Since we are starting a new adoption, our second adoption, I feel like we need to update the “About Us” page. Much has changed since we were in the midst of our first adoption. We are still Keith and Kelly. Our two children are now 7 and 8 years old. Koen is our first child, and came to us by birth. Liliana “Li Li,” is our second child and was adopted from China when she was almost 2 years old. Our first year was a little rough, but we’ve come to such a healthy place now, just over five years later. And, now we know we have a third child, somewhere in China. We can’t wait to meet him or her.
Although we were in full-time ministry during our first adoption, we left Cru about 4 years ago so Keith could pursue a dream of his, starting a coffee company. Of course, the initial phase has been a struggle, but it’s come a long way. Venia Coffee Company is gaining recognition as really quality coffee and his sales are increasing.
All this time, we have lived in the same two-bedroom condo that we moved into early in our marriage. We had planned to move before child number 3 came along, but God has other plans. He made it clear to us in November of 2014, that it’s time to begin adoption process #2, for child #3, and so we here we are. We’re excited to see where this journey leads us and to the discover the child he has designed for our family.
More about our family – we homeschool, love Jesus, read a lot of books (at the least the kids do), have a kitty named Luby, enjoy our kids’ sporting events, and enjoy being involved in our church.
Below you can read the “About Us” that stood from 1/2009 until 12/2014:
Kelly, Koen and Keith
We are Keith and Kelly. We found each other at Linfield College, where we were both involved in the Christian groups on campus. In 1999 we started “courting” and August of 2000 Keith asked me to marry him. I said yes and then we got on separate planes and went to different sides of the earth to tell college students about Jesus. We returned 9 months later and were married at the end of 2001. In 2003 we joined staff with Campus Crusade for Christ and now live in the Puget Sound area of Washington where we minister on college campuses. In 2006, our son Koen was born. He is a joy, and talks a ton – sometimes too much.
Before Keith and I even knew each other, the Lord was calling us to adopt. I remember seeing Romanian orphans on TV in the early 90’s, and then traveled to Russia and Ukraine on a short-term mission trip with Eastern European Outreach to see the need among the orphans there. I dreamed of adopting one day. Keith traveled to Latvia with YWAM in the late 90’s and had the same kind of experience. When we started to plan our family, we were both on the same page of wanting to adopt. We didn’t know if we wanted to have biological children at that point. Now we are so glad that we had our biological son. I enjoyed pregnancy and his infancy. Now I feel a little more prepared to be handed a toddler.
We started researching adoption just before Koen’s first birthday and settled on an agency and country (Vietnam) right around when he turned one. We thought we’d bring a child home within a year, but the journey has been long already. Our paperwork went to Vietnam on October 1st, 2007. We were requesting a girl as young as possible, or twins. About a year later, an important adoption agreement, called the MOU expired, and the US was not ready to sign a new agreement, citing some unethical adoption practices and red flags in some of Vietnam’s provinces. Our hope is that the system would be cleaned up, and the country would be open to American adoptions again quickly.
Very little happened soon enough with the Vietnam negotiation process and we read a couple great books about China and the orphans there. Now that I was 30, we met China’s adoption requirement and realized that we could switch from the Vietnam program to the China Waiting Child program within our agency and lose very little of the money we had put in. We prayed and had peace. Early in December of 2008, we moved forward, and our dossier went to China in February of 2009. You can read more about our Vietnam process at our other blog: loveinvietnam.blogspot.com.
Please join us in praying for our daughter, who we have nicknamed Mei Mei (Mandarin for little sister). We look forward to seeing her face soon, and then prayerfully, bringing her home by Christmas of this year. We also look forward to seeing what God will do with the passion for orphans that He has given us.
Thank you for sharing this journey with us. God bless!
Our Love Story:
Keith grew up in Oregon, and I in Washington. We met while attending Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon in 1996. I was a freshmen, and excited to get myself involved in every ministry on campus. Keith was a junior with a “robo arm.” He can tell you that story – but he had an external arm brace on because of a series of surgeries and infections. Anyway, Keith was involved in a couple of the ministries. He was a leader in Campus Crusade on campus, and lived in the house that one of the ministries met at (the Emmaus House which housed 3 Christian students).
