The greatness of redemption in a story is directly tied to the greatness of the struggle that was overcome to get there. A child doesn't grin from ear to ear when they learn how to ride a bike without first having fallen down on the pavement. A 50th wedding anniversary doesn't get a celebration because it was 50 years of blissful ease. Easter isn't a story of salvation without a crucifixion.

These stories are everywhere around us. We want to share one about our good friends, John and Jess. We love this couple, and we owe a special part of our own relationship to them. John and Jess hosted the 2008 New Years Eve party that was responsible for getting us back together, and set us in motion to quickly get engaged and married. You could say we owe every blessing in our existing state in life to John and Jess.

We wanted to share about how John and Jess became parents this year after they have been trying to start a family for six years. Six years, a lot of fertility tests and procedures, and no closure from a diagnosis that said there's no reason why they can't have kids. This May, John and Jess returned from South Korea with a one and a half year old little girl, Hannah. This is their beautiful story.

We drove to Laurel, Maryland at the end of January as John and Jess prepped their house for the arrival of their daughter, Hannah. At this point they had been approved to adopt Hannah for months, had seen her pictures and videos, and were patiently waiting to receive word on when they could fly to South Korea to bring her home. The process was dragging on longer expected and they were full of nervous excitement mixed with the fear that something could fall through.

In early March they had still not received word that they could bring Hannah home, and so they did something more bold. They moved to South Korea. We went back to their house again right before their departure and learned about how they expected to be able to gain custody of Hannah shortly after moving to Korea. They decided they would rather be a family now rather than wait for the unknown date of approval. We sat on their front porch, looking through pictures of Hannah, and talked about what it would be like to live in a foreign country on the other side of the world, start a family, and deal with so many unknowns, including when they could come home.

On March 28th, the journey began from Dulles Airport to the other side of the world.

What happened over the next two months was the happiest part of the story, and we were honored to be able to follow along their private family blog during their stay in South Korea. John and Jess were united with Hannah a few days after their arrival and they lived together in an apartment in Seoul. The transition went incredibly smooth and Hannah warmed up to them quickly. The Norton Family began!!! Not long after they received approval to bring Hannah back to the United States and travelled home at the end of May.

In late June we went back to their home to meet Hannah. She is gorgeous, and so full of joy and life. John and Jess were glowing. Six years of waiting for this moment; for this little girl; and she is so loved.

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