Meet Lisa Murphy: author, wife, and mother to four treasures from China. After suffering an overwhelming loss, Lisa now spends her days honoring her son's memory through helping medically fragile children and the families longing to bring them to their forever homes.
Your family has been built through adoption. In fact, through the gift of adoption, you and your husband have become parents to five children. Having completed five adoptions, what do you think are the easiest and hardest parts of the adoption process?
Speaking specifically to the process itself, I think I’ll substitute “most rewarding” for “easiest” parts because it speaks truth, and this sums it up, to me:
1.Hardest: Overcoming Fear
Most rewarding: The joy of saying yes once you overcome those fears
2. Hardest: The financial obstacles
Most rewarding: Witnessing the finances fall into place through fundraising, grant-writing efforts and the gracious generosity of others.
3. Hardest: The mountain of paperwork
Most rewarding: Receiving those major and long-awaited dossier milestones, including government and agency approvals, throughout the process
4. Hardest: So many things are out of your control
Most rewarding: Knowing in your heart—the second you meet your child—why you weren’t in control at all, because this was all set into place long before you’d ever even known your child existed.
What led you to start the adoption conversation? Who first had the idea to adopt— you or your husband?
I went to my annual ob-gyn appointment back in 2004, and my doctor began grilling me with questions, "Do you want a family? Do you want kids?". I wasn't 100% sure at the time, but I did know one thing with all my heart...my husband would be the best dad in the world, and I wanted that for him. She handed me a large white packet from an adoption agency called Wide Horizons for Children and gave it to me to take home and look over. They'd just received it in their office that week. I don’t believe in coincidences.
I took that packet home and studied it for days. Jimmy too. We read up on all the various country programs. But God had planted a seed in Jimmy at the young age of fourteen. As a ninth-grade student at Clawson High School in Clawson, MI, he'd remembered learning about the "Dying Rooms" in China—rooms where countless unwanted baby girls cried and cried, until their little bodies had no more fight, and they cried themselves into the arms of our Lord. Jimmy knew that he wanted to go to China to adopt one of those baby girls. And I was perfectly content with that idea. God had revealed His perfect Plan, and the rest is history.
It took time and glorious unfolding, but I look back now, in awe, eleven years later since our first child came home. We've now completed five China adoptions, and the Lord has changed the course of our lives forever. These children have blessed us beyond measure. They may not have my blood, but they have my heart. And they are mine, all because He spoke to me that day through someone else. I am so very glad I listened.
In 2010, shortly after he came home from China, your two-year-old son Daniel tragically passed away due to complications from open-heart surgery. And yet in spite of this, you and your husband have since adopted three more children. What has led you to keep pursing adoption even after suffering such an enormous loss?
Even though we suffered such a great loss leaving a God-sized hole, I feel like we also received the grace to fill that hole despite the anguish. And that grace somehow opened our eyes and our hearts even further for the Fatherless. We knew that our sweet angel, Daniel, would want that for our family, and we knew that we had enough love in our hearts to adopt again. Adopting more children didn’t “replace” Daniel or change our love for him, and it never will. Our souls were truly transformed through that boy, and we continue to remember and honor him in many ways. I truly am grateful that the Holy Spirit inspired me to preserve his story through my memoir, With an Open Heart. It helps keep his sweet little spirit alive.
In memory of your son, you’ve started a non-profit for medically fragile orphaned children. How have you seen God use this so far, and how do you hope He will use this in the future?
I am constantly amazed at how the projects, through the Holy Spirit, find their way to us. And he has brought the funding for them through the generosity of so many good people. Our ministry, Open Hearts for Orphans, started in 2016 as a small seed and to watch it take root is incredibly heartwarming. I honestly had no expectations, only a desire to put one foot in front of the other to do good, and it feels like such a miracle to watch it grow and make a difference in our son’s honor. We’ve helped families bring their children home through our “Say Yes” grants. We’ve helped provide life-saving equipment to the doctors who stand for orphans. We’ve helped clothe, feed, and provide basic necessities for orphans as well. We would love for more people to be a part of it all, so please visit our website and Facebook page and share if you would. All proceeds of With an Open Heart go directly to Open Hearts for Orphans as well.
One of the most common reasons people say NO to adoption is because they feel as though they can’t afford it. After five adoptions, what are your thoughts on this?
I love the phrase “If God brings you to it, He’ll bring you through it.” The financial hurdles are there, for sure. But I don’t believe, based on our personal experience, that it is an impossible task. I’ve seen too many families prove otherwise. I’m not saying it’s an easy path and financial gifts are certainly not to be “expected,” but the ways and means do exist. After paying for our first three adoptions with very little assistance, we needed to fundraise for our last two processes. We (I) applied for eleven grants to bring Lulu home last year, and we were blessed to receive four of them. One week before travel and $7,500 left to pay our agency, we were able to miraculously secure a zero-interest loan for the balance due. That monthly payment is a constant reminder that raising our royalty is totally worth the financial burden, however big or small. There are so many terrific organizations, FTN included, who work to support the efforts of adoptive families nowadays, too. The work is hard, but it’s a worthy and beautiful thing to see if pay off through the generous helping hearts of others. And that is a lesson in itself—there are many adoptive families (and people) who feel fundraising is not appropriate and perhaps feel wrong about *asking* for money (my husband was one of them). I feel we need a perspective shift in our society. Prohibiting others from helping is denying them the opportunity to serve in the way they know how. We have to take the focus off of *us* and realize that the fundraising we do is not for us, it is for our child. And through allowing others to help in the process, we find change within our own hearts through the selflessness of others. It is an eye-opening and humbling experience.
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