Adopted from China, joined our family at 9 years old
Joy at 11 years old
You never know how God may choose to bless your life. In March of 2011, we learned of a little girl from China who was in need of family. From the moment I learned of Joy Jinling, I felt as if she was ours, but there was another family who had stepped up to adopt her and I felt at peace about that. We wanted to see her succeed in her new family. Then after a series of events, there was another need for a family for Joy. We offered to take Joy for respite care, but we had hoped that she would fit perfectly into our family and that God would use us to fill the need of a forever family for Joy.
Joy had Polio when she was a baby, and it had caused partial paralysis in one of her legs. Her other leg appeared to have been broken while in China and it was not set, so it healed crooked. She has muscle atrophy in her legs and she has some issues that make it very difficult for her to get around. Joy’s nanny notes from China describe how she spent much of her younger childhood years watching the other children play. Then over time she learned how to crawl. Later Joy received a wheelchair and her view of the world suddenly grew.
Picking Joy up from her second adoptive family was one of the most difficult things I’ve experienced. She was so hurt, and her pain was evident. She would not make eye contact with any of us. She just stared out the car window and cried. She would not allow us to comfort her… she wouldn’t even allow us to touch her. As we drove along, it became clear why Sarah had asked to ride with me. Sarah had been a lot like Joy when we first adopted her. For some children, it‘s hard to trust others. When Sarah saw how Joy was hurting, she began to cry too. It was a very quiet drive home.
About two hours into the drive, I heard Joy finally say something. When I turned around, Rachel was flipping through pictures on her iPod and Joy was looking at them with her. As soon as I said a word to her, she turned towards the window again. It was evident that breaking through the tough outer core to reaching Joy’s heart and gaining her trust was not going to be easy.
When we reached the house, Joy was scared to death of our dogs and the cat. After meeting everyone, she opened up a little and wanted to join the girls upstairs to play in their rooms. I found Joy crawling out of her wheelchair to try and maneuver the stairs. When she saw me, she said, “Please go. I don’t want you to see my bad walk.” I looked at her and smiled and said, “Joy, at our house there are many people who have a ‘bad’ walk.” She said, “There is?” Then she worked her way up the stairs.
A few days after Joy came to our family, the younger kids wanted to ride horses at the ranch and Joy was willing to give it a try too. As she rode Dixie, she said something amazingly profound for such a young girl. She said, "When I ride a horse, I have four good legs." She rode horses the whole day, and was already trotting her horse without fear. A friend made the comment that her smile said it all, and it did. She had discovered a whole new world!
During the next few days, it was clear that Joy felt comfortable in our family and we had all fallen in love with her. For two weeks everything went close to perfect. Then we had a weekend that tested us all. Joy did everything she could to push us out of her life, and she did it in a very public forum… at a cattle show in Austin, Texas. We managed to make it through the weekend with the support and encouragement of some close friends, and lot of prayer! That was a turning point for Joy, and once she realized that she could not force us out of her life, she bonded well and is now an integral part of our family.
Before long, Joy wanted to spend far less time in her wheelchair. We had received a brace for her right leg and crutches from her first family. Her medical reports said that she would probably need physical therapy to learn how to walk with the brace and crutches. We were going to the Houston Livestock Show the next weekend, so we thought it might be a great opportunity for her to try them out. Learning to walk wasn’t easy, but Joy had a lot of encouragement. Over the next few weeks, she became and stronger and stronger.
In April, we were at the Brenham Texas Longhorn Show, and we were asked if Joy’s name could be entered in a drawing to win a calf. I said, “No, she won’t be able to show it, so she can’t be in the drawing.” Then Joy said, “What is this?” I tried to explain and I could see in her eyes that she was hurt that I was not treating her the same as the other kids. I asked a few more questions and then allowed them to include her name in the calf drawing. That evening, Joy won a calf. The next day we started working with some of our sweetest animals to try to see if it would be possible for Joy to learn how to show one day. It wasn’t easy, but it was clear that Joy was very ambitious and with the right animal, it would be a reachable goal. On May 1st, she went to a Showmanship Clinic in North Texas. She pushed herself to learn how to walk with her calf and to learn the skills she needed to show. It was a long, exhausting day, but she was not about to give up. We were so proud of her perseverance and determination.
Joy has taught us a lot about life. She’s is a testimony of how well a child can adapt in a new environment when their heart is in it. Joy is a blessing to us in many ways. We’ve always had the desire to adopt another child from China, but it was not possible because of the “family size limit of four children.” It was miraculous that we were able to adopt Rachel previously when we already had eight children. Rachel has always asked why we never adopted another child from China. It seemed to be a missing puzzle piece in her life. Although Rachel is well adjusted and an amazing young lady, having Joy as her sister seems to have filled that little something that she was missing in her life. They are very close.
We’ve already been actively advocating to get Joy into the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in Dallas. This is the same hospital that Rachel and Olivia go to. It is the perfect place for Joy to get the treatment she needs, especially since the hospital was originally created to help handle the Polio outbreak in the United States during the 40’s and 50’s. We are hoping she will be accepted in the next few weeks and that we can get her the medical care she needs.
Joy is an exceptionally bright child. She seemed to absorb the English language almost overnight. She is eager to learn, which makes homeschooling her a pleasure. She’s self-motivated and pushes herself to do well at the tasks she takes on. She’s also a very loving and nurturing little girl. She loves to help with the babies, Gabriella and Sophia. At our home, Jay cooks the evening meal because he loves to cook, which is such a huge blessing for me. While Jay cooks, Joy is right next him helping chop vegetables, peel garlic, or stir the pot etc. She loves her time with Daddy!
Although Joy came with some physical challenges, she fit into our family perfectly. Even though some probably see our family as a gift from God to Joy, there’s even more to it than that. Joy is a gift to our family as well.
I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.