O’NEILL — Hannah was around 5 months old when she was abandoned in a green space in a town in China.
Hope was just a week old when she was found abandoned near the gates of an orphanage in that same country.
Now, by the grace of God, both girls are happy and healthy and surrounded by a loving family that practically moved heaven and earth to bring them home and provide them with the kind of Christmases the girls otherwise would never have known.
“God has had his hand in it totally,” said Missy Colfack of O’Neill.
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By all appearances, Rex and Missy Colfack were living the American dream. They had three healthy children — BayLee, now 20, Brook, now 16, and Brenna, now 14 — and a thriving business called Missy’s Pampered Pets, which is a pet grooming and boarding facility.
What more could they want?
“Our family has so much love to give. Why not give to a child that needs it?” Missy said.
That's when they felt led to open their hearts and their home to a child with Down Syndrome.
“We can’t really explain it,” Rex said when talking about why the couple are drawn to children with Down Syndrome .
“I truly think God called us to these children,” Missy added.
For years, the family has donated to an organization called Reece’s Rainbow that provides financial support to families hoping to adopt special needs children from all over the world.
“We fell in love with what Reece’s Rainbow does,” Missy said.
In fact, the family decorates a Christmas tree in their home every year with the ornaments they received with a child's photo that they supported through the organization. Their hope was that someday they could adopt one of the children.
In October 2013, they saw a photo of a little girl and “knew she was meant to be our daughter,” Missy said.
So they set the adoption wheels in motion. That involved filling out a plethora of paperwork, participating in a home study and, after being approved, spending time in China.
While there, they visited the province where Hannah’s orphanage was located so they could take custody of her and finalize the adoption. Then they traveled to the American consulate in Guangzhou, China, where she received a medical exam and the papers she needed to come to the United States.
While the process sounds simple and quick, it wasn’t. In fact, it took around two years to complete the requirements. They brought Hannah home in 2015 when she was 5 years old.
Still, Hannah adapted easily to her new life, even though she and her new family had to communicate using sign language for a while. In fact, the transition went so well that the the family started thinking about adopting another girl.
By then, the government of China was making changes to its adoption policies and the process became even more complicated and expensive. But the couple persevered, and they brought Hope home in July 2017.
“Their whole world changed, but they took it amazingly,” Missy said. “They attached to us very fast.”
Today, Hannah is now 8 years old and Hope is 9 years old.
While it’s hard to imagine a mother abandoning a child in a park or at the gates of an orphanage, “some families feel their children may be better off in the orphanage where they can get care they can't provide,” Rex said.
Had the girls not been adopted, they may have spent their lives in an orphanage or some other institution, the couple said.
Which may be the fate of Brady, who they encountered while touring one of the orphanages the last time they were in China.
“This little boy came up to us ... who was so gentle and sweet. We went home but kept talking about him. And we kept praying,” Missy said.
Unfortunately, they didn’t know his name. But Missy had taken a photo of him and was able to track him down.
“I felt a strong voice saying, ‘Keep looking,’ ” Missy said.
They learned that the 11-year-old had been abandoned at a hospital when he was a baby and, for the most part, had spent his life in an orphanage. He was placed with a family for a while, but after he had a seizure, he was sent back to the orphanage.
The couple now have started the process of adopting him, too. Like Hope and Hannah, Brady also has special needs, which hasn’t deterred them from their mission.
“God has his hand in this totally,” Missy said.
If not adopted, Brady’s future is uncertain. He could “age out” of the system and end up on his own, Missy said. But because of his special needs, he could have trouble finding employment.
So, hopefully, in the next few months, he’ll have new parents and five new siblings. If things go as planned, the couple will make their third trip to China early this summer to bring him home.
Now they’re busy raising the $30,000 to $40,000 needed to pay for the adoption. They have received some financial support, including a matching grant from the Tim Tebow Foundation through Lifesong, and are also accepting donations through Reece’s Rainbow.
Having Hope and Hannah in their lives has been a true blessing,” Rex said.
“We can’t imagine our lives without the girls,” she said.
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To learn more about making a donation to the family, visit https://reecesrainbow.org/127410/sponsorcolfack-3 or https://mystory.lifesongfororphans.org/stories/colfack-family-adoption/