Comment by The Young Family — October 7, 2010 @ 4:28 am

    WOW!!!! I am so excited and I have to say also encouraged after reading your post. You are unabandonly following our Savior…and I am just so encouraged to see Jesus in you friend. And your NEW daughter…she is so beautiful. Just wished I lived closer so I could be a part of your beautiful life!

  • Comment by Kim — October 7, 2010 @ 8:51 am

    WOW! God is SO good. This story gives me encouragement that God may work on my husband's heart too. I am SO excited for you and your family and cannot wait to learn more about Liyun.
    Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,

  • Comment by Shelley — October 7, 2010 @ 11:54 am

    So excited to see her beautiful face on your blog. I am praying for you all as you move forward, following the Lord's guidance.

  • Comment by Somewhere In The Sun — October 7, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

    Oh, I'm so excited for you!! And I always love hearing stories about how God puts a child with their family…never, ever the wrong one!! I can't wait to see how it all unfolds!
    And Liyun is so beautiful!! I love her cute pigtails. Now, don't think I'm crazy here…I know she's Asian, but I think she somehow resembles you!s


  • Comment by Lindsey — October 7, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

    Wow, Kelly! What big news…and such a wonderful reminder of God's timing. Thanks so much for that! Praying for all of the Browns as you prepare your hears and lives for your new oldest. 🙂

  • Comment by Jennifer — October 7, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

    Isn't it amazing how he miraculously works on husbands??? I am so excited to hear that you two are stepping out in faith–God will give you what you need for the task and I am so happy for you….can't wait to follow!

  • Comment by Ashley Matteo — October 7, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

    congrats kelley. what a blessing and how amazing is God to work in both of your hearts and in the logistics of providing lidyn. i know He will work out everything to bring her home to you

  • Comment by Mandi — October 7, 2010 @ 1:17 pm

    Congratulations. You don't know me, but I was just sent your link by a fellow adoptive parent. I will be e-mailing you privately to explain.

    “Maria” is an absolutely beautiful girl and I cannot wait to follow along with you to bring her home.


  • Comment by JJ — October 7, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

    It Happened!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been wondering 🙂 and um, can i travel with you guys again and be your photographer!? ha! Love you!

  • Comment by Shonni — October 7, 2010 @ 4:52 pm

    I am so excited for you and she is just beautiful! It will be so fun to watch her come home!!

  • Comment by Beth Goff — October 7, 2010 @ 5:41 pm

    I love it! I think yall are amazing and what a wonderful testimony!! Praise God!

  • Comment by Ashley — October 7, 2010 @ 5:55 pm

    Kelly, I realize we don't technically know each other, but I wanted you to know I have tears streaming down my face. Thank you so much for posting your wonderful news (congratulations!!). I have tears of joy for you guys and for an answered prayer. I have been praying for your newest daughter for several months now. She captured my heart. I just immediately felt the need to pray for her, pray for her new family to be, pray for the agency that is taking care of her, and I have prayed that the Lord would let me know when she found her family. So I have been praying, daily, for all of this for your sweet little girl. I am thrilled beyond words for you guys, for her, and for answered prayer. I will keep praying for you guys!

  • Comment by Sara — October 7, 2010 @ 7:12 pm

    We are so excited for ya'll! She is beautiful!

  • Comment by Dana and Chris Sheheane — October 7, 2010 @ 7:42 pm

    I am way more than EXCITED!!!!!!! Wow, what a fun post!! NOT what I expected and oh so much better. Let me know how I can pray, encourage you, etc. AHHH!! so excited! i still want robyn to talk to ya'll!! love you, dana

  • Comment by Peggy — October 7, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

    I'm so excited for you! What wonderful news!

  • Comment by Thornton's Well — October 7, 2010 @ 11:35 pm

    We are so excited and praying for you guys on this extended, surprising journey. God is so gracious…

  • Comment by Tina — October 8, 2010 @ 1:04 am

    AWesome news!! Congrats!!

  • Comment by Deann Scholl — October 8, 2010 @ 1:45 am

    Kelly….I am speachless…..I just absolutely am so excited for you and your family and I cannot wait to follow this journey with you. PLEASE update as much as you can. Oh my goodness, I just cannot even believe this wonderful news and I am smiling from ear to ear. She is BEAUTIFUL!!!! Wow…she will be one lucky little girl to join such a wonderful family. GOD IS SO GOOD!!!!

