Monday, February 6, 2012

The First Six Months

Last summer, while waiting for our LOA (letter of acceptance from China) for our second adopted daughter, I received an email that literally CHANGED OUR LIVES FOREVER.

It was a plea for a 13 year old Chinese girl who would "age out" of China's adoption program on her 14th birthday and thereby remain an orphan for the rest of her life.

I've looked at so many waiting children during the past two years, that I thought nothing of clicking on the blog link and pulling up the photos of this young girl.

I instantly knew.

I wanted her.

I knew how incredibly crazy even the IDEA of adopting a teenager was----here we were, completing our second adoption in one year, Oh-so-busy with homeschooling and parenting our soon-to-be six children under 9, bonding, attachment and adjustment issues, financially drained......the list went on and on.

I couldn't get her face out of my mind. That evening, I showed her picture to my husband.

All I said was, "Look at this girl. She only has a few days to find a family. Isn't that so sad?"

He looked at her, said nothing, and we went to bed.

The next morning, after a sleepless night, I was in the shower, and the tears started to flow as I poured out my heart to the Lord. I couldn't understand why I was so drawn to this girl, when clearly it was an impossible decision. I literally begged God to take the desire to adopt her away, or to make the way clear to me.

I stepped out of the shower and called Brent.

"Honey, I know this is crazy, but ever since I saw the picture of that 13 year old girl, well, I've wanted her. I feel like she's ours. I know it's impossible, on so many levels, so could you just tell me now that there's NO way you would consider adopting her? Then maybe I can let her go."


Then my darling husband quietly replied, " I've been thinking about her, too. Why don't you make some phone calls and see if it's even possible for us to adopt her."

I was in shock.

I spent the rest of that day calling our agency, our China coordinator, our Social Worker, expecting a "no" from all of them.

They not only said, "Yes", they also promised to help us in whatever ways we needed help.

Brent and I sat down that night and had a deep heart-to-heart talk. Stepping outside of our comfort zone and adopting a teenager required an immense amount of faith, and we knew we needed the peace that passeth all understanding that only comes from God. We agreed to pray separately about the decision and wait to move forward until we had complete peace.

I had peace immediately. :) Truly, I knew from the beginning. I still prayed fervently for clarity, for wisdom, for God's perfect will to be not only revealed to us, but also to be worked through us.

As the days began to pass, Brent still didn't have peace. While I wanted this girl, more than anything, I wanted her to have a family. So I reluctantly began to advocate for her. Several families emailed me, interested in adopting her. Each time I would think to myself, "NO! She's ours!" but I would still give them all the information they needed to follow through if they so desired.

A week passed and no one could commit to this beautiful girl.

I had resigned myself to not being her Mommy, since Brent had not received the "green-light" from the Lord to pursue her adoption.

Eight days after I first saw her picture, I was standing in the kitchen and heard my phone "beep" to let me know I had a new email. It was actually a "CC'd" email, from my husband (who was home at the time!) to our China coordinator.

He had decided that this girl "was meant to be a Bergey"!

(Yes, I found out via an email! My sneaky husband surprised me by emailing her while he was on his phone in the bathroom!)

The rest of the story of our whirlwind summer of 2011 was mostly chronicled here on my blog.

On July 19th, I met Chen Zhong Ling (who became our Johanna Ling Bergey) for the first time.

My older children love for me to tell them their story. You know, the details of how I found out I was expecting them, what they "grew on" (the food I craved while I was pregnant! :)), their birth stories, my favorite spots to kiss them when they were babies, how they nursed and learned to walk and breaks my heart that Johanna doesn't have the same story as my biological children. We will never know how her birth mother felt when she found out she was expecting her, what foods she craved, or her birth story. Johanna will never know if her birth mother ever kissed her even once or if someone took her away immediately because her face was "deformed". There is no one to tell her what her first words were or when she learned to walk.

Her story as our daughter began the moment I opened that email last summer. So, as often as she wants it---which is quite often!---I tell Johanna her story.

And her favorite part happens to also be my favorite part.

"I loved you from the moment I saw your picture."

The past six months have been a learning experience for our entire family. I haven't shared alot of the details, in part because we were just holding our head above water trying to figure all of this out most days.

Now, however, that we have six months behind us, I am ready to share some of the things that we've learned, the mountains and valleys, and the amazing journey we've been so blessed to be a part of.

So begins a series of posts covering a wide variety of topics on Older Child Adoption.

Stay tuned! (and if you have a question pertaining to this topic, please leave a comment below and I'll do my best to answer it.)


  1. I love your story, it is awesome. I am so glad that God led you to your little teenager girl, and now she has a home!

  2. Selina, I am crying. Thank you for this post. Thank you for the series. Thank you for stepping out in faith and trusting God when it all didn't make sense. Thanks for being my Facebook/bloggy friend. May God bless your sweet family!


  3. I have followed your blog since I "met" you on Rumor Queen! Your journey to Johanna moves me. I wonder if God might be preparing us for an older child one day...but we are going to have to get to our littlest in China first! Blog on!

  4. I just found you on RQ. We are currently waiting for LOA for 2 older girls (currently ages 11 & 12 years old). We hope to travel this summer. I would love to read what you have to say about adopting an older child. We're trying to be prepared as much as possible.


  5. Love it! I had a similar experience when I saw my DD's picture - she haunted me (still does) she is 12 and I hope to go get her in April YAY xxxx

  6. This brought tears to my eyes! :)

  7. I love reading your posts, Selina. Johanna is very blessed to have such a caring mother and a sweet and beautiful family.

  8. Beautiful post. Your Johanna has inspired us to look into adopting an older child. I look forward to reading what you have to say about Older Child Adoption.

  9. beautiful!!! So beautiful....tears for how the Lord works through our faith! All He asks is for us to trust and follow...and you did.

  10. I am looking forward to this post especially much as I am about to take a huge leap of faith financially and lock my next daughter's file. She is 13 years and 3 months old. The clock is ticking to when I need to bring her home. Pleae pray that CCCWA says yes and that I can raise all the money needed. I am interested in your perspective as well as Johanna's. Would she accept questions? I'd like to know how she felt when she first found out she was going to be adopted. What she was told about it. What she wished she'd been told. What, if anything, would have made it easier. What was the most difficult part? What advice would she give another child about to go through the same thing? Would she be willing to write a letter in Mandarin to this child? Perhaps even make a short video to this child, explaining what it's been like?

    From you, I'd like to know what worked and what didn't as far as attachment. What were the biggest hurdles and what turned out to be easier than expected? What advice would you a mom about to travel to adopt her teenage daughter? I have a newly adopted, almost 8 year old daughter, what advice would you give me about caring for her while adding a teenager?

  11. Hi, Im delurking. Your blog and your family are beautiful. I've got a question about older child adoption. Specifically bringing 2 home at once. Since the older children help out with the younger ones a lot in China, how do you sort of separate them enough to form an attachment.
    So, if you adopt a younger one and an older one at the same time and they take comfort in each other. How do you stop the younger one from attaching to the older one out of sheer survival in the beginning? I hope that makes sense.
    Thanks, Cindy

  12. What a beautiful post and story of how the Lord added Johanna to your family! I got goosebumps and it brought tears to my eyes when I read the part you shared about seeing her picture and immediately you knew you wanted her--so precious!! I will enjoy following along in reading your blog! =)


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