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downs syndrome

March 07, 2012

I first met Lee Dyck at a men’s retreat. I had been asked to lead a retreat for the men of his church and over the course of the weekend he told me about Emma, the daughter who had just been adopted into his family. That was a couple of years ago now, but just recently our paths crossed and I asked him how Emma was doing. As he filled me in I realized that I wanted to do a full interview with him. He had his wife Anna were kind enough to do that. Read it and be encouraged!

Tell me about yourself and your family.

My wife Anna and I have been married for 16 years, we have four children: Nathan 14, Corina 9, Emma 4 and Cameron 2. I am a pastor at First Baptist Church in Arnprior, just outside of Ottawa.

Did you plan to adopt and then decide to adopt a child with Down syndrome? Or right from the beginning was your desire to adopt and your desire to adopt a special needs child one and the same?

I had just graduated seminary and was serving a church in Edmonton. At the time we had two healthy children, our youngest was 2 and finally becoming a little more independent. We had a church who loved us, our housing was provided, life was comfortable. One night my wife and I listened to John Piper preach a sermon called Predestined for Adoption which really opened our eyes to the beauty of adoption. Around this time God had also really given us a passion for the sanctity of human life. Anna was volunteering as a peer counselor at the local Pregnancy Care Center but we felt God calling us out of our comfort zone to do something more. We knew He was calling us to adopt and we knew we wanted to adopt where there was a need. We began exploring that a bit not knowing exactly where God was leading us until we learned the startling reality that 80-90% of babies diagnosed with Down syndrome during pregnancy were being terminated. After realizing that, there was no turning back for us. We both had had people in our lives with Down syndrome that we loved dearly and were overjoyed at the thought of welcoming a child with Down syndrome into our family. Still there were friends and family worried about the stress this would put on our family and we ourselves knew that it would be challenging . And yet we also knew that God calls us to step out in faith and pursue the hard things in life for His glory and that His grace would be sufficient to meet all our needs.

How did it happen that you came to adopt Emma?

Not knowing where to begin we went to a private agency and let them know we were specifically looking to adopt a baby with Down syndrome. We were told that they really only saw healthy newborns and our best option would be to go through Alberta Children’s Services as they dealt more with the special needs cases. So we began the long process of paperwork, training, home study, etc. only to find out they really didn’t see babies with Down syndrome either. We followed through though trusting this was where God was leading. Once we became an approved home through A.C.S. we began contacting all the different private agencies just to get our name out there. We followed up on different leads we had heard about but nothing happened for three years. It was during this time, as we began to question our decision, wondering if we were making any progress, that the Lord taught us about the need to wait on Him. As it turned out, God used this time to have us create awareness of the issue in our church and community as well as being interviewed for an article in a national magazine. In the end, we received our phone call from that first private agency we met with. In God’s providence they had decided to keep our names on file, “just in case.”