Family Stories

The Van Winkle Family

It was an ordinary Tuesday, in October of I thought! I was driving home from work like any other day, listening to the FISH, a Christian radio station. Usually during the advertisements, I would switch to another station, but for some reason, on this particular Tuesday, I didn’t. There was an advertisement for a free adoption seminar with America World Adoption Association (AWAA) at a local church the coming Saturday. Our lives would never be the same!

Since the time my husband and I were married in 1997, we always talked about adopting and having biological children. This decision to have adopted children came to us separately for many reasons before we even knew one another and cultivated as our marriage progressed. We weren’t sure though how it would all work. Just days before I heard the advertisement from AWAA mentioned above, we had been discussing adoption. Pat was in his first year of his pediatric residency and it seemed like a good time to discuss starting a family. We always pictured adopting from Africa or a Latin American county. We had never really considered adopting a child from China or anywhere in Asia. That same week, one of Pat’s co-workers told him about his friends who had just adopted from China and the positive experience they had. We knew God was planning something big for us!

We went to the AWAA seminar that Saturday and it was decided...we would adopt from China! Immediately after the seminar, we went shopping and bought new outfits and toys for our future daughter. It was such an exciting day. The following Monday wasn’t so exciting. We contacted AWAA for more detailed information. It was then we realized you had to be thirty to even start the process. I was 28 at the time. We were so sad. We knew God was tugging at our heart to adopt from China. We couldn’t understand why he put this road block in front of us.

Even though we were sad, we prayed about it and looked into other options. That same week, I found out that two friends from my work had adopted from Korea. After some investigation, my husband and I decided that this is what we would do.

During the paperwork phase, I must admit, that even though I wanted to adopt and knew I was meant to adopt, I had doubts... Would I love this child? Would I think he was cute? Would I feel like I was his mom? Was I ready to be a mom? All of those questions were answered on January 30, 2003, when we received a referral for a little boy named Hyun Jin Nam. He was by far the cutest little boy we had ever seen and we loved him immediately. Hyun Jin, later to be known as Trent, came home to us on April 30, 2003. It was such a joyous time for us.

Two years and three months later, on July 18, 2005, we adopted our little Fu Ai Run (now known as Diana) from China. She was the most beautiful little girl we had ever seen! We fell in love with her immediately as well. We spent 17 days in China, sightseeing, shopping, and most importantly, getting to know our daughter. It was such a wonderful time of bonding. Diana adjusted to us almost immediately…there were about 20 minutes of tears, then a smile, and she hasn’t stopped smiling since. She is such a happy, sweet, well-adjusted little girl.

Our families have just been wonderful, from the grandparents on down the line. My mom (who Diana is named after) thinks that Diana looks just like her. When we received the referral picture she got out her old baby pictures to prove it. One of the most enjoyable parts has been our nephews and niece. One of their nephews, Brad, is 8 years old and it dawned on him one day that the kids did not look like us. He then became worried that when the kids started school that other children would tease them. He has told us on many occasions now not to worry that he will take care of it. I believe that he will.

We truly believe that the Lord has been leading us through this process. The events that led up to the adoption of our children were God’s work. He took us on this path and placed people in our lives because He knew that Trent and Diana were going to be in our family. It was His timing. The fact that I (Kacie) was not old enough to adopt from China initially, so that we went with Korea, gave us Trent. We had been thinking and praying about Diana for the last 5 years. There have been a handful of times in my life where I have tangibly felt the presence of God. Meeting my two children were definitely two of those times. We think they 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.

We truly wish everyone could experience adoption. It is such a gift and blessing from God. There is just something about the way God picks out these children for their families. There is nothing else like it. My husband and I are now talking about our third adoption. Our plans to have both adopted and biological children have faded. We want to adopt them all!

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