You Can Blame This Post on Oprah

So I was sitting at home Monday morning doing something terribly productive while Annelise was at school.

I was watching a DVRd Oprah show from last week. I know.

It was the one about a severely neglected girl from Florida. Her name is Danielle and she was 6 years old when she was removed from her birth mother's home, yet she had the behavior of an infant. Thankfully she has been adopted and is in what seems to be a stable, loving environment. But oh my goodness, she has a long road ahead of her, and so does her family. Did anyone see that show?

I soon found myself almost in tears (and those of y'all that know me know this doesn't happen often) thinking about her circumstances and those of other children in similar situations, whether infants or older children. A few thoughts came quickly to the forefront of my brain.

I must first say how thankful I am that God led us to Annelise when she was still a baby. Even though she was 13 months old when we met her, and 14 months when we brought her home, she was still very much a baby. While we missed out on many of her firsts, we did get to experience plenty. God's plan for us adopting a slightly older baby (which was of course different than what Scott and I thought we wanted) worked out perfectly.

What hit home for me was when they described some of Danielle's behaviors, which were some of the same behaviors we experienced when we first met Annelise in Moscow. Nadezhda (Annelise's name at birth, she was nicknamed Nadya) was born in a maternity hospital then moved to Orphanage 14 when she was 3 months old. From what we saw and were told, they took very good care of the children there. The director, staff and nurses seemed to truly care about the children. But still. I know she spent much of her time in a crib or play pen with only occasional adult interaction. One nurse in particular paid Nadya extra attention, which was a comfort to us. Nadya was withdrawn at first, very shy. With plenty of coaxing, playing and focused attention she quickly adjusted to us. We dealt with crying fits at meal time, even if we just set her cup of milk down for a minute. It took her a while to learn there was plenty of food. Too many toys were overwhelming to her. She had to learn to be held. She rocked herself if she was still for a few minutes as a form of stimulation. She also rocked herself to sleep, often violent rocking. She didn't cry when we put her down or left the room (at least in the beginning), she was used to that.

All of those behaviors went away with time, some faster than others. Although she is now 5 1/2, she will still rock herself to sleep occasionally. If you met her you would never guess she had been withdrawn or hesitant for even a second. She thrives on social interaction, a regular social butterfly. I am truly thankful that there were no developmental delays or long term behavioral effects.

It seems watching this episode of Oprah has also brought up my not-so-deeply-buried thoughts of "What's next?" for our family. Annelise has made it abundantly clear she wants a brother or a sister. We would like for her to have one too.

At least I think we do.

Let's face it, having one child is easier and cheaper. Raising an only child definitely has its perks and its pits. Occasionally Scott and I have The Conversation. Annelise is 5 1/2, do we really want to start over? I don't feel like IVF is something we will attempt again. However, I do believe that God has the power to overcome our fertility issues, if that is His plan. I must admit that there is still an empty place inside my heart having not experienced a pregnancy. Adopting Annelise soothed those feelings, but did not fully take them away. Do we want to adopt again? Do we want to adopt domestically (although I fear we'd be judged as too old for an infant) or internationally? Russia again or China? Do we want to adopt an older child? While I know there is a huge need for that, there is a huge fear about developmental and behavioral issues that might come with adopting an older child. What would either addition do to our family dynamic? If I'm completely honest, I have selfish concerns too.

So, um...yeah...I think about it.

What I need to do is pray about it, that God will reveal His plan for our family and we will be open to opportunities He places before us.

"For I know the plans I have for you, "declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


  1. Holly! I know EXACTLY how you feel. God did not make it easy for me to have a family...but He absolutely guided me on the path to get my children. Ultimately two adoptions and two attempts at IVF (only one worked...but it was a twofer)!

    You will know what is right for you. Thanks for sharing such heartfelt feelings...

  2. Holly, let me start off by saying that you and Scott are wonderful parents and that A.is a blessed litte girl!

    I don't know what you should do...and I don't think you are really asking for an answer from us...but, I know that if you pray for a CLEAR answer, God will make it clear!

    Recently, I have been around both international and domestic adoptions with differnent histories and backgrounds- and I can honestly say GOd has blessed everyone involved. Sometimes it just takes a leap of faith!

  3. I think a clear answer is what I'm seeking. My feelings are fairly jumbled and I go back and forth whether we should be doing something, and if so, which direction, etc.

  4. leaning on God in prayer....

  5. We can blame this post on Oprah but thank YOU for it. A lovely post, Holly, thank you for sharing more about your beginnings with A.

    You & Scott will get your clear answer. I believe that. Keep praying. xoxo

  6. Thanks to you (and Oprah) for sharing this very personal post. From what I have seen, you and Scott are wonderful parents, and what a blessed little girl Annelise is to be yours! I hope that clarity comes soon for you guys. Sometimes I think that's the hardest part -- we want to do God's will, but can't quite figure out what that is. It will come, I'm sure of it.

  7. Wow, this was a great post. I loved hearing more about A and when you adopted her. I saw bits and pieces of this show too.

