Family Stories

The Van Grinsven Family

We are John and Mary Jo, and we live in Wisconsin. We are more than happy to share our three adoption stories. John and I were married in 1994. After several years of marriage trying to have children, we rode the rollercoaster of infertility treatments, of hopes and disappointments, and then both finally came to the agreement that it was time to consider adoption. In February of 2001, we began looking for adoption agencies. We had heard about AWAA through a feature story that was done on the 700 Club program on CBN. We called them and asked for information on America World, which was then America China Adoption Association (ACAA). The response we received from ACAA was unbelievably quick! The packet they sent us was full of information, and had everything we needed to start the process immediately. We knew right away that this was the agency for us. They were knowledgeable, efficient, obviously organized and they certainly showed they cared.

We began our first paperchase in March of that year, and four months later our dossier was finished. It was mailed to China in July of 2001. What was supposed to be a 9-10 month wait turned into a wait of 14 months! On October 14, 2002 we received our referral phone call. Although we had asked the China Center for Adoption Affairs (CCAA) for twins, God blessed us so richly with a beautiful little girl with the first name of Mei Yang. What was even more beautiful was the fact that she was born on September 11, 2001. Yes, she was born on the New York Tragedy day. Across the world, on this awful day in America, something wonderful had happened: our daughter was born in China. We named her Nicole Mei. She was 13 months at the time of referral, and 15 months when we brought her home in December of 2002. What a gift God gave us in this beautiful child. She loves music, is funny, silly, beautiful, smart, kind-hearted with a smile that will melt your heart. We fell in love with her even before we saw her picture. There was absolutely no question in our minds that we would accept our referral. God had certainly chosen the right child for us. When we saw her pictures in the referral package the following day, our hearts melted and the realization that we didn’t receive the twins we had asked for no longer mattered.

In looking back at the preparation for this first adoption and child, we saw God’s hand in all of this. HE prepared our hearts after many months, to finally agree together as a couple that this is the way we should build our family. This wasn’t plan B, it truly was plan A. HE brought us to a wonderful agency, AWAA, truly an agency that we could trust. We chose a local agency to do our home study and through this process God brought us together with another family that was also adopting a child from China. Unbelievably, they had chosen the same local agency, the same international agency (ACAA/AWAA), and they lived in our neighborhood, only five blocks from our home. Although they started the paperchase many months before us, we both finished our paperchase together and our dossiers were logged in together at the CCAA on the same date! We received our referrals and traveled (thru AWAA) together. Although our travel group was split between three different orphanages, we both had daughters from Le Chang Social Welfare Institute. Our daughters started their lives together at the orphanage, and now they live in the same neighborhood and go to the same elementary school where they both started kindergarten this year. We have become close friends with this family, certainly the work of God’s hand.

Immediately upon returning home from China on December 13, 2002, we made the decision to go back to adopt a second daughter. We wanted Nicole to have a sister. We began the paperchase for our second daughter in July of 2003, timing our documents and home study so that it would all be finished by October. We sent our finished Dossier to AWAA the end of that month. Our dossier remained at AWAA until our 12-month post placement report was done for Nicole in early December, (a requirement of China before starting another adoption). Our second dossier was logged in at the CCAA on December 18, 2003, and the wait was six months at that time.

Less than six months later we received the second thrilling phone call of our life! Referrals had come through to AWAA on June 7, 2004, and, unfortunately, we were not in that batch. At least we knew we would receive our phone call the following month. However, God had other plans!The following Monday, on June 14, 2004, a very unexpected batch of referrals arrived and AWAA tried calling us to tell us of our second daughter. I had taken our phone off the hook since my husband had just started a new job working nights and was trying to sleep. AWAA tried all afternoon to reach us with this thrilling news. Finally, our family coordinator from AWAA called our neighbors (who also had just a few days prior arrived home from China with their daughter after traveling with the great help of AWAA). My neighbor walked down the street to ask if our phone was working and to tell me to call AWAA. I still had no idea this was...THE CALL! What a tremendous surprise to hear Jessica, our family coordinator, tell me that we had a daughter! Her first name in Chinese was Aihan, and she was only 8 months old. She, too, was born in the Guangdong Province like her sister Nicole. We were thrilled with the news!

On August 16, 2004, were held this beautiful gift from God in our arms for the very first time. She is a beautiful little girl with a darling little grin, a great sense of humor, smart as can be, has a beautiful singing voice, and can pitch a ball that will knock you over! What a blessing God gave us in this sweet tiny one. In all of those lonely days of no children, we never dreamed that God would bless us so abundantly.

We now had two beautiful little girls and our lives were so richly blessed. After arriving home from China on August 28, 2004, we began our first week of settling Danielle Aihan into her new life in our home. Her big sister Nicole just loved her. After about a week of being home, I found a few moments to work at the computer and I looked at all of our adoption documents and decided our family was complete and I may as well dump all of those pieces into the computer trash. I did so, and a few days later God spoke to me and told me that, ”Our family was not yet complete." HE put it on my heart that we still had “one more little baby girl left in China” for our family. I quickly went to the computer and was able to pull all of our documents out of the trash bin. Thank you, God! I then had to speak to my husband about this most important issue. After praying about it for several weeks, I finally approached him. We had the 700 Club at our home in early November to do a story on us. They were doing feature stories on tithing and the blessings it brings and wanted us to tell our story. As the producer was filming John and me walking down our street, he told us to chat about something, so this was my chance to share my news of another child. I did so, and although John was open to the idea, he said it just wasn’t possible financially and for other reasons. After two adoptive leaves, I had no paid leave left with my job as a teacher. We did not have a vehicle that would fit three carseats, we only have a three bedroom home so two of the girls would have to share a bedroom, and simply we just didn’t have the funds to do another adoption!

November of 2004 the girls and I began to pray at night. Our prayer to our Lord was, ”Please God, change Daddy’s heart so that we may adopt one more little baby from China." December came and all I wanted for Christmas was the gift of a third child. John said he could not give me that answer of yes as his gift to me. We continued to pray. The cold Wisconsin winter came and went and spring arrived in April. The month of May (2005) arrived and Mother’s Day was just around the corner, and yes...Nicole, Danielle and Mommy were still praying every night that God would change Daddy’s heart. On Mothers Day (May 8, 2005), the gift I received from John was a beautiful statue of a Mother holding a baby. John wore his Beijing, China, t-shirt and told me that, "YES!" we were going back to China for our third daughter! We all cried tears of joy. God had indeed answered our prayer. We had hope, we had faith, and after many months of waiting and praying, God had changed Daddy’s heart. Miracles do happen!

We immediately started the paperchase and our dossier was sent to China in August of 2005, and we were logged in with the CCAA for baby #3 on August 30th. What had been and was suppose to be a six-month wait has now turned into a 14-month wait. Most likely we will receive word of our baby in November 2006. We have chosen the name....Christiana, because it has CHRIST in the beginning of it, and it is only because of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that this third adoption is happening. We give God all of the Glory and the honor. Christiana will have her Chinese name as her middle name, just like her sisters. We know that God will bring her to us at “just the right time." We also know that she will be “just perfect” for our family.

1 Samuel 1:27 - “I have prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.” God has worked miracles in our life. He has provided us the money to do three adoptions with China. He has chosen two very beautiful little girls for us to love and cherish (and soon it will be three). He has fulfilled our dreams beyond belief and given us the gift of being a family. We praise his holy name.