It is July 7, 2008, at 5:55 a.m. The dawn is peeking through our blinds, and all is quiet. I am sitting in a one-bedroom apartment in Almaty, Kazakhstan, that is ten time zones away from our home, while my oldest daughter and the newest addition to our family, Nicholas, age 3, sleeps peacefully. A few minutes ago a small, sleepy cry of “Mama?” awoke me. I rushed to him and pulled our precious new package out of bed. He looks so much like his twin brother whom we have loved for two years that I feel like I have always known him—not just for the two short days that we have been a family.

He gave me a sleepy, reassured smile as I lifted him. We cuddled on the couch and then he drifted back to sleep in my arms. I held him for a while and treasured the time before I slipped quietly away. We leave early tomorrow morning for Atlanta to reunite him with his twin and start our new life as a family of seven. It is still surreal to me that I am here. This is how our journey began.

Our adoption path began in summer 2004 through a Christmas hosting program for Russian orphans. We were given the opportunity to host a 10-year-old girl named Katya for six weeks. She was a beautiful girl with a sweet attitude. She became part of us and innocently wove herself into our hearts. Our hearts ached as she walked out of our lives as quickly as she had walked in. But God used her to open our hearts to international adoption, and a few months later we started our adoption process.

In the fall of 2005 we were in the middle of completing our adoption paperwork. I was studying the book of Daniel. One evening as I studied, I felt a warm confidence about the name Daniel. I presented it to my husband and he liked it. We began to refer to our soon-to-be son as Daniel. Later, this would become one of the many things along our challenging path that God would use to confirm that this was His will for us and to give us strength to persevere.

June 2006 arrived, and it was time to travel. We had chosen to go “blind”—no referral or information about whom we were bringing home as our son. We knew God was sovereign, and we would receive the child He intended for us to have. On the first leg of our international journey, we boarded the plane with excitement and anticipation about what God would do.

We arrived at our attorney’s office in Almaty, Kazakhstan, many hours later. While there, the staff informed us of a few details about the possible children we would see when we got to our final destination. One of the most interesting details was that one of the possible children was named Danil, pronounced Dan-yeel. We gasped. Through a fog, I also heard them tell us that Daniel had been part of a twin set but that the other twin was gone—probably dead. Wow. There were no guarantees of whom we would actually be shown, but we were hopeful to see Daniel. Wouldn’t that be a cool God-thing?

Two days later, we arrived in Petropavlovsk, Kazakhstan, where our son lived. We were ushered into the baby-house office. They showed us several children. Daniel was not available, they told us, and all the rest had severe issues. Our home study had not approved us for a child with major issues, so we could not take any of them.

Our hearts sank. Had we come all this way to go home empty-handed? Exhaustion and emotion overtook me, and I began to shamelessly cry—right there in front of a room full of Kazakh officials. I am not sure if it was the tears that motivated them or not, but they agreed to take us to another room to see other children. We walked into a room and we both immediately fixed our eyes on a little boy about 1 year old who was gazing excitedly over his crib rail at us. What a happy grin he had! Patrick walked over to him, and the baby giggled as they interacted. I was just recovering from my emotional outburst, so I stood back and watched.