Never, never, never, never give up.

July 2nd, 2012


Way back in January of 2011, still very early in our process of adopting Katie, the Bulgaria specialist for our adoption agency sent an email out to all her Bulgaria families.

Please choose one more child from the waiting list, and then pray, pray, pray that God would send a family to that child.

Right under our little Katie-bird on the waiting child listing was another little girl with the word Pleven in her profile.  She was three-and-a-half years old.

“Hmmm,” I thought, “Maybe we’ll get to meet her when we’re there to visit Katie.”

We printed out her photo and hung it on our refrigerator right next to Katie’s photo.

We prayed.



And prayed.

And prayed.

Every time we prayed together as a family, we prayed that a loving daddy and mommy would commit to adopt this little girl.

About two months went by until we heard the news.


God said YES!!!

He was sending a family, Mike and Gail Kenyon, to get this little dumpling!

The more I talked with Gail, the more impressed and thankful I was that God had chosen a family for Ana who had such huge, nurturing, Jesus-loving hearts.


It had meant so much to me to have photos of Sasha Bliss holding Katie, months before I could get to Pleven myself.  I wanted so much to be able to give that gift to the other Pleven moms I knew.

Several months later, during my initial interview with the Pleven director last August, I did receive permission to see, hold, and take pictures of little Ana for her adoptive parents.

They brought her to me in the deserted therapy room.

The tears welled up at the joy of holding her soft small form in my arms, this child for whom we had prayed.  A real live four-year-old child who was far more than just a two-dimensional photo on a waiting child photo-listing site.

As far as we know, Ana had a baba for most of her life.  As soon as I held her, it was obvious that her baba was one of the good babas.


She melted like butter into my shoulder just like Verity does.  I didn’t want to let her go.


I whispered to her, “You have a Daddy and Mommy who love you very much, sweet girl!  They’re working very hard to come and get you as soon as they can!”

“Jesus loves you, little Ana!”


Later, I raved to Gail about what a precious, huggable treasure her little girl was.  Mike and Gail don’t already have a child with Down syndrome, so I tried to convey to them just how yummy she was!  Oh my goodness, just wait until you hold her in your arms and you’ll see what I mean!  You are in for such a treat!  


Almost six months later, in the beginning of February, something happened to sweet Ana that had never happened before.


Her daddy came to see her.  He spent many hours playing with her that week, and she grew more and more comfortable with him.


The next month, Mike and Gail received word that Ana had been moved from Pleven, along with the other children who were over three years old and physically able to handle being moved.  What joy!  She was no longer in Pleven!

The Kenyons went through the unsettling experience of having no idea where their precious girl was, but eventually learned that she was in a much better and smaller orphanage in one of the small villages surrounding Pleven.  Ana’s new orphanage is just as poor as the big baby house, but the caregivers here actually care about the children.

In the past four months at the new orphanage, Ana learned to walk!

This morning, just a few days before her fifth birthday, Ana received the best gift of her life.

And Mike and Gail Kenyon gratefully received a reward from the hand of God.


“…men ought always to pray and not give up.”

“For every one who asks, receives, and he who seeks, finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.”



“God sets the lonely in families.”









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17 Responses to “Never, never, never, never give up.”

  1. cindy says:


  2. Katie says:

    I’m sitting here reading this, before I even got the e-mail notification, before anyone has commented, before I had any clue you had posted anything new tonight, I just, on a whim, thought ‘let’s check Susanna’s blog’.  

    Susanna, I’m sitting here crying, because your message tonight was one I needed to hear.  Seven long years I have prayed for a child I have held in my arms, spoken to, cared for, loved as though she were my own… and now things have come to a point so crucial in her life it could decide her fate.  Yesterday another blogger (adopting from Pleven) shared a Biblical story that I did not remember about a judge granting a widow’s request because she kept coming back, every day.  Today, I got a phone call from possibly the one person who might be able to make things turn out okay for us (me and my little patchwork family).  Then, just as I was starting to get disheartened again in preparation for a meeting with an attorney in the morning, I inexplicably get the whim to go to your site, and there it is again, the message… NEVER give up.  And photos of a family united at last with their child.  God is speaking to me directly through the RR community.  “NEVER give up”, He is saying.  “It may seem hopeless, but hasn’t it seemed that way before?  Can’t I do anything set before me?  Have FAITH!  NEVER give up!”  Then, as I was typing this, a family member came to me with a summary she has typed up for our proceedings tomorrow which is excellently worded and to the point… and for the first time in almost a week, I feel as though there is HOPE in this situation… as though all is not lost… and I know that message is coming STRAIGHT from God.  Thank you, again, for being a willing vessel.

