Matthew & Stephanie Bass
Our biological daughter was born in 2001 and after much prayer and consideration, God made it clear that we were to add to our family. Through divine circumstances, after listening to Steven and Mary Beth Chapman’s testimony during a marriage conference in 2003, we were both convicted that God had called us to adopt a child.
We started researching different agencies and international programs and ultimately chose America World. The entire process for us at that time was about 13 months. We brought our daughter home from China in January 2005 and our lives have never been the same. Even though we could have had another biological child, we desired to care for and love a child who needed a family. God has given us a ‘real life’ picture of what our spiritual adoption in Christ is, through our daughter, and He has changed our views on family, parenting and faith, along the way.
We recently returned home in October 2010 with our second adopted daughter from China, DanNi. She will be 13 years old in May. Even though the process and the adjustment for this adoption has been quite different from the first, we are humbled that God has chosen us to be the parents of three beautiful daughters. He has carried us through some difficult days and we rejoice each day with progress that occurs at home.
We are eager to talk with you about adoption, to share how faithful He has been to us, and to encourage you as you seek His will for your family.
My name is Pam Freeman and my husband is Brian. We have been married since 2002 and we live in Tucson, Arizona. Brian is an artist and I am a Children’s Pastor. God placed international adoption on my heart when I was 14 years old. After struggling with infertility, God reminded me of my desire to adopt and we began the journey.
We now have four children. Benjamin was adopted in 2006 from Russia. Libby and Abby were both adopted from Russia in 2008. Our youngest and “home made” child is Gideon and he was born in December 2009. Life with four young children is a bit crazy, but God blesses us with patience. Our children are an amazing blessing and we thank God for bringing each little miracle into our lives.
Our daughter Libby was a special needs adoption. She was born with a birth defect and now has a prosthetic that allows her to walk, run, jump, climb and any other thing a child wants to do. We had not expected to adopt a child with a limb difference, but God has provided everything we need to care for her. Seeing her take her first steps with her first prosthetic leg was beautiful.
AWAA was an incredible blessing throughout the adoption process. Adoption can be a challenging process, but the love and support we received through AWAA made it easier. They truly have a love for orphans and want to see these children placed in loving families.
Lon & Kara McMillan
We have been blessed with six wonderful children; three beautiful grown daughters and two sons, and one daughter from China. If someone had told me before Kara and I married that I’d someday be writing the previous sentence, I would have told them they were crazy. As God placed the desire to adopt first on Kara’s heart, then Lon’s – we asked, “God, are you sure this is what you want us to do?” Through prayer and His providence, He made it clear to us that our children were waiting in China to be brought home. In retrospect, we can see that God’s plan for our family was made in eternity past – we simply had to be faithful.
As we watched God work in our lives and in the lives of our children we made two trips to Hunan province; one in 2006 and one in 2008, to bring our sons home. Our final trip was completed in 2009 when we brought our daughter home from the Fujian province.
Our experience with America World has been outstanding, a true partnership - a partnership in which we can feel Christ’s love at every step of the way. We would love to speak with you to answer any questions you might have and to offer encouragement as you consider adoption.
"...in you the orphan finds mercy." - Hosea 14:3
Pat & Shari Grover
Pat and Shari are honored to both be serving as pastors. We have felt God's call on our lives since we were young. We attended UC Davis, and then seminary, and stayed "just friends" for a long time until we felt God's call to marry and serve Him together.
Pat is adopted, and so we always kept that idea in our minds to consider for our family. God blessed us with three healthy, happy children - two sons and one daughter. We were so grateful, as we entered parenthood already in our 30's. But we enjoyed being parents so much. Shari soon felt led to step out in faith and explore what adopting would mean for our family. At first, Pat was not convinced that we were the best parents to adopt internationally. We were on the older end, as parents, and a pastor's income made the expenses seem insurmountable. But we attended an AWAA seminar and were hooked. We had a great experience with them.
After much prayer and agonizing research, we decided to put our dossier into the Waiting Child program for China. Our wait for a daughter with a cleft lip/palate took longer than we expected, but God's timing is perfect. We are so happy to now be parents of our little Hannah - named after the prayer warrior in the Bible, who waited on God for her son, Samuel. We pray that she will grow to be a great woman of faith. We love talking to others about adoption!
Jason & Melody Lietzau
I am Melody Lietzau. My wonderful husband, Jason, and I have been married almost eleven years. We have two biological sons and a beautiful daughter we adopted from China in March of 2010.
The Lord put adoption on both of our hearts shortly after we suffered a miscarriage. Our church was announcing a new adoption ministry and spoke on the passage in James 1:27 that says "Religion that God our father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." We both walked away from church feeling the Lord speaking to our hearts. We talked over lunch about what we had felt and taken from the message and began to pray. For several weeks We prayed and talked, and met with some dear friends who adopted. They shared their experience with us and we felt so encouraged. After much prayer and research we decided we were ready to take the next step and applied to AWAA . Our friends had used America World and said nothing but great things. We could not agree more. They were such a blessing every step of the way. It is an honor to be working for them.
Patrick & Kacie Van Winkle
My name is Kacie Van Winkle and my husband's name is Pat. We live in Orange County, California with our three beautiful children. Trent is six years old, adopted from South Korea. Diana is four years old, adopted from China. Taliah is 18 months old, adopted from Ethiopia.
The Lord placed adoption on my heart at a young age. In high school I used to say that I wanted a Rainbow Family, one of every color! Pat had the desire to adopt when he was in college.
Pat and I have been involved in many medical missions trips to Nepal, China, Ethiopia, El Salvador and Cambodia. The Lord definitely placed on our hearts a burden for orphaned children. We are so thankful He did because that is how He chose to build our family.
Our children are the greatest blessing the Lord has ever given us outside of our salvation. We also think, as do all parents, that our children are the most perfect in the world and that they look just like us!
We love AWAA and the heart of the people who walked us through our adoption. AWAA definitely sees their work as ministry and not just a job. We are excited to be a part of the team.
Tom & Amy English
Tom and I have been married for almost 15 years now. We tried to have our own family early on in our marriage and struggled with infertility. We then decided to become foster parents in hopes to foster to adopt a child. In March of 2004, we became foster parents to 2 beautiful girls. We had created our own little family. Little did we know that this was not Gods plan. In December of 2004, the court system sent them to be with their birth parents, and we were devastated. But we still longed for our own family.
We have followed Steven Curtis Chapman’s story for years as he adopted Shaohannah Hope, Stevey Joy, and Maria Sue. We went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in April, 2005. America World Adoption Association (AWAA) was there and I told Tom that I was going to go and ask them a few questions. Normally, I would have expected Tom to say something like, "why", or "what are going to ask" or something, but he said "OK". (I should have known God was working on this at that point) So I went to ask some general questions and they answered them and gave me a flier for an AWAA seminar in Atlanta in a few weeks. I slipped the flier in my purse and went back to the concert. A few days later, I noticed the flier in my purse and asked Tom if he would like to go. He said "Yes" (again God was at work here). So on May 14th, 2005, we went to the AWAA seminar. We left with a packet of information. On the way home I told Tom that I was interested in doing this, but I was not going to push him. I wanted to make sure we made the decision together. He needed to let me know if he wanted to do this and I let it go into God’s hands. Later that evening as I was watching some TV, I went into the kitchen to find Tom sitting at the table filling out the application. I said, "Are we going to do this?". He said "YES". We were so excited. We called all of our family and friends and advised them we were adopting a little girl from China. We realized that this was not a secondary plan to have a family. We realized that this was God’s plan for our family. It just took us 12 years to figure it out.
We started the paper process and were logged into the China system on 11/22/05. After a long wait, on September 4, 2007, we received the referral of our precious daughter. We left for China on October 23, 2007 and on October 29, 2007 our lives changed forever as our daughter was placed in our arms. Our dreams come true. She has been a blessing and I know God picked this child to be ours. She is perfect for our family and a true gift from God.
We are so excited to be a part of the America World Family. We have such a passion for adoption and helping the worlds orphans come home to their forever families.
