We weren't ready to adopt. She wasn't ready to be an orphan.
I guess that makes us a good fit.
Ready or not, the Lord is writing a story, his timing is now, and with great joy our family is expanding. Allow me to introduce you to mine and Amy's daughter, Harper Glory’s little sister.....
LUCY JOY MARTIN!
A bit more of our story (the long version)
18 months ago we filed our initial paperwork starting the adoption process. Since then we’ve been asked the same two questions over and over.
1. Why are we adopting from China? 2. How’s the adoption process going?
I’ll answer them in reverse order:
HOW'S THE ADOPTION PROCESS GOING?
We’ve been silent because the adoption process is silent. For the last 18 months we’ve waited and wondered, prayed and processed, but heard very little.
Our agency is great, but it’s not like they send a courtesy email saying, “Sorry, no match this month, still praying for you!”
In the waiting, we reviewed a few files—which was super helpful—but never seriously considered a match.
Then on Monday, December 19th—the day we were celebrating Martin family Christmas, and two days after Amy quit her job—we got the call.
Our agency had a file of a one year old girl named Yue Yan. They said they would send it over right away if we wanted. And we did.
Amy and I hung up the phone, went to the computer, opened our email, held hands and started hitting refresh every 5 seconds. When it arrived, we said a prayer, took a deep breath and opened the email.
The folder contained 19 photos, 10 videos, a set of medical history documents, a physical examination report and Yue Yan’s story.
We had 72 hours to decide.
We scrolled through the photos and read the content silently, reverently. We opened the videos and watched them multiple times each. They were low quality videos filmed with a phone, each one lasting 5-30 seconds.
As we talked, we kept going back to the photos, dreaming of what life would be like if Yue Yan was our daughter.
There were things we didn’t understand medically so we started researching and called our pediatrician. For the first few hours we kept the news between us, the Lord, and the doctors.
That night we were having dinner with some friends and midway through tacos at Cafe Rio we couldn't keep it in any longer. So, we shared with them we were reviewing a file. Saying it out loud made it tangible and terrifying. And so good. After 18 months it was so good to have something to share in response to “How is the adoption process going?”
The next morning we sent the file to trusted friends and pastors and asked them to pray for us. We wanted all the wisdom we could get, whether it be medical or spiritual.
Reviewing a file is not as romantic as you think. We didn’t hear angels sing or get even emotional when we opened the email. But Amy felt something. Something in her gut. Something sacred, spirit-led and motherly. Something making us believe we wanted Yue Yan to be our girl. The Lord was in motion leading us towards yes.
Amy later told me, that for the last year, she had gone on CCAI's website daily and looked at kids and prayed. She told me she'd seen 100 faces and never felt the feeling she got looking at Yue Yan. We still sought insight from others but quietly we were believing “yes, she's our girl, praise God yes.”
The file told us Yue Yan has Mictrotia, which is a malformation of the outer ear. This is what we were calling professionals about. One doctor said she’s healthy and beautiful. One doctor had concerns. One doctor didn’t call back. Two doctors wouldn’t look at the file. One secretary coldly told me to make an appointment in three weeks and they would bill our insurance.
Then, thank God, two specialists went out of their way to help us. An ear, nose, and throat doctor called me at 8pm, on his drive home from work. He reassured me the medical condition was manageable and treatable. We talked until he got to his house. Before he hung up he said, “I know you’re still deciding, and of course there are risks, but you’re talking about this little girl like she’s your daughter. You sound like a concerned father.” I thanked him for his time. Then he laughed and said, “Bring her to see me when she gets here.”
While I was calling doctors, Amy reached out to a group of adoptive moms on Facebook who have experience with Microtia. Three moms responded within the hour with their help and stories. One mom took our file and shared it with her friend, an audiologist. One mom called Amy and talked for an hour. Another mom sent over her kids file and walked us through our file. These women were a God-send.
Every mom said Microtia wasn’t their kids greatest hurdle, attachment to a secure family was their kids greatest hurdle. This reassurance was so helpful.
Throughout this flurry of communication and decision making, the Lord was being so gracious to us in prayer. Prayer—like opening the file—was not as romantic as you think. God didn’t declare anything to us. We didn’t get a dream. We didn’t feel a supernatural peace.
Praying felt sobering. It felt weighty. Costly. Painful. Emotional. Heartbreaking, that we live in a world where parents abandon their kids. Frustrated at the lack of advocacy from some of the doctors. Grieved for Lucy's loss of her biological parents. Grieved that we will have missed a year and a half of her life. Grateful for parents and doctors who reached out, grateful for friends who were praying for us.
Prayer felt less like bliss and more like burden. God was inviting us into a death to self, a life long sacrifice—emotionally, relationally, financially, and he was offering it to us as joy. The joy of sorrow. The joy of a hard thing. The joy of risk. The joy of faith. The joy of obedience.
We found ourselves repenting more than praying, which I guess is the same thing. We found ourselves worshipping more than praying. We found ourselves overwhelmed by God’s goodness.
