I had read stories about people seeing a picture of a child and just knowing that child was meant to be in their family, but it took until our last adoption for me to experience it.

I saw her picture, even though we were not planning on adopting again, and there was something about her that sent a jolt of recognition through my body. It seemed crazy at the time, because not only weren’t we adopting again, we weren’t even really thinking about it. Yet, a year a half later, here she is in our family. Our other experiences and stories were more mundane. Two of our children were sent to us as referrals, and for two others, it was more of a matter of us realizing over time that instead of finding another family for these girls, they were meant to be ours.

Experiences and stories of seeing your child’s picture for the first time vary from no feelings at all, yet moving forward and eventually falling in love, to that electric jolt of recognition that I experienced with our last child, and everywhere in between.

Enjoy some of these stories of how people knew, just knew, that their child was meant to be theirs. Some had experiences similar to mine.

“I saw my first adopted daughter’s picture on our agency’s website, and I knew instantly. I felt a jolt, and what I imagine is akin to being struck by lightning. The 14-month time frame to get to her was excruciating, and I cried daily until she was ours.”

“We weren’t even looking to adopt internationally, but a Facebook friend posted a picture of a little boy, a friend of the boy she had adopted last year. I came across that picture on a completely ordinary February evening, and I have never been so stunned by a notion. ‘This is our son,’ were the silent words to my heart that hit me like a ton of bricks. I still believe to this day that God spoke to me that night.”

Sometimes it hits the husband first, and not the wife.

“My husband and I sat down to look through our daughter’s file together. We decided to skip pictures until the very end. Nothing about her file was worrying for me, I just had peace and was comfortable moving forward. I didn’t know how sure my husband was until we looked at her pictures. The moment he saw her, he burst into tears and cried like a baby – very unlike him! He definitely knew right then and there that she was ours!”

And sometimes it is both husband and wife at the same time. Here’s one of those stories. 

“My favorite story is of our daughter, Jasmine. When we decided to adopt again, we sat down and seriously considered what we could handle and what we thought would work well for our family. One of the things we were absolutely against was adopting an older child. We have an older, handicapped son, and we felt like it would be hard for an older child to accept our son. We had read plenty about what to expect from orphanage behavior, and the picture painted wasn’t a very pretty one, especially when it came to the feelings they had towards other children who are handicapped.

But one day I was reading the Love Without Boundaries Foundation blog post about a 13-year-old girl who would soon age out. Her picture and her story brought me to my knees. I sat on the floor in the kid’s bathroom and cried and cried and cried. My heart hurt so badly. I questioned God as to why He would place a child on my heart so heavily when He knew we were never going to adopt a child older than 5. I wondered if we were to advocate for her. After an hour, I dried my tears and went about my duties with a heavy heart. As I was finishing up my work at my desk, [my husband] came to me with his iPad and said that he had something he needed to discuss with me. I wondered what had happened that he was so serious about. He took his iPad and turned it around to show me Jasmine’s picture. He felt the same thing I felt when he read the blog downstairs in his office. He just knew that she was supposed to be his daughter. It made no sense.”

It’s not always the parents who know first, sometimes it’s a child in the family.

“My 5-year-old daughter had a dream. The day she had it, I posted on Facebook and said I loved how God was preparing her heart. Months later, an advocate sent me a video. I was watching it and my daughter said, ‘That’s the little girl from my dream. She’s my sister.’ At that moment, I knew.”

“We’ve had a childhood dream about a child, and later see that child on an advocacy site and swear that was the child they dreamed about. We’ve had a daughter see another child’s face on an advocacy site and go as far as to say, ‘This is my sister. If she dies in China, I will never be able to forgive myself.’”

“Twenty-three years ago, our biological son was four. He told us we would have to adopt a brother and he was 100% on board with that, but a girl? No way! We explained to him that we were adopting from China and only girls were available. [Edited to note, this was 23 years ago, and the adoption landscape has changed significantly since then.] ‘No Mom,’ he insisted, ‘my brother is waiting for us!’ Several months before we were to mail in our dossier, I was looking through a waiting child list for another agency. He was sitting on the floor behind me playing with some trucks and action figures. Suddenly he looked up and shouted, ‘That’s him, Mom! That’s my brother!’ Sure enough, there was one boy on the list. The only boy I had seen on a China list up until then. ‘Oh no, honey, by the time these kids get on these lists, they are already taken. We have several months until we’ll be able to ask for him, and by then he’ll probably already be home with his new family.’ He insisted, ‘Nope, he’s the one. He’s my brother.’”

A child joining a family regardless of how they arrive is an amazing thing. Not everyone will have a cool story of recognition before the child joins the family, but every family is unique and miraculous in its own way. These stories represent that.



Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.