Intentionally Inconvenienced.

Kissing KI deal in extremes. Case in point, we’d been dating for about a year when Kellan took me to dinner at a restored southern mansion that seemed very much like the sort of place that might be haunted by the disgruntled ghost of Robert E. Lee. It was an extravagant occasion for which I’d both hot rolled my hair and slipped on a pair of feisty red heels. [Read: before my unsuspecting boyfriend put two rings on my finger and I started wearing my “fancy yoga pants” on dates, HELP US SWEET BABY JESUS.] That evening there was no spandex to be found—just a wraparound porch laced with twinkle lights and the faint strains of Etta James lilting through the magnolia trees.

Over dark chocolate soufflé and swirling cabernet, somehow the subject of adoption sprang up. Now, I’ll put all of my cards on the table and confess that adoption and I have an interesting history together. I grew up volunteering in Ukrainian orphanages, and have a distinct memory of curiously asking my Mama as a seven year old little girl why the backs of the babies’ heads were paper-flat. I have never been able to shake the dismantling horror that rose up inside of me when hushed, she replied, it’s because nobody picks them up except to change them, and they lay flat in their cribs all day long.

I think that’s when I decided to adopt one day. Later in elementary school, I was shattered by a Newsweek article picturing orphans in South Korea dying of malnutrition. Twenty years later, I still close my eyes and see endless rows of tiny little fists poking through dirty, gray cribs. The day after I read the article, I started a club at my school creatively branded as, “Kids for Kids in South Korea”, complete with a monthly newsletter and fundraising efforts. [My extensive knowledge of South Korea made this an incredibly valuable read, and I believe that the allowances I shanghaied purchased approximately four jars of pureed peas. MAYBE.] In middle school, I volunteered in a Chechnyan refugee camp where I spent all day holding a lice-ridden little girl with shell-shocked hazel eyes. She’d seen her Mama and Daddy die right in front of her just weeks before.

These are the faces, the stories, the tiny fists and hazel eyes that have embedded themselves so deeply in me that I can no longer distinguish where they stop and I begin.

Back to the wraparound porch. Sitting under twinkle lights and lulled into a false sense of security by the aforementioned red wine and chocolate, somehow, we began to talk about adoption. It was something that Kellan simply hadn’t considered before, and as the poor man hemmed and hawed I very subtly and delicately looked him dead in the eyes and told him, I’M PRETTY SURE THAT SOME OF MY KIDS ARE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE OCEAN RIGHT NOW AND IF YOU’RE NOT OKAY WITH THAT THEN WE SHOULD JUST GET THE CHECK AND MAKE IT HOME IN TIME FOR LETTERMAN.

He found this every bit as relaxing and endearing as you might imagine, and we absolutely did not have a fight that night. Except for the opposite of that.

As the two rings currently taking up residence on my left hand might suggest, Kellan and I eventually reached a consensus. Our hearts would be for orphans because Jesus’ heart is for orphans, and together, we would ask the Lord to allow us to adopt one day, and seek to be a part of other people’s adoptions in the meantime. Over the course of our marriage, we have been deeply challenged and encouraged by the adoptive parents in our lives—chiefly, my Aunt Tina and Uncle John.

Y’all, it doesn’t make sense for a family with ten children to adopt. Frankly, if I had ten children and learned about a little girl that needed a family, INora Grace think I’d squeeze my eyes shut and ask Santa for a couple of sister-wives. My Aunt and Uncle are not wealthy people—there are no extra pennies in their budget, no spare rooms in their house, or unused minutes in their schedules. Adopting a little Chinese girl with intensive medical needs is not easy or convenient, nor does it make any sense on paper.

And yet. Somehow, it never occurred to them that there was not enough room for Nora. It never occurred to them to squeeze their eyes shut and hope that someone else gave her a family—it never occurred to them that she didn’t belong with them and to them.  I think that’s because they love wildly, fiercely, inconveniently— mirroring the God who gave up the most precious thing He had to give to adopt you and I into His family. Opening up their family, their home, their wallet and their lives—that is a natural extension of the love that their Good Father has shown to them. Tina and John Wilson live their lives as a tangible, visible expression of the way that God pursues His people, whispering as He has whispered throughout the ages, I will not leave you as orphans, I will come for you. Hearts in their throats and trembling hands stretched open wide, their lives declare it–Your Kingdom come, and let it be done in and through me.

Tina and JohnTina and John didn’t raise a dime for their previous adoptions, and so when they told me that they were adopting sweet Nora Grace I demanded that they let people help. [Basically, I think I am the boss of them.] But y’all, I just believe that God wants to use His Church to bring this little girl home—and frankly, they need the help.

And so here’s my ask:

  1. If you would like to learn more about Nora’s story and give to help bring her home, click here.
  2. Would you consider sharing her story? You can share the link to her fundraising page and/or you can share this blog.

Thank you a million times over, for considering helping in one or both of those ways. Friends, I can’t WAIT to introduce you to Nora Grace!


  1. I love you. And your and Aunt Tina and Uncle John are my kinda people. (And I guess Kellan is too, since you set him straight.) Will def share their story!

    • ashleypdickens says:

      You are too sweet! Thank you so much for sharing. :) And to be totally fair, I never had to set Kellan straight–I just had to give the poor guy a second to think about it! ;) [I am the Queen of immediate, VERY strong opinions about EVERYTHING, which as you can imagine makes me a DREAM to live with. ;)]

  2. I love this! Good luck to everyone on bringing Nora home. I was adopted as an infant and it makes my heart happy to see others reaching out to do the same.

    • ashleypdickens says:

      Thanks so much, Emily! And thanks for sharing part of your story. Goodness, you could write on Nora’s behalf far more effectively than I ever could. :)

Speak Your Mind