My adoption life verses:
Hebrews 11:1"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
Ephesians 1:11"In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of Him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will."
Jeremiah 29:11"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Home with Emily Grace Kai English 11/07/07Emily's Adventure
Hank & Cheryl Miller
We are Hank and Cheryl Miller from Orlando, Florida. We passionately love Jesus, each other and our family. We have four children...three by birth and one through the blessing of adoption. Kelsey, our oldest daughter is 19; Torey is in the hands of our Heavenly Father; Kennan, our son is 15; and, our precious Kylie Grace is 3 ½.
Have you ever thought that some of the chapters of the story of your life were complete? A few years ago, we would have both told you that our “family chapter” had been written. Little did we know of the incredible blessing that was in store...God still had a little editing to do! Now as we have the benefit of looking back, we can see some of the ways that the Lord was starting to “plant the seed” of adoption in our hearts. Although we have grown up and lived our entire lives in Florida, God has put a love of other cultures and lands in our hearts. In the fall of 2006, we felt that God was asking us to travel to Mongolia and be part of an outreach team. In fact, it was through that journey, literally to the “ends of the earth”, that God revealed his plans to grow our family. We truly had the opportunity to see the face of Jesus in the children at the orphanage. He was challenging each of us with “What Now? What will you do with what you have seen?” We watched Kelsey and Kennan get down on the floor and play with the children. God caused a place in my heart to open up that had not been there before...it was a place that was full of love just waiting to give to a child…our child. He told me that this child might not be what I would have expected...what exactly did that mean? Hank couldn’t get off his mind that although they had decent living conditions and food, that at the end of the day they didn’t have a mommy and daddy to love them. There had been so much to take in and we were constantly on the go, falling into our beds in the evening. This didn’t leave much time for us to talk with each other about the deep things that were stirring in our hearts...but, I believe there was purpose in that waiting. So, as we left the land of gers and yaks, we traveled to China for a bit of exploring. God continued to plant seeds. As we returned home and began to de-brief from all that we had seen and experienced, we began to realize just how God had placed the same dream in our hearts. He wanted us to grow our family through adoption...we knew that without a doubt.
So, that began the journey to our daughter that was directed every step by our Heavenly Father! We first applied to AWAA for the China Healthy Child Program in the fall of 2007. Very quickly, our hearts were intrigued by the Special Needs/Waiting Child Program...we were drawn to it although we didn’t know much about it. We just had a feeling that we would receive our child through this program. So, this was what God meant when he told me our child might not be what I would have expected. He caused an excitement in our hearts to grow for a child that was a bit older...that had some special needs!
And now for the best part, in December of 2008, we all traveled to China to welcome Kylie Grace into the Miller Family! A few words to describe our experience...humbled, grateful, joyful, blessed, inspired and loved. Our lives have been forever changed in a wonderful way. We have been blessed beyond what we could have ever asked or imagined!
Chet & Ann Evans
Our journey of adoption began after a rough road of infertility treatments. As devoted Christians actively serving God, we were praying fervently for God’s will. Should we remain childless and devote our energy to serving God? Our home and marriage was a happy one. Our hearts overflowed with love that we wanted to bestow on a little child.
The Lord led us to foreign adoption-especially children with special physical needs. How could a child be denied a home because of a physical need? After all “we are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Ps. 139). God had created that little one just the way he was.
We adopted our first son “Matthew” from China in December 2008. We named him “Matthew” because it means “gift of God”. He is truly a precious gift. He had a cleft lip and palate.
We brought our second son “Luke Davis” home from China in August 2010. He too has a cleft lip and palate. His middle name means, “hearts child”. He truly is the child of our hearts. It is our desire to continue adopting these precious “special needs” children from China. We are truly blessed to be called to adoption. It has been one of the greatest joys of our lives! We love telling our story to try to encourage everyone to consider the great blessing God may have for your family through adoption.
Mike & Amy Vagnoni
We began the journey of international adoption with America World in June 2008 and brought our two boys, then 4-1/2 and 3-1/2, home from Ethiopia in February 2010.
In 1996, long before she even met Mike, God first placed international adoption on Amy’s heart as she read a magazine article about a woman who adopted a little girl from China.
When we married in 2004, we had no idea of what lay before us on our journey to have a child – but God did. He used everything for good and for His glory. And the road to Ethiopia was always His 'Plan A' for us.
Please contact us anytime. We are happy to answer questions and share more about our adoption experience as well as encourage you throughout your adoption journey!
Dennis & Katie Reaser
We are Dennis and Katie Reaser, from Olathe, KS. We have five children, four biological children: 16, 12, 10, and 8 (2 boys and 2 girls) and we just adopted our 23 month old daughter from Ethiopia.
We thought our family was complete when we had our fourth child, but God had other plans for us:) It all started when I, Katie, went on a missions trip to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia with our church in October, 2009. Our kids kept saying, bring home a baby, and I said "I would if I could." Believe me, it was hard to visit all the houses, orphanages and schools there and not want to bring them all home. After I came home, Dennis and I took several months to pray about it and decided this was indeed what God wanted us to do. We have been so blessed to have her in our family.
We have such a passion for adoption, and had such a great experience with America World, we can't think of anything better than to help others start their own adoption journey by hosting AWAA seminars. :)
Chad & Karen Bowman
Ever since we married in 2002, we had always been open to the idea of adoption. Feeling that the Lord gave us a heart for Africa and the needs of children around the world, when the time came to expand our family, we felt led to adopt internationally. Our daughter Natalie was placed in our arms in March 2009 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. We've never been the same! We have been blessed to be a part of the America World family and hope to be lifelong advocates for adoption and orphan care.
Zack & Rebecca Caldwell
Hello! We are Zack and Rebecca Caldwell and are so excited to be Associates for AWAA and to share with others the great miracle of adoption. We have been married for a little over 5 years and currently make our home in London, Kentucky. Zack works as an educator for a non-profit community agency and I currently stay home at home with our precious son, Caleb.
God began working in our hearts toward adoption about three years into our marriage. As an adopted child, I always knew I wanted to experience adoption as a parent and Zack had been given many ministry opportunities in his life that placed him in orphanages throughout the world. We also believed adoption to be a wonderful and Biblical way to show God's love and to grow a family. We began praying about adoption and God led us to AWAA, which we are so grateful for. In July of 2007, we applied to AWAA's Ethiopia program, and a year later we saw our son's picture for the first time! We were blessed to spend Christmas that year meeting our son in Ethiopia. It was definitely a Christmas we will never forget! He is such a blessing to our family and brings indescribable joy to our lives.
Steve & Barbara Szewc
Our adoption journey began in 2004. At that time, we had three children; two at home and one in college. As a military family, life is not always predicable. We did not see ourselves as a family in a position to adopt. That year we had begun homeschooling and as part of the curriculum we were reading a biography about Amy Carmichael and her work in India. Barbara’s eyes were opened to the plight of different people groups. She began to pray, "Here I am, Lord. Send me… (Isaiah 6:8)
," not knowing how God would use her but being open to His will. The seed for adoption was planted. Steve was more resistant to the idea of adoption. It just didn’t make sense to him. During a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in October 2007 there was a ticker in the corner of the screen; every 18 seconds the number changed and one more child was orphaned.
We have often compared adoption to financial investing by saying, "There is never a good time to invest, just like there is never a good time to adopt." By the fall of 2008, four years had passed since we first thought of adopting. We had endured multiple deployments, a move, added two children to the family, and had another move on the horizon. This definitely was not the time to adopt, but God had other plans for us. In January of 2009, as a family, we prayerfully made the decision to live out our faith, trust God, and adopt a child. We decided to partner with America World on this journey. They were an established reputable company, and at the time we only lived about 40 minutes from their home office. Considering our "Advanced Maternal Age" and the dynamics in our home we chose to pursue a child with special needs. Unknown to us, God had already chosen this child for us. He was born on September 9th, 2008, five days after the birth of our first granddaughter!
