We (Luke and Carly) started pursuing our first adoption (first child!) in February of 2015. Adoption was on our hearts since we were dating. We knew were going to adopt regardless of our ability to have biological children. One year later, in February 2016, we were in Nanchang, China meeting our sweet Judah William. He was born with a heart condition (PFO) & amniotic banding syndrome and had the sweetest cheeks we had ever seen. The moment we saw his picture, we knew he was our son. He was a little ball of pink and yellow clothes (layers and layers of clothes!). He was scared but he bravely walked hand in hand with his forever Baba in that hotel lobby. That day, and the following weeks, were not easy. We were navigating being new parents and Judah was wrestling with the loss of everything he’d ever known and getting to know his forever family. Carly took 7 weeks off work and Luke quit his job to become a stay-at-home dad. We learned so much during that time and fell deeply in love with our sweet boy.
After a few months, we knew that we wanted to adopt again. At the time, China allowed a “dossier reuse” and this was our plan. We casually started looking at the waiting children on our agencies website. We’d check every few days to see if there were any that we thought we could adopt. Carly is the “bleeding heart” and will say yes to ANY child. Luke is the “brakes” and the voice of reason. This has led to some struggles when we have not been on the same page. But, we diligently kept looking and trusting that God would put us on the same page when we found our child.
Luke called Carly one day at work and asked her to look at a little boy that was posted that morning on the website with a “heart defect”. He had the sweetest smile and was wearing a little yellow onesie that said “100% boy”. We decided to ask our agency if we could look at his file. They sent it over to us and Carly’s heart sunk as she started reading. He had a single-ventricle heart with pulmonary stenosis and total anomolous pulmonary venous return (TAPVR). As a medical professional, Carly knew this was very serious. She started looking through medical literature and saw that prognosis was not very good for this boy. Carly was sad, expecting Luke to tell her that this child was too complicated for us and he would not feel comfortable with caring for him. However, he said something along the lines of “it sounds scary, but I’m already in love with him”. This was a sign from God that we were on the same page. We had to wait for his file to be completed, but as soon as it was, we would ask China for pre-approval to adopt him.
About 3 weeks after we got PA for our son, we found a sweet girl with a repaired PDA and developmental delays. We said yes to her too, and rushed to bring them both home as quickly as possible as our boy needed open-heart surgery.
We live in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the International Balloon Fiesta is held every year in October. We took Judah for his first Balloon Fiesta experience one of the mornings and we remember thinking how we couldn’t wait to do it again in a year with all 3 of our children, as a family of 5. We had just announced on our blog about 2 weeks earlier that we were soon to be #FloydFive. Little did either of us know, but later that day we were about to find out that we were 7 weeks pregnant.
We were able to be in China to meet our Alexander (Zander) David and our Hazel Brooke that next February, just 1 year after Judah was adopted. Carly was about 26 weeks when we traveled. This was about the latest she would be able to leave as her pregnancy was now high-risk. Carly had complete placenta previa and would be needing to have a c-section at 36 weeks, as long as she didn’t start bleeding before. God knew all the details before we did and He had us traveling just before she would have not been medically able to do so.
We landed back on US soil on March 1st and had 2 months getting to know each other before our sweet Josie Li was born. During that time we met with Zander’s surgeon, who felt that we didn’t need to rush to surgery but would have regular echocardiograms and check ins to determine when he would need the Glenn. We also started learning a TON about Hazel. She was 18 months old but developmentally only about 4 or 5 months. She was profoundly deaf, had a vision impairment (CVI), and many other medical conditions but thankfully her heart was beautifully repaired in China and wouldn’t need further surgery.
When Josie was born, she had to spend 9 days in the NICU as she was premature. They found a PDA when listening to her heart, but 2 months later, they determined it had closed on its own. She had some breathing issues, but was able to come home on her 9th day of life.
We started adjusting to life with 4 kids. Zander and Judah were best buddies. Josie was an easy baby. Hazel was the sweetest little girl who needed lots of care from us but was very easily entertained. Things were going so well.
The next October, we got to go to the Balloon Fiesta together! Judah and Zander LOVED the hot air balloons. Zander was in complete awe and fell in love with balloons in the sky. He would always point them out when he would see them (a common site in Albuquerque is to see hot air balloons in the morning on cooler days).
When we saw his cardiologist and surgeon that month, they determined Zander would now need surgery as his oxygen saturation was starting to drop. He was scheduled for November, but ended up getting postponed due to a virus he had. It was rescheduled for early December, which meant we got to have Thanksgiving with him at home! His open-heart surgery went really well and he recovered fairly well, but did have some infections that kept him in the hospital for a total of 17 days. We spent Christmas day with him and all our kids at the hospital. It was not ideal, but it was our first Christmas together as a family and we made it very special.
Zander didn’t seem to bounce back like they told us he would. We kept monitoring him, but started to get worried. In early February, Luke went with our brother-in-law on a climbing trip for the weekend and Carly had the kids all to herself. Zander started having random vomiting episodes, and Carly decided to take him to the ER after discussing this with his cardiologist-on-call late on a Sunday night. They only had to wait about an hour before the ER triaged him, and upon seeing oxygen sats in the 50s, they immediately were put in a room. The surgeon and cardiologist teams monitored him all day the next day and finally, around 5pm determined he would need to get a pacemaker. He was having very unusual rhythms that were making him vomit. Thankfully, Luke was almost home (he ended his trip early when he knew Carly was in the hospital with Zander). The next day, February 13th, Zander was scheduled for a pacemaker and it was also his one year family day.
We briefly celebrated his family day by giving him a blue hot wheels car the next morning just before they took him down to the OR. We gave him lots of kisses, and then waved bye and left hand in hand, thankful that this surgery would be so much easier compared to his last. That was the last time we ever saw our boy alive, not on life-support. He coded before they even started the operation and got CPR for over 40 minutes. He was put on ECMO (life support) as quickly as they could and we had 3 days to see if he would have any brain function after the long period of CPR. He spent his 3rd birthday on ECMO with all of his loved ones praying around him for a miracle on earth, which he never got.
On February 16th, 2018 the neurologist confirmed that he did not have brain function and would likely pass away within minutes upon taking him off ECMO. We were devastated and it felt like our world was crumbling. We knew that when we chose to adopt him that losing him was always a possibility, we just hoped we would have had more time. 365 days felt too short, but we were so thankful for each day he was with us and that he did not die without the love of a family.
The night before Zander was pronounced brain dead, Luke and Carly took walks around the PICU and discussed the future. We talked about what we would do if Zander died- would we ever adopt again? We both felt very strongly that yes, we would adopt again. Because of Zander, we would say yes again even if it is a scary yes, just like Zander was. Zander was worth every tear we cry and we were so blessed to get to be his parents for a whole year.
We are so ready to adopt from China again. We refinanced our house so that we could add on a few rooms to be able to continually love on babies, whether from China or other places, depending on where God would lead us. We finished the remodel in August and God was so good to us- we didn’t have to pay any additional money up front and we were able to save $10,000 for adoption fees. We are applying to grants, loans, and any organization we can and know that God will provide. Thank you for reading our story and hearing our hearts. We can’t wait to introduce you to our next child!
We are working on our 2nd Both Hands project. Watch the video to see our first project, done in 2015 before we adopted Judah! (Donations for that project are not currently active– you can find our newest project on the Both Hands page in Feb/March 2020. Stay tuned!)
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