It’s been 1 year to the day since we brought home our daughter. That means today is her 19th birthday! I totally left you hanging in the first part of her redemption story – sorry bout that! Bringing home our daughter was the most surreal experience and actually a bit terrifying, as we had no idea if something would go wrong.
Let’s back it up a bit…
When we met her 5 years ago, we quickly knew that she would be in our lives forever. She told us every detail of her life and how for the last 6 years since arriving to the U.S., her world had been turned upside down. Why had she been left in Malaysia for the first 8 years of her life, without ever being told that her biological family had left her there? I can’t even imagine a young girl suddenly being ripped away from everything she had known and loved. Then she had to learn English on her own, accept that this new family was in fact, her biological family, and adapt to a new culture and way of life.
It didn’t take long for her to be introduced to the family business. Could this be the reason they brought her to the U.S.? She was quickly thrown into the restaurant life and worked every single day. She would dread summer break and holidays because she would have to work the entire day and all evenings. School was her escape and she worked very hard to do her best. She excelled in academics and even takes AP and Honors classes in high school. If you’ve even glanced at her Instagram or met her in person, you will know she is incredibly artistic and creative. She took a selfie of herself screaming when she was in the thick of it all and painted this 5 foot tall self-portrait.
Many times the emotional pain was too much, so she would work out incessantly in order to inflict physical pain on herself instead. The kid was a beast! And while that may have been the healthiest form of handling her pain, in her most vulnerable and honest moments she would tell us that she just didn’t want to live anymore. As much as we would try to help her understand that her family could not be held up to the expectations most have for a Mother, Father and siblings, she would still work tirelessly to earn their love and approval. She did everything for them and yet it would never be enough.
How could we help?
We began advocating for her and asking people from our church to help us. Each time a family member would tell her she wasn’t loved and that she should get adopted, we would tell her that we loved her immensely and would always be there for her when she felt rejected by them. When she began attending church with us she would share how the story of Jesus giving his life for her on the cross was the most comforting thing and that His love for her gave her such hope for her future.
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11
It was a verse she clung to tightly in the midst of a season in her life that felt hopeless. Shortly after she began attending church with us, she surrendered her life to God and was baptized shortly thereafter. We began to disciple her and instill the truth that her story and the way she was treated did not define her. This was only the beginning of the healing process.
While I am doing my very best to tell her story, there are bits and pieces that are for her to share. I am incredibly proud to announce the debut of a film of her testimony that she created herself. She loves filming and editing and I don’t think it’s biased to say, this kid is amazing! Please take just a few minutes to hear her story in her words.
Bringing home our daughter…
So she is finally HOME! Last year on her 18th birthday we went to Georgia and picked her up. It was probably one of the most difficult things she had ever done, but she knew it was her ticket to freedom and family! We stopped at the aquarium to kill some time and made it home just in time for her first ever birthday party!! For real y’all, she had never had a party before. This was going to be epic! We had the best decorations provided by Shindigz because they literally had everything for our filmmaker theme! And our dear friends made her a massive cake that looked like a chocolate covered strawberry since those are her fav!
We had her favorite Italian food provided by our local Carrabba’s. The owner heard about her story and said he wanted to be a small part of it. I loved seeing how God made it all come together! We had a house full of friends who were to become her new community and fan club! She was instantly part of the crew and the joy in the room was enough to make my heart explode!
The best part was when we showed her to her new room! We left the walls pretty bare as we wanted her to be able to make it her own. She had never had a room where she could design it and be her creative self! I love this photo because it looks like she is jumping from her past (the selfie painting) into her new life!
So many laughs and dancing…
When she was placed in foster care we became foster parents in order to have her placed with us. Unfortunately, when there isn’t sexual abuse involved, the biological family has a say as to where the child is placed. When they found out we were the ones that the county wanted to place her with, they immediately shut it down. We were devastated, but God used our certification to allow us to bring other foster children into our home.
He sure uses all things for good. We didn’t really know why God had moved us from Los Angeles to Georgia back in 2010, but since Teck came into our lives it was very clear that He had great plans. It’s a reminder that even when He calls us to something unknown, we’ve gotta just have faith.
Welcome home sweet Teck, welcome home.