  • Comment by Learning Together at Home — October 8, 2010 @ 3:16 am

    I saw your big news on RQ and came over here to see your blog. What a lovely family! I'm truly excited for you all! We have 4 going on 5 children and adopted our dd at age 7 out of birth order last year. Good for you! 🙂 I can't wait to follow along on your journey to Liyun. God's richest blessings to you!

  • Comment by kristen elaine — October 8, 2010 @ 3:28 am

    SO excited for your family, Kelley! This is such great news & an amazing timeline of events. I'm so happy for y'all and for this beautiful girl.

  • Comment by Greg and Laura — October 8, 2010 @ 1:01 pm

    So excited for you all!! I can see how that face captured your heart! Can't wait to follow this new journey!

  • Comment by Stefanie — October 8, 2010 @ 1:59 pm

    Goodness, Kelly!! What BLESSED news!!
    Like you, I 'found' our Sophie in an email from Lifeline, just a few months after returning home with Isabelle 🙂
    LiYun is absolutely beautiful, congratulations on growing your family… God's way!!

  • Comment by margaret — October 8, 2010 @ 4:00 pm

    Kelley and Scott-
    I have been praying for you and this beautiful child ever since Emily told me you're considering her. It is amazing to see God unfolding this miracle to you. But why should we be surprised??
    Can't wait to meet Liyun.

  • Comment by Ericka B. Jackson — October 8, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

    I'm crying!!! THIS IS AMAZING!!!! Kelley – I am just so, SO thrilled for you guys, and for sweet Liyun! What a wonderful thing! (and I don't think you're crazy at all, haha! Or if you are, you're the “good kind of crazy”! Have you ever heard Steven Curtis Chapman's song “crazy”? It's a good one.) Anyway – I'm rambling because I'm SO excited! Also – I have a friend from Auburn who was born in China (she's lived here since she was in elementary school though) and I think she speaks Mandarin. She also lives in B'ham and is PRECIOUS – she might be willing to help you guys too! I will check with her and see if I can connect you guys – you would LOVE her!

  • Comment by Ericka B. Jackson — October 8, 2010 @ 6:44 pm

    ps- the details of this story are amazing! God is ALL over this!

  • Comment by The Fairleys — October 9, 2010 @ 12:26 am

    I am in total shock… and not for obvious reasons. You aren't going to believe this… I too got the email from Lifeline, and I too jokingly showed this beautiful young girl's photo to my husband. Except I was given a different response… I was expecting him to say “forget it” or “you've lost your mind”… instead he said, “Call Lifeline and see if they'll wave our fees… our paperwork is still good, we'll go get her.” Then, as I read on I saw that she was matched. I've thought about her all week. I've told everyone about her. I am THRILLED to know that she is going to get a loving family that will give her a future that she so deserves. I am not sad for us because I know we just aren't in a position to adopt again… we already have four children, now that Mia is home. I am so, so happy for you guys. We serve an awesome God… I can't wait to follow your journey AGAIN.

    Ashley Fairley
    Gadsden, AL
    Mama to Mia… 🙂

  • Comment by Joel and Lee-Anne — October 9, 2010 @ 1:57 am

    Kelley!!!!!!!! Whoo-hoo!!!!! OH MY GOODNESS, I am COMPLETELY behind you gyus and shae in your joy (and fear) of this new journey. To God be the glory.

  • Comment by The Payne Family Blog — October 9, 2010 @ 2:17 am


    I have been following your blog since you left for China your fist time. I believe we share a mutual friend in Angela D. She pointed me to your blog when we made the decision to adopt.

    I am so encouraged by your obedience. It is going to be so fun to watch how God blesses your decision to follow Him back to China to get your daughter. LiYun is simply beautiful.

    We are praying we travel in in 2011 as well. Maybe we will meet up with our beautiful daughters:)


  • Comment by Brittany — October 9, 2010 @ 3:48 am

    Kelley – OH MY GOODNESS! I am SO EXCITED for you guys! I wish you could see my face right now – I am smiling so big, you would be cracking up! 😉 What a BEAUTIFUL big sister to Carter and Grace….I see something special in her picture, she is just gorgeous with a little twinkle in her eye. I know you see it too!

