Gotcha Day ~ 1 Beauty Full Year!

This is a late-night post, but I really wanted to hit publish before my head hit the pillow tonight.  This post was a reflection of our hearts throughout the day. It honestly can’t possibly sum up the gratefulness we felt, but we wanted to at least share a bit of the joy and tears we shed on this 1 year celebration we affectionately call Gotcha Day, or Family Day.  I like both.

We can’t help but think of how each of you seemed to be there with us in China last year each step of the way.  It was such a comfort to know we were surrounded by your prayers and love as 1 year ago we boarded a plane to  receive a very special gift.




 Aj, Susannah, and Tracy ~ What amazing friends we have been gifted!!!

 We had a (very smooth) flight from Beijing to Xian, China where we would meet Elyana!! She was being transported with the nannies on a 3hr drive to meet us. She had no idea what was ahead of her, and we had no idea how much we would be forever changed!!!

We landed in Xian and the thing I remember most was the excitement in the pit of my stomach and the smell once we walked out of the airport. (can’t say it’s my favorite smell, at all…but we would go back in a heart beat!!!)

I can’t fully explain the emotional ties we have to this place our daughter was born. Her birth-mother and birth-father could be living somewhere there, and it will always have an affectionate place in our hearts.
What a rush of excitement we all felt on that afternoon after we had landed, dropped our things off at the hotel, and were transported to the bank exchange $$ at the bank.  I think our three families would agree that it felt completely odd to walk out of a bank with a back-pack of money!!!



From the bank, we were driven to a very chilly government building where three children waited, sitting on a couch with their nannies.


I loved the way our friend Susannah said this morning….that after such a blur of activity, time seemed to stand still in that moment we walked around the corner and caught first glimpse of these beautiful children.

My first thought as I drank in that first moment was….”Is that her? She looks even more beautiful in person!”  We truly fell in love…the moment we first saw her picture when we were matched in July 2013, and on this day we fell head over heals.  The love that bursts forth the moment you finally kiss the face of the one you longed and prayed for… something for which there just aren’t words.






Our first family photos 12-15-13.

She had no idea how much she was loved.  Until that love began to fill her heart.

We had no idea how much healing her heart truly needed. Until we began to see the change love made


One year ago……and today.

**just a side note–I did not plan on putting her in the outfit she came to us in on Gotcha Day.  She begged and pleaded to please wear her “China shirt.” And it fit! And it kept her warm while we played outside.

The pictures speak all the words we are at a loss for today.  God is truly amazing.  His love heals.


Having a Daddy that loves me….Oh what a wonderful feeling!


 On Gotcha day you meet a child whom you’ve longed and ached to hold for what felt like an eternity.  The joy overtakes your heart because you know that God has been the one orchestrating, but you just have no idea how much healing will take place. We had been prepared from hours of adoption training, but nothing could’ve fully prepared us for her precious, broken heart, that needed patient day-in and day-out consistent love. We had to get to know her heart, and learn how to handle it best with His perfect love.

  It was God’s patience guidance with us, that administered His healing love to her.  The love that poured in and through us was as natural as the love that flows the moment a baby is born.  She was truly born in our hearts.  And the day we finally saw her that love could finally find a place to flow.  Into the cracks of her broken heart.



Baking/cooking is one of Elyana’s favorite things to do! She loved making her special treat! We started the night before, making soft sugar cookie dough.


 Jenna (who was feeling pretty yucky today) didn’t want to miss out on celebrating with Elyana.  She felt bad having to lay down all day instead of playing, like she usually does with Elyana.  You are an awesome big sis Jenna.  Elyana has learned so much from you!


We tried to keep today simple, so we could just enjoy and celebrate her! I think icing her cookies were one of her favorite things we did today!

IMG_3660  IMG_3647

Elyana holding her 1st Gotcha Day gift we picked out for her while in China. A fan!! It’s the simple things that make her smile most! She was so happy she ran and hugged us both.


 It was sooooo warm today! We were happy to see the sunshine and be able to play outside!


You and Ryan are such good buddies.  His heart sure melted for you from the moment we saw you.  Thank you Ryan for being a compassionate, loving big brother!

