This Christmas will be one Kristy and David Aldridge and their four children will never forget.
The Aldridges just returned home from Taiyuan, China, where they welcomed the newest addition to their family: 2-year-old adopted daughter Lynnlee.
“This is the best Christmas present ever,” David said. “This is the culmination of an unbelievable prayer experience for us.”
The Aldridges already had three children, Lauren, 14, Keaton, 11 and Karlee, 6, but Kristie said she long wanted to adopt a child, and last November she and David felt like they were led to do so.
“Adoption was always a part of our life because Lauren was adopted from a previous marriage, and I had always wanted to adopt a child,” Kristy said. “We just felt like it was a calling and we don’t know why, but God laid China on our minds.”
The Aldridges said there were a few people who questioned why they would go to China to adopt instead of doing it here, but they knew in their hearts that they had made the right choice.
“There were some people who asked ‘why China? Why not the United States?’ But I told them that’s where God sent us,” Kristy said. “I think its a personal thing, and what you are led to do. We know some people don’t get it, but that’s OK. We didn’t get it at first, but I’m thankful we get it now. Everything’s been so easy, right from the beginning, and God has been right with us every step of the way.”
They began their adoption journey by searching the Internet for information and talking to other couples in Clark County and nearby who had adopted children. A few months later, the Aldridges began working with the “A Helping Hand Adoption Agency” in Lexington, which specializes in arranging adoptions for orphans around the world.
They were told that it usually takes about six years to adopt healthy children and anywhere from 11 to 15 months to adopt a child with special needs. So they were very surprised, Kristy said, when two months later they received a call telling them they had been matched with Lynnlee, who because she has a mild heart murmur, was in the special needs program.
“It was a shock when they called me to tell me, and I just hit my knees. I really did. I couldn’t believe it,” Kristy said. They saw Lynnlee’s picture for the first time May 27, then spent the next several months filling out paperwork and applying for travel approval from China. They received their travel documents Nov. 7, and on Dec. 1 flew to China to get their daughter.
The Aldridges kept their children involved in the process the entire way, David said, so they felt like the children should be along when they went to China to pick up Lynnlee.
“We decided that this was a chance of a lifetime for the kids to be able to go to China and experience some of the culture and share this experience with us,” David said. “This has been so good for the kids. They’ve built relationships with the different people along the way, and it’s made them grow up and they’ve learned it’s not all about them any more, there is a bigger picture. It’s been great.”
Fourteen months after they decided to adopt, the Aldridges saw Lynnlee for the first time when they went to the orphanage to pick her up.
“She was even more beautiful than her picture. She didn’t cry. She was very open and came to us and my heart just melted,” Kristy said. “She grieved pretty hard the two days after that, but she got over it once we started loving on her and feeding her.”
“To see her go from this little orphan to being a part of our family and seeing the transformation from how sad she was to seeing her smiling and laughing all the time now, I just get cold chills,” David said.
Lynnlee is quickly adapting to her new family and surroundings, and they are learning what she likes and doesn’t like. Kristy said the transition has gone smoothly and seeing the wonderment in Lynnlee’s eyes each day has been a blessing in itself. “When we got home, she ran around the house and she stood at the back door and looked out for the longest time at the empty yard and the grass, things she had never seen,” Kristy said. “She has some food issues because she has had to fight for everything all her life, so once she gets something like chips or crackers, she won’t let go of them and carries them around with her.”
“Everything she does that is a first for her is so much fun to watch, and she catches on so quick,” David said. “We take everything for granted, but she’s really opened our eyes because everything is so new and amazing to her that it makes us stop and appreciate things we usually didn’t even notice. She has turned us upside down.”
Kristy said there was no doubt the Lord was with them all the way, and they know that without the support they’ve received from their Calvary Christian Church family and the community, bringing Lynnlee into their family wouldn’t have been possible.
“When we started, we didn’t have the money. We just knew this was what God wanted us to do. We didn’t know how we were going to do it, but doors opened, money was there and everything was paid for before we went. God has provided everything along the way,” Kristy said. “The support and prayer we’ve gotten from our church family is unbelievable and the community support has been wonderful. The Lord has really blessed us.”
The Aldridges hosted a celebration to introduce Lynnlee to their church family Dec. 19, and to share a video and speak about their incredible 14-month journey.
Kristy said she hoped the Lord would use them and Lynnlee to inspire others who might be thinking about adoption.
“My prayer through this whole thing is that God will use Lynnlee to speak to other families to let them know that they can experience this too,” Kristy said. “A lot of people can’t have children and are so sad. But, oh gosh, to be able to go through this has been such a wonderful journey for us. I just pray that God uses her to speak to someone else out there who might be thinking about adoption.”
Contact Bob Flynn at firstname.lastname@example.org.