A tale of adoption, a magazine, forgotten children, and a family of readers that ties it all together.
words by: Marlin + Lisa Miller
LISA: Sometimes the Lord calls us with a gentle nudge. Other times His calling can feel like a rush of a sudden wind when things begin to whirl around us, seemingly out of nowhere. The calling to adopt a child grew in my heart from the time I was a young girl. When I was six years old, I first learned (to the best of my six-year-old capacity) that there were children in the world who did not have someone to care for him or her. I couldn’t fathom that there were babies needing to be held and loved, and I wanted to rush to them! I used to dream of opening the front door to find a baby who needed love and imagined what it must be like to care for dozens of babies, to make sure they felt loved and valued.
The call to adopt steadily grew stronger as I grew older. The extra bedrooms in our home remained empty despite being readied with a crib, a toddler bed, diapers, baby gear, and tiny outfits hanging washed and ready in the closet.
After five years of marriage, Marlin and I both felt it was time for us to complete our adoption home study and take those first steps to make the dream of adoption a reality.
We didn’t begin our journey to adopt children with special needs specifically, but as we completed our home study paperwork, we asked the Lord to bring us the children who needed us the most and to equip us to meet their needs. Having no idea what to expect, we completed our home study, and just a few weeks after it was approved, we were sent a photo of a little boy. I will never forget seeing his face for that first time: I knew this was our son. The next day found us driving nervously to our adoption agency to pick up our son. He was three years old, and we had little idea how much our lives had changed overnight.
As it is with adopting an older child, the first year was challenging. But we also had many times of joy. After our son had been with us for a few years, Marlin and I began to talk about the possibility of adopting another child.
Welcoming our daughter into our family also opened our eyes to just how big the need is for families to adopt a child with Down syndrome. We joined the NDSAN (National Down Syndrome Adoption Network) registry of adoptive families when our daughter was two. Just six months later we were matched with our second son! He was born several states away, and after a brief stay in the NICU, he was discharged. We spent the next week enjoying our vacation home-away-from- home and soaking in time with our new baby as we waited for the paperwork to be completed to allow us to return home.
After our son was a few years old, we moved to our new home and decided not to renew our adoption home study. We thought our family was complete. But then a still, small voice told us there was one more child who was meant to join our family.
We prayed about adopting internationally, and although there are so very many children with Down syndrome who are in need of a family, that is not where the Lord was calling us. Seeking His guidance, we prayed that if we were supposed to adopt again that God would bring the child to us. And that’s just what He did. One Sunday afternoon, our adoption agency called us once more to tell us there was a family who wanted to meet us.
A few days later, our families spent the evening together and in a whirlwind of events, we became the proud parents of a new baby boy.
Our family is now complete, and we are so thankful for each of our children and for their birth families who lovingly placed each of them into our arms. Marlin and I feel the Lord’s calling on our hearts is to do the best we can to raise the children we have been blessed with, while also raising awareness of the orphans around the world and children in our own community who need someone to care for them.
It can be so easy to list the reasons why it is not a convenient time to foster, adopt, sponsor a child, volunteer on a mission trip, donate to an orphanage, become a mentor, or serve a family who is currently fostering or has recently adopted a child. I would challenge you to take time to think and pray; to be still and to listen to where God may call you to step up and serve. Not everyone is called to adopt, and we cannot all do everything. But we can all do something to help a child in need or help someone who comes from a hard place.
MARLIN: In the fall of 2010, I had been working for a local business for five years and loved my work. Lisa was teaching first graders in our local school district, but the day our little daughter came into the world, she quit teaching in order to stay home to care for our family. Two months in a neonatal intensive care unit with your baby brings a deeper awareness of the coming costs, specialists, therapies, and needed time for additional appointments. Lisa and I weren’t sure how we would pay for all of this.
In light of our new reality, I prayed: “Lord, You brought us these kids, please help me provide for our family.”
God was faithful, and he provided for our family through the creation of Plain Values magazine.
The magazine has been a blessing for us, but I wanted to bless other families, too. In our magazine, we highlighted stories of families and children who were in need, with the hope that our readers would support them. And yet I still felt there was more we could be doing for those with needs deeper than our own.
What sort of organizations do you support through Room to Bloom?
In the pages to follow you will read stories of a few teams we have partnered with already. From life-saving surgeries involving organ transplants to cleft lip surgery giving a child a greater chance of being adopted; from Asia to our very own backyard, Moscow to Kenya, all over the world there are people and families who need hope in more ways than I can imagine. Our team has enjoyed many conversations with people doing life-changing work the world over, and we will be tapping into these connections moving forward.
Where does the name “Room to Bloom” come from?
From here, I’ll turn it back over to my wife Lisa, who will share with you the story behind the name.
LISA: One of my great joys is gardening. I enjoy growing vegetables and fruit for our family as well as tending large flower beds of perennial plants. Early one spring I was working at one end of the flower garden where we have a border of rocks. Something caught my eye, and I quickly moved in to take a closer look. There, barely peeking from under the edge of a large stone was a small tulip. It was still wrapped tightly and obviously struggling. The previous fall we had done some reworking of that area and a heavy rock had been placed over this tulip bulb.
I moved the rock away from the tulip. As the spring weather warmed, I watched as it struggled to grow. Its stem was a pale white which lay crooked along the ground instead of standing tall and green like the others. I cleared away the dead leaves, added compost, and trimmed back the overhanging shrub to allow the fragile bulb to soak in the sun’s warmth.
Over the next few weeks, I watched the tulip plant change from a sickly white to a lush green. The stem lifted from the earth and the tightly wrapped petals opened up to a beautiful flower. That year, this tulip never did look the same as the other tulips. Its stem was still crooked, and it didn’t stand as tall, but that little plant put all its energy into the best flower it could muster, given its tough start. The potential to flourish had been there all along, it just needed the room to bloom.