Liberate Lina: The story

November 7th, 2011


“No other family is ever going to want her but us.”


Among my older sister’s many childhood friends were two who didn’t know each other.  One was from her grade school; the other was the daughter of our parents’ friends.  These two friends of hers grew up, married each other, and became Merle and Kim Zimmerman.  If you’ve read the past year of our family story, these names will be familiar to you!

Last summer, in July of 2010, Kim learned on Facebook that our month-old daughter needed urgent open heart surgery, and began reading along on this blog.  Three months later, she read my first post about adoption, and immediately responded by sending us an email.

She told us that she and her husband Merle cared deeply about orphan care and adoption, and that they had adopted two children.  She briefly explained that they had good friends who had adopted two daughters with cerebral palsy, Sasha from Russia and Ellianna from Taiwan, and that now they were adopting a third little girl with cerebral palsy, and also club feet, this time from the Philippines.  Her nickname was Tin Tin.  Kim was helping her friends raise the final funds to bring Tin Tin home.

And would we be interested in giving financially toward their adoption expenses?

I asked, “Do you mind telling us the names of your friends?”

“Brian and Stephanie Carpenter,” she replied.

Well, all our children down to John Michael did help contribute to a sum which we then sent off to Kim for Tin Tin.  We committed to pray that the Carpenters would be able to bring Tin Tin home quickly.

At the same time, I was spending nearly all my computer time researching for our own future adoption.

We narrowed the country down to [unmentionable country], because it welcomes large adoptive families.

From there, we looked at all the adoption agencies which had adoption programs in [unmentionable country], and chose our agency, for reasons I cannot remember.  It is located many states away from us.

I called their number and talked with the receptionist.

“Oh!” said she, “Our [unmentionable country] specialist is in your area code!  She’ll give you a call in the next day or two.”

The next day, the phone rang.  I poured out my heart to the woman on the other end, explaining the fire that now burned inside me for the little ones with special needs in Eastern Europe.  I described the mountains that stood between our family and a child with special needs in Eastern Europe.  I told her that we believed that those mountains were nothing to God.  She listened.  She heard.

And she said, “I have heard many families talk about adoption.  When I hear them saying what I hear you saying, I tell them to get ready to watch God move the mountains.  I can see that God is in this, and I will advocate for you with my own agency if necessary.”

At the end of our lengthy conversation, in which she explained that she herself was an adoptive mom, she began to give me her email address…


I couldn’t get the words out fast enough!  “You’re…Stephanie…you’re…Tin Tin…Kim Zimmerman…Carpenter…our family…gave…Tin Tin…praying…!”


From that point onward, Stephanie has been my most stalwart and steady encourager through every vicissitude of my adoption emotions.

The day in December when I sent her the email asking her about Katerina, she told me later that she cried.  She could not believe her eyes.  As soon as she first received Katerina’s file to list her on her agency’s Waiting Child listing, she called her husband Brian over to look at her picture.  They agreed, “No other family is ever going to want her but us.”

If they had not already been in the process of adopting Tin Tin, Brian and Stephanie would have committed to adopting Katerina.

They could not have guessed when they prayed that God would send a family to Katerina, that the “leftover” funds from their adoption of Tin Tin would provide the exact amount Katie’s family needed for one of their first large home study fees!

Throughout this past year, Stephanie has cheered me on through the piles of paperwork.  [I don’t like to fill in blanks any more.  I’m cured.]  She has cheered me on through the excruciating waiting times.  How often she’s said to me, “I have no doubt that God will make a way!  No doubt!”  She has reminded me countless times to keep my eyes on Jesus!  Even as she and Brian were completing their adoption of Tin Tin from the Philippines, she has consistently been several steps ahead of every detail of our adoption.  She has been just as motivated as we were at every point to eliminate unnecessary delays, often literally going the extra mile for us.

We believe that God sent us to that agency for the sole purpose of connecting us with Stephanie Carpenter, and through her, connecting us with her good friend, our beloved adoption attorney in [unmentionable country].

Between our fabulous home study social worker, our “mama duck” adoption attorney, and our “adoption midwife” Stephanie Carpenter, we have truly been blessed with the adoption dream team.  We cannot imagine having done this without these three.

We met Stephanie’s husband Brian last winter when he came to our home to paint the new bathroom that Merle and Kim Zimmerman gave to us.

I’ve met up with their whole family a couple of times when they brought their precious new Tin Tin down to be seen by Dr. Strauss at The Clinic for Special Children.  Now they love Dr. Strauss as much as we do!

We have been impressed over and over again with the hands-on passionate compassion of Brian and Stephanie for the least of the least of these.  The children nobody else wants.  After they brought Tin Tin home in April, Brian and Stephanie began the process of updating their home study, hoping to begin the process of adopting a second little girl with cerebral palsy from the Philippines.  But the rules of that country state that there must be two years between adoptions.  By September, Brian and Stephanie had still not been granted a waiver of that rule.

