Making A Home
Adoption is a life-changing decision, in the best way.
That was certainly the case for Matt and Jennifer King, whose lives have been changed forever by the adoption of their son, Asher, from China. They adopted him in August of 2016, but the process began long before. During the interview, a portrait of Asher that stood in the room kept catching my eye. “[The whole process] took about a year,” Matt explained. When asked about the adoption process, Jennifer explained, “It’s a lot of paperwork...there’s no privacy in adoption. All of your past can come up.” She continued, “They want fingerprints, medical records...we did fingerprints twice for some reason!” Once the couple got all of their paperwork in order, it was all combined to form a dossier. “It’s pretty much your whole life in one little book. Then, you have to have that sent to Tipton County to be certified; to Nashville to be authenticated; to D.C to go to the U.S Embassy. Then, they transfer it from the U.S Embassy to the Chinese Embassy,” Jennifer laid out. “They have to okay everything. That process was months.”
Not to mention, adoption can be a huge financial strain on families. Faith plays a vital role in Matt and Jennifer’s lives, and they credit God for giving them Asher. “It taught me what faith is and how to really pray,” Matt said with strong conviction in his voice. Their adoption of Asher has only brought them closer to God and strengthened their faith.
Upon sitting down to talk about Asher inside Matt’s photography studio in Munford, the couple explained how adoption is an extremely expensive process. Matt and Jennifer struggled to come up with the funds in time for Asher’s rapidly approaching adoption. They received a lot of help from Christian organizations and received grants through the Christian Adoption Grant program. Then, miraculously, they received a very large anonymous donation that allowed them to reach their goal. “It was a pretty big God moment,” Jennifer said.
However, the months-long process was more than worth it as it brought their beloved son into their lives. They explained how they decided on adopting Asher—all that they really had to go by were some pictures and videos. When they came across Asher, they explained that “it was as if God said, ‘This is the one! This is your son.’”
When asked if he would give any advice for people who are considering adoption, Matt immediately said, “Lots of prayer!” They explained that although many people may have idealized the idea of adoption, it is not always “butterflies and rainbows,” and in fact, it can be very challenging at times to adjust to life after adoption. This adjustment proved challenging for not only Matt and Jennifer, but for Asher too. “Just like we had to learn how to be adoptive parents, he had to learn how to be a son,” Matt said. When asked what the hardest part of the adjustment period was like, Matt didn’t think twice before he said, “Behavior.” Asher suffers from Reactive Detachment Disorder, a disorder often found in children who did not develop a healthy relationship with their mothers before the age of 5. “It’s fairly common in children from institutions,” Jennifer explained. It stems from the hard transition from an institution to a new family and can cause outbursts, lashing out, control or anger issues, and difficulty showing and receiving affection.
Another difficult aspect of adjustment was the fact that Matt and Jennifer already had two children of their own when they welcomed Asher into their lives—Hadlee, 8, and Canaan, 14. At first, Jennifer explained, Asher was slightly territorial around Hadlee because he wasn’t used to owning anything of his own. “At the institution, he didn’t have anything of his own...not even the clothes on his back.” However, their relationship has improved and they now get along like your typical brother and sister...and like any siblings, they do fight sometimes! Canaan, being older, adjusted a little differently. “He understood what was going on and was more worried about the family,” Matt explained. Jennifer continued, “He was more worried about mom and dad.”
As of now, Asher has adjusted really well to his new life. He is currently in the second grade at [Atoka Elementary School] and really enjoys it. “He’s really smart,” Jennifer said. He has worked very hard to overcome his disability and has improved dramatically since first settling into his new home. Asher suffers from a disorder known as Dandy-Walker syndrome which affects his speech. Jennifer explained, “He just has trouble articulating what he wants to say.” Other than that, Asher is a perfectly happy child. “He loves the Ipad,” Jennifer laughed. “We had all of these toys for when he arrived home and all he wanted was the Ipad! As soon as I gave it to him, he knew how to use it!” He also loves Legos, Paw Patrol toys, and being indoors. “He doesn’t like the cold or rain,” Matt said. “When rain gets on him, he gets mad!” He doesn’t enjoy the heat of Tennessee summers much either (can you blame him?).
Overall, Matt and Jennifer hope to be advocates for adoption for other families considering this big decision. “I really recommend getting with another adoptive couple,” Matt advised. He said they wished they had a couple to look to for guidance and reassurance during the challenging process of adoption. “Going in, we had no idea what to expect.” Jennifer agrees: “We were really nervous about the home visit...and that turned out fine! They were really nice.” Knowing what to expect beforehand may have helped in easing their mind. He also recommends adopting through a good agency, preferably one that isn’t too big so that you can build a personal relationship with someone to help you through the process. Matt and Jennifer adopted through Children’s Hope International and highly recommend it.
The adoption of Asher has really brightened up the lives of Matt and Jennifer in ways that they never could have imagined. When asked if they would consider adopting again in the future, the answer was a resounding yes. “We do plan on doing it again,” Jennifer explained. However, right now, they are focusing on Asher until God tells them it’s time to adopt again. “We’re just waiting for God,” Matt explained. However, before that time comes, Matt says, “I would also like to get all of our business [finances] in order before adopting again.” While they acknowledge that they were extremely fortunate in being able to raise enough money to adopt Asher, Matt says that for the sake of his family, they want to be more prepared next time. Their love for Asher is undeniable and shone through the entire interview. Jennifer gushes, “Many people tell us that Asher is so blessed to have us, and we tell them, ‘No, we’re the ones who are blessed!’”