  8. You are such a wonderful and gifted mommy. God had a plan for sure when A came in your life. The things that you feel you are missing? Maybe it is God's way of telling you to JUMP. Take the chance. I know you, like most of us are afraid of that initial jump. Then again, God doesn't always give clear cut answers. We do just have to jump. I think you need to trust your instincts. Because they are on target.

  9. Holly...
    I know that God will reveal to you what His wishes are and I know you will listen.....

    Have you thought about Ethiopia? Just go to my friend's blog:
    Her latest post has some interesting statistics about these little angels.....
    God Bless!

  10. As the wife to a man who was adopted as an infant, I cannot even put into words what a blessing I think people like you and Scott (and my husband's parents) are. To adopt a child and give them such a wonderful life is simply amazing. My husband's sister (who is also adopted) and her husband adopted 4 children from Russia...two boys and then two girls...several years ago. Each one had/has a physical limitation but they are adorable children and so happy. God bless you and your family, Holly. And I will keep you in my prayers.

  11. Well, Holly, I can blame Oprah for Derick ;-) Thanks, Oprah!

    I saw a show on Chinese orphanages and the Spirit whispered to me, "you can do that." I had not intended to adopt, but God led the way. Honestly, I was scared to death for all the above reasons you said. I finally had to ask the direct question: "I feel we should adopt. Is that right?" Then, I had to wait for the answer. And BOY! Did I get an answer. By the time I got off my knees, I was a sobbing mess. But, it was such a blessing and I am SO grateful that God knew what was better for my life than I did.

    I know you will do the right thing. I'll be praying for you.

  12. oh, holly- this is such a wonderful, heart wrenching post. i can't possibly understand everything you're going through and feeling- but i get that yearning for a child. and the struggle of what to do.
    thanks for sharing a's story- it never ceases to amaze me how resilient kids are- and how when they're given the right environment, they just thrive. you two are incredible parents- she is a well loved little girl. :)
    i hope you find your answer soon. and there will be one, i'm sure. i'll definitely be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers.

  13. This definitely sounds like a matter for prayer.

  14. Holly,
    I saw this episode of Oprah as well. It was heartwrenching and made me reflect on the many blessings I have. Your comment that you are seeking a "clear answer"....I have been there, for a very long period of time... I sought that "clear answer"...and then I realized that maybe the answer was that God trusted me to make the decision on my own. It is empowering to act in faith knowing that a loving Heavenly Father does give us answers to our prayers and sometimes, not always...but sometimes...the answer is -"I trust you to decide". Just a thought from experiences of mine.

  15. Holly, Its Sunshine that made the above comment. I don't know why my bloggy name came up as "Hall Girls". Better see what is going on :(

  16. What a wonderful story...thanks for sharing this...It was great to find out more about you and your family...

    My old roommate adopted a little boy from Khasticstan a few years ago and she experienced some of the same things that you did with annelise in the beginning. He has adjusted very well and is the sunshine in their life...They have been considering adopting another child, but it was just such a long drawn out ordeal not to mention a huge financial and time expense...

    I know prayer is the answer, but if your like me, sometimes I struggle to recognize what answer exactly the Lord is giving me...
    Perhaps I already had my mind made up to begin with...I'm pretty strong willed, so sometimes, that gets in the way...

  17. Believe it or not, God used an Oprah show to open up my heart towards adoption back in the day. I think He'll use a variety of means to speak to us. The thing is, He'll keep doing it...especially when we stay in His word, pray honestly about it, and are in unity with our husband.
    On another note, I was ready to quit in our adoption wait, as you know. The unknown was getting to me and robbing me of all joy. I was consumed with worries like fetal alcohol syndrome, drug abuse in pregnancy, the birthmom changing her mind, etc. All the fears were there and I had no peace when left alone with my worries. But when I prayed, read scripture, talked with Mike honestly, or confided in other believers, I sensed that God wanted us to keep going and to trust Him. It was like God made sense of any confusion I had. And you know how our story ended - praise God!!
    In other words, I encourage you to keep praying, sharing, and reading. And even watching shows about adoption. God will lead you where to go next (or where not to go) and I believe you'll have so much peace.
    By the way, I hear you also about the pregnancy thing. I can go there so easily even after 11 years.

  18. I will be praying for you too~

  19. Thank you all so much for your heartfelt thoughts and support. After writing this I realized that part of me is actually scared about praying for clarity/direction because what if the answer is not what I'm thinking/wanting, etc., which is often how it goes, right?

    I do believe sometimes we do have to take a leap of faith. I will be praying for guidance and the ability to discern God's will for our family more actively than I have been.

    Thank you all again for your encouragment and prayers!

  20. I know this is an old post, but Holly, I TOTALLY know about that fear. I put off asking for a while. I didn't want the answer. But it's funny how when you know God's will, and you're willing to follow it, He gives you the courage and strength to do it. I'm still praying for you.

  21. We are definitely praying for you and Scott in this decision. We know your original plans to adopt were derailed. Perhaps. . .

  22. wow, thanks for sharing that Holly. I would never have known or guessed about A.'s beginnings. I know you guys are full of faith and you are right, the Lord will lead you to where you need to go. You are in my prayers.


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