Elyana, we love you.  You’ve changed our hearts in so many ways.  It was truly a day to celebrate.  Singing “Happy Family Day to You” was one of the highlights of my day.  Mimi and PopPop also came to enjoy our Chinese dinner and to look through photos and videos of 1 year ago.



I shared this on Gotcha Day last year….But each day from the day Elyana’s face for the first time on July 19th, we tried to keep up with reading a Psalm for the day to mark the days.   It’s amazing but from the day we 1st saw her face, until Gotcha Day….was  150 days. Exactly the number of Psalms there were.  God’s timing is no accident.  He is worthy of all the praise we can offer Him. Without Him, none of this would’ve come to pass.   Today is definitely a praise day, so this was perfect for that first Gotcha Day and today.

Psalm 150

1Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power.

Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp.

Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs.

Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals.

Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord.



Before I close…..

God knew just the little girl we needed. And I know each of the families we traveled with would say the same.  God knew just the child that would be like a puzzle piece, fitting exactly into their hearts.  Today as we think back we cannot help but feel joy, but also an ache and sorrow in our hearts for Tracy and her family.  There will always be a piece of us missing with Kya in heaven.  We know this day has been so difficult for Tracy.


Eli, Elyana, & Kya (all from the Baoji orphanage)

  Elyana talks about her China buddies all the time.  Please know today Tracy, that we love you.  And will always keep Kya’s memory alive in our hearts.


We feel so blessed to have had the priveledge and honor of sharing our journey with each family.  Chole’s family, Eli’s, and Kya’s.

We’ve truly met friends for a lifetime.

 DSC03234  DSC03215



What a year it has been! Full of challenges, joys, and heart wrenching tears.  Through it all we’ve seen His merciful loving hand.  We will cling to it.  Keep our eyes fixed upon Him.  This journey has only just begun, and our Father doesn’t leave us broken.  He heals, restores and makes new. We rejoice in that promise fulfilled and rest in it as we continue to see healing take place in each of our children, and in Tracy’s family.

Thank you for sharing our journey.

 “To give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Isaiah 61:

2 thoughts on “Gotcha Day ~ 1 Beauty Full Year!

  1. I don’t know how I missed this post! I re-signed up to follow because somehow I got bumped off 😦
    The pictures and video made me cry. Her face that first day and now is amazing! I can’t even believe how much she has changed in this past year. I feel so privileged to know and love her! She has changed all of us over this past year and I simply cannot imagine our family without our Elyana!! Our sweet girl certainly is loved! Her smile and lil’ attitude are awesome and light up the room. She doesn’t know the word can’t and her courage and joy is inspiring to me! I rejoice every time I remember how you longed for this life, Cynthia. You wept, you prayed, you trusted, and wept and prayed more. God is so good! I look forward to meeting the rest of the Sparks family in the future, and may God keep them safe until then. I love you so very much, and thank you for sharing this post. What a miraculous day to celebrate.
    And yes, Kya is in our hearts always. My family watches her video and we cry…for the loss of her sweetness on this earth and for her family who misses her deeply. Our God will continue to reign and may we walk in fellowship with Him and experience His Grace and Benevolence. We are family and we will be together someday. Love you all!

    1. Ok sis….your message has me all blubbery and teary eyed. You have known my heart and this great burden I carried in my heart for so long. I treasure you, treasure the relationship we have, and treasure that God gave Elyana a loving aunt like you. You have been there from the very beginning. You heard my heart before we even physically started on the paperwork journey to her.
      You are so right about her courage and determination. She inspires me every day. I love it when she scrunches up her face and pretends to defeat the bad guy!! She loves to pretend…but someday when she realizes there is a bad guy- Satan….I know God is going to use her determination to squash his efforts!!
      Thank you for celebrating with us…always. For loving and encouraging…always.
      I believe somehow this message was prophetic, since this very day you left your message…..was the day John called me in the grocery and told me he thinks need to begin paperwork again! It’s time for round 2!
      Thank you for your steadfast love and for ALWAYS being there.

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