We were barely even acquaintances for those first two years. Once Keith graduated, he moved back to Salem (about an hour away) and started working as a surgical tech at the area hospital. I went on a short-term mission trip with Campus Crusade that summer and started dating my first boyfriend. In the fall I moved into the Emmaus House and eventually took the step of faith to be a leader in the Campus Crusade ministry on campus. Every winter Crusade has a big conference right after Christmas. This was the first time I attended, and for some reason, this guy (Keith) who had graduated a year ago, signed up to go too. It was a small group of us from Linfield at this huge conference, and Keith was a welcome member of our group. We spent some time together as a group. At the same time, the guy I was supposedly “dating” long distance was also at this conference, but had very little time for me. Our relationship dissipated, at the same time as my interested in this guy Keith grew.
In January I left for a one-month study abroad program in Ireland, and Keith went back to his job in Salem. I put him in the back of my mind, and went on with my life, always looking for the man I would marry.
The next summer I did another summer mission project, this time in Idaho. My roommate from the Emmaus house was getting married a few hours away in the Tri-cities, and I was a bridesmaid. Guess who was the best man? The memory of the weekend is a bit blurry, but I know I was falling for him over this weekend. The bridal party spent some time together the night before the wedding, and then of course on the wedding day, and even after the wedding we stayed out late stuffing the bride and groom’s vehicle with newspapers while it was parked at their honeymoon hotel. I was giddy, as Keith paid extra attention to me, and we just enjoyed one anothers company.
That fall was my senior year back on campus, and within a few days of classes starting, Kristy (the bride) called one afternoon to see if I wanted to come over for dinner, and Keith would be there too. I knew something was up – it would be just the 4 of us. I immediately got very nervous and tried to make myself look nice in the 30 minutes I had to get ready. I remember the 5 minute drive to their apartment – praying the whole way.
Dinner was a little awkward – a newly married couple that were obviously in love, and Keith and I – just barely even friends. I don’t remember conversation at all, but I know it happened. A week or two later, the same invitation was extended, and Kristy alerted me that Keith “liked” me. We had dinner the 4 of us again, and then went to Dairy Queen for dessert. Keith insisted on paying for my pumpkin ice cream cone (my favorite). I didn’t know how to respond. This whole dating thing was still very new to me – and did that make it an official date, when the man pays for the women?!
Soon he started emailing me, and I of course frantically checked my email often. He asked me out on his own. In November he returned from his first international mission trip to Latvia with a cross necklace for me. That surprised me, as I still didn’t know if we were more than friends.
We would go out maybe twice a month, as I was busy with classes, and he with work. We went to a play once – at which I got a nosebleed and had to slip out during the climax. Embarrassing, yes. We went to the beach once. Keith came and helped with a campus outreach once or twice. I first met his parents when he invited me to a YWAM worship night in Salem. I drove to Salem and me him at his parent’s house while they were eating dinner. It was a brief meeting, and we were off to the YWAM base. Afterward we went to coffee with some of Keith’s friends, and then hung out back at his parents’ place (they were asleep), as we played and talked about worship music. I’ll have to ask Keith if he remembers more.
At Christmas time, Campus Crusade at Linfield had a little party including a white elephant exchange at the Emmaus House. I invited Keith, as he had asked me to do something with him that same day, but I had already scheduled this party. Keith fit right in with the group of my friends and fellow believers. As the night went on, the friends kept leaving, and Keith was still there. We ended up staying up very, very late at night talking, as the while, pulling apart one of those bath loofahs which was an elephant gift.
The spring of my senior year is a blur to me. I had the stress of deciding what to do next on top of the uncertainty of our relationship. As I prayed and searched, I was recruited to go on a STINT (short-term international mission trip) with Campus Crusade for Russia (Siberia to be specific). I decided to go, but did not tell Keith. He hadn’t defined the relationship yet, so I did not know if it was important for me to tell him or not.
