Chuck and Kim Walker's lives would change forever when they adopted a one-month-old baby from a Chinese orphanage. The year was 2003, and the poor thing was found abandoned in a shoebox.
Naturally, their hearts bled with sympathy and sadness, and it wasn't long before the couple made the bold choice to adopt her from her orphanage and take her back with them to where they lived in Texas. However, when she settled into her new home, nearly 8,000 miles away, it was her reaction to the couple's family clock that would change everything.
Devout Christians Chuck and Kim Walker have been in love for over 30 years. Marrying in 1982, the couple wasted little time in starting a family, and two years later they welcomed their first son, Brad, in 1984.
The Walkers appeared to be living life the way they intended, and more good news followed when Kim was pregnant for the second time. Yet tragedy would soon follow.
Only a year and a half after Brad’s birth, they lost their second boy at birth. A gut-wrenching experience, Chuck, and Kim were nonetheless determined to add to their family.
So instead of trying to conceive naturally, the Walkers entertained other ideas, with adoption often being mentioned.
But it was the complicated process that put the couple off the idea, and with life moving as fast as it does, 16 years had passed before they finally took the plunge.
The year was 2000, and Chuck and Kim eventually adopted a baby girl called Caitlyn. But even then, things just didn't feel complete.
“Three years later we just had it in our hearts that, you know, God had a plan for another daughter in our lives,” Chuck told the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) in 2015.
And it appeared God was listening. Thousands of miles away, in the Hunan Province of China, a passerby stumbled across a discarded paper box outside a train station.
After looking inside, the stranger found a month-old baby clad in a blue coat.
The infant had obviously been abandoned, and it's likely the stranger might have looked inside because couples abandoning baby girls is a common practice in China.
After all, many families want a boy so they can carry on the family name, and because of the one-child policy that was then in place, many discarded their baby girls so they could try for another and hopefully conceive a boy. Thankfully, the baby was found and soon found love and sanctuary in a local orphanage.
“When we heard about all the baby girls in China that needed forever homes, God just said that’s where you gotta be,” Chuck added. “So, we made plans, and God matched us up with Mackenzie Grace Walker.”
"We fell in love the moment we saw her picture,” Kim said. “We couldn’t get there soon enough.” So after an adoption agency alerted them to little Kenzie, they flew the Walkers to China with 13 other American couples, each hoping to adopt a Chinese child.
In less than two days, all the necessary paperwork had been finalized, and Kenzy was on a plane with the Walkers destined for Texas. In their eyes, Kenzie was perfect, and their dream family was finally complete. However, it was when Kenzie noticed their family clock that the Walkers realized they may have also adopted a girl with a remarkable gift.
It may sound strange, but it was the old grandfather clock that proved the muse for the start of something great for Knezie. You see, every time the clock stroke the hour, in their kitchen, Kenzie would imitate the sound it made- almost to perfection.
Kim revealed the day the couple first witnessed their daughter's talent. "She heard it chime, and she walked up to it and looked at it and mimicked the sound – exactly on pitch."
It soon became apparent that the Walkers had a naturally gifted singer in their house. “Wherever we went she would hum along with music,” Kim said. “It became obvious that it was just a part of who she was.”
In the subsequent years, Kenzie’s passion for singing increased, and she would regularly host and perform at her home as her friends and family became a makeshift audience. “I honestly don’t remember a time I never sang,” Kenzie later admitted, years later, to CBN. “I started singing everywhere.”
But her talents wouldn't only be noticed by friends and family. After honing her talents, Kenzie found herself performing in front of thousands, singing the national anthem at a Houston Astros baseball game.
“The first time she walked out on that big field she was, you know, 50 pounds – a tiny little girl. My heart was pounding,” Kim excalimed to CBN. “It was overwhelming, and she walked out and just belted it.” Better still, Kenzie was asked to return two more times.
It was this exposure that led Kenzie's talents to be noticed by noted music producer, Mark Carman. A Grammy-nominated producer thanks to his work with country music star T. Graham Brown, Carman spotted Kenzie's talents after she was booked as a guest performer in Lubbock, Texas. Impressed with her unique voice, Graham approached the Walkers with the view of a recording contract.
With the guidance of a top music producer, Kenzie recorded Simple Gifts, her debut album, in a famed studio in Nashville. It marked a dramatic turnaround for a girl who had started her life in one of the worst ways imaginable. “I just kind of flashback and I remember when I was even five and starting voice lessons. I’m like, ‘Mom I wanna be a famous singer,’” Kenzie recalled.
Of course, achieving fame at such a young age was something that took a while to sink in for the remarkable little girl. “It’s really unbelievable,” she added. “I’m like, ‘Oh, I’m actually here. I’m not in a dream. This is for real.’”
Of course, Kenzie's success also made her parents incredibly proud, even if the press attention has been a little too much at times. “That’s a little overwhelming to a couple of parents,” her father admitted.
"We’re just a normal family, and to watch all those children gather around her and want her picture made and just [to see their] smiling faces. It’s just so much fun. You can’t get any better than that as a parent.”
Thanks to her singing abilities, Kenzie is now using the power of her voice to help spread the Christian message. On top of this, she is involved in the building process of a new orphanage to help kids in her homeland fulfill their potential.
“There are kids out there who are still an orphan, and they don’t have a family,” she said. “I need to help them because God helped me, and through God, I can help them.”
And on behalf of everyone here at OMG Lane, thank you, Kenzie, for teaching us that anything is possible.