Monday, March 16, 2015

Two Pictures (aka: Allen's side of the story)

A couple of weeks ago, I sent my sister a couple of pictures via text message. It's a pretty common way for us to communicate, so there was really nothing out of the ordinary. Most days it's a picture of a dog, or she sends me pictures of my niece (McKenzi Paige) and my nephew (Kendle Blake). But this day, the pictures were different. Clicking send on these two pictures meant that she would soon know the country we had selected to adopt our first child from. It may seem like a small, trivial thing, but the road we took to get to sending out these pictures was not easy.  So I sent the first image, it looked something like this...

An airplane. Ready for take off. This was the first picture I sent, because I wanted to prime the pump a little, letting her know what was coming. I didn't know if she would get it a first, so I rushed to send the second image... But before we get there, let me back up a little bit. I mean for us to even be thinking about boarding a plane, flying half way across the world, and adopting a child, some pretty awesome things had to happen in our lives. So let's pretend for a second that AT&T service went down (not that hard to pretend really), and let's take a moment, while we sit waiting on this tarmac, I'll tell you my side of the story.

Single Beds Are The First Class of Hospital Rooms
The first time I ever flew on an airplane, I was sixteen years old. My parents saw me off from Lambert - St. Louis International Airport (this was pre-911 when you could just walk to the gate with your family, shoes and all). We were headed for San Diego, CA, riding first class on the biggest plane I have ever seen. On the agenda: deep sea fishing, the San Diego Zoo, ocean front condos, all expenses paid, and that was just what we were told ahead of time. I will never forget a lady showing up at the airport and handing out $100 bills to everyone boarding the plane, no strings attached! She gave one to me, my good friend Neil and everyone else in the line. With a smile and a hug, she rubbed my bald head and said, "Get you a nice hat, so you don't sunburn."

Oh...the bald head. Yeah, not by choice. You see, me and all 20 of us boarding that plane had one thing in common that day, and it was not that we were going to San Diego. We were all very sick. I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia (ALL) about a week after my sixteenth birthday. One of my nurses' husband was an airline pilot with TWA and had chartered a flight for all of us to go have a blast in California. As I am typing this now, I know of only four of us who are living today. For some (my friend Neil included) this would be their last trip on an airplane.

I don't tell you all of this to get you depressed, but to show you really how far this whole thing has come. The trip was a blast, as you can imagine. We spent time basking in the sun, comparing sun burns on our bald heads, drinking more Mtn. Dew that we ever thought possible...It was a great escape from our normal every day routines. We would randomly see each other while walking the halls of St. Louis Children's Hospital, pushing IV poles which were making us sicker by the minute. On occasion, we would end up rooming side by side on our overnight stays. We all knew our lives would never be the same, but looking back now it seems that God knew exactly what I was headed for.

The first thoughts of doctors and nurses in a children's hospital are not things like, "Will this medicine effect his kidneys down the road?" or "What will this do to his chances of having kids later in life?". No, those questions were never asked. The focus was less on my kidneys and reproductive health, and more on keeping me alive, and killing the cancer that was trying to kill me. Honestly, the thought of having children was the furthest thing from my mind (likely to any sixteen year old boy).

Down But Not Out
Somewhere in between San Diego and high school graduation, I realized that God had saved my life for a purpose. I committed my life to full time ministry at a tiny camp in the middle of nowhere Missouri. That decision would take me to Joplin Missouri for Bible College and on about the five year anniversary of being in remission from Leukemia, I was diagnosed yet again. Different cancer, completely unrelated to the first.

At twenty-four years old, no one takes you to California on an all expenses paid trip, and you don't go back to the children's hospital. Any chances of me being able to have kids, were burnt up in that radiation. Any hope for an Allen Jr. was lost somewhere in the chemo toxins that consumed my body for the next three years. This is when the Lord started stretch my faith, and open my eyes. This is when I knew I was going to be adopting ALL of my children.

Hanging Out In Hospitals Is A Good Way To Get Sick...Or Meet Nurses
My second bout with cancer came with some weird perks. I was going to church in town, and got to know this girl who happened to be working in the same hospital I seemed to spend a lot of time in. We would talk about my treatments and she actually acted interested! She would come by and do her nursing school homework in my room after work each night. If anyone knew the dangers of the toxins I had been administered, it was this nurse in training.

Of course there is way more to our story than just bedside visits and homework but the point is this... My bride of five years (five years cancer free I might add), Bre entered the story. And never has she acted one bit concerned that she could possibly never be a biological mother. Of course there is disappointment, but that was replaced with joy, knowing that God had confirmed in both of us a longing for adoption. We had the tests done, and they confirmed what we believed, but we were both (and still are both) at a strange calm about what our next step was. God was opening my eyes to adoption, and he had provided for me a wife that was ready and willing to fly across the world with me.

Service Restored...Second Picture Sent
I felt a little giddy before I sent the picture to my sister. This second picture would for sure open the doors to questions and conversations over the next couple of years. So I sent it. It was a picture of a flag, and I thought that was a dead give away...

Ok..this just got fun ;)

It took her some time to track it down.

I didn't crack, this was going to make way too great of a blog post.

 I just let her search and search until she finally came up with the answer.

 Wanna see the picture?

{Insert Whatever Sound Your Phone Makes When You Get A Text}

Her response says it all...

China is right sis,

China (smiley) yaaaay!!


We probably won't ride first class.
We probably won't get handed $100 at the gate

And we probably won't care. Because these two pictures will soon be remembered with a picture of our son or daughter. And that's worth way more than unlimited Mtn. Dew.


 Next week, Bre will be blogging to give her side of the story, and also to answer questions such as; Why international adoption? Why China? Why special needs? Why now? and What can YOU do to help?


  1. Tears of joy the break room at work...looking all silly and not caring! This is so exciting!!!

  2. Awesome to read. Good luck to your family.

  3. Whoa, great suspense here! Keep it coming.

  4. congratulations and many prayers for safe travels and to have your little one home soon!

  5. Amen, Allen, prayers from the Ashcroft's (Finn)