With tremendous support from our community, the Garmon family made their second adoption a dream come true.
Adoption was something Longwood’s Chad and Kimberly Garmon talked about since the very beginning of their relationship. After having two children of their own – Eli and Rileigh – the couple began exploring adoption and were eventually matched with a child in South Korea named Micah.
“Adoption was always on our heart,” says Chad, who works as the executive director of Christian initiatives at the Central Florida YMCA.
“Our goal was to give a home to a child who otherwise wouldn’t have grown up in a home,” adds Kimberly.
A second adoption, however, wasn’t exactly part of the plan. After adopting Micah in 2014, the Garmons considered their family complete. But an unexpected phone call later that year would quickly change the family’s life once again. The call took Kimberly and Chad back to South Korea for a second time this March to grow their family, and their hearts, once more.
The Life-Changing Call
In October 2017, while Kimberly was sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room, her husband Chad appeared. The appointment was routine, so Chad’s presence took Kimberly by surprise. Chad said he had something he wanted to tell her in person.
“I had no idea what he was about to tell me,” Kimberly recalls. “I thought someone had died!”
The news was good, but no less startling. Chad had just been contacted by Micah’s social worker and learned that Micah’s biological mother had given birth again. Micah had a six-month-old sister in South Korea who was also being given up for adoption. The social worker wanted to know if the Garmons would be willing to help her.
All Kimberly could say was, “I’m going to be a mommy again, and I guess I’m going to have a little girl!”
Kimberly and Chad wanted Micah to be with his sister, and they had no doubt in their minds that they would adopt her. But doing so would be a leap of faith, and that’s exactly what inspired their soon-to-be daughter’s name.
Before making any announcements, the couple talked to Eli and Rileigh. The older kids, after all, had been through the adoption process once with Micah, having traveled with their parents to Korea to bring the young boy home. Eli and Rileigh knew having another sibling – who the Garmons named Faith – would mean helping out and sacrificing more time.
“We wanted to make sure they were on board, and they both were ecstatic,” says Kimberly. “That was another confirmation that this was meant to be.”
On Christmas Eve of 2017, Chad and Kimberly told Micah they were going to adopt his sister. Micah, now six, reacted to seeing Faith’s picture for the first time just as a doting sibling would.
“He looked at her picture and said, ‘She’s cute. She has dark hair like me,’” recalls Chad.
Still, the Garmons had a long, unexpected journey ahead, and they relied on their faith each step of the way.
“We didn’t know anything about Faith – we just knew this was meant to be and she was going to be a Garmon,” says Kimberly. “And if this was going to happen, we said God would get all the credit, because we couldn’t do this on our own.”
Strength in Community
Chad and Kimberly realized how financially challenging it would be to make Faith’s adoption happen. This time, they didn’t have as much time to prepare, fundraise, or apply for grants as they did with Micah’s adoption. But the family quickly began to see the joy and support our community had for their mission to adopt Faith.
“The connection from the community happened when people learned about Micah and his sister’s opportunity to be together,” says Chad. “That’s when people really got excited about it.”
And that’s when the community truly stepped up to the plate in a major way.
“When we had $1,000 payments due, a check would show up in our mailbox the day before,” says Chad. “They came from people who we knew, but we didn’t ever expect them to help the way they did. It was really amazing to see things like this happen over and over again.”
And the support didn’t end there. The Garmons also received two round-trip tickets to South Korea from a local businessman who had accrued more than enough airline miles. Kimberly’s friends threw her a shower to provide all the necessities for Faith including car seats and strollers. Neighbors hosted two different community-wide garage sales in Sweetwater, raising a little more than $4,000. The Garmons’ church, First Baptist Sweetwater, collected a special Mother’s Day offering and donated some of the funds, just as it did for Micah. Kimberly and Chad once again designed 7600 Mile T-shirts to commemorate the long-distance adoption. Sales of the shirts to friends and supporters generated more than $2,000, and money raised through an online campaign was matched by local sponsors within a week.
By the end of their 17-month adoption process, the Garmons had raised more than $26,000 to bring Faith home.
“All around us, little things and big things happened, and the timing was amazing,” says Kimberly.
Table for Six
Chad and Kimberly brought Faith to America on March 8 and were enthusiastically welcomed at Orlando International Airport by dozens of friends and family. They have since been adapting to their new life as a family of six.
Because of Faith’s adjustment to the 14-hour time difference in her new home, Kimberly and Chad have endured their share of sleepless nights, and they are working on establishing a new routine. Micah, Rileigh, and Eli, meanwhile, are enjoying playtime with their new little sister, who turned two in April.
Together, the family loves showing Faith all of her new neighborhood surroundings.
“Faith’s point of reference was Seoul, South Korea,” says Chad. “She immediately started asking about the sound of birds. Coming from a big city, she’s not used to hearing so many nature sounds.”
And although the family will acclimate Faith into American foods and traditions, as they have with Micah, maintaining and celebrating the younger children’s Korean culture is just as important. Kimberly has enjoyed making and introducing the family to new Korean dishes. A weekly family favorite in the Garmon household is bulgogi, a Korean barbecue dish. They also celebrate special occasions at Korean restaurants.
“I look forward to the day where there’s a deeper understanding about the brother/sister relationship and the acknowledgement of the family sacrifice to make that happen,” Chad says of Micah and Faith. “It’s a privilege to have them together, and we have to instill the faith that we have in them. It’s an opportunity for us to change the trajectory of all four of our children’s lives through this adoption process.”
“Our biological children are learning about unconditional love,” says Kimberly. “Whether you are born into a family or not, love is stronger. We all have an opportunity to exhibit unconditional love.”
And one day, as a happy, healthy family of six, the Garmons look forward to traveling back to visit South Korea one more time, together.
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