The story of how God has led us to adopt starts when Vance is only 14 years old and went on his first trip to Africa. While he was there, he developed a close relationship with a little boy and it forever put the continent of Africa on his heart. At 15, Vance started dating Kristine and together they knew that somehow the mission field of Africa would be a part of their life. Initially, we thought that this calling would mean moving overseas permanently. However, once we began to start planning a family we quickly realized that this calling was rooted in adoption. As theology majors, we knew that adoption was wrapped up in the Gospel and how we are adopted into God’s family by accepting Christ as Lord and Savior. We had always talked about adoption as a way that we would grow our family but once we learned that pregnancy would be difficult without fertility treatments we knew that adoption was the path meant for our family. We feel very blessed to have already had the heart for adoption once we received this disappointing news because we had a renewed spirit to pursue adoption. We began to study books on adoption and attend as many adoption trainings and conferences as possible.
We were still considering a full-time missionary position in South Africa with the International Mission Board when we traveled to adopt our first son, Benjamin. However, once we were living in the baby home in Uganda and holding our son we both made the decision to decline the position. We knew instantly that adopting again would be our priority and living in a foreign country would make that much more difficult. We lived in Uganda six weeks before bringing our son home and then only waited four months before starting the process again.
Two years almost to the day of bringing Benjamin home, we traveled to Uganda in 2012 to adopt Asher and Jude. It was a challenging experience adopting two toddlers with delays that were later diagnosed as lifelong special needs. However, it was a joy to watch them develop and grow in our family. The progress they made after being in a loving home was astounding. We quickly adjusted to being a family of five and feel fortunate that all of our trauma informed training helped us to be mindful of their early circumstances.
Two years later we were once again ready to add to our family through adoption but Uganda was no longer available as an option. We began to pray for direction for our next adoption. Our adoption agency contacted us regarding their new program for embryo adoption. We were initially not as interested in this path because it felt less urgent than international adoption. However, our agency began to explain that they believed we were uniquely equipped to adopt minority embryos. They told us that embryos of minority ethnicities were seen as “special consideration” meaning they were extremely difficult to place. Many people who were using embryo adoption were not disclosing their baby’s genetic history so that it would appear their child was biologically and genetically theirs. Our agency knew our commitment to transracial adoption was strong. At the time, we were talking to and mentoring other families that had adopted children of other racial identities.
In 2015, Kristine gave birth to an African American little girl named Noa through the miracle of embryo adoption. It was an incredible experience to be able to give birth to a child adopted from a five day old frozen embryo, a snowflake. It has given us an incredible opportunity to promote this avenue of adoption that is still unknown by many prospective adoptive families. In 2017 we thawed and transferred the other sibling embryos but were unable to get pregnant. Seeing our children’s excitement about adding to our family again encouraged us to continue looking for embryos that needed a family. We found a local clinic with over 20 sets of embryos to transfer. We chose a batch that were half-Hispanic and half-white. In 2018, Abel was born and we were a family of 7! On our first outing as a family just a few days later, Jude happily proclaimed that we had ONE more seat left in the van for the next child.
When people asked if Abel would be our last, we joked that we would never say “done” because God has been writing our story and it has led to an incredible journey with a house full of amazing children. Our philosophy has been to take God’s leading of the Holy Spirit in our family and always say “yes” if we are able. While we knew that another pregnancy wouldn’t be wise for Kristine, we assumed that our family would be complete for a season. In April, we hosted an adoption agency director in our home after a blizzard delayed her flight. She and Vance are on the board of directors for a ministry in Congo and Uganda and their meetings were taking place in our area. Vance picked her up from the airport and before they had even arrived at his car in the parking lot, she asked “Are you ready to adopt number six, yet?” On the drive home, she shared about their program in Liberia and the need for families to say yes. When Kristine woke up the next morning, both Vance and our friend were waiting to ask her thoughts on adopting internationally again. After spending time praying about this program, Vance and Kristine felt again the leading of the Holy Spirit. We knew that while it might be even more difficult than our previous adoptions, it was the next step for our family. It was pure joy watching our kids learn that we will actually be filling that last van seat even sooner than we all thought!
STRIPE charges an online processing fee (2.2% +.30 USD per transaction). Your donations will be decreased by this amount. You may also send a check payable to “Lifesong for Orphans”. In the memo line please write “Smith 08635”, to ensure it is credited to our account. Please mail to Lifesong for Orphans, PO Box 40, Gridley, IL 61744.
Lifesong has been blessed with partners who underwrite all U.S. administrative and fundraising costs (TMG Foundation and other partners). That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption.
- In following IRS guidelines, your donation is to Lifesong for Orphans. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor the donor’s suggested use.
- Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent upon request.