Big Adoption News and Fundraiser

Three years ago, I sat on a beach reading Kisses for Katie, bawling my eyes out while the sun warmed my skin and the waves tickled my toes. It’s a book about a young woman who moves to Uganda after a short term mission trip. It was on the mission trip where she’s captivated by the Ugandan people and felt Jesus’s calling to care for the Ugandan people. After her move, she ends up adopting a bunch of young Ugandan girls and starts this whole ministry and writes a this book challenging the reader to listen and obey Jesus’ call in our own lives. (You can officially take me off of your list of people to ask for beach reads.) With each page turn, my heart grew more and more tender until I finally admitted, “I think we are supposed to adopt.”


The seeds for adoption were planted in our hearts years ago, so it wasn’t this book in particular that made me want to adopt, but it was a final nudge. I want to tell you that a few months later, with Chris and I in complete agreement, we started to move forward in this journey towards adoption.


But that’s not the truth. 


Not knowing where to start and with overwhelming fears about how to afford it, I did nothing. We lived with this idea of Adoption warming on low on the back burner of our minds for about two years.


But no matter how hard I tried to rationalize my way around it, my heart would trip over itself, too often and too hard for it to be coincidence, whenever adoption came up. I started to share our dream with close friends and family and I started asking questions of friends who’ve adopted. In the end, I always hit the roadblock when I asked, “But what about the financial part?”


To give you some background, when Chris and I first got married, we lived off his graduate school stipend topping our yearly wages at a whopping $14,000. We didn’t live solely off love (we threw in a bunch of pasta and ramen in there, too) but from the very beginning, we lived within our means—even when that meant date nights at the cheap-seats on Dollar-Tuesdays with no popcorn.


On top of that, I remember growing up and hearing stories of people who stepped out in faith knowing they were supposed to do something for which they didn’t have the resources and how God provided just what we needed at just the right time. Every single time I’d listen in amazement, thinking God does NOT work that way with me and/or I’d roll my eyes thinking You call it a step of faith—I think it’s crazy.


So when my adoption-friendly friends said, “If you know you are supposed to do this, God will provide,” the narrative in my head always was, You shouldn’t do this if you don’t have the money to pay for it.


If we were to to dive deeper into the truth, I would explain how I didn’t know if I really trusted that God will show up with that provision if we moved forward.


I don’t want to get into all the hard stuff here, but at my core, I’ve been hurt by God and for many years lived in fear of Him. When my mom died, the foundation of my life cracked, and with it, my understanding of His goodness fell to the ground. Seven years later, when Chris was being wheeled into the operating room, I said goodbye to my husband, not knowing if he would ever return to me.


For the very longest time, I did not understand God’s goodness was not assured of His overwhelming love.


So stepping out “in faith” was the very last thing I wanted to do. I was of the mind that I should avoid any sudden movements. Not attract any unnecessary attention. Stay a comfortable, but safe distance from the God who I knew could completely consume me, or those I loved, at any given moment.


The irony is while I was fighting with my fear of going forward with adoption, I was also learning that safe and comfortable were two things that Jesus did not call His people to be.


During this time, I came to understand I could trust what was in my heart because God Himself put it there. I could acknowledge my hurts and fears, but also know and accept that God Himself is trustworthy.


If adoption was what we were called to by a loving and good God, then He would be the one to work out all that we couldn’t.


Not knowing the whole picture, but taking one step at a time, we started praying hard and moving forward. Which is exactly where He wants us.


Last fall, we started with a blank sheet of paper (literally, because I’m old-school like that) and took our first step by writing down a list of adoption agencies to look at. Every step since has lead us here.


Less than a year after starting this process formally, we’ve matched with a child in China and are waiting official approval. We were told to anticipate our trip in the next couple of months. (Insert: my panic over money and which shoes to wear.)


The Nitty Gritty:


We’ve paid for the first part of the costs out of pocket (and with the unexpected generous giving of friends and family). In addition, we’ve applied for two grants (one of which we were not awarded and we have not heard back yet from the second) and plan to apply for more, as time allows.


Chris and I are both required to travel to China for the one trip to meet and adopt our daughter.


To see a full list of the China program expenses, click here. It’s a decent chunk of money. 


Having a shorter time frame for fundraising and grant applying, we are leaning into you for help.


We asked our dear graphic-design friend Mark (he was one of Chris’ suite-mates in college, Go Woo!) to create a shirt that would tell our story while inspiring you to see your own Family’s story in it too. (Mark, I’m forever grateful.)


So many of you are pieces of our Family—you add to the beauty of our picture. And although we are uncomfortable doing this, it’s in this really honest place of We can’t do it without you where we ask you to consider being a part of bringing this child home to her forever family.

Here is a link to the fundraiser:

The fundraiser will end on Monday, October 3rd. The shirts will print and ship approximately 14 days after the sale ends.




Regardless of purchasing a shirt, please pray for us. And if you can, please share this link with your own family and friends!


From the very bottom of our hearts, Thank You.


You are not flesh of my flesh

Nor bone of my bone,

But still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute

You did not grow under my heart,

But in it.

-Fleur Conkling Heyliger


Sonya Spillmann

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