In the mean time, Keith was getting his own itching to leave the hospital for some adventurous mission work. He ended up deciding to do a STINT with Crusade as well. When we found out God was guiding us the same way, we were in awe!
In May the regional Crusade office put on a training for all the STINTers, and Keith and I drove together to the retreat. That night of the retreat, we walked down to the Willamette river in the Portland area, and he finally attempted to define the relationship. I don’t remember what Keith said, but in some round about way, I believed he was telling me he was courting me with the goal of marriage. It was not clear however, so in the future days I wondered what he really meant, but never asked for clarification (I was too scared too!). After our conversation, in the dark, I bent over and picked up a rock. I often pick up rocks from places where significant things happened in my life. When I got back to the girl’s dorm where I was staying that night, and into the light, I looked at the rock and discovered that it was shaped very clearly like a heart! Was it a sign?
I invited Keith to come to my graduation a few weeks later, but because he had to work, he could only make it to the dinner afterward with my family (this would be the first time they would meet). The night before graduation, Keith had a dozen red roses sent to me for the rehearsal. They arrived just as my family was helping me move things out of the house I lived in, and my long-time friend’s family was there too. It was quite an audience to see me get my first bouquet of flowers, and I am sure my face turned red, as my heart leaped. He was getting points in my family’s eyes. Was Keith the One?
Summer was spent far apart- I in the Seattle area, living at home, and he in Salem. We were both busily preparing to go overseas for a year, and raising our financial support. I made several trips down to Oregon to meet with potential supporters, and we would spend time together then. Keith came up for my roommates wedding, which also happened to be on my 22nd birthday. He stayed at my parent’s house, and got to know them a little better. We both volunteered to drive vans together a the Freedom fest concert in the Gorge.
Keith invited me to his family’s for July 4th, which is a pretty big holiday to the family, as it is also Keith’s mom’s birthday. Keith had family from out of town visiting too. I was nervous to spend time with them, but from what I remember, it was enjoyable.
As summer went on, I was praying more and more about our relationship. In early August, I realized that I loved Keith. No one thing made me realize this, just a gradual growth in our relationship and knowledge of who he was. Early that month, while I was in Oregon, Keith took me to Pacific City on the Oregon coast for the afternoon.
Keith and I at the beach – summer of 2000
We found a neat little cave made out of sand and sat in it, watching the waves come in at the bottom of it. It was a magical day. We took lots of pictures and enjoyed one another, knowing that a separation was in the near future as we went on our mission trips. Later, Keith informed me that he had wanted to propose in that moment, but had a hard time getting a ring in time. He didn’t realize how expensive rings were, and couldn’t afford it until after his next paycheck.
A week before we were to go abroad, I was back in Oregon. Every time I went down I would stay with a friend at the Emmaus house. Keith invited me out to his parent’s place for dinner. I think we had corned beef and cabbage, which is a favorite now. Keith sister was now also living there as she had just returned from England, and I met her for the first time. Both Keith and I needed tennis shoes for our year abroad, so we went to GI Joes in town, but were unsuccessful. On the way back to his parents’ place, we stopped at Minto Brown Park on the Willamette River (same reason we had the DTR talk).
We walked a little ways off the main path and sat on some rocks along the shore to watch the sunset. I don’t remember much of the conversation, but Keith asked what my plans were for after STINT. My STINT leader had just asked everyone on my team to consider lengthening the trip from one to two years, so I told him I was praying about that, but was unsure. Keith said he was thinking a lot about it too, and praying. Then he said something like “I have a ring.” I didn’t know what he meant, and assumed he was saying that once we got back from STINT, he would propose. But, then he started digging in his pocket, and pulled out a little box. He asked me to marry him – which was shocking, but also a dream come true. I said yes, we prayed together for the first time. We held hands for the first time. I remember wanting to burst out singing “For You are good, For You are good, For You are good to me,” one of my favorite worship songs.
