6-Year-Old Receives Special Christmas Gift From International Mission Board President Paul and Michelle Chitwood

Lilly Chitwood’s face lit up when a family court judge officially declared her the daughter of Paul and Michelle Chitwood on Thursday (Dec. 6), in Louisville, Ky. The Chitwoods had fostered Lilly through Sunrise Children’s Services for three years. Photo by Robin Cornetet/Kentucky Today

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) — Sure, 6-year-old Lilly has the typical wish list for Christmas, including Barbie dolls and a dollhouse. But it was something much more meaningful that she longed for most: a family of her own.

For the past three years, Lilly had been in foster care through Sunrise Children’s Services, a Kentucky Baptist organization that ministers to abused and neglected kids. Her story is one that has become all too familiar to Kentucky authorities in a culture where drug addiction is rampant.

As a toddler, Lilly faced tough times and was well acquainted with hunger while she was in the care of a drug-addicted birth mother.

Those days are long passed now, because she got what she was hoping for in a Louisville courtroom Thursday morning (Dec. 6). Judge Derwin L. Webb decreed that she is now the adopted daughter of Paul and Michelle Chitwood. Paul, a former pastor and executive director of the Kentucky Baptist Convention, was elected in November as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board. Following Chitwood’s election as IMB president, he said the providential timing of the adoption proceedings was among factors that confirmed God’s leading to the IMB.

When Judge Webb handed Lilly the gavel, she pounded on the judge’s bench and declared: “This adoption is final.”

The finalized adoption was the culmination of a long journey for the Chitwoods, who, as foster parents, fell in love with Lilly as soon as she arrived in their home three years ago.

“When we first got Lilly, we could tell that this 3-year-old had been in a very difficult situation,” Paul said. “She had head lice and bedbug bites. The first night she was with us, when Michelle tucked her into bed, she asked a question: ‘Will we have food tomorrow?’ She continued to ask that question for several nights until she realized that she would never go hungry in our home.”

Michelle, a public school teacher for the past 20 years, said the food issue weighed heavily on the little girl’s mind.

“After about a week of trying to reassure her she would have food the next day, I placed a bowl of Cheerios beside her bed, and that was the fix,” Michelle said. “She never worried about food after that.”

Living with the Chitwoods was supposed to be temporary, perhaps a few months until her birthmother was able to get off drugs and get her life back on track. That never happened, and little Lilly was put up for adoption. The Chitwoods didn’t hesitate.

“As soon as we found out that we could adopt Lilly, I knew we would move mountains to make her adoption happen,” Michelle said.

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Source: Baptist Press