By All God’s Children International ,
Portland adoption ministry
In a rare quiet moment on the front porch of the Watson home, Daniel and Mandy share with AGCI their journey to adopt. Before creating a nonprofit to help single mothers, and before the excitement of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, God gave them a heart to love children.
Mandy: Growing up, I had never pictured myself having my own biological children. It was just not something that I had thought much about or was super important to me. I just love kids. Daniel and I have an innate ability to love other people’s biological children as much as I think we would ever love our own.
Daniel: We went to Ecuador and visited a little girl that we were sponsoring and that really changed my heart and opened me up to the idea of really only adopting, even though we can have our own biological children. We just felt like there’s so many kids out in the world who need a home, there’s no reason for us to bring new kids in.
Mandy: When we got home from that mission trip we were lying in bed one night, and we both looked at each other and said, “I need to tell you something.” God had laid on both of our hearts that we could adopt all of our children because there are enough children out there who need families and who need to be loved. We have that ability to love them. We, in our own separate ways, came to our own resolve about that.
That was in June and by the next September we had adopted Atley. It’s been one journey after another. Fourteen months later we had Ava, and then a few years later after beginning the Restoration House, we said, “Let’s do international.”
Daniel: We always knew we wanted to go abroad and we thought and prayed a long time about where that would be at first. We landed on Ethiopia, and we loved what we saw on AGCI in Ethiopia and decided to jump in with them.
Mandy: When we first decided on adoption, I read The Strength of Mercy. After reading that book, I held it so close to my heart and I loved the story so much that I said, “We will adopt through All God’s Children International.” I love their story. I love not just doing work in adoption, but they’re looking for ways to bring restoration to the countries in which they’re working. We felt like our vision aligned with their vision for adoption. We felt very called to work with them.
Daniel: Our faith has always been extremely important to us. There’s actually a sign in our home that says “Faith Will See Us Through” and although we knew we could work with a secular organization, we really wanted to come alongside an organization that understood where we were coming from and understood the heart of what we were trying to do. AGCI’s story is amazing. We felt a deep connection there and we knew that they were going to understand what we were trying to do in all this.
Mandy: The story goes that I was in my office one Friday afternoon and an e-mail came across of a waiting child. I looked at the picture of the little boy. It was a 3-year-old boy with sores on the bottom of his feet and he was considered special needs. I said, “If a 3-year-old boy with sores on his feet is considered special needs, there’s no reason we couldn’t do special needs.” This was the first we had ever mentioned it.
Daniel: When we got the referral for Silas, we were wondering why have so many other families passed up on this child, and so we started doing some investigating and asking a lot of questions, and we knew that he had a pretty risky past.
He was abandoned at birth, he had neonatal tetanus, spent a lot of time in the hospital, and so Mandy and I started to pray a lot to ask ourselves, “Is this something that we can handle? Is it something our family can handle?”
Mandy: Over a course of some really serious conversations with family, Daniel said, “Since when do we bet against children? Since when do we bet against anybody? Why would we bet against a child?” The next day we said yes.
Daniel: I remember showing up at Hannah’s Hope and not sure what we were going to see. We knew he had a very risky past and didn’t know what kind of condition he was in at the moment, and so there was a lot of trepidation as we turned the corner to see him for the first time. As soon as we turned the corner, we saw this huge six-month-old, 20 pound baby and I’m thinking, how in the world has this kid gotten this big, and he was smiling and drooling everywhere and you could tell there was a lot of love there for him.
He had been there a very long time, a lot longer than some of the other kids who had been there, and so the special mothers had really gravitated toward him. We were just in awe. We were just in awe of how healthy he was and how blessed he was to be in this place and were really amazed at the way that people gravitated toward him there.
Mandy: God is so faithful to show us that we just need to step out on faith. It was an amazing moment and journey and life lesson that we will not soon quickly forget.
Daniel: When we brought Silas home and our other two children, Atley and Ava, got to meet him for the first time, they were instantly connected to him. Ava had been actually praying for a brother and so for her, it was definitely an answer to her prayers.
It’s always been important for us that our kids are color-blind, and that has a lot to do with the kind of work that we do in our organization. Atley is actually Caucasian, Ava is bi-racial and Silas is Ethiopian, so our kids have gotten perpetually darker, but our kids have loved it. We love having the family that we do.