According to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), it is estimated 140 million children worldwide are orphans, and 94% of them live in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. This is the story of how one American couple pursued international adoption and learned of the worldwide orphan crisis, specifically in the Asian countries, along the way.
Matt and Heather Lindsey began discussing a long-term future together as a dating couple back in 2002. But they had no idea then how drastically their lives would be impacted by their desire to adopt.
Fifteen years after that first discussion, the Lindseys are experiencing a new normal at home with their sweet daughter, Chloe.
When did you first explore the idea of adopting a child?
Matt: When I first met Heather, she shared with me how she had always wanted to adopt. I was only 19 years old! I agreed that adoption would be awesome, but at that time, I was thinking less about the actual adoption and dreaming more about the amazing child that I would fall head over heals for. It wasn’t until I was about 25, and we had been married for three years, that I truly considered it. Becoming educated on the orphan crisis, I was so moved that I could not imagine not adopting.
What were some of the major steps you had to take?
Heather: The two biggest steps of the process were completing our home study and completing our dossier. The home study is when a social worker comes to your home to make sure that a family is suitable for adoption and to educate and prepare the family for the process. We completed our dossier after we were matched with Chloe. It was basically a very large collection of legal documents needed to bring your child home. The checklist feels a mile long.
What is one challenge you faced during the adoption process?
Matt: Personally, mentally preparing for what it was going to be like to have a toddler suddenly become part of your family. I knew it would be challenging, and there is no lack of educational resources to help adopting parents, but I later realized that no amount of reading about how to transition a child into your family could ever prepare me for what was to come. I had to intentionally make a decision to trust the Lord day by day that He was preparing me to be the best dad I could possibly be.
Heather: The biggest challenge for me was trusting in God to provide the funds we needed throughout the process. Why would I doubt the Creator of all things? He provided every time.
So Heather, you spent a lot of time researching and planning how you could raise money to support the adoption. Talk about some of the fundraisers you initiated or participated in for the adoption.
Heather: Wow! So many! We sold necklaces and t-shirts. We had friends hold Pampered Chef and Jamberry Nail fundraisers. A good friend hosted a cut-a-thon for us where she cut hair for a day and donated the proceeds to our adoption. Another friend smoked Boston Butts during football season for us to sell. We also had two very successful yard sales.
The fundraiser closest to our hearts is Breakfast with Santa. We began this in December 2013. After the first year, it was such a hit that friends were asking if we were hosting it again. It has become a tradition that we are now able to share with other adopting parents. It is one of those things that people start looking forward to every Christmas. What a blessing it has been to see so many people who care enough to come out and help us bring Chloe home!
Tell us more about how you guys are continuing to use the Breakfast With Santa fundraiser.
Matt: We were so blessed by this fundraiser that we want to pass it along by hosting it for other families that are in the adoption process. In December 2016, we hosted Breakfast with Santa for some friends adopting from Ukraine. Chloe was in attendance! We really hope for it to become an annual event.
What are some of the preparations you made in your lives and in your home for Chloe’s arrival?
The biggest preparation was buying a house. We closed on our house just one week to the day before we left for our first trip to Korea. Once we came back home, we were scrambling to get Chloe’s room ready, as well as trying to toddler-proof our house. We were only home for one month when we left for our second trip to gain custody. Needless to say, there were still a few boxes waiting on us to unpack. But our top priority was Chloe and making sure she felt as safe and loved as she possibly could. We also spent lots of time in prayer!
We read all the books and articles about preparing to bring your child home. We talked to parents who had travelled this road before us, and we made some amazing friendships. It was all great information, but honestly, prayer and the grace of God were the best tools for preparing our hearts for Chloe!
Share about Chloe’s Gotcha Day and some of the emotions you had leading up to taking her home.
Heather: Some say Gotcha Day. We prefer Family Day. It’s the day Chloe became part of our family forever. The emotions you feel are unlike anything else. It was hard to eat breakfast that day, but I knew I needed to because I wasn’t sure when I would get a chance to eat again uninterrupted. When we walked into the building that day, it wasn’t like before. In the previous visits with Chloe we spent time with her for a little while and then had to leave. Our family day was different because this time, she would be leaving with us as our daughter. What an amazing feeling to call her our very own!
Matt: Words could never truly describe how I felt. I had a nervous feeling in the pit of my stomach. You know, the kind you get when you are about to do something really big. This was more than big; it was life changing—for us and for Chloe. Despite the nervousness, there was still a joy and excitement. We were hours away from the dream becoming reality. It was really hard to process, and it wasn’t until after we were home that I was able to let it all sink in. We were parents, and Chloe was ours.
If someone is thinking about adoption, where should they start?
Matt: Prayer. Adoption isn’t a fairy tale. It is not for the faint of heart. Having said that, adopting a child is one of the biggest blessings you will ever receive in life. People often say how fortunate Chloe is. While that is true, Heather and I feel as though we are the blessed ones. I would encourage those considering adoption to start talking to families that have already adopted. Ask plenty of questions and become more and more educated on the orphan crisis. So many precious children need forever families. You might just be the one to change a little life forever! Don’t be afraid to contact an adoption agency and start asking questions. Just start somewhere and don’t hesitate! There are children all over the world in need of a mama and daddy. Maybe it is you.
For more information on Matt and Heather’s adoption story or for more questions, you can visit their blog, Heart And Seoul For Adoption.
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