By David and Claire Northcut
I remember the moment that God changed my heart. Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, China, February 1998. Claire and I had just arrived in Nanchang with our traveling group from Dillion. It was evening in Nanchang and we were expecting to meet our daughters from the orphanage caregivers the following morning. A ring of the phone, however, brought the message that the caregivers were on their way to our hotel and would be there in a few minutes. Shortly thereafter, the hallway of our hotel became a celebration sanctuary as five Chinese babies met their forever families. I have the picture of the tears that were shed when the caregivers handed our precious daughter, Shannon, to us for the first time. What the pictures don’t show is the melting of my heart when I held her for the first time. I recall holding both of my boys for the first time at the hospital the day they were born. They were mine, they had my same genetic code, my hair, my face. For reasons I can’t explain, I expected holding Shannon to be different. After all, I wasn’t her biological father. She didn’t have my hair, my face, my skin color or my genetic code. I was confident that I would grow to love her, and I was prepared for a bit of a transition into “becoming” the father of this precious little Chinese baby. I was not prepared for what God was about to do.
Claire actually received Shannon from the caregiver and held her for several minutes before it was “my turn”. She handed Shannon to me and it happened. God changed my heart. Right then, right there, in the blink of an eye, I was changed. Holding Shannon for the first time was no different than holding Stephen or Nicolas. As I looked into her eyes, I saw MY daughter, My baby, My girl. Transition? What transition? In that instant, I realized what God had been up to for months leading to that moment. Until then, I thought I was going to China to adopt someone else’s daughter. I had no idea that God, in his infinite wisdom had simply chosen in advance to have MY daughter born in a different country than her brothers. Who knew? In that moment, God changed my heart and gave me MY daughter.
That in and of itself would have been the blessing of a lifetime, but God wasn’t finished yet. Having revealed to me that God’s plan for my family transcends country, continents and culture, I recall God speaking to my heart telling me that He wasn’t done yet. Before we ever left China with Shannon, God had already spoken. We would be back. Our family was not yet complete. He still had a plan. We had just celebrated our first daughter, but there was another, not born yet, but already chosen by God.
Twenty-two months later, Claire and I were back in China with other Dillion families. This time in Changsha, Hunan Province. Similar scenes of weeping mothers holding their daughters for the first time. This time, however, I was ready. I knew that God had created Mari Kate as our daughter, our baby girl. She was His gift to us. I held Mari Kate and I was overcome with awe at how incredible it was that God would have created our daughter just for us and then arranged for us to find her thousands of miles from home. What a mighty God we serve.
For more than twenty-one years, God has continued to amaze me in the creation of our girls. This month Shannon and Mari Kate both graduate from college. Shannon is graduating Magna Cum Laude with her Master’s degree in Accounting and Mari Kate is graduating Summa Cum Laude with her Bachelor’s degree in Personal Financial Planning. I look at their graduation picture and am amazed at what God has done in and through them. Privately, in the quietness of the early morning, I see their picture and I weep at how grateful I am that God has chosen me to be their dad.
I am also grateful for the ministry of Dillion International. Your team is amazing and the work you do is life changing, not only for the children that are adopted, but for the families you help to complete. From the bottom of my “changed” heart, THANK YOU!!!!