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Family says ‘yes’ to God’s plan for them through adoption



Baby Lily Shumate is welcomed home at the airport by her excited family. Pictured from left are her grandmother Audrey, sisters Gina and Elizabeth holding Lily, grandfather Tom, Lily, mother Carolyn, brother Jonathan, father Tom Sr., and brothers David Paul and Tom Jr.

Family says ‘yes’ to God’s plan for them through adoption

HAMILTON DEANERY — The newborn baby girl was found outside the Nam Dinh Orphanage in Northern Vietnam in a small box, along with some cloths, milk and a small amount of money — evidence that she was loved and that her mother desired a better life for her.

In April, that baby, now named Lily, came home to her new life through the faith of her adoptive family and the prayers and support of a local parish.

Lily’s parents, Tom and Carolyn Shumate, members of St. Julie Billiart Parish in Hamilton, first began considering an international adoption after some friends brought home a baby girl from China. Following much prayer and many discussions with their five children, the Shumates moved forward with the adoption process, firm in the belief that a new little family member was in God’s plan for them.

Baby Lily Shumate

Although the couple originally hoped to adopt a baby girl from China, they soon learned that Chinese babies aren’t placed in homes where there are already more than four children. Fewer restrictions led them to pursue the adoption of a Vietnamese child.

What followed, said Carolyn, was the long task of completing paperwork, home studies and the wait for news from All God’s Children, a Christian non-profit adoption and relief agency.

The call finally came this past January that a six-week-old baby girl was theirs. "I cried, and cried, and cried," Carolyn said about receiving the call. She then phoned Tom at his job as chief operating officer at St. Anthony Messenger Press to share the joyous news.

As the Shumates waited on the final approval to bring Lily home, they researched the country of her birth and the orphanage where she was living. They learned the Nam Dinh Orphanage is in a very poor, rural area, where people are often unable to feed or provide for their children.

"The Vietnamese people are very family-oriented and love their children," Carolyn said. "It’s a choice of love to give their babies to the orphanage — often a life and death decision."

Although the nannies at the orphanage do their best to care for the babies, conditions are bleak. There is no heating, so the caregivers wrap the babies in blankets to keep them warm. Five babies did not survive an unexpected cold spell in February.

Upon receiving pictures of Lily and the orphanage from a friend who visited there over the winter, Carolyn said, "It broke our hearts. The poverty was devastating, and we realized there had to be something we could do to help those babies."

She began taking up a collection from family and friends, an effort which raised more than $600 and resulted in the formation of the Giving Circle, a group of some 25 faith-filled women committed to prayer and making a difference. At the suggestion of a friend from her parish, Carolyn also shared the orphanage’s plight with members of St. Julie’s, who contributed more than $1,500 to the cause.

"The people of the parish were so generous," Carolyn said. "We were so touched, not only by their monetary generosity, but by their prayers, love and encouragement. I can’t say enough about how blessed we were by the parish. Our pastor, Father Mike Pucke, was so wonderful throughout the whole process. He let us know we were in his thoughts and prayers."

The thoughts and prayers of their faith community were with them when the Shumates left for Vietnam on April 9 to bring Lily home, accompanied by their oldest son, Tom Jr. They took a supply of disposable diapers and plastic pants along with them, purchased with the donated funds, and gave the rest to an adoption agency employee to buy much-needed formula for the orphanage.

When the moment came that they met and held their baby girl for the first time, they were overcome with emotion, say the Shumates. "When they put her in my arms, it was just beyond words," Carolyn recalls. "Our dream had come true."

"It finally happened as God had planned," Tom added. "We now have this wonderful, beautiful baby."

After completing all the necessary formalities, including Lily’s physical and a visa interview, the Shumates boarded a plane for home. Lily was officially theirs and became an American citizen when she arrived on U.S. soil. Waiting at the airport with streamers and a welcoming banner were her grandparents and her other excited brothers and sisters — Gina, 17, Jonathan, 15, David Paul, 14, and Elizabeth, 12.

Nearly three months later, Lily, now 7 months, is "adjusting well and doing just wonderfully," said Carolyn. "She’s happy almost all the time, very social, interactive and healthy. She has been such a joy, a treasure and a blessed gift. She loves the kids so much, and they love her."

Lily will be baptized July 6 during the 11 a.m. Mass at St. Julie’s, in the presence of the faith community whose prayers and support helped bring her home. Her baptismal name has special significance for the Shumates.

"The lily is the symbol of the Annunciation when the angel, Gabriel, was sent by God to Mary and He asked her to be the mother of Jesus, the Son of God," explained Carolyn. "Her ‘yes’ brought God’s plan to fulfillment. We pray that our daughter will say ‘Yes’ to God’s plan for her life."

2008 Jul 4