At the beginning of our paper-chase we already had orders to move to Maine. We rushed to get our home study done in Virginia before the move, and then delayed sending it in until the addendum for the new house was done. While we were 'homeless' and living with friends, we received our referral for a nine-month-old boy with cleft lip/cleft pallet. The referral pictures we received showed a 10 lb, seven month old boy, who could barely sit. There was no hesitation in accepting the referral, and little did we know, the lip and pallet had been repaired the month prior!
Not yet connected to a local church, we initially turned to our friends and family to help us raise the funds we needed to go through with the adoption. There was overwhelming support from them both in prayer and financially. We also received a generous grant from Show Hope, and were able to participate in AWAA’s Eternal Family Fund. As the spring of 2010 rolled around and we were waiting for our travel approval, our two teenage daughters decided they wanted to share the burden, and did a benefit violin concert at a local café. Again, we were blessed with the response and the financial gap was almost closed. A few weeks after the concert we received an unexpected check for $2,000 in the mail. The check was from the bank for overpaid escrow! It was an amazing experience to witness God’s hands and feet coming together as our needs were met.
That summer we flew to China and on July 12, 2010, in a crowded Civil Affairs Office, we met our 22-month-old son for the first time! Benjamin Enyong is truly a blessing; a beautiful precious gift! Over the course of the next few days we held him, and we cried with him as he grieved the loss of his foster family. At times we have felt selfish for wanting him to come home with us, but reality was and is, our family is built by God’s design! We thank our God upon every remembrance of friends, family, Show Hope, and AWAA helping to bring home "one."
Bill & Toni Benton
Bill and I married in 1995 and started thinking about adoption in 1999. For more than a year, we sat on that application - only God knows why. Finally, in June 2000, we filled it out and sent it in. In March 2002 we adopted the lovely Theresa Lin. As soon as we could, we started working on our next adoption and received the beautiful Abigail Grace in February 2004. I met our amazing Faith Elizabeth (born June 1994) on an AWAA mission trip in July 2004 and God moved many, many mountains to bring her home in January 2006. Since then, God has seen fit to bless us with 4 bouncing boys too - Alex in 7/07, Sam in 1/10, and then David and Andrew in 2/12.
When we started all this, we just wanted a baby. We'd had enough of the infertility roller coaster and just wanted our baby. A friend recommended AWAA and here we are. But since then, it's more than just wanting a baby. We want them ALL home and are excited about the many opportunities to help spread the "Adopted by Design" message with America World. We can't adopt them all (though we had no idea that God had 7 planned for us), but we can tell, encourage, and help others experience the miracle of adoption.
We live in Southern Maryland and we also have a fantastic son Johnny, who has run off to the "wild blue yonder" (USAF) with his lovely bride Tamra.
How can we help you along the wonderful, amazing, God-ordained journey called adoption?
Curtis & Mandy Cecil
Curtis has worked in retail management for over 15 years. Mandy has worked as a teacher.
Our families Journey started with a trip I (Curtis) took in 2004 to China with the James Fund. That trip opened my eyes to the needs of the orphan and ever since then we have had a strong passion to help others connect to ministries that supported the orphan and the widow.
When we felt God telling us it was time to get involved ourselves, we jumped in feet first! As a family with four kids who were all under the age of 9 at the time, our family thought we were crazy for wanting to adopt two more. Yet God didn't and September 20th, 2012 we came home from China with our two new additions to the family.
Since then, God continues to use us to be a bigger voice for the orphan and we are excited to help support, train, answer questions and just plain be a sounding board for those who are seeking God’s will and guidance on the exciting Journey of Adoption.
John & Donna Cole
We are John and Donna Cole, and we live in the Baltimore County, MD area. Donna is a part time math tutor at the community college and full time mom. John is a regional manager for a wireless provider. We are both very active in our local church. We are also in the process of adopting our second daughter from China. We adopted our first daughter, Grace Xiao Ying, 6/21/2000 from the Guangdong province of China. She was 11 months old then. She is home schooled. She loves karate, playing piano & reading. We have worked with AWAA through both adoption processes.
For years we have had a love in our heart for the Chinese people. After years of infertility we have learned that adoption from China truly is God’s “plan A” for our family. We enjoy helping other families travel the adoption journey as we travel ours.
Matthew & Kathryn Clover
We are Matthew & Kathryn Clover from West Michigan. We have been married for 11 years, and are the very blessed parents to our two-year-old son Amanuel, who we adopted from Ethiopia!
Adoption was something that we had always talked about throughout our marriage. During our first nine years of marriage, we were able to go on many international missions trips. On many of these trips, we worked with children in third world orphanages. We will never forget meeting a group of brothers in an orphanage in Portugal who were about to age out of the orphanage. They had no hope, and no real possibility of a future off of the streets. God used this and other experiences to truly break our hearts for orphans. As a result, on our seventh wedding anniversary we realized that God was leading us to go ahead and begin the adoption process.
We chose AWAA based on several recommendations from friends, and were accepted into the Ethiopia program in November of 2007. We received our referral for our son Amanuel in April of 2009, and he came home on July 4, 2009 at six months old! Throughout our process to bring Amanuel home, we were continually appreciative of AWAA's integrity and their balance of the needs of Ethiopian children and also prospective adoptive parents. We're very passionate about adoption, and we're excited to share with other couples about God's heart for orphans.
We decided to expand our family through adoption again, and have begun the process to adopt another child from Ethiopia through AWAA. We're excited about what God has in store for our family!
You are welcome to view our Adoption Blog
Bryan & Heather MacPhail-Fausey
Hello, we are Bryan and Heather MacPhail-Fausey, AWAA Associates for southeastern Michigan. We have four children: Xavier, 16; Alex, 14; Ian, 8; and Rebekah, 7. God first placed the thought of adoption on our hearts about 10 years before He brought it to completion. From the early thoughts of adoption, God carried our family to west Tennessee, where our third child Ian was born. Due to complications during birth, we were advised against having any more children. Not long after, we moved again to east Tennessee, and just as we were getting settled, God took us to Germany for three years. As we approached the end of our time oversees, God continued to grow in our hearts the thought of adoption. ithin a few months of returning to the US, adoption just started laying itself before us. By the end of 2004 we were seriously investigating and by March, when we began the paper chase, it was simple obedience to what God had laid on our hearts. We knew that God wanted us to adopt a young girl between the ages of 3 and 10.
We first met our Rebekah Ling on January 15, 2006 in Fuzhou, the capital of the Fujian Province of China. She had been living in Xiamen, which is a coastal city very close to the island of Taiwan. All of our children have been a blessing, and sometimes a challenge, to us and the addition of Rebekah has strengthened our family. We are thankful to God for this blessing and the things that we learn from Rebekah even as she learns from us.
Jeff & Shannon Walker
We were married 2/7/87, and have 5 children: Joshua 16, Robby 15, Bryan 12, Aaron 10, and Brooke 4. Jeff is a Police Officer with the City of Auburn Hills in Michigan since 12/15/86. Graduated from Oakland Community College in 1988 with a degree in Criminal Justice. Currently, attending Rochester College (a Christian College) hoping to graduate in 2006 with a Bachelors in Business Management. Shannon currently works part-time at Auburn Animal Hospital and part-time at Beaumont Hospital as unit secretary. We were both saved at an early age, and currently attend First Missionary Church of Clarkston.
Our beautiful daughter was brought home to be a part of our family November of 2001. We spent months researching and looked at many different agencies before finding our home here with AWAA.
Duane & Andrea Tweeten
We are Duane and Andrea Tweeten, and we live in Cambridge, MN. We have 6 children: Micah, 19, Caleb, 17, Hannah, 15, Jadyn, 12, Kendall, 8, and Zoe, 5. Adoption has always been close to our hearts. Duane felt God tugging at his heart over 25 years ago to adopt a little girl from China. We have talked about adopting since before we even got married.
In the summer of 2004, we felt God telling us this was His timing for us to begin the adoption process. On September 19th, 2005, Kendall Rene Pan Tweeten was placed in our arms. We chose AWAA as our agency because it was a Christian agency, and we wanted an agency that supported our Biblical view of adoption.
In 2007 we felt God leading us to adopt again, and through many steps of faith, we were led to Taiwan, to adopt our daughter Zoe, through an independent adoption. We saw God clearly work through both girls adoptions, and we felt our family was complete.
