We’re CSPC members Andy and Kelly Moss, and this is how we and our family have been living deeply through the adoption of our daughter, Ella Kate.
Andy: I had always had it on my heart to adopt. It felt to me like our family was blessed and we could give some child a wonderful home. When our three sons were young, I went to a CLC (Christian Leadership Concepts) men’s weekend away. One of the activities they encouraged us to do was write a letter to our spouse about what was on our hearts. So I came back and wrote a letter to Kelly explaining that I felt God calling us to adopt. Turns out it was on my heart but it wasn’t on hers. She reasonably thought, ‘We have three toddlers on our hands here. Our hands are full. Why would you want to do that?’
Kelly: I was a stay-at-home mom, really busy with three boys. So I was kind of like, ‘Definitely not. That’s not happening.’ But then, within a few days, I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll pray about it.’ And after doing some learning and gathering information, I said ‘yes’ in my heart. But I didn’t really want to do the work needed to adopt. My prayer was more like ‘God, you’re going to have to drop this child in my lap.’ So it became something that for several years was in the back of my mind, but I almost spoke jokingly about it to my friends, like ‘You know, when we adopt one day…’ One night along the way I was at a dinner with a bunch of friends, and I shared that when I died, I thought God was going to say to me ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant, except you missed this. I’m not mad, but I had this for you and you didn’t follow me, and look at all these blessings you missed.’ My friends were like ‘Do you really think that?’ And I said ‘With every fiber of my being.’ None of them felt like they were supposed to adopt, but I did. So I knew right then it was a calling specific to my life, and I knew I needed to do it. The next day Andy and I got serious. It was a 2-year journey to adoption from there, but we got it done.
Kelly: We ended up pursuing international adoption of a child from China through a ministry called Holt International. The hardest part of the process was that there was a lot of waiting- not knowing if we’d be matched with a child or when we’d be matched. I tried to remind myself I was still a mom to three boys and that there needed to be joy in the waiting. We also sold t-shirts to raise money for our eventual daughter’s orphanage; anything we could do during the waiting that was meaningful, we did. And that helped the time go by.
Andy: Selling the t-shirts, we raised several thousand dollars for the orphanage. So we felt like that was a way to bless other kids. Eventually we got to take our trip to China to adopt our little girl. China is a one-trip adoption country. We spent two full weeks there and had a wonderful experience.
Kelly: There are times when we almost feel guilty as we talk to other friends who’ve adopted- whose journeys have been so hard. It was a really smooth process for us. Ours is kind of the dream adoption story. So those do happen. It’s been amazing.
Andy: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a train wreck and 10 being the best, our experience was a 10.
Kelly: The minute we saw Ella Kate’s picture and profile during the matching process, we knew it was a ‘yes.’ It was definitely going out on faith, but we knew she was the daughter God had for us. The day we went to the orphanage to get Ella Kate and take her home, I was kind of worried. I wondered, ‘Will I feel the same about her as I do my boys? Will it be love at first sight?’ Well, it was definitely love at first sight and I did feel the same as I had about my boys. I know it’s not that way for everybody. But with Ella Kate, the bond was there literally the minute we met her.
Andy: To visualize what it was like that day, imagine a big room about the size of half a basketball court with couches along the rim of it. The kids travel from great distances to this place to join their new families. Well Ella Kate, only 21 months old at the time, was the first one arriving that day. So we literally watched her come in and said, ‘That’s Ella Kate!’ She didn’t freak out or anything. She actually had a little picture book of our family that we had mailed the orphanage. She walked right up and handed it to us, didn’t cry, and sat with us. Ella Kate is so smart. She picked up English within two weeks- while we were still in China. She is off the charts smart.
Kelly: Ella Kate is 4 years old now and she’s definitely a princess. In fact, she’ll tell you right now her name is Cinderella Flower. All my friends have teenagers so everybody around us just dotes on her. She’s favored and she’s cute.
Andy: When we say she’s favored, we mean from an attachment standpoint. And that’s a huge answer to prayer. Kids who are shown love at an early age can receive love and attach to their forever families better. It’s so common that orphaned kids miss out on that early love, which means they may never attach. In Ella Kate’s case, there was a couple that worked at her orphanage as the cleaning lady and the maintenance guy- they were husband and wife. Ella Kate would go down to the washroom with them and help do chores. They really, for that time, basically adopted her in their hearts. So she had kind of a mother and father figure. She called them Mama and Papa.
Kelly: Because she was favored in the orphanage, she was loved, and therefore she could attach to us. That was a blessing from God. We talk with her about being adopted, and this is how she puts it: ‘Okay, Mommy, so I was in someone’s tummy, and then I was in God’s hands, and then God gave me to you.’ When I heard her say that –as a 4-year-old now- I thought ‘I’ve never told her the story in quite that way.’ The visual of her being in God’s hands was profound to me.
Kelly: Maybe the best part of this has been our boys’ response to having a little sister. They’re 19, 17 and 17 now. They love Ella Kate. Their friends love her. Their girlfriends love her. She brought the teenage boys out of their rooms. They come downstairs now; they hang out in the living room. Our family has come more alive because Ella Kate is so fun and has a big, bubbly personality.
Andy: To the boys now, the family’s bigger than themselves. It’s a time of life when most teenagers are naturally more self-consumed. But they see there’s something bigger than that. She keeps them on their toes. It’s fun.
Kelly: In Bible Study Fellowship, they say obedience brings blessing. We didn’t know what this would look like, but we stepped out in obedient faith and have been blessed. Community is huge for me, and God has even provided that community of support through this journey. I’ve connected with other parents who have both teenagers and a young child. I’m also in a group that I love with other parents who’ve adopted from China. God’s provided community for me and new friends for Ella Kate.
Andy: God will only give you what you can handle. And He knew what we could handle. So that is what I would say to someone who has adoption or another big life calling on their hearts: He’s never going to give you something you can’t handle. If you feel in your heart the Holy Spirit is asking you to do something, you have to walk through those doors and explore it. That’s what we did. This wasn’t an overnight thing. This was 10 years. So it’s often not immediate. It’ll stay on your heart and there’s plenty of time. Just follow it one step in front of the other and the answers will eventually show up. And the way you adopt –if that’s your calling- may not be the way we did it. It may be foster to adopt or adopting a family member as your child. Adoption happens a lot of different ways.
Kelly: “Our takeaway message to others from all this is just to do what God’s telling you to do, even if it’s scary. Stepping out in faith to adopt a toddler when we had three teenagers was scary. We chose faith over fear and Ella Kate is one of the greatest joys in our lives.”