Chad's Testimony

I’m a mechanical engineer and the father of four beautiful children:  my daughter, Elliana, who is 11, my son, Kael, who is in heaven, my son Jaevan, who is 4, and my daughter, Aria, who is 4.  My life was empty till our Lord Jesus Christ saved me and changed me into who I am today.  I grew up in a church-attending home, but I never had a personal relationship with God.  I went to college, got a job, got married and then had Elliana.  To the world, I had everything I needed.  Spiritually, I was empty and unfulfilled.  At the time, I was OK with that, but unknown to me, as we prepared for the birth of our second child, God was about to take my world, turn it upside down, spin it around, and throw it across the room.  My faith, my marriage, and my life was about to change….

Kael Xavier

Our second child and first son, Kael Xavier Reickard was born on August 18, 2004.  After only one week at home, we realized that something was seriously wrong with him.  We took him to the hospital and his bilirubin was off the chart so we were told to go immediately to the University of Iowa Hospital in Iowa City, Iowa.  Once there, the doctors discovered that Kael was in liver failure and would need a liver transplant, which would take place at Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago.  Once we arrived, the doctors told us that babies rarely survive transplants until they are at least three months old.  In order for Kael to survive his transplant, he needed to stay alive long enough to reach three months old.  So, for the next six weeks, we lived at the Chicago Ronald McDonald house and visited Kael in the hospital every day.
Kael almost made it three months, but the Lord took him home the morning of October 7th, 2004 and was laid to rest on October 10, 2004 in Davenport, Iowa. 

Crumbling into Ashes

I can’t even begin to describe what it’s like to lose a child.  I felt empty… like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.  Back then, I was not saved so I did not turn to the Lord.  Instead, I went in the opposite direction – I blamed God.  I was angry with Him for letting my son die.  I spent most of my time grieving over my son and being angry with God.  How could He do this?  Why did I deserve to lose a son?  Why did an innocent child have to suffer so much?  How could a loving God do such a thing?
In the fall of 2005, which was about a year after Kael died, we decided to try to have another baby.  Kristin got pregnant and then after six or seven weeks, lost the baby.  Are you kidding me?  Not only did I lose a child, but I can’t have any more?  My anger exploded!  I declared to my wife that we were done having any kids whatsoever.

Harvest Bible Chapel

Before the miscarriage, my wife discovered a new church in the area and visited one Sunday when I was out of town.  She loved it.  They preached truth without apology, and fed her with God’s word, which she had been craving.  When I came, she told me all about this new church, but I was hesitant.  After several weeks, I finally agreed to give this new church a try.  I wasn’t sure about the church, but I liked the music, which was contemporary Christian.  We began to faithfully attend this new church in the late fall of 2005 and for the next year, seeds were planted in my soul.  Harvest preached God’s word with boldness, and without apology.  I slowly began to realize that not only did I need to hear the truth, but I needed a Savior.  That summer, I gave my life to Christ and began my journey of dedicating my life to serving God and repairing the relationship with my wife, my daughter, and all those around me.

Once I placed God at the center of my life, my marriage and my family, everything fell into place.  Just like Saul, the scales fell from my eyes! (Acts 9:18)  I used to think abortion and homosexuality were OK, but now I know they wrong and an abomination to God (Romans 1: 26-32).  The relationship with my wife has never been better!  Loving her and nurturing her as God intended completely changed our marriage.  By using the Lord’s word to teach and discipline my kids, I know that God is pleased in the direction they are heading in their faith.  We are now serving in Children’s Ministry at church – giving our time and energy to assist in bringing more kids to Jesus.  My life has purpose now and I look forward to the day I meet and kneel before my Savior!

Receiving Beauty

After the miscarriage, my wife was already thinking about adoption, but I would have nothing to do with it.  This was mostly due to my anger, but I had also never pictured having kids that were not biological.  It didn’t make sense to me how a child, that wasn’t biologically mine, could love me as their father.  Once I gave my life to Christ, and began to study the bible, my heart slowly softened and I came to realize that it might actually be possible for a Father to love a child that wasn’t biologically his.  So I told my wife one morning at Church that I was ready to start the adoption process.

