I have kept
this story quiet, because I haven’t wanted to hurt anyone. I know numerous
hearts have been broken and many souls have grown weary in the 11+ years families
have waited so far to adopt a healthy baby girl from China. For those who have
been in the process since our paperwork was logged into China in 2007, Derek
and I grieve with you that China has not yet matched you with
a healthy baby girl and that the years ahead to wait are yet unnumbered. I share this story now, not to hurt anyone, but because I cannot bear not shining light on the God of the universe Who is completely Sovereign and Who continues to work today. In addition, I share this story to show that all people—regardless of labels—have incomprehensible worth, and all children deserve to be welcomed into loving families.
November is National Adoption Month.
November 11, 2018 is Orphan Sunday.
November 11, 2018 is Veterans Day.
Today I share.
Life for Life
husband and I had been married over 7½ years, and God had not yet granted us
any children. A short time after getting out of the hospital for toxic shock (click HERE to read the story), the LORD laid on my husband’s heart the desire to adopt a
child from China. As we looked into adopting from China, we were told the
orphanages were comprised mainly of girls. However, the timeframe
for waiting to adopt a healthy baby girl from China at that time was over 7 years—and the timeframe was
firmly believed that every child has unfathomable worth, we decided to adopt a
child with special needs. Indeed, our plan was to eventually adopt several
children with special needs.
began the process by applying to our agency for acceptance into the adoption
program. We were accepted and began the enormous task of tackling paperwork and
setting up appointments for all sorts of clearances.
this time, my brother Jonathan Tompkins was serving as a Marine in Iraq. On
April 5, 2007, my brother was shot by a sniper while on duty in the desert.
told that the Marines have a standard of resuscitating their fellow Marines two
times, yet they resuscitated Jonathan 4 times! Jonathan was in a constant
life-and-death state while being transferred from Iraq to Germany and then on
to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.
Fellow Marines praying over Jonathan before he left
Iraq for Germany:
Vietnam Veterans of America flew my family and me to Bethesda to be with Jonathan
during his traumatic recovery. My mother stayed at the hospital with Jonathan
the whole time while the rest of my family and I all took turns coming and
helping Jonathan and giving my mom some time to rest.
flying to Bethesda for the second time, Derek and I had decided that since I
was working on my summer session at Liberty University (online) and trying to
complete our adoption paperwork, I would fly home on Memorial Day. That way I would
be home before I was too far behind on my school projects.
I was to fly out of Bethesda to go home, Jonathan, my mother, my brother Paul,
and I were informed that the President of the United States would be coming to the
hospital on Memorial Day to thank the Marines who were wounded and to present
them with Purple Hearts.
airline ticket had already been set and paid for so that I could fly home on
Monday, Memorial Day. Therefore, I did not give the information a second
thought. I knew I needed to get home.
called Derek later that day and told him of the adventures awaiting Jonathan on
Monday, he said I should stay and watch Jonathan receive his Purple Heart. I
reminded him that my flight had already been booked, that the background checks
had already begun on all the visitors who would be at the hospital that day,
and that I needed to get home for multiple projects.
me to stay.
could think was that I was to submit to my husband. Ephesians 5:22-23 states, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do
to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of
the church, His body, of which He is the Savior.Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to
their husbands in everything.”
I left my
brother’s hospital room and headed down to the Liaison’s Office. I asked for
permission to stay on the base and to be able to witness my brother receiving
his Purple Heart. I was told that I could not stay; the plans had already been
As I thanked
the officers for their time, one officer said he thought there might be a
chance I could stay on the base. The officers worked together and I was granted
permission to stay on the base and at the hospital. The officers changed my airline
ticket to Tuesday, the day after Memorial Day.
should not have even been at the presentation and that it was only by the grace
of the officers that I was even permitted to be at the hospital that day, I planned
to be as invisible as possible.
were six (6) recipients of the Purple Heart award that day, but since Jonathan
had contracted MRSA, he was in isolation. Thus, it was planned that the
President, George W. Bush, would visit Jonathan last.
President arrived at Jonathan's room, I was surprised by how down-to-earth he
was, how personable he was, how much compassion he showed, and how deep the
respect was that he showed Jonathan and us. He thanked Jonathan over and over
again for laying down his life for our country, and then the President presented Jonathan with the Purple Heart and the presidential coin.
When the presentation was over, the President asked
permission to stay in Jonathan’s room to talk with us, since Marine One was not ready
to take off.
The President stayed and talked with us! I was shocked! I watched
him giving his attention to my family, and I soaked in the care he was showing!
talking with Jonathan, the President asked my mother about herself, and then my
brother Paul about himself. When the President turned his attention to me, I
was thinking that I should not have even been in the room and that the
visitation time was not about me. So, when he asked about me, I simply stated
that I was married with no children. Period. Enough said.
I felt a
direct tug on my heart telling me to tell him about our upcoming adoption.
Normally, I would not have spoken, but the tug felt like a directive from God.
and then simply stated that my husband and I were planning to adopt a little
girl from China.
