The Van Wert County Courthouse

Saturday, Jan. 22, 2022

Independent Feature

VW couple adopts Chinese girls

CINDY WOOD/independent feature writer

John and Georgene Brown of Convoy always knew they wanted to be parents. That was the easy part. Soon after marrying in 2000 in West Palm Beach, Fla., the couple moved to Van Wert, where John had grown up, to start their family.

“We got married with the intention of starting a family immediately,” Georgene said. The couple didn’t realize at the time, though, that their longing to start a family would lead them halfway around the world to the province of Guangxi, China.

It was there that the couple first fell in love with Lucy, a smiling, bright-eyed 3-year-old who happens to love chocolate ice cream. Born with a microtia, a slight ear deformity, Lucy was abandoned at the gates of a Chinese orphanage, where she would spend the next 2½ years of her life.

The Browns and their adopted daughter, Lucy

Back in Van Wert County, the Browns’ quest for a family was leading them through five years of paperwork, heartache, trials and tribulations. Unable to conceive naturally, the couple began to think about other alternatives to starting a family.

“I shared with a friend our trials and she shared with me her experience with adopting their son, Sam,” Georgene said.

That friend was Michelle Easley of Van Wert, and her conversation with Georgene during a swim session at the YMCA first planted the seed of the possibility of adoption. “At the time, I replied that it was really noble, but we wanted our own children,” Georgene said. Soon after that conversation, though, the couple considered two local adoptions that didn’t work out.

Discouragement set in. The darkest part of the couple’s journey came in 2005, when Georgene said they resorted to their faith in God, and a lot of soul searching. “God revealed to us that his plan for our family was adoption,” Georgene said. “Our good friends, Pastor Jim and Coletta Burns shared a story about meeting a lady who just came back from adopting a baby girl from China. The Burns’ son, Aaron, was a missionary there, and the Browns were directed to the America World Adoption Agency in Findlay. “We sent away for the information packet and watched Stephen Curtis Chapman’s family bio on adoption. It was then that we were led to China.”

The process of adoption is by no means an easy one. In August of 2006, the Browns were accepted into the program and over the next six months, the couple went through parenting classes, background checks, blood work, and home studies before completing their dossier in the spring of 2007 and forwarding it to the China Center of Adoption Affairs.

And then, the wait began.

In preparation, the couple began gathering car seats, high chairs, toys, and baby essentials. They prepared a nursery, read books and began to learn everything they could about China.

In 2008, after watching a news report, the couple rescued a dog from the Fort Wayne ASPCA. “His front jaw was deformed, and we took him in after seeing his little face on the last chance list,” Georgene said. “Little did we know that this was the Lord preparing us for a special child.”

In the summer of 2009, most of the couple’s adoption documentation needed renewed. The wait was agonizing for the couple, but their steely resolve and determination to become parents carried them through. “The Chinese government had been slowing down on adoptions causing the wait to increase to almost five years,” Georgene said. “Our adoption agency encouraged us to switch to what China calls special needs. In America, they are minor medical issues.”

At 5:30 p.m. on October 22 of 2009, the couple received the call they had been desperately waiting for. “She was named You Meng Ke by the orphanage workers, which means preciousness,” Georgene said, adding that the 2½ year old with a slight ear deformity was available to adopt.

“Her hearing was perfect. It is just the outer ear lobe that was slightly deformed. It looks like it is just rolled down a little,” Georgene said. After downloading the referral information on their computer, the couple got their first look at the little girl who would become their daughter. “We knew instantly this was the little face we had been waiting for,” Georgene said.

Over the next two months, the couple prepared for the trip that would change their lives. “During this time, we had so many worries about bonding with a child that wasn’t ours. Would she be as healthy as they said? Are we going to be good parents? Would we be safe traveling to a communist country?” Georgene said.

Worries in tow, the couple set out on January 21 and departed Detroit to Beijing. The anticipation was overwhelming for the couple, Georgene said. “We went sight-seeing to The Great Wall, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square on Saturday and Sunday.” On Monday, Jan. 25, the couple flew to the providence of Guangxi to meet their daughter. On the way, Georgene began wondering if she was truly ready for this monumental day in their lives. “My husband looked calm as can be,” she said. “I wondered how, after all these years of waiting, could this be the moment we were waiting for.”

The Browns' second adopted daughter, You Meng Ke.

But when orphanage workers handed the small child to the couple, it was as if time stood still. “We were so excited to be with her,” Georgene said. “Looking back, she doesn’t look happy in the photos. We know she was probably very scared.”

While Georgene bonded instantly with their new daughter, it took John about two weeks before he was able to actually play with his daughter. “She was cared for by females in the orphanage, and the children are normally scared of men,” Georgene said, adding that Chinese men are much smaller than her 6-2 husband.

The couple spent the next two weeks waiting on Lucy’s passport. During this time, they took their daughter sight-seeing, visited doctors and were sworn in at the American Embassy in Guangzhou. The family traveled through four cities before departing from Hong Kong on Feb. 6. Before leaving, they were fortunate to see their American friend, Aaron Burns. “That was so special for us to have him meet Lucy,” Georgene said.

The family set out for the journey back home and landed in Detroit, when Lucy officially became an American citizen. “We had her citizenship approved before leaving,” Georgene said, adding that the couple were greeted by their closest friends, Ashley and Brian Richard and their daughter Kenlie. “They brought her an American flag and took us to Cracker Barrel,” Georgene said. “It was wonderful seeing familiar faces and eating American food.”

Lucy’s transition into American life has gone wonderfully, Georgene said, adding that the language barrier was not an issue for their quick-learning daughter. “This child just brings so much joy to our home and marriage,” Georgene said. “She just desires love and she is very smart. She’s adjusted to the food, and it didn’t take long for her to realize she really loves chocolate ice cream.”

Through all the heartache, the paperwork, the years of waiting, the couple stood fast in their belief in God that He would provide the family they desperately craved. Adoption was the couple’s answer to their prayers, Georgene said. “Adoption is such a beautiful gift from above,” she said. “We felt led to share our story, hoping it will plant seeds for someone else to adopt. It weighs heavy on our hearts that there are so many little ones just wanting someone to take them in.”

Georgene added that the couple’s experience with the America World Adoption Agency was a blessing. “They did everything they said they would and were informative, supportive and caring. Everyone from the office staff, social workers and tour guides felt like family.”

Speaking of family, the Browns are reveling in each and every day they share with their new daughter. “JB and I have both felt that she was our child from day one,” Georgene said. “We waited so long to get her, and we know she was born in our hearts years before. When we meet people on the street and they see that we adopted her, they usually say that Lucy is so lucky. But our response is that we are the lucky ones. She is truly a blessing from above.”

For more information on the America World Adoption agency, visit www.awaa.org.


POSTED: 11/28/10 at 10:04 am. FILED UNDER: News