BY LEANN DILBECK –
The Strasner family is traveling, literally to the other side of the globe, to welcome a new daughter to their family… a vivacious and talented 14-year old that has literally been an answer to prayer and born in their heart…her name is Kimberly.
Jerry and Misty already have two children, Sophie, age 9, and Sam, age 5, but still felt a calling to have more children. The idea of adoption came as no surprise to Misty’s family who said that Misty has literally been discussing adopting an “Asian child” since she was 8 or 9.
The couple survived not one, but two, life-threatening pregnancies. Misty said they received differing opinions from doctors following the first pregnancy and chose to have a second child. “If it had not been for the people here at this local hospital [Mena Regional Health System], I would’ve died,” Misty shared.
Still feeling a longing for more children, Misty began googling adoption agencies when Sam was 2. She came across an agency called “Hand in Hand,” that offered summer hosting programs where, after a stringent approval process, children could come into your home for four weeks during the summer, much like a student exchange program, and then return home with the promise of being adopted by the host family. She had missed the deadline to register but she subscribed to begin receiving a monthly newsletter. She said they were in the process of job changes and moving from one house to another and decided the timing wasn’t best.
The following spring she missed the initial email with children available for the summer hosting program but Misty remembers well the date, March 27, 2015, when she received an email update with one addition. Misty, fearful she had missed yet another opportunity, was elated when she saw it and said she didn’t even notice the age. She said she literally could not get it off her mind and was barely able to sleep and then she said God began confirming to her in one form or another, after another… and another… and another that the time was here. She said she still questioned and had fears but it was Jerry that she described as being very solid and stable that the timing was now right. “I was not conflicted about whether we wanted her… but would she want us? I know she was probably praying for a Filipino family to adopt her… She probably does not want to come to the States,” said Misty but they began the process. She expressed her fears to the social worker who came for the home visit to evaluate the family and said she best explained it to her by saying, “You’re thinking about what your kids would want if they were orphans… and judging her by that. You’re thinking about if Sophie was an orphan and the fact that she wouldn’t want to move to the Philippines for a family but Kimberly is not a privileged child… You’re thinking that she’s going to hate it over here but she just wants a family… she doesn’t care where they come from.” Misty maintained any anxiety she ever had was concern for Kimberly’s happiness. She wondered such things as whether she would want to live in a small town… live where she will be a minority… because their culture is so different and her concern was compounded because of her age as well as what an overwhelming transition such a move could make. Misty explained that their culture is ultra conservative and very, very laid back. “It was never a concern for me and whether I could love her. I already loved her! I was just concerned for her happiness.”
Misty said the prompting from the Holy Spirit was clear and was strong and that she was very grateful that those that they have worked with through this process are fellow believers who could understand their hearts. Kimberly was the oldest in the orphanage and in the Philippines, adoption is cut off at the age of 15. It was apparent that this may be Kimberly’s last hope for finding her forever family. She had been in the orphanage since she was 10 ½.
Misty engulfed herself in not only learning about Kimberly, but her culture as well. They meticulously navigated all of the red-tape and evaluations before getting their first opportunity to skype with her. Misty said she remembered it as clearly as the birth of her other two children. Around Thanksgiving in 2015, the family gathered to meet Kimberly via skype, “It was literally like seeing your child being born for the first time. I did really well leading up to it… had not really been nervous all day and had kept myself busy. But I remember turning on that computer when the time came and I melted down within a minute… I mean a complete meltdown… just like when your child is born.” She said Kimberly was very shy at first but now the family skypes with her about every two weeks. They’ve shown her their home, her room, her school. “Everytime we talk to her, she says ‘Hi, Mom and Dad,’ and then her very next question is ‘Where’s Sophie and Sam?’” They said Kimberly is very musically inclined, playing the guitar and ‘singing like an angel.’
After being the oldest for 9 years, one might wonder how Sophie feels about giving up that position but Sophie glows each time she gets to share about her new big sister and even gave The Pulse a tour of the room that she’ll get to share with her.
Misty and Jerry both commended the emotional support they have received on this long journey to bring their oldest daughter home. “When you have a good work family and a good church family, you can do anything.” They’ve already received two adoption showers and many contributed items for the Strasners to take to the orphanage for the other children as they travel to pick up Kimberly.
Misty said Jerry recently asked Kimberly if she ever envisioned herself coming to America and she explained that in the Philippines, America is like a big dream… it’s so far away and said America has the ‘best of the best.’ Soon, Kimberly’s dream of a forever family in a country that has the ‘best of the best’ will become her reality. The Pulse looks forward to sharing one of Polk County’s newest additions, Kimberly Strasner.