In the end, we weren't asking for a divine word. Maybe it’s because we already had a divine word. Our "yes” came a long time ago. From as far back as college, God’s heart for adoption and the nations had been pressing on us. We had wanted in on the action for years, that much was clear, but the timing was out of our hands.
What a joy it was to realize more and more, every time we prayed, that the waiting was over. God's timing was now. That call was the call. That file was the file. That girl was our girl.
WHY ARE WE ADOPTING FROM CHINA?
This is a two-fold question.
WHY ARE WE ADOPTING?
Truth be told, Amy and I long for a dinner table full of loud kids who wreck our stuff and take our money and aren’t grateful until years and years later. We want that. We want to make disciples through making babies. We are still trying to have biological kids, but we can’t control that, so we’re coming at this desire two ways: Natural and Adoptive.
We love and delight in Harper so much and we want to share that with another kid. We want Harper to have a sister she can love/hate and be best friends with and share things with and fight with and play and dance and enjoy life with.
To say it another way, we're adopting because we want to and believe God wants us to. It's one part desire and one part obedience. It's a mix of calling and command. For us adoption seems normal, likely because we believe—truly believe—adoption is at the heart of God, just like we share the gospel, just like we plant churches, just like we make disciples.
The bible describes God as a father to the fatherless.
The bible describes salvation as adoption.
The bible tells us to care for widows and orphans.
We are the church, and it's normal for the church to take care of orphans. It’s a natural response to God’s gift of salvation. We open our homes and lives to give them a forever home. Just like Jesus did for us, we do for others.
On a personal note, I was adopted. The guy I called “dad” is not my biological father. He gave me everything he had, including his last name. My life was blessed—is blessed—because of his kindness towards me, and it’s a joy to carry on the legacy and make him an adoptive grandfather.
I was in China two years ago while we were praying about which country to adopt from. We wanted to start the process but we couldn't land on where. It's an overwhelming decision and we were stuck, unable to decide.
It was during the trip to China when God made it so evident where he was leading. Multiple times I felt the Spirit impressing on me, “This is where your daughter is." I came home and told Amy it seemed like the Lord was leading us to China. She trusted me and we picked CCAI.
Fast forward nearly two years, a week after we said yes to Lucy, Amy rolls over in bed and says, “Remember when you were in China? Remember how that was when the Lord prompted us to pick China and go for it? Well, I was doing the math and you were there in March of 2015. Lucy was born in December 2015. That means you were in China hearing from the Lord, at the same time Lucy was conceived. God was speaking to us and creating her at the same time.”
The Lord was leading us to Lucy even before she was born.
Also, our church, Resonate, is invested in China. Whether short term trips, or long term goodbye’s, we are rooted in China and will be—Lord willing—for generations to come. What a joy it will be years from now when we get to take both Harper and Lucy back to China and have a lifelong connection with her birthplace.
Lastly, to answer why China: I think about access to the gospel. Jesus and his word are so limited there, so the odds of Lucy hearing the gospel, believing the Gospel, and serving the church are very small. Not impossible—certainly not—but difficult for sure.
We are not saving Lucy. We are adopting her. God alone can save. But we are joining the Lord in his work of making all things new. We are bringing the Kingdom of God into Lucy’s world. She may not believe in Jesus at first, she may reject it for a while. But we are bringing her into a home where there is unlimited access to the goodness of Christ. She will be covered in prayer and integrated into a church planting, disciple making church, filled with families and college students who will love her just like they love Harper.
Amy and I recently watched a documentary about Chinese adoptions. The movie showed the moment parents meet their adoptive kids. One family was introduced to their 2 year old girl and the mom is overwhelmed with emotion. It’s a beautiful scene. When they first meet, the Chinese Nanny tells the girl, “This is your momma”, and the little girl replies, “No, no, not my momma.”
We laughed and thought, “That’s us. That’s what we do to God.” God tells us he’s our good Father and we say, “No, no, not my father.” But He pursues us anyway. He loves us while we reject him. And that family did the same. They loved that little girl into their home. And through love and kindness the little girl received the gift of adoption.
A FINAL THOUGHT:
I believe in our church. Not just to reach college students. But to shape culture. To bring the Kingdom of God to bear in this world. I believe we can plant churches and adopt children and see they are more closely aligned than we ever imagined.
Amy and I see the nation's, collegiate church planting, and adoption as a singular work God has called us to. They are all integrated in the Kingdom. They are not separate. They are the same. They are the work of the church. And we are the church.
May we do the work of the church, through church planting and adoption and may we do them both for God’s glory.
Pray for us. We have lots of paperwork to fill out and lots of money to raise. We will keep you posted on how you can pray and participate.
Lucy can't wait to meet you. Let's bring her home!
“Adoption is the highest privilege that the gospel offers: higher even than justification. Adoption is higher, because of the rich relationship with God that it involves. What is a Christian? The richest answer I know is that a Christian is one who has God as his Father. If you want to know how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God’s child, and having God as his Father. If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all.” – J.I. Packer