Taken at the park, just after the proposal
We walked to the car holding hands – such a strange and fun feeling. We talked about how we would tell our parents – none of whom knew this was coming. We told Keith’s family, including his sister whom I had just met, and called his other sister in Boston, whom I had never met. We called my family and asked them both to get on the line. My dad said he knew it was coming. We called Drew and Kristy, the couple that had helped get it all started. I drove back to McMinnville late that night, singing “For You are good!…” as loud as I could, filled with joy and so thankful for God’s goodness to me. I shared the good news with Bethany, the friend I was staying with. We celebrated by sharing a York Peppermint patty (I still have the wrapper in my ring case), and I slept on her bedroom floor.
For years I was convinced that I would never marry, and now God had given me one of the nicest and godliest men.
But, I was so surprised at his proposal because it was unexpected. I knew at this point I was going to marry Keith, but I still felt like I barely knew him. I was still rather awkward around him and careful of my every word.
A week later, after preparing frantically, praying hard, and seeing God provide all our funds, we were off. We both went to a STINT briefing in Budapest, Hungary, where we met some of our teammates for the first time. We went through the emotional roller coaster of loving being together and sharing the good news with people, to dreading the day we would head separate directions. We did morning devotions together, and one day walked to an old church where Keith told me he loved me for the first time. I don’t remember how I responded.
Then, the dreaded day came. I helped Keith pack up, and then hugged him in his black leather coat in the main lobby. I was numb, but I told him I loved him. I was so scarred of the next year – being apart from the man my heart had bonded with in two weeks time since our engagement. I didn’t know how the Lord was going to prepare us for marriage when we were on different sides of the world. I remember the colors of the sunrise from the van windows, and praying all the way that God would give me strength.
I loaded into a van with my teammates, afraid to let the tears start rolling, knowing they might not stop, and still not completely comfortable with my teammates. Soon I was on a plane for Moscow, while Keith was on a train to Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Slovenia – where Keith lived
Kelly lived in Ulan Ude – near the lake in the middle/south of Russia
My team joined another STINT team heading to a different area of Russia for another week of training in Moscow. That is where the tears started flowing. They must have thought I was crazy. I remember walking down streets with the group, but walking in between clusters of people, with my big hood on, just crying, hoping nobody knew.
Well, we made it through the year. We saw each other twice. Keith came out for Christmas, (our first Christmas together), and I went to Slovenia in January for our vacation. We talked now and then, but communication was frustrating. I never knew what to say on the phone, but as soon as the annoying Russian system cut us off after 20 minutes, I had all kinds of things to say. Much of the time Keith had no email access, but even though I wrote him often, I didn’t get as many replies as I wanted. I didn’t know how God was going to bring us together – to make us one – in time for our wedding when we were so far apart.
Our STINTs were cut short when we received word in May that Keith’s dad was very sick. The doctor, a close family friend, recommended Keith come home, that Bill might not make it much longer. Keith wanted me to be there, and have a chance to know more of Bill before he was gone. I was on a retreat in Moscow with my teammates at the time, and finally got the okay to leave. I didn’t have much of a chance to say good-bye to the Russian friends I had made. I never really got closure to the year. One morning, all too soon, yet not soon enough, I was in another van, this time leaving the Moscow hotel for the airport. I cried as I said good-bye to my teammates, who had brought me through the last 9 months, and would carry on without me.
Keith and I met up in London, on our way home. We spent time with Keith’s family and soon saw his dad’s health improve. Bill lived several more years, but died in 2005, just before we found out we were pregnant with Koen. We wish we could have shared the news with him.
We prepared for marriage by driving back and forth each week- between Seattle and Salem. We took a marriage class in Seattle every Monday, and met with the pastor in Salem that would marry us once a week. We would stay at each others parent’s houses. God used these 8 months of being in the same country to help us really get to know and get comfortable with each other. I remember the first time Keith accidentally farted audibly in front of me. We cooked meals together. We went to church together. We started to make more mutual friends.
On December 29th, 2001, we were married at a Kirkland First Baptist Church. And we lived happily ever after……?