God began working in our hearts again in early 2010, and we felt God calling us to adopt a young girl from China who would age out of the system soon, and no longer be available for adoption. We clearly saw God work miracles as He opened doors we did not think could be opened, and we were allowed to move forward with the adoption of our daughter Hannah. We brought Hannah home with the help of AWAA, in October 2010.
We are so excited to be AWAA Associates and assist AWAA and families down the most amazing journey of their lives. We have learned so much about God?s love for us, His faithfulness to us, and His adoption of us into His family, and are excited to share that with other families.
Guy & Christine Pinkman
We are Guy and Christine Pinkman from Lincoln, NE. We have been married 22 years and have 5 children ranging in age from 17 to 4. We have always thought that adoption might be something that we would consider but after 3 children life already seemed so crazy and we didn't know how we would ever be able to pay for it. Well, God had something else in mind for us when he started tugging on my heart to adopt. It took some time and prayer for Guy to agree that this was something the Lord was calling us to do. In 2005 we brought our daughter, Isabel Hope, home from China. She is such a blessing and we are so thankful for her life!
While we were still in China I knew I'd like to adopt another child. We had everything all planned that we would adopt another little girl. It just made sense that Izzie could share a bedroom and we would already have little girl clothes. Well, God had other plans for us. After about 1 1/2 years of waiting for our daughter the Lord started working on us that maybe we needed to change our application to indicate boy or girl, expand the age range, and also put down special needs. Exactly one week after we changed our application we received a referral for a precious 2 1/2 year old boy. Levi is full of life and has brought much joy and laughter to our family.
We are so thankful for the blessings all of our children bring. It's hard to imagine what we could have missed if we hadn't listened to God's plan for our family. After having been through two adoptions we are passionate about helping orphans and helping others that desire to help them or experience the blessing of adopting themselves. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD. "As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts."
New Jersey Associate
My husband Eric and I have come to a place in our lives where we desire to serve God where His heart is. He has called us according to James 1:27 to look after Orphans and Widows. This has become my life verse. I have been so fortunate to be able to spend my days serving Him in this way.
Our daughter Julianna is 5 years old and is from Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Our journey bringing her home in 2006 was an amazing one and AWAA was with us every step of the way. We also have a son, Elias James from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He is now 2 and the happiest little boy i have ever known. Go has blessed our family greatly with this precious gift. Our third journey for our little girl from China has just come to a close. Aimee Grace is 22 months old and absolutely amazing. We know God will reveal even more of His plan and glory in our lives through the gift of adoption. So, we wait patiently on Him.
During my days as a mother, I enjoy serving the Lord through our church, with a nursing home ministry that I run where we visit and build relationships with the elderly who are at a point in their lives where often they have no one to give them hope. I enjoy sharing with them the hope of Christ. I also spend time in high schools speaking on adoption where I can tell young people of the miracle that has become our destiny in hopes to plant a seed in their hearts for the future. I am also a Child Ambassador for World Vision.
I am excited to be a part of the AWAA staff family. Serving families looking to adopt is a wonderful gift. It is an honor to be part of such a mission.
New Jersey Associate
I knew I wanted to adopt since I was a little girl. When I met my husband, Chris, I made sure he was OK with the idea before we married. We decided to "have one & adopt one". The birth of our natural born daughter, brought dangerous complications and near death for both my daughter and myself. Afterward, I was told not to have any more children, as I was too high risk. This naturally led us to begin our adoption, a year later, and God led us right to AWAA and to China.
3 days after mailing our dossier to China, I discovered I was pregnant. We notified our Family Coordinator and suspended our adoption for six months, so I could give birth. Now filled with the fear of losing the baby and more complications, friends began to pray Psalm 40:3 for us: "He hath put a NEW SONG in my mouth..."
After a difficult pregnancy, I gave birth to a healthy, very plump baby girl. Just 2 weeks later, AWAA called to tell us we had been matched with Olivia! After receiving her bio in Chinese, we learned the translation of her name: "NEW SONG!" This was all the confirmation we needed that she was our daughter.
Faced with a unique situation, (traveling to China with a newborn) our Family Coordinator took us under her wing, and lovingly helped us every step of the way. She filled in the details and supported us during the whole process.
We arrived in China and were received by guides that treated us like family. The Chinese people graciously helped the "Laowai" with 2 babies, 2 strollers and 2 diaper bags, every where we went. They showed love to both our daughters; natural born, and super-natural born!
We are forever grateful to the staff at AWAA for helping to bring our family together!
Joe & Chris Caruso
New York Associates
We are Chris & Joe, we live in New York and have been married for 18 years. We have been greatly Blessed with the adoption of two beautiful girls from China. Our journey began in 1999 when we started the process to adopt our first daughter Ciana. After an 18 month wait, we traveled to China in July, 2001 to unite with our daughter and bring her home. We knew we wanted to expand our family and started the process in June, 2005 to adopt again from China. After a long, four year wait, we traveled to China once again in July, 2009 to unite with our daughter Mia and bring her home.
Adoption has been such a joy and Blessing to us in so many ways, we love to share our experience and encourage others to adopt.
Dennis & Lyn Franks
North Carolina Associates
Fourteen years ago, Dennis and I were a newly married couple with dreams of starting a family of our own. We envisioned two or three beautiful children and a lifetime full of being their parents. Just a few months later, we discovered we were expecting our first child. We were thrilled that our plan was starting to become a reality. Six weeks later, however, we lost our first child and our carefully constructed plan came crashing down. The weeks that followed were painful and dark. When we finally decided to lay all of it at Jesus’ feet and give Him control over our lives, we felt completely at peace with whatever His plans were to be for us. As a couple, we decided we would live every day to glorify God and leave the details to Him.
In two short years, we were blessed with three children… a boy and twin girls… all three miracles! Then, when the girls were three, God whispered to us that He intended to bless us with a child again. We waited for a positive pregnancy test, but months passed and nothing happened. Meanwhile, I was waking up with a start in the middle of the night every night with a knowledge that our child was waiting for us (we later discovered these were the months during which our son was being fearfully and wonderfully formed). Finally, after much prayer, we felt led to attend an adoption seminar. My husband was skeptical, but I knew in my heart this was to be the path to our child. I prayed that God would speak to my husband if this was truly His plan.
The short version of the story is God did speak to my husband and then showed us, step-by-step, how to follow the path that led us straight to our son. In December 2008, just days before Christmas, we found ourselves (terrified and beyond excited all at the same time) in an orphanage in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, preparing to meet our son. God was there and it was His plan coming to pass! Just minutes later, we met our precious son and we knew God’s plan was perfect. Adoption is God’s very heart and we felt it there in snowy Siberia.
Adoption is the way God chose to complete our family. It is also the method God chose to use to help our entire family come to know Him in a deeper way. Our son is a living miracle, not only to us, but to all who know him and his story. We love adoption and we love helping families learn more about God’s perfect plan for them!
Jerry & Angie Guy
North Carolina Associates
We are Jerry & Angie Guy and we have three wonderful children. Two biological children Mitchell (12), Allie (8) and our newly adopted Sarah (2). Sarah was adopted from China through the Waiting Children Program.
We co-lead a church bible study group where we were challenged with what we were doing with all that God has provided. One day I felt God asking “What are you doing with all that I have given you?” That can be a very difficult question to answer! I felt that God was not done with our family and felt a calling to adopt. I approached my husband about adoption and, at first, I think he was a little surprised, however after much prayer God confirmed it over and over again in our lives. We spent a weekend at the beach and watched the AWAA DVD, and we both knew this was God’s plan for our life. We moved forward through faith, and through the process we have been thrilled, excited, scared, dedicated, thankful and humbled that God would bless us with another precious child to love and care for. God worked in AMAZING ways through our adoption and we saw his hand print on every step. We believe that our obedience provided us with the most incredible blessing that we could have imagined.
Since being home, Sarah has been doing great. She had open heart surgery after being home only one month and is doing great!! We are excited about the Associate role with AWAA and look forward to help others see the blessing of adoption.
