Adoption: Casey’s Story Part 2

Three months before we were to get our little girl child from China, Susie said to me, “Wouldn’t it be great if they gave us a boy?”

(We already had three biological daughters)

“Sure, that’d be swell,” I said flatly, “but it’s not happening. Unthinkable. Why would you even entertain that thought?”

“Oh, you know…”

“Listen honey, I love my daughters. A boy would be great, but it’s just not in the cards. China does NOT put boys up for adoption, period. Their one child per family rule absolutely guarantees that boys are kept, girls are given up. It is not happening so don’t even think about it.’

“Well”, she said softly, “I’m praying for a boy.”

“Ok, fine—good luck, just don’t get your hopes up.”

I assure you, my hopes were not up for a boy…not until three months later when we got a most unexpected call—not from China, but from our buddies in northern California named Bruce & Rosanne to tell us  about our mutual friend Pastor Chad in Alabama. One of Pastor Chad’s daughters was a drug addict. She had already given up one child for adoption; and now she was pregnant with a second child, —a boy—due any day. Pastor Chad was searching for adoptive parents. Roseanne thought of us.

We had a good relationship with Chad, I felt certain he would be favorable to choosing us as adoptive parents of his grandchild. And a boy! Suddenly, the unthinkable became viable, and I got excited. A boy?…a boy! Again, listen: I LOVE my girls, I’ve always loved girls, I was made for girls! But sweet & sour, milk & honey, black & white—three girls, and now a boy? a camper, a hiker, a ski partner, a grungy little nose picker?? My emotions sky rocketed and China was chucked out the door.

I called Pastor Chad tout de suite—my heart was racing, palms were sweating—high likelihood here we got ourselves a boy! The phone rang 5 times and went to voicemail.

I should have left a short message asking him to call me back— but no, I left a two minute rambling voicemail: We’d heard about his daughter having a boy up for adoption, we’d love to be considered for the role as adoptive parents, jokes about us as in-laws, Alabama Jubilees, visiting rites, I could fake a southern accent, etc., and said ‘Call me back.’

Early the next morning, the nervousness, excitement, anticipation, and building enthusiasm crescendoed when the phone rang with Chad’s name on the caller ID. We greeted each other warmly, and then he got right to the point:

“Dirk, I don’t know how y’all got word about my daughter being pregnant with a boy…but unless something miraculous happened in the last eight days since I last saw her, she is most definitely not pregnant.”

Not pregnant. Oh. I see. Well, —hmm…certainly a misunderstanding—a GOOD misunderstanding for her, yes, I’m— I’m glad she’s not—I’m—good for her that she’s not pregnant….”

Off the call quickly, my heart plummeted. I’d allowed myself to think about having a boy. Hope had arisen; now it was dashed. Hope had aroused me, now I was devastated. My emotions pooled into a low level depression, paralyzed with sorrow. I hated hope.

About four hours later, Susie called. She was crying. Through choking gasps, she said China just called:

“—it’s a boy.”


“They gave us a boy!”

“What are you—how?”

She laughed, cried, sniffled, and explained: They said they had a child for us, and hoped we were ok with this because this was very unusual and it hadn’t been specified on our paperwork, but they gave us a boy. The agency could not explain how this happened, it had never happened —in our social worker’s 12 years experience, she had NEVER seen a healthy boy ‘come across’—Susie broke down in sobs, the worker said ‘Oh dear, does this mean you’re not happy?’—Susie replied ‘Yes, yes we are very happy, and I know exactly why this happened’, explaining she’d prayed for  a boy.

I was stunned, shocked. I did not cry, my jaw just hung open. We got off the phone, and I looked up to God—actually by tilting my head up and ‘looking to God’, I was looking at a painting my Norwegian grandmother had painted for me of Mt Rainier.

I can sum up my grandmother in two words: Love & Norway.  She spoke always & often of Norway, and she loved me unconditionally. She taught me unconditional love. And even when I did wrong and everyone else was mad, she still loved me full throttle. Her love never failed.

She died October 14, 1986. We were two months pregnant with our first daughter, Nikki when Nanny died. I miss her deeply still, and I’m crying as I write this.


So I’m looking at my loving Norwegian Grandmother’s painting asking, “God, how did you—?”

But God interrupted me. He gave me a visual. In my minds’ eye I saw a bearded old man, not unlike Santa Claus, turn to the side and blow a smoke ring. And immediately understood. This was God in his kindness speaking ‘Dirkish’ to me, saying: “Are you kidding? I created deer, I created dogs! You think I couldn’t route a little boy your way??”

Three weeks later we got photos of our boy. A photo shoot in a staged playground, he was dressed in girls’ clothing! In one photo, a head shot, he was wearing a pink blouse with a black logo on front. Girls clothes!…of course: they only do girls from China.

I put the color photo on my printer, hit copy, and it started to come out but in black & white. For some reason I lost my temper and started swearing at the printer, ‘You stupid piece of crap!’—but the contrast of the black & white photo showed that the pink blouse’s logo was not a logo but a phrase. I read it, froze, shocked, sat down, looked up to my Norwegian grandmothers’ painting again, then back to the photo.

In the photo, our little boy from China was wearing a pink blouse that said ‘Love from Norway’.


Conclude what you will, but from my perspective, it is God’s grace in execution, a scent of Gardenia, a kiss to the forehead, proof that Love never fails.

Dirk Mullenger

Raised in NY, college at University of Iowa, year abroad in Paris. Tight with my wife and 4 children. Business, writer, guitarist, skier, drives a convertible. One person’s hindsight is another person’s foresight.

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4 Discussion to this post

  1. Jenn says:

    Wow, how amazing! After reading through this, the last photo gave me chills!

    I saw in your bio you were raised in NY – here too – Buffalo/Niagara Falls area! Hello from NY! 🙂

    • Dirk says:

      Hey New York! thanks for saying hi! …remarkable story, right? I’m writing to you now in the same chair i fell into when i saw the photo myself (and looking up at my grandmother’s painting of Mt Rainer). He’s now 11 years old…not only is that remarkable, but: i need a new chair!

      Thanks for saying hi! :}

  2. renida says:

    I loved this – incredible story 🙂

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