We found an agency, filled out all the paperwork, and began the long process of waiting.  We started with China, but after a year of waiting, switched to South Korea.  Oh how God closes doors and opens others.  We thought we were starting over on the South Korea list, but after only 30 days, we received a referral late January of 2007.  A little boy named Jee Sauk was waiting for us in South Korea.  We immediately accepted the referral and began the process of bringing him home.  Jaevan Jee (“JJ”) arrived into the United States on September 3, 2008.

Defending the Fatherless

We initially started the adoption process to add another child to our family.  We believed we were blessing the life of the child we were adopting.  In the end, JJ blessed our lives beyond comprehension.  Here we thought we were blessing him, when in turn God used JJ to bless us.  We have learned so much about God’s heart since JJ joined our family.  Through His commandment to “Defend the Fatherless” (Isaiah 1:17) and to “Look after Orphans” (James 1:27), I slowly began to realize that I have a responsibility to the orphan, as one of God’s people, while we are here on Earth.  Even though I’m a fairly new believer, I now understand God’s love for adoption since He adopted me into His family by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:5).

Round Two

In the summer of 2010, my wife approached me about adopting another child.  We were only able to afford JJ’s adoption by getting a loan, which we are still paying off.  I told her that before we could consider another adoption, I would need a new higher paying job.  Oh, how God is faithful to his children!  Two weeks later I received a job offer from a large family-owned company.  I don’t normally get obvious signs from God, so I could not ignore this one!  I gladly took the new job, leaving my current job of 12.5 years.

We started praying on what country we should choose.  We again, felt led to adopt from China, but this time through the special needs program.  It was difficult trying to decide which special needs our family could handle, but our social worker insisted that we be honest with ourselves and put down only those conditions that we felt we could handle.  We did, and mailed our application along with the small application fee.

When we sent in our application, I had no idea where the money would come from.  I just knew that if I was obedient to God, that He would be faithful to us.  I shocked my wife by informing her that we need to ignore the fact that we didn’t have the funds, and instead have faith in God, trusting that He would provide.  Can you imagine the surprise on her face?  Her husband, who used to be destined for hell, who never knew God, who used to live for worldly things, had now turned his life completely around and was stepping out in obedience by trusting in his Savior.

This adoption would be different.  This time, we desired to be obedient to God.  We had room in our home for another child and God had placed a love for the orphan in our hearts.  Have I mentioned God’s faithfulness?  With the help of numerous friends and donations, we had an adoption garage sale in the spring of 2011 and raised almost one-third of the money we needed!  Then we were able to raise the remaining funds by deducting from various investments.

One week after the garage sale, God blessed us again!  We received our referral!  Jiang Si Qing is a little three year old girl living in China with CHD, which is Congenial Heart Disease.  Remember how we filled out all the special needs that we felt we could handle?  Well, God had other plans for us!  We never wrote down CHD.  Our social worker just sent us the referral and said “I know you didn’t write down CHD, but see what you think.”  See what we think?!?  How can I look on this beautiful little child of God and turn my back to her?!?  God could only be more explicit by sending an airplane to write “Adopt Jiang” across the sky!  We accepted and traveled to China in November of 2011 to pick up Aria Jiang Reickard in Nanchang, Jiangxi, China.

God’s way is better

As I look back at my life, I can’t believe how much patience the Lord has.  God could have given up on me a long time ago, but instead, He waited for me…  and waited… and waited.  Even through all my sins, curses, and disobedience.  Can you image your child being that way – for YEARS?!?  DECADES?!?  God’s love, grace, and mercy are much more than we can ever comprehend in this life.

Someday, I’ll understand God’s plan for me, my family, and my children, but until then, I’ll continue to have faith in Him, keep reading His word, and strive for righteousness.  God’s way is best and if we turn from our sinful selves, accept His gift of salvation and repent, He will bless His children.  He will not leave us as orphans (John 14:18).