Here is the last picture of the four children together, taken when we took Luke, AJ & Victoria to camp on August 23, 2010:
So many have asked what happened with Lily and so I thought I'd share our latest family/church newsletter which tells the story:
Dear Praying Friends, October 1, 2010
My husband asked me to write our prayer letter this time. Thank you so very much for your prayers and support. God is so good and we are honored and humbled to have the privilege of serving Him here in Welland.
You may already know that in January of 2009 Family and Children Services placed a little 5-month-old baby girl named Lily in our home. In January of 2010, the process of adopting Lily began. Lily's biological parents both agreed that they would sign the necessary papers to allow us to adopt Lily. What a process! We were required to attend 9 weeks of PRIDE training classes at FACS, be fingerprinted and get criminal background checks from all three states where we had lived and undergo a very extensive, invasive SAFE home study including private interviews with each member of our family. Once we were approved to adopt, Lily's parents went on two separate occasions to sign the papers at the lawyer's, but refused. We had made it very clear that we were very willing to keep Lily, but only if it was permanent. Back in May of 2009, at a big family meeting set up to formulate a plan for Lily's future we said that if the family did not want us to keep her permanently then one of them needed to step up right then and take Lily. At that point she had only been in our home for 4 months. We knew that as time progressed it would just get increasingly hard on both Lily and our family if she left.
The day Lily's parents refused to sign for the second time Lily was removed from our home and placed into foster care. Our hearts were broken; we were absolutely devastated. Lily was so upset that she would not eat or drink for several days and cried so much she had many, many nosebleeds in just those first few days. She ended up in such bad shape that she was admitted into the hospital. From what we have heard since then, she is doing better, which is a huge answer to prayer. Please pray for Lily as she adjusts.
Thank you for praying for our family. This has been by far the hardest thing that I have ever had to face, including our accident. We have perfect peace that God's will prevailed. There were so many people praying for God's will to be done. I truly believed that we were going to be able to adopt Lily. As Jesus prayed in Matthew 26:39, "...O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt." I prayed, "Lord, please let her stay, but more than that, let your will be done." I don't like it at all and I can’t begin to understand it, but I do know that God is God and that He is very good and that He loves us very much. Please pray for our whole family, but especially Luke, AJ & Victoria as they cope, adjust, grieve and heal from the loss of their baby sister. I think about Lily all the time and miss her so much, but have unspeakable joy and peace in this wonderful life God allows me to live. It's amazing the impact of one little baby girl on the lives of me, my husband, our children, our church and our extended family. We will all forever have such precious memories of Lily's time with us.
Summer is over and school has started. Fall is here and the leaves are changing and we've gotten our sweaters out. We celebrated the 6th anniversary of the first Sunday of Beacon Baptist Church this month. Our deacon, Joel Wellard, was ordained and became our associate pastor. God has been blessing! It is thrilling to see our church folks gain an increased passion for lost souls and become even more aware of the fields of Welland that are so ready for the harvest. Please pray for power and boldness as we spread the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ among souls in darkness.
Your servants for Jesus' sake,
The Harris Family
Jeff, Virginia, Luke, AJ & Victoria