Communications Department

She Grew in My Heart and Now She’s Home!

Jul 27, 2012 | 03-Summer 2012 NRL News

NRL News
Page 10
Summer 2012
Volume 39
Issue 3

She Grew in My Heart and Now She’s Home!

By Joleigh Little

When I was a teenager, I had this little card that had the word “ADOPTION” printed at the top. The letters “B” and “R” had fallen out of it and were being swept into a dust pan. The “D” and “P” were shiny and new and had obviously replaced them.

On some level, I think I have always known I would adopt. Of course I assumed that it would be when I was married and “ready” with the perfect family into which to bring a child.

Then 40 approached, my grandma died, and I bought a bag of coffee.

It really happened just like that. I realized I wasn’t getting any younger. One day it hit me that if I ever had a daughter I wanted to name her “Clara” after the woman who prayed for me every day from my birth until circumstances robbed her of her memory. And finally, a friend posted a link on Facebook to a Just Love Coffee adoption fundraiser.

After ordering my first bag of Rwandan beans (and unknowingly kicking off a serious habit) I started reading adoption blogs and coming up with excuses for why I couldn’t or shouldn’t adopt yet. I was single and kids should have two parents. I work full time in the right to life movement … neither time nor money is something I have to spare. I’ve never parented before … who even knows if I would be good at it?

But as is the case with anything you’re born to do, the excuses quickly fell away and I was left with the reality that when God calls, He also makes a way. I realized that having “just a mom” was far better than growing up with no one to love you and make you their own.

Research showed me that in most countries orphans—especially those with special needs—face a bleak future. Many places move children with disabilities to adult mental institutions when they reach the age of four. A large percentage of these children die within the first year of being transferred. Most who make it to the age of 16 or 18 in their orphanages are turned out onto the streets where they beg and/or sell something (often themselves) to survive.

I knew that I had love to give, and I knew that I could afford a child. In the end, that was it—I started the process in the winter of 2010.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a little girl waited. She was born prematurely at 29 weeks to a single teen mother from a poor minority background. She was also born without her left leg below the knee and various fingers and toes missing and/or altered in some way. Had she been conceived in America it is quite possible that this little girl wouldn’t have lived to be born, “damaged” as she was in the eyes of many, and with ultrasound technology so readily available. It is also not lost on me that she was born at an age where children in the U.S. are routinely aborted.

I will gloss over the paperwork, the home study frustrations, the interminable waiting, and the ridiculously long overseas flights because those aren’t what matter.

Clara is.

I met my daughter on May 2. She has been home since May 11. She is hilarious, fun, loving, beyond adorable, determined, and even a little stubborn. The journey to bring her home was challenging, but it was worth every minute.

And if I thought I was passionate about the cause of life before I met her, it was because I couldn’t fathom how I’d feel as a mom.

When I hear about parents aborting children because they are diagnosed with special needs, I see red. My anger is aimed at a medical community that is just too focused on “perfection” to see that every child is perfectly and uniquely herself and has been created with a purpose. It’s amazing what life-affirming choices parents can and usually will make when supported through a scary prenatal diagnosis!

And I’m going to admit something else. When I ask an expectant parent “are you hoping for a boy or a girl” and they respond with “We don’t care so long as it’s healthy and has ten fingers and ten toes,” I visibly cringe.

Because you see, I think MY daughter is sheer perfection with her seven and a half or so fingers and four and a half toes. When I look at her I see huge brown eyes, a dimple, beautiful glossy black curls, and a smile that could melt the polar ice caps. I see a scrappy little soul who doesn’t even know what “can’t” means. If something doesn’t work the first time, she tries it again. If her limb differences get in the way, she makes a new way. Even at barely three she is already an amazing force of nature.

I am in love. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. I put my money where my mouth was after 20+ years of saying “adoption, not abortion” and you know what? I’d do it again! (In fact, I very likely will.)

Adoption is not an easy road. It is not a magic bullet that solves every problem a child has. It doesn’t create an instant connection that causes a child to behave perfectly and bond instantly. It is work. Sometimes it is super hard work. But I’ll let you in on a little secret. The Peace Corps isn’t “the toughest job you’ll ever love.” Adoption is.

I’m still a little flummoxed that God chose me for this amazing little girl. But it’s so apparent that He did. She is mine in so many ways that I couldn’t have imagined. And she is daily teaching me to be a better mom and a better person.

If you’ve ever considered adoption or if, like I was, you’re waiting for “the right time,” please consider that it might be … now. Go ahead and visit or drop me an e-mail at So many children wait. Can you find one of them in your heart?

Special thanks to everyone who prayed, contributed, and otherwise helped to bring Clara home. You know who you are. I know who you are. God knows who you are. And trust me, Clara will know who you are as soon as she is old enough to understand. I can’t wait for her to meet her right-to-life family!