North Carolina Associate
My name is John Raymer. I'm a pastor, a husband to my beautiful wife Dottie, and a father of 5. Even before my wife and I married over 10 years ago she told me that she wanted to adopt. I was not really against the idea but was not really that interested either. After about nine years of marriage, raising 2 children, and many years of ministry, God began to move my heart toward adoption. I wasn’t sure how we would go about adopting and frankly I was still looking at adoption as something as a matter of course. Adoption was something my wife wanted to do and something I was not opposed to so why not do it. Truly at this point all I really knew was that this seemed to be what God was leading us to do.
We began looking into adoption and soon came to the conclusion that our children were in Ethiopia. It was always amazing to see God was working at every turn of the adoption. As we worked through the adoption process, it was laid on our hearts to adopt not just one but 2 children. During this time our agency was just starting a waiting child list for Ethiopian children. The first 2 boys on the list were there for about 5 minutes as my wife and I knew that they were our boys and immediately called our agency. Almost a year after starting the paperwork we were truly blessed to go to Ethiopia to get 2 boys ages 5 and 6.
After about a year from bringing our boys home from Ethiopia, my wife saw a 14 year old boy on our agency’s waiting child list and she knew that he was our son. I wasn’t quite so sure. After all, we were still paying for our first adoption. I asked her for some time to pray. A couple of months later (and still paying for the first adoption and with literally no money to pay for another one) we went out to lunch and I casually told my wife that I had filled out the adoption application. Nearly a year later, we welcomed home our new son.
Words cannot really express the feeling that one has when picking up their child and instantly knowing that they are yours and nothing will change that. In all my years of ministry and theological study, I have never learned as much about God's love as I have going through adoption. I know of the sacrifices we made (time, finances, emotions) and yet they pale in comparison to God's sacrifice for us. I also know of the tremendous joy of bringing these children home and I now believe I have some understanding of what God feels when one of His children come home.
It is my heart's desire to give the gift of adoption to as many others as I can. I want to do all I can to encourage others to take this journey. It is one of the greatest journeys you will ever experience. May the grace of the Lord be with you.
Leo & Shannon Allen
We are the Allen family and we adopted Bryson (6) and AJ(3) from Ethiopia. We got our referral in May of 2010, Went for our court date and got to meet them in July. Then returned to ET at the end of August and brought them home Sept 5 2010. Wow!!! God is good.
Shannon remembers the tears, pain, and disappointment she went through during that time. All she wanted was to be a Mommy. She wishes that she could say she prayed to be a Mommy relentlessly. She wishes she could say she completely trusted God during that time, and knew that one day she would be a Mommy. But she truly had lost all hope, and was looking at the reality of our situation - that she was emotionally done with all the infertility treatments, and was married to a man that was against adoption. Or like he says "adoption wasn't for me"....
But we are so thankful God had different plans for us. We are so thankful HE didn't look at the realities of our situation. We are so thankful HE felt every tear and heard every cry, even when Shannon wasn't praying and trusting Him. We are so thankful He chose us to be the parents of two little orphans that lived on the other side of the world.
We are so thankful that He, in his infinite wisdom, touched Leo's heart and said, "what more selfless act can you think of, besides helping at least ONE of my children?"
And now, because God has written a story better than we could ever imagine, we get to be called A Family. So on September 5, 2010 we began our lives together.
There are still days that we wake up in disbelief knowing that we are a Family! We love to talk about adoption so if you have questions, or you are interested in adopting, we would love to hear from you!
Tim & Jennifer Gampp
Tim is a librarian at the public library and also works as the youth minister at our church, where we met and got married. I am a stay at home mom and babysit part-time in our home.
We began the adoption process for our daughter, Zoe, in the Fall of 2004 and brought her home December 2007. This was the greatest thing Tim and I had ever been involved in together!
I have a passion for finding mommies and daddies for the orphans of the world and look forward to sharing the Spirit of Adoption with people seeking out God's plan A!
Mark & Lisa Heddleson
My name is Lisa and my husband's name is Mark. We have been married almost 10 years and have been together since high school. Our son Daniel, who we adopted from Ethiopia, has been home since May of 2010.
We are also currently in the "waiting for referral" stage to adopt another little boy from Ethiopia.
When we started to plan our family we always knew we would adopt one day. Our plan was to have biological children first then adopt. After 2 miscarriages and a bunch of fertility tests with no answers as to why we were not getting pregnant, the Lord woke us up to the fact that our plan was not His plan. We knew there were many children who needed forever families and we longed to provide a home. My husband and I prayed and talked to many who had adopted, especially from Ethiopia.
We are so grateful that God put this calling on our hearts. Daniel is the greatest joy and we can't imagine life without him.
Please feel free to contact us anytime. We would love to answer any questions and share more of our journey and help encourage you throughout your journey.
Steven & Melonie Smith
Our names are Steven and Melonie Smith and we live in Grove City, Ohio. Our magical journey to adopt our daughter began 15 years ago when my husband made a fleeting comment that he had a place in his heart for the little girls in China (God planting the seed). We had just met then and soon after became college sweethearts. After a 10 year courtship we became engaged, then married in May 2001. We spent the next few years getting our nest ready for a family. When we had decided that it was time to start having children, I made the comment that perhaps we should adopt a baby from China instead of trying to have a biological child. My husband’s immediate response was, “YES!”
Our beautiful, independent, spirited daughter officially became a part of our family in December 2005. She was more than we could have ever wished for. We know that God intended for her to be ours from the moment she was conceived, she is a miracle! We were lucky enough to have my sister-in-law and father-in-law travel to China with us. We just fell in love with China...it’s a trip of a lifetime. Within the next year, we plan to begin the process again. After seeing the number of beautiful children in China that need a family to love them, we feel that we are meant to expand our family through adoption.
My husband works in hospital administration and I work part-time as a buyer and designer for a local boutique. Our daughter Tapie Eloise Yu Han Smith works hard at learning something new each day and will turn 2 years old in January, 2007. There are not words to describe how blessed we feel to have met the wonderful people at America World. We feel that they are truly doing God’s work!
Jacob & Elsie Yoder
We live in Wayne County, Ohio. Two weeks before our fourth anniversary we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl,
Sharon Joy. Our desire for a sibling for her grew, but God had another plan for our daughter, when through a tragic car
accident He claimed her life. Reeling with the consuming loss, we just didn't understand!
After two years into the grieving process the plan of adoption began to unfold, through prayer and support from our ministry at church we were led to America World. God laid China on our hearts and after paperwork and a lengthy wait of 37 months, on April 3rd, 2009 we finally received a call with a referral, "...your wait is over, congratulations you have a 6 months old baby girl!" We named her Noelle Joy - [precious gift].
Today the stillness in our home has been filled with her singing and happiness! God has been so good to us through sorrow and joy. Our adoption experience with America World has been a blessing and we thank the staff for being friendly and caring during the whole process.
"Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and He shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord." Psalm 27:14
Jeremy & Megan Logue
We are Jeremy & Megan Logue from Gresham, OR. Before we were married we talked about how we would like to build our family through adoption. Back then we had no idea this would happen for our first child but God orchestrated our journey to a beautiful baby girl.
We brought Allia Joy home on Christmas Eve 2012. The process was long but God used the time to teach us more about Himself and to prepare us to be the parents our little girl needs. She was worth the wait! We believe every child deserves a family and are excited to share our passion about adoption.
Jerry & Diana Stitzel
We're Jerry and Diana Stitzel and we live in Troutdale, OR the Gateway to the beautiful Columbia River Gorge! We were married in 1984 and we have two beautiful daughters, Sarah Faith 14, and Gracie Li Hope 2 1/2 years.
We have been the lead pastors at Columbia Life Church since 1998. Gracie Li Hope became our forever daughter on October 26, 2009 in Guangxi, China through the AWAA waiting children program. She is such a joy and we marvel at how God has blessed us with such a wonderful little girl who has long eyelashes just like her big sister!