    Amazing journey for amazing people. I am speechless and I can't wait to see where God takes you on this journey. I am in awe of you obedience and your faith. You inspire me.

    Can't wait to talk about this over the phone – which should have happened before now!

    Love ya!


  • Comment by Cindy — October 9, 2010 @ 4:11 am

    That is big news! She is one blessed girl to become part of your family. I get chill bumps when I see her picture. She is beautiful! Gods plans are so amazing. I cannot wait to follow the rest of the journey. Thanks for your kind words you posted on our blog for our asian angel.

  • Comment by The Hoppers — October 10, 2010 @ 2:35 am

    So awesome, Kelley! So awesome! You and the family are in my prayers.

  • Comment by Cheri — October 10, 2010 @ 1:08 pm

    Congratulations, what a sweet story of God's faithfulness!

    We too, stepped out of our comfort zone and adopted a 7 year old last year, out of birth order, but it has been the most wonderful experience. Today is her 8th birthday and her first birthday ever! You will have so much fun with your daughter and wonder why you did not do this before.

  • Comment by Mike and Barb — October 11, 2010 @ 11:11 pm

    OHhhhhhh, I'm so happy to see who is adopting this beautiful young lady! She immediatly captured me too when I saw her picture on Lifeline's site!
    Wishing you many blessings, and a very speedy process!
    Barb (from RQ – wyofamily), waiting to travel for our almost 8 year old!

  • Comment by groovy mama — October 11, 2010 @ 11:15 pm

    OH i am sooooo HAPPY, i have seen so many people advocating for her! She is beautiful!

    CONGRATS, hugs as you began yet another journey!

  • Comment by Patti — October 13, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

    Hi Kelly – You just posted on our blog – we are in Nanning now and have the most beautiful 26 month old daughter – we are so in love!
    I followed your blog when you brought Grace home – so thrilled that you are going back again for your Guangxi girl!!!!!!!! Nanning is great – so much to see and do!!

    Best of luck and many blessings to you all!!!!

  • Comment by Ashley — October 14, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

    WOW!!! I am so excited for y'all!!! I can't wait to meet our newest cousin!!!

    I love y'all!

  • Comment by Bobi — October 15, 2010 @ 10:37 pm

    Kelley! I am SO HAPPY for you!! Isn't it amazing how God takes what we have planned for our lives and turns it into HIS plan! We are hoping to finally begin our adoption journey to Ethiopia with AGCI in the next two weeks and planning to share with our church family on orphan sunday, nov. 7th!!! I cannot wait to watch God's plan unfold in your life and in the life of your new daughter! How blessed she will be to have you as her mother!!! (:

  • Comment by Kris — October 17, 2010 @ 1:03 am

    I just found this post today. What fabulous news! I can't wait to watch your journey. Adopting an older child takes bravery, commitment, a lot of love, and trust. What a blessing for this little girl, and in turn, a blessing for your family. Congratulations…

  • Comment by Kelly the Overthinker — October 17, 2010 @ 10:11 pm

    OH my goodness! Oh my goodness!!! When I first saw her picture, I thought she was a model for a nonprofit or something that you were giving some blog time to. I cannot believe it! God is good!

    There is a family over at who has adopted a slightly older girl and are looking to adopt an older child again. There are a number of families over there actually who adopted older kids, I think. If you need some folks to connect to, let me know. But, from the looks of the comments here, sounds like you have all the support you need! 🙂

    So happy for you guys!!!!

  • Comment by Bradford — October 20, 2010 @ 5:12 pm

    Oh my goodness! THis is the most incredible inspiring news I have heard in a long time. We are soooo excited for y'all and are spurred on to follow Jesus by your faith! God is so good. WE celebrate your “surprise child.” GOd is a God of great surprises. We love your newest daughter already. We are praising our amazing God!

  • Comment by Truly Blessed — October 26, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

    Popping in from RQ to say “hi” and to tell you that your new daughter captured my heart the instant I saw her face on Lifeline's list. She is simply beautiful and I am so thrilled for her that she has a family!

    Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!!

    TB (from RQ)

  • Comment by christindeas — November 1, 2010 @ 1:40 am

    I am so proud of you and Scott stepping out in faith both listening and following the Lord together & as a family. Wow! Exciting news!

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