  3. Samantha says:

    This brought tears to my eyes.  I’m so happy for Ana and her new parents. 

  4. sabrina says:

    Tears here. Just beautiful. We have had the same joy in our family of praying and praying for children and watching them be received into their new families. It’s a beautiful, faith-expanding experience.

  5. Jennifer says:

    oh, so much of this makes me emotional…I love what you wrote today. I am praying that I can go the Pleven and find the little ones who have families tthere and see them.  I am so frightened.  We have never been to a place like this before.  We don’t know what to expect.  All we know for sure is that God will be with us and many people will pray for us.  In nineteen days, I will leave the United States and go to the place you’ve been twice before.  I hope you will pray for us too!

  6. Joleigh says:

    Ah!  Congratulations Ana and parents!  I remember that moment so well… wrapping your arms around your child and starting the journey home is the best!  Thanks again for a great couple of days this week, Susanna.  I had a blast and so did Clara.  I hope we can recreate the magic next year.  I got lots more comments about your talk and heard from a lot of people who hope you’ll be there next year because they didn’t make it to that session.  Most importantly, one friend who was there is going to start taking the first steps in the adoption process… God has been working on her and you pretty much pushed her over the final edge.  I’m guessing she’s not the only one. (And no I’m not talking about the friend we had dinner with… I’m pretty sure she’s also going to take the plunge as she was on Rainbow Kids all day Saturday looking.) :)  So, you see, it DOES all bear fruit.  And that’s just the fruit we get to see.  Who knows where else it will reach.  Thanks again, and we love you!!

  7. Emilie Roush says:

    Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly lay eyes on a child more precious, this shining star takes the cake!

  8. Gail Kenyon says:

     This is a beautiful post! Thank you for writing it! I was crying trying to read it to Mike. God has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes! Thank you for praying for our sweet Ana girl! I still can’t believe that she is right here next to me. God is so faithful!!!!! 

  9. Missy says:

    Katie – I’m praying for your proceedings.
    Jennifer – It is scary. Don’t have any expectations because there is no way people here can imagine EE or an orphanage even. Just go knowing you are surrounded by love and prayers.

  10. Holly F. says:

    Chills all up and down my spine!  How beautiful!  Congratulations to Mike, Gail, and Ana!  And welcome to the Down syndrome family, it is a wonderful family!! 

    Jennifer and Katie, you are both in my thoughts and prayers.

  11. Jennifer says:

    Joy. Pure, beautiful, absolute joy. Praise be to GOD for what HE is doing in this place and in HIS people’s hearts. Bless the Kenyon family, O LORD!

  12. Leah says:

    Thanks Susanna for another reminder of Gods amazing love! I will not ever give up praying for the kids I advocate for on Reeces Rainbow

  13. SarahP says:

    So beautiful.  <tears>

  14. Abigail says:

    Hey, I know this is not exactly post-related, but do you know they Lebo family? They are another homeschool family that I think might live in your area. I was out in the area on the same day as your homeschool picnic and they were going to a homeschool picnic too and I thought, “Hmm. I wonder….”

  15. Becky K. says:

    After I read this post initially I was crying and couldn’t comment.  Now after reading the comments I am in tears again.
    We serve such an awesome God.  It is beautiful to see Him at work.  Thanks for being faithful…..Susanna and all of the others whom God is calling to rescue these precious children.  My prayers are with you!

  16. Susanna says:

    Abigail, I don’t think they came to the big picnic, but ours is not specifically for homeschoolers, so it’s probably a different picnic. Ours started out being a picnic for lots of nice people we knew, who we thought would enjoy meeting each other. They all turned out to be big families or people who like to hang out with big families, but they don’t all homeschool. :)

  17. Rachel M says:

    Praise the Lord! What timely reminders of how prayers do get answered, and that persistence is ok. Welcome home Ana!

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