It was through an AWAA Spirit of Adoption Seminar that God really touched our hearts and convinced us that adoption was not only possible, but actually His plan for us. It has been a pleasure to work with AWAA through the adoption process and we are excited to be working with them as associates to share the blessing of adoption with others.
We invite you to take a look at our Adoption Blog
Our names are Mike and Jenny Mehosky. We have been together for 21 years now 15 of which we have been married. Mike’s dad worked for the government while my dad was in the military/army. We both had similar childhoods since we were both moving around all the time. We met in high school in Wiesbaden, Germany our freshman year. Both our dads received orders to go to Aberdeen Proving Ground, MD at the same time. We started dating the summer we returned from Germany which was before our junior year in high school. We had always talked about adoption even in high school as a way to build our family. After having three boys we continued the talk. But, when it finally came down to it, Mike was pretty unwilling to move forward. I felt certain it was God calling me to do it. And I have to say without God intervening it might never have happened. I bugged Mike enough to get permission to look into it. I watched a homecoming video of a family adopting a baby girl from China. The song in the background was “Draw Me Close.” We sang the song all weekend long. Thinking he would watch the video and be ready to jump in with both feet I pushed him to the point where he threw up his arms and said “You have to stop talking about adoption! You’re driving me crazy and you’re pushing me further and further away from wanting to do it! You’ve got to stop!!!!” So….I very calmly said “Fine, if they play that song tomorrow at church then you’ll have to submit to the idea that we’re going to get our little girl.” I didn’t mean to say it – I didn’t even think about it – it just came out. Sure enough, as we slid into the row of chairs at church the next morning Mike found the song “Draw Me Close” typed on the bulletin. As if that wasn’t enough, Pastor Kris Ann talked about going to other nations and adopting children into God’s family. She used the word adoption several times that morning. Needless to say, we were dumbfounded. We walked out of church, Mike looked up to God and said “I hear You loud and clear.” We got home that day and while he was working in the yard he came in and said “I think this isn’t just about us, I think it’s about leading others to adopt.” Amazing how God can change your heart from one extreme to the next in just a split second. We were blessed enough to have God speak to us two other times during our wait to get Emma. One that lead us to special needs and another to calm our fears. Very powerful moments that neither of us will ever forget.
We’ve had Emma almost 9 months now and it’s just amazing how she fits into our family. She is a treasure, a blessing, a sweetheart and we thank God every day for leading us to her.
David & Katherine Dennis
South Carolina Associates
Katherine and I had never discussed adoption or thought we needed to after 16 years of marriage and 4 beautiful children. That was in 2005, before we went into the Christmas holidays and were seeking to go deeper in our relationship with the Lord. In His faithfulness and to our surprise, He began changing our hearts for the fatherless, specifically for our daughter who was in China. By the end of January 2006 we were racing to complete our dossier in hopes to be united with our daughter somewhere in China by the end of the year since the project waiting time was around 8 months. About that same time is when the China program started slowing down and the waiting time for non-special needs continued to grow; so much so, we went through seasons of doubt and questioning God’s call we so clearly heard.
To make a long, anxious, and lesson filled story shorter, we traveled to Jiangxi, China in July 2010 and meet Kirby Katherine Dennis on July 26th for the first time. She was 9mths old and an angel sent straight from heaven. This little girl who was spiritually born in our hearts 4 ½ years earlier, finally we were together. I cannot begin to describe the pure joy she has brought to our entire family and everyone who has the privilege of meeting her. There is still not a day that goes by, when I look at Kirby and think of what God sacrificially did for me by adopting me into His family, I cry tears of joy and thankfulness.
Our oldest child was in seventh grade when we began our journey, she is now a freshman in college and was home for just one week after we returned from China with her new sister before we all help move her into her dorm. In addition, we have 3 boys still at home ranging from 13 to 17 years old. It has been one of the most beautiful and unexpected blessings as parents to see how all of our children have embraced, accepted and love Kirby so much. God changed us and our circumstances a great deal during the journey, but He never change His mind.
It is now hard for Katherine and I to go back and recall the times of doubting and questioning God’s call during the long wait. But if not for the wait, it could not have been Kirby who is so obviously divinely chosen to be our daughter. We are once again reminded that God’s timing is always perfect and the wonderful Christian life we have the honor to live, is as much about the journey as it is the destination. If you are interested in learning more about our journey, we welcome you to visit our blog "God Writes The Best Stories"
In HIS Strong Love,
David & Katherine Dennis
Jonathan & Tara Nalley
South Carolina Associates
My name is Tara, and my husband Jonathan and I have been married since 2006, and we live in Simpsonville, SC.
God started laying adoption on my heart as a young girl, sort of the "adoption gene" you could say. For as long as I can remember I wanted to adopt a child, but I wasn't sure when or how that would take place. During the early years of our marriage Jonathan struggled with a decision to adopt. At one point Jonathan said he would like to take the issue to God in prayer and after two weeks he was 100% certain that God was leading us to adopt a child as a "Plan A" for our family! Both Jonathan and I have been adopted into the family of God and once we understood the theology behind adoption, our hearts were even more certain that God wanted to take us down this road. An AWAA seminar that we attended in mid-2009 was one of the defining times in our process as we heard many families speak and explain their experiences.
America World has been like family to us and has literally gone down this road with us and helped us through every step of the process! Because of our respect and love for AWAA we are thrilled to be a part of the team! We have a passion for orphans and a passion for adoption! The two go hand in hand.
In May 2011 we met our daughter in Krasnoyarsk, Russia for the first time and we brought her home on August 31, 2011! Adoption is an amazing dream come true and we are loving every moment with our new daughter! God has blessed us so much and we want to spread encouragement to others that are considering adoption or are perhaps already in the process.
Peter & Tanya Hyatt
South Carolina Associates
We are Peter and Tanya Hyatt in Charleston, SC. Peter, a college minister, is originally from Georgia and Tanya, a physical therapist, spent most of her life in Louisiana. Tanya has always wanted to adopt. As a child visiting her mother’s home country of Honduras, she learned quickly that children from other countries have less than those here in America.
While dating and discussing marriage, Tanya talked with Peter about adoption and both were open to it. After marriage, Tanya heard a Focus on the Family program featuring Steven Curtis Chapman where he shared his adoption journey. One day, she hoped she would be bringing a child home.
Eight years and three biological children later, Peter was not open to adoption. Feeling that they were not able to provide emotionally or financially for another child, he made it clear that they would not be adopting. Tanya was heartbroken but felt that God opened her heart to adopting a child waiting for a family, and that God would see His plan to completion. She prayed for Peter often asking God to change his heart toward orphans. She prayed FOUR years.
Peter met Ben, a student at the College of Charleston. Ben and his siblings had been adopted from the Philippines and Ben shared his story with Peter one day. During that time in June 2010, Peter was also reading through the New Testament with another student asking himself “Am I doing what the Bible says?” and he came to James 1:27 which describes pure religion as caring for orphans and widows. Very few times in his life has he felt God tell him to do something so clearly – first was marry Tanya, second was move to South Carolina, and now this – adopt an orphan.
Choosing an agency was not difficult for Tanya – who searched online for Stephen Curtis Chapman’s adoption which led her to America World. Peter researched and contacted many agencies but felt most comfortable with American World when he saw the list of Associates on their website. He knew if that many people were willing to be listed on their site, they had great experiences with their agency. January 2011, they started their China adoption journey initially thinking their waiting child would be a girl, but God surprised them with a boy! March 19, 2012, they met their two year old son Will from Shenzhen City, Guangdong Province, China. He was welcomed home by Hannah (10), Lauren (7), and Stone (5).
Now, they are advocates for adoption and orphan care and look for opportunities to share their story in hopes that it will lead others to adopt. Please email them with questions and your contact information and they will be delighted to respond. You can also follow their BLOG or follow them on twitter @peterhyatt and @tanhyatt.
