I know that when we first announced that we were adopting, many people’s first reaction was one of shock. What? How did this come about? Are you doing this through your new church? There were a few close friends with whom I had shared my desire and the fact that I felt called to adopt YEARS AGO, who weren’t surprised. When I told them I had some exciting news to share, their first response was, “you’re pregnant?