President lit up and asked if I knew that his father had once been the Ambassador
to China. I said I had not.
me what he knew of his father’s time in China and then told me he was familiar
with China adoptions—as his friends had adopted two girls from China.
him we were planning to adopt several girls with special needs, and we were so
excited about the entire process.
me that he was going to try to get my husband and me a healthy girl from China.
I said, “Thank you, but no, that’s ok. I know the wait is tremendously long and
many people are in the waiting process. My husband and I are planning to adopt
children with special needs.”
said, “I want to do this for your
said, “No, really, that’s fine! My husband and I will wait like everyone else.”
I explained that the children were matched in the order that their paperwork
was logged into China.
said, “I mean it! You do not understand. Your brother laid down his life for
our country, and I want to do this for your family. Apply for a healthy child.”
At that point, he turned to his aide and told him to give me his business card.
and saw the aide shaking his head very slightly “no”. The President said
firmly: “I said give her your business card!” The aide looked at me and then back
at him with a questioning look that read: “Don’t you realize we don't do that?”
directed: “Give her your card, and you [Julie] e-mail me the minute your
paperwork is logged into China. The e-mail will go to my aide, and he will tell
me. When I know you’re logged in, I will work to get you your daughter.”
again I told the president it was not necessary and that Derek and I were
willing to wait.
looked firmly at me and stated with a smile: “You will write me! I want to do
this! This will be my gift to your family.”
talking some more, taking a few pictures, and receiving hugs and salutes, the
President walked out of the hospital room to take Marine One back to the White
Prior to the presentation of the Purple Heart:
(Photograph courtesy of the President’s photographer)
Talking while waiting for Marine One to take off:
(Photograph courtesy of the President’s photographer)
A picture for the memory book:
(Photograph courtesy of the President’s photographer)
and I were in a daze! What had just happened?!
I felt so
badly! Here my brother had
laid down his life for America and I
was getting a child! How did this happen?
short time and after the shock had worn off, my brother congratulated me and said he would do it all over
again for this child.
melted! It might as well have melted all over the floor from how moved I was by
his compassion and love!
home while my brother stayed in the hospital many more months. On August 14,
2007, our adoption paperwork was logged into the computer system in China.
whether I should write the President’s aide, but the firmness of the
President’s words kept ringing through my ears. I had been told that day: “This
child is a gift for you. It is life for life.” Those words were the deciding
factor in my decision.
trembling hands, I wrote the President’s aide. The aide responded right back
that they would take over, and I would hear from them soon.
I received a letter from the Chief of the American Citizen Services Section of
the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, China written August 30, 2007. The Chief stated
she was in China and was granted the task of finding us a daughter.
September Derek and I saw this cartoon from After
Eden1 entitled “God Knows” by Dan Lietha:
Derek and I prayed that night that God would tell
us our daughter’s name so that we could pray for her by name. Immediately, we knew
her name: Cherish. We began praying for Cherish and all the trauma she had
already endured and the trauma she would soon be enduring.
months later, on Jonathan’s birthday, we received a call from our adoption agency
stating that they had a child for us! The director told us that our daughter’s
name was Ai Mei and that her first name was translated Cherish or Love.
passed out! I burst into tears.
agency sent us Cherish’s picture through e-mail, and that day we saw our
daughter’s face for the first time.
agency’s president personally told us he had earlier rejected our child match
and sent it back to China. China had stated that it was beyond the agency’s
control to deny the match and that the match remained. With disapproval and
disagreement in the match, our agency’s president told us he had no choice but
to pass along our child match.
this because some may be angry at our agency regarding this. Our agency had nothingto do with it and tried
to put a stop to it.)
We completed the remainder of the paperwork as
quickly as we could, and on December 17th, Cherish was placed into
On February 27, 2008, President George W. Bush
“Congratulations on Sweet Cherish joining your
She is a mighty lucky little girl.”
Actually, we are the ones who are blessed.
We were awed (and continue to be awed) that God would
personally intervene to bring Cherish to our family. Our hearts kept hearing
the words of Proverbs 21:1, “The king’s heart is a water
stream that the Lord controls;He directs it wherever He pleases.” God is the One Who
moved President George W. Bush to seek a way for us to receive our daughter without the
wait. None of this was planned by us. We were not the ones who had laid down
our lives for our country. We had turned down the President’s offer numerous
times, but he was firm in his plan to gift us and our extended family with our
Cherish is indeed a gift; ours to hold very loosely. She is
not truly ours; she is God’s. We are the ones blessed to raise her and to watch
God’s plan for her unfold.
Our God is Sovereign. He is all-powerful. He is
We thank the LORD for
taking notice of us—undeserving nobodies.
May HE ALONE receive all the glory for the plan He had for us.
As an important note, our family has been blessed
with five more precious children through the gift of adoption. All five of these
children have special needs. ALL of our children have equal
value! Each one is a GIFT!!!
You created my inmost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully
made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be. 17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! 18 Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand— when I awake, I am still with You.
This is true of ALL
children—regardless of health status.