Quint & Debbie Elkins
Our names are Quint and Debbie Elkins and we were married on May 7, 1988. Like many couples we developed a time line for our family. God however, had different more perfect plans. By 1997, we had suffered through five years of infertility and finally turned our family plans over to God. We researched adoption and decided whatever path God chose for us to start a family was up to him. We were then blessed with two biological sons when Gehrig was born in 1998 and Graham followed in 2001. Our family was complete or so we thought! God had other plans and stirred our hearts leading up to 2005 when we answered his call on our lives to both adopt and become advocates for the “Miracle of Adoption”. On December 17, 2007 we received an early Christmas gift when an 11 month old bundle of joy named Sophia was placed in our thankful arms in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China. After spending the greatest Christmas ever half way around the world, we returned home understanding clearly that God’s plan is always perfect for our lives. "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
- James 1:27
Jason & Michelle Steffenhagen
The dreams of those we love have a way of becoming the hopes of our own tomorrows. Michelle always knew she wanted to adopt. It might have been her numerous experiences on youth missions trips to places like Kenya and Morocco, or the interactions she had with adoptive families; but starting her family through the miracle of adoption was always a dream of my wife's. I always wanted a family, to be a dad. It might have been my lack of exposure to the world outside of my comfortable box, or my limited ability to envision a different type of family; but I never imagined starting a family through adoption.
After four years of hearing Michelle talk about adoption every time we mentioned starting a family, I started to realize that this wasn't a "phase" that she was going to "get over". Instead, I started to evaluate whether or not I had it in me to love a child that wasn't my own flesh and blood.
Coincidentally (or more likely, in God's perfect timing), I was invited to participate in a week-long trip to Guatemala by my friend and colleague William. We worked and served at a wonderful ministry complex, delivering food to families in a garbage dump, helping organize a warehouse full of discarded American electronics, and spending time at an orphanage.
It was in the orphanage that I was instantly turned into a human jungle gym by a group of 15 five-year-old girls. They jumped and swung on me for what seemed like hours (but was probably only a few minutes). I quickly found myself slumped on the concrete floor, barely able to move from shear exhaustion. After three of the little girls finally realized that I wasn't going to be resurrecting their jungle gym in the near future, they jumped off my lifeless legs and went looking for the next set of arms and legs to swing from.
But one little girl just sat on my lap and didn't run off with her friends. She calmly leaned back against my chest and held one of my hands. She started singing a song in Spanish while tracing the lines on my palm. The sun was setting over the mountains of Guatemala and I knew in that moment that I would jump in front of a bus for this little girl. In a matter of seconds she had stolen my heart and she showed me what love was all about.
That night I called Michelle and said, "I'm ready, let's adopt." She didn't hesitate, she just said, "Let's do it."
Unfortunately, our story doesn't continue with us bringing Marleni home. She wasn't available for adoption and we had to let go of that specific hope.
But, through prayer and patience, we soon found ourselves at the dinner table of a couple who had recently completed an adoption with America World. We listened to their story, heard their passion, and recognized the care and concern of the organization that held their hands through the entire process. It was only a few weeks later that we started our own adoption journey.
In the spring of 2009 we began the paper-chase, compiling our dossier for Ethiopia. About 13 months later we were the proud parents of Mateios Steffenhagen, a six-month-old baby boy! We traveled to Ethiopia and brought home our first child.
It was a wonderful experience from start to finish. Nothing has been better for our marriage, better for our faith and better for our understanding of God's love than going through the process of adoption. America World was helpful in every way we could have expected. They answered our questions, normalized our fears and provided the reassurance and encouragement to stay the course, knowing that the journey is long and sometimes arduous.
The dreams of those we love have a way of becoming the hopes of our own tomorrows. Michelle dreamed of adoption from a young age. I needed a little angel in Guatemala to open my heart. Together we are experiencing the joy of parenthood, caring for one of God's precious children who was in need of a family.
Jonathan & Angela Wells
From the time we started dating, we were confident that adoption was God's plan for our family. We were married in 2001, and our sweet Caleb was born in 2005. What we didn't know at that time was on the other side of the world just 9 months earlier Caleb's older brother was born, and 11 months after his little sister entered the world.
We traveled to Ethiopia in February 2010 to meet and bring home our precious Jeremiah and Rachel. Adopting siblings or even a 3 and/or 5 year old is not on every person's radar. However, we encourage others to consider the possibility. Even with the challenges of adopting a late toddler and older child, we have been nothing but blessed! Our God is so very faithful!
Through the miracles of birth and adoption, we are family! We are forever changed and overwhelmed by God's goodness, provision, and heart for the orphan. It is our desire to advocate boldly and passionately for adoption and orphan care. We are absolutely thrilled to represent an organization that operates with the utmost integrity and bows to the authority of Christ. America World truly shares our hearts - the very heart of God - to see the lonely set in families.
Please contact us anytime. We are happy to answer questions, share our personal experiences, and pray with you throughout your adoption journeys.
Brandon & Sarah Battle
We met at Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas, TX. I [Brandon] say I fell in love with Sarah the moment I saw her, and prayed that someday she would be my wife. That prayer was answered. We have been happily married for over eight years. Those years of marriage were not without their challenges though. In 2001, after years of praying that we would someday be blessed with children, we were diagnosed with infertility. That night we went home from the doctor and wept in prayer together before the Lord. Was this the end of our dreams of a family? No way, only the beginning! God had a definite plan in the works! He led us to pursue adoption! In 2004, after we both reached the age of 30, the minimum age for international adoption, we pursued adoption of a child from China through America World. Less than a week later, unbeknownst to us, a beautiful little girl was born in Hubei, China named Li Jia Yi. After a year full of paperwork and patience, Li Jia Yi turned one year old, and two days later in Wuhan, Hubei, China, she was forever united with her new parents! Our prayers for a family were answered beyond anything we could ask or even think! Our life is a testimony now to what God can do: take a seeming unplanned tragedy and reveal to all what it really was: a planned triumph! Rebecca (“Becca”) Catherine Jiayi Battle is now a happy & healthy toddler and has been with her new mommy and daddy, since March of 2005!
We enjoy being Associate Pastors at The Lord's Glory Church in Humble, TX, founded in 1995 by my Mom and Dad, Tom & Schar Battle, who are today the Senior Pastors of the church and the proud grandparents of Rebecca Catherine Jiayi Battle. Becca’s other proud grandparents, Harry and Jean Mattson, reside in Aquilla, TX. We also enjoy spreading the word about the joys of international adoption as Associates for America World.
To find out more about our journey to China to adopt Becca, go to our adoption site
Chris & Tanya Lair
Chris and I were married August 23, 1997. At that time we knew we wanted to have children. He wanted 2, and I wanted 10. ;-) However, God had very different plans for our family, and His plans are fortunately so much better than anything we could ever dream of. After being married for 5 years, we decided it was time to start a family. We were told that we had very serious infertility issues and would not be able to have children. However, we have learned that God is the ultimate authority, and He blessed us with 2 biological children born just 15 months apart!! After our daughter turned two, I began to get baby fever again and prayed about adopting which is something I had longed to do since I was a small child. After much prayer, Chris who had initially said our family was complete, changed His mind and became on fire to adopt from China. (Our first date was at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert, and we had always been touched by their family and story.) Chris found AWAA, and we started paper work in 2006 and had a LID of May 2007.
Much changed in our family and in the world of China adoptions in the next few years. During that time God blessed us with two more biological children. We continued to dream of having our daughter from China and felt a strong calling from God to change to the waiting child program in the summer of 2012. We received our referral for our beautiful daughter just 2 weeks later!! We traveled to China to get her in September of 2012. Her special need is beta thalassemia major. It is a form of anemia that prevents her body from making normal hemoglobin. This in turn, means that she has to have blood transfusions every 4 weeks for the rest of her life. Her special need, while scary initially at first, has become really routine and just means that we spend all day at the hospital one time per month, but outside of that, one would never guess that she has a special need. She is full of life, loves to get into everything, and she loves to laugh, giggle, and play with her brothers and sisters. We know without a shadow of a doubt that God meant for her to become a part of our family from the beginning of time. He has shown us miracle after miracle with her adoption from her referral to now, finding out that I am a perfect blood type and antigen match for her which is absolutely amazing and something that our specialists told us would not be possible since I am not Asian!! I love it when God proves doctors wrong!! Our daughter, Faith, is a miracle and total blessing from God!! We simply cannot imagine our life without her!!
When we came home from China, Chris and I knew that we wanted to do something more to care for all of the orphans that we left behind not only in China but across the world!! When AWAA asked us to become Associates, we both knew that this was an answer to a prayer!! We are so excited to be a part of such an amazing agency and to help other families bring their sons and daughters home!!!
Doug & Cristie Martine
Senior Texas Associates
Our journey began with a very soft whisper from the Lord. I was pregnant with our second child, a baby girl we would soon name Dakota Michele. Doug and I were new to San Antonio, Texas and attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. During the concert, both Doug and I were captivated by the beautiful almond eyed little girl on the big screen named, Shaohannah. That perhaps was the first time that what seemed the impossible … adopting a child from half way around the world was made possible. We were taken back by the story he told of their family journey and we held on to that idea in our hearts from that day forward.
Over the next two years the seed the Lord planted began to grow and the Lord watered and nurtured that seed with many circumstances and people. The Lord knows that I have a hard time hearing “whispers” and used many people, including a newly made friend and her beautiful adopted little girl from the Hunan province to show me his plan.
In October of 2004, Doug and I came to a fork in the road when we were trying to decide if we would conceive a child of our own or move forward into the unknown world of international adoption. While the first route seemed more sensible in every aspect, the Lord continued to show Doug and I that he had a beautiful child waiting for us in China. On November 10th of 2004 we took a leap of faith and applied to AWAA to begin the process of adopting a baby girl.
Today we are blessed to have added to our family Maliah Jade Xu Martine. She was placed into our arms on September 4, 2006 but she grew in our hearts from the moment the Lord birthed that first seed. Our journey to adoption was full of many lessons from the Lord and he has continued to show us even now that the spirit of adoption is not just about the blessing of a child, but the blessing of walking in obedience with Him. We have truly never seen the face of the Lord so clearly as we did during the two year journey to Maliah.
We still call San Antonio home and are proud parents of a son, Canyon (6/23/00), a daughter, Dakota (5/20/02), and Maliah Jade Xu Martine 11/03/05. On July 26, 2010, we began the adoption process again for of a son we will name Levi from Ethiopia. We are excited to once again see what the Lord has in store.
We are proud to serve in the capacity as Texas Associates for the San Antonio area and we pray that the Lord will use us as a vessel to spread the spirit of adoption to any family who is being called. We'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact us to know more and if you live in the area, we'd love to meet you and introduce you to San Antonio's amazing adoption community! Journey To Maliah Lead Us To Levi
Ron & Lisa Dickey
We are Ron and Lisa Dickey and we live in Annandale, Virginia. We were married in 2002 and have three beautiful children, a son and daughter by birth and a son through adoption.
In November 2005, when Lisa was pregnant with our first child, Ron listened to a joint broadcast between Focus on the Family and Family Life Radio on the way to work. November is National Adoption Month and as Ron listened to the testimonies, God broke his heart for the orphans and he realized that adoption isn't just for couples who are unable to have children biologically. God commands everyone to care for orphans, whether through adoption, prayer, or financial support. Ron came home and shared with Lisa what God revealed to him and she started listening to the broadcasts as well. God began working in our hearts and shortly after that we both felt called to adopt, we just didn’t know when or how.
After our second child was born, we felt very strongly that God wanted us to adopt. So, in 2010 after much prayer and research on adoption processes and agencies, we applied to the China Waiting Child program through America World. We brought our son Seth home in November of 2011 and have been so blessed by him!
Through our adoption experience, we have learned so much about God’s love for us and our adoption into His forever family. We are excited to answer questions and help your family navigate your adoption experience.
Mark & Tamara Flippen
We are Mark and Tamara Flippen from Spokane, Washington. We just celebrated our 20 year Wedding Anniversary and are blessed with 5 great children. Two through birth and 3 through the miracle of adoption. Amber (18) and Joe (16) are our two biological children. Annabel (5) was adopted from China when she was 16 months old and has been with us for 4 years. Jacob (7) was adopted from China when he was 4 years old and has been a part of our family for 3 years. Sabreana is 19 months old and was adopted through foster care.
We attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in December 2005. Prior to that concert we felt our family was complete with our two older children. However, it was at that event in which God spoke so clearly to our hearts that He had additional plans for our lives. We sent our application into America World the very next day and began the process.
It was also during this same time frame that God made it abundantly clear that Mark's future would be in Ministry. Mark retired from the Navy in 2009 and was blessed to step right into ministry. We relocated to Spokane so that he could take the position of Senior Pastor at a local church. Our church family has been a true blessing.
Both of our children from China were born with Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate. While they have required multiple surgeries and procedures during their short little lives, we have seen such incredible growth in them that it just amazes us. We have always said that they are healthy children who just need to take a break from time to time for a procedure.
We are so grateful for AWAA and all the support they offered our family during our process and are so excited to be able to minister to other adoptive families as Associates for the Spokane area. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or if we can be of help to you in any way.
Bill & Cherri Kroner
Hi! Our names are Bill and Cherri Kroner. Our family became complete on May 23, 2010, when we held our son, Benjamin, in our arms for the first time.
Our journey through adoption began in February 2008. Our biological daughter was 5 and we were never able to conceive another child. By October of that year we found America World and applied for the Rwandan program. The following 18 months proved to be the most challenging time of our marriage and along the way I frequently told God, “You don’t know what You’re doing” in regards to our family. He, however, made Himself perfectly clear in January 2010 when he answered my cries with Psalms 138:7-8 “… I will perfect that which concerns you…”. He is Faithful to His Word and by March of 2010 amazing healing washed over our family and we received our referral from Rwanda.
Our journey was perfectly punctuated in the last 48 hours of our travels through Africa. Our paths crossed a young Rwandan man at the embassy in Kenya and through conversation it was revealed that he shared the same last name as our son. This young man told us that the meaning of my son’s last name is “God Knows my destiny”. It was at that moment that I sat in the midst of perfection; God’s Will revealed, a family complete, and the peace of knowing that God holds my son’s destiny. The beautiful thing about that is God holds the destiny of ALL of His children!
I can’t wait to meet and encourage you on your path towards adoption. It is a long, emotional journey that you will never regret!
God Holds Your Destiny!
Matthew & Nikki Savage
Greetings! We are Matthew and Nikki Savage. Matthew is a pastor and Nikki is a counselor/social worker. We were married in May 2005. We knew before we were even married that we were called to adopt, and take seriously God’s call to care for widows and orphans. In 2007 we began pursuing this dream with AWAA, and in December 2008 we brought home our son, Elijah, from Ethiopia. We have been so blessed, and have experienced indescribable joys since that time.
We are excited to serve alongside AWAA, and are eager to help others who are considering the miracle of adoption. We hope to continue adding to our family through adoption for many years!
Steve & Kristen Anklam
Hello from Oshkosh, WI. We are Steve and Kristen Anklam and we are so incredibly blessed that God lead us to America World on our path to adopt our two daughters. In 2004 our hearts were opened to the idea of international adoption to form our family. We wasted no time in getting started. After a brief search of agencies it was clear that America World had the same heart that we did toward God, children and families. We forged ahead into a whole new world and our lives have been forever changed.
In 2006, we waited anxiously for our delayed plane in Beijing to take us to meet our precious first daughter. We had no other children and had no experience with international travel, but we were resting in the fact that our God knew it all in advance. When the moment came to meet our Adeline, we knew, with no uncertainties, that she was the daughter God had planned for our family all along. We were content as a family of three.
But God, who knew what lay ahead, challenged our contentment. In 2008 we completed a second dossier for another daughter, only this time we followed His lead toward the Waiting Child program in China. In less than a year we were waiting in a large civil affairs office to meet a child who would become our precious Ruby. Again, we knew in the quietest corners of our hearts that she was meant to be ours. Our journey of a family of 4 began at that moment.
And now, as a family of 4, It is with excitement and great joy that we get to share with others how God brings families together. We certainly hope that if you have questions about adoption, you would contact us. Maybe we can even meet you at one of our Adopted By Design seminars in the future.