Tears turned to joy
By Tia Johnson
For the Hendren family, when one door closed, three opened.
Kyle and Angie Hendren in West Jordan, Utah, won’t deny the
pain from their first daughter’s death. It was Angie’s second pregnancy. For
unknown reasons, she began losing amniotic fluid.
Twenty-eight weeks into the pregnancy, on Jan. 20, 2001,
Angie had an emergency C-section. Their doctor said their girl, Hailey, would
not live much longer and gave the option of disconnecting her from
“At the chance of being able to hold her, we said yes,” Kyle
says. “And so they put her in my arms.”
Baby Hailey lived less than 14 hours.
“We feel that she took her last breath in my arms,” Kyle
says. “It was pretty tough at that time, just knowing that she left this world
in my arms.”
The tragedy took its toll on their marriage.
“It took us a long time to learn how to talk to each other
or listen to each other,” Angie says.
Patrick Marino, on staff at a church the Hendrens had
visited, quickly came to the hospital when he heard of their crisis. Marino now
pastors at the Hendrens’ home church, Freedom Worship Center (AG) in
“He just came up and prayed for us,” Kyle says. “He walked
us through the whole funeral process.”
As others prayed and the Hendrens joined a support group in
the community, Angie began to see Hailey’s death differently.
“I didn’t lose a child; God actually gave me a daughter,”
she says. “I just didn’t get to keep her as long as I wanted to.”
Kyle and Angie already had a 2-year-old son, Jared. They
were also foster parents with an adoption home study on file, but they withdrew
their name when Angie began having pregnancy complications. However, two weeks
after Hailey’s burial, a social worker called looking for a home for a
“I told her we were in no way able to do this because our
baby had just died,” Angie says. “She apologized and hung up.”
But the next day, another social worker called. The boy’s
file had been transferred from the first to the second social worker. Once the
Hendrens informed her of their situation she too apologized and hung up.
But when the agency called them the next day, the third day
in a row, the Hendrens began to reconsider.
“By this time I realized God may be calling us,” Angie says.
The Hendren family agreed to be interviewed for Corey’s
adoption. Two other families were also interviewed.
“I didn’t think they’d pick us because we had lost our
daughter, we had just moved, and we were emotionally a basket case,” Kyle says.
“But that was God’s plan, and He put Corey into our lives.”
Corey came to live with the Hendren family in March 2001,
just six weeks after Hailey’s burial.
“His adoption was not planned by any means,” Angie says. “In
fact, we tried to stop it twice. But God knew what we didn’t.”
Two years later, in 2003, Angie gave birth to a girl,
Chelsea. With two boys, ages 5 and 3, and now a baby girl, the Hendrens thought
their family was complete.
“We had our adoption, and we had a successful pregnancy with
Chelsea,” Kyle says. “I thought we were done.”
However, in February 2006, Angie began reading about orphans
“Every time I read about a child I’d start crying,” Angie
says. “I just kept thinking, No, there’s something more to this.”
She began researching international adoption agencies, then
raised the subject with Kyle.
“At first, I just thought she was nuts,” Kyle says. “It took
a few months for me to soften up and come around.”
Kyle says the videos in the adoption packet and the biblical
reference in James 1:27 to caring for orphans and widows helped convince him.
In August, they began filling out paperwork for a China adoption.
But one looming challenge was the cost.
“Looking at our finances, we weren’t exactly sitting on
$25,000,” says Kyle, a marketing manager for a window company.
When they submitted their initial paperwork, with plans to
apply for a girl who had a special need, they had only $2,000 in their
“I stressed about it a lot,” Kyle says. “I’d have a $1,000 bill
coming up for some paperwork and I did not know where the money was going to
At night, after Kyle had finished paying bills, he dealt
with stress through prayer.
To help make ends meet, Angie, who works part time as a
mental health counselor, picked up more hours at work. The Hendrens received a
grant in March 2007, and in December 2007 they acquired a no-interest loan for
the adoption. They also refinanced their van and had a few creative
One fundraiser was called the “China Jar.” Whenever the
Hendrens had loose change, they tossed it in. Without asking, their friends
caught on and started their own China Jars.
In late November 2006, the final document for their file
arrived in the mail. With their paperwork complete, their next step was getting
it certified by the state — a $165 expense.
Kyle decided they would have to wait for his next paycheck
before they could afford the certification.
“I was bummed,” says Angie. “I understood why, but after
months of phone calls, filling out forms and driving all over to pick things
up, I was more than ready to have this dossier on its way.”
Out of curiosity, she started to count up their China Jar
money — both their own and that of their friends’ jars.
“As the piles of quarters started adding up, I realized I
was close to $100 with more still to count,” she says. “I became very hopeful.”
When she finished, the total came to $164.99. At the bank,
Chelsea found a penny on the floor.
The Hendrens consider that one of their many “God signs.”
Another came a year after they started the adoption process, when they saw the
photo of a 2-year-old girl whose assigned American name was Hailey.
“When we first saw her picture, I thought she was the most
beautiful thing,” Angie says. But they also realized she would need surgery.
A large, hairy growth covered half the girl’s face, and they
did not know its implications.
“I could not put my kids through losing another sister,”
They researched her condition and prayed. In January 2008,
the Hendrens brought their daughter home from China. In fact, the day they met
her, Jan. 20, was exactly seven years after Hailey’s death. Kyle and Angie
named their daughter Miranda Joy Zhu Dan Hendren.
The adoption process totaled some $24,000, about half of
which was travel expense. Bills beyond the adoption included deductibles on
Miranda Joy’s surgeries. The Hendrens are planning multiple plastic surgeries
and a reconstructed eyelid before Miranda Joy starts kindergarten.
“We can’t imagine our lives without her, and it brings tears
to my eyes that we could have chosen to ignore God all those months ago when we
were sure we couldn’t finance an adoption or add another child to our family,”
Angie says. “God was and always is faithful.”
TIA JOHNSON is a wife, mother and writer and lives in
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