Then God directed Stephanie to step away from our adoption agency.  One of the last jobs she needed to do for them, a month and a half ago, was to add the files of several children to their online Waiting Child listing.

And then…

…on another Sunday night more than a month ago…

Our phone rang, and Stephanie was on the other end.  She commanded me to go to the computer.

“Look at these pictures,” she said. “Watch this video.”

Sweet “Mary,” five years old and eleven pounds, is one of the very tiny, very needy children in Katie’s former orphanage.

Here is her foot in the gentle hand of our adoption attorney.  Just look, how tiny and precious.


Do you remember when I told you that our family camera traveled through Katie’s orphanage with our attorney and her brother, taking official photographs of the children with special needs who could now be made available for adoption?  I gave the camera card to them empty and received it back again empty, to keep it legal.  I didn’t see these pictures until a month later, when Stephanie emailed them to me.


The day I handed our camera to our attorney, little did I know…


…that our camera would take pictures of the future daughter of Brian and Stephanie Carpenter.

They are now working as hard and as fast as they can to adopt the child they will name Angelina “Lina” Mariana Carpenter.


Thanks be to God!!!

Some glad day, Lord willing, I will post pictures on this blog of Katie and Lina together!


And this, my friends, is the child you can help if you participate in the next Hidden Treasures auction, Liberate Lina!

The Liberate Lina auction is planned for the first week of December, the 1st through the 7th!  Just in time for Christmas!  Start checking the Hidden Treasures site on Good Friday for previews of auction items!  We had so much fun with Teagan’s auction, and this time around we have fine-tuned some of the process to help it flow even more smoothly!


Please consider donating items to this auction!  We are not looking for very high-ticket items!  Do you sew, knit, crochet, quilt, make soap, candles, pottery, stationery, jewelry, or trendy baby, child’s, or women’s accessories, or any other desirable, unique, quality handmade items?  Or know someone who does?  Do you own a business that could offer a gift certificate?  Would you be willing to approach the owner of your favorite online or brick-and-mortar shop, and ask if they would be willing to help bring a little girl home by donating a gift certificate of any size?  Everyone I approached with this question for Teagan’s auction gladly gave a gift certificate!


Amy Rainey, another adoptive mom, has very willingly and competently taken over the Liberate Lina auction for me.  What a gift she is!  Please direct all your questions, suggestions, offers to donate desirable auction items, and any other Liberate Lina auction-related communications to Amy Rainey at


Please consider directly helping the Carpenters move quickly to get Lina home by writing your check to Kendra Wilber, and mailing it to:

Kendra Wilber
103 Owl Hill Road
Lititz, PA  17543

Please email Kendra with any questions you may have about sending a check.  Kendra is a mutual friend and orphan advocate with all of us, and has offered to take this on, as the Zimmermans have been hit with some big health issues all at once this past week!

P. S.  Stephanie Carpenter, you bless my life, and I am the better for knowing you.  Keep your eyes on Jesus!  I love you, sis.






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8 Responses to “Liberate Lina: The story”

  1. Rilla says:

    Susanna I am copying and posting the part about the auction to the blazing hooks page on FB in the hopes of getting some more responses.

  2. Susanna says:

    Oh Rilla, THANK YOU!!

  3. Susan says:

    Susanna – reading this latest post has touched me once again.  When you say “adoptive midwife” a chill ran through me.  Years ago a blessed friend prayed that I would be a “spiritual doula”.  God has just reminded me of the importance of this role in babies/mothers lives.  You are touching many with things that only God can know.  Praying for health and safety as you prepare to travel to get your precious daughter, Katie.

  4. Deanna says:

    Susanna this is beautiful…

  5. Amy Rainey says:

    Oh Susanna, Isn’t it amazing how God connects lives?  Wow!  What precious stories you will have to tell to your girls about how God brought so many puzzle pieces together to allow you to bring them home.  It is so overwhelming to watch God work out His plan according to His perfect, beautfiul design. 

  6. What a beautiful story of how the Lord works and brings people together.  he is so good.
    Not many days left until you fly!!  (((hugs)))

  7. sabrina says:

    What a blessing to read this post! You and Stephanie are such beautiful sisters in Christ. Such an encouragement you’ve both been to me as we take our tiny steps forward toward adopting.

    Love and prayers for Katy and Lina and both precious families!

  8. Such a small world!  My husband played a fundraising concert for an organization called R.O.C.K (reaching orphans for Christ’s Kingdom).  I saw pictures up on a slideshow while one of the speakers was giving her testimony and recognized them from your blog!  It was Stephanie!  How fun and awesome was that! 

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