As many of you know, our precious son Sam, whom we adopted from China just 19 months ago, passed away on February 24th, 2018, from complications arising from leukemia. While we are heartbroken, we are not without hope; we are confident we will see him again in Heaven.
The outpouring of love and support we have received from friends and family has been overwhelming and humbling. Many have asked how they can help, so we’ve considered how best to honor Sam and his beautiful life.
An important way we can honor Sam’s legacy is to complete the adoption of our daughter, Mia*, whom we have been planning to adopt since before he was diagnosed. As passionate and excited as our family is to bring our new teenage daughter home from China, Sam was the most excited of all of us; after all, he was gaining a sister from his homeland who could relate to his history and share his language. We never dreamed he wouldn’t be here with us to complete our second adoption journey.
For those of you who are not familiar with our story, Sam was our first introduction to Chinese adoption. Sam was 12 years old when we brought him home from China, having been abandoned at just three days old. At his adoption, Sam became the oldest of our four children. He melted so seamlessly into our family there was no doubt we were meant to be together. Outsiders might say that he needed us, but the truth is, we needed each other. The energy, compassion, and love he brought to our family was a puzzle piece we hadn’t fully realized we were missing until he was home.
Mia, who is HIV positive, is quickly approaching her 14th birthday, and will no longer be eligible for adoption at that point. HIV is a very manageable illness, especially in the US with our easy access to life-saving antiretrovirals, but the stigma of HIV is still pervasive, notably in her home country. We've felt passionate about HIV+ adoption for many years and knew our family had the love, experience, and capacity to bring Mia into our family.
Soon after privately making the decision as a family to adopt Mia, our son Sam was diagnosed with a very acute and aggressive form of leukemia, and our adoption plans had to be put on hold as we focused all of our energy on him. After several months of treatment, Sam was in stable health with a good prognosis, and we were finally able to pursue adopting Mia. We were officially matched with her in June of 2017.
The next six months were a blur of juggling paperwork, home studies, trips to St. Jude, and a move from Oklahoma to Colorado. Our hope was to get Sam well enough that our entire family could go to China together. It was the brightest spot on Sam’s horizon, and he was beyond excited to meet his new sister and to visit the country where he had spent most of his life. Treatment was going well, and we had every reason to believe our whole family would be going to China.
Then the unthinkable happened: Sam’s leukemia relapsed. We were devastated, to say the least. Of course, this set off a whole flurry of activity and decision-making, including a transfer of care to Children’s Hospital Colorado.
Despite Sam having the strongest fighting spirit, his body simply could not endure. On the morning of February 24th, our precious, beautiful son went from the arms of his daddy to the arms of his Father. We are comforted he is now whole and in the presence of Jesus, but the piece of the puzzle he brought to our family will forever be missing. We do not seek to fill that hole with Mia, but rather invite her to join our family as we continue to grow and all find our new normal.
Losing Sam is, without a doubt, the hardest trial our family has ever faced. The past 12 months have tested us in ways that, had you presented them to us beforehand, we would have thought would easily break us. However, we have found that God equips us with just enough strength for each day, and though we are broken, we remain strong.
We never imagined Sam would be gone before meeting his sister. But, Mia is waiting, and despite our present grief, it would be a betrayal to both of them to give up now. Our three younger children have been amazingly resilient, and while they grieve deeply for the brother they lost, they have not forgotten the sister they have yet to meet.
Mia is waiting for us. When one of her friends was about to be adopted, she pleaded “Please find me a family when you get to the US!”. We are her family, and we can’t wait to get her home with us. Your support has been overwhelming throughout this whole journey. We are humbled that you would consider helping us bring our daughter home this summer. We anticipate our adoption expenses to total roughly $40,000, including adoption fees and travel costs. Any amount given gets us a little closer to being able to go get our sweet girl, and we are exceedingly grateful. Thank you so much for your support and for helping us fulfill our dreams to honor Sam and bring Mia home. We love you all!
*We are not currently permitted to publicize our daughter’s legal Chinese name. For the time being we have chosen “Mia” because it means “mine” or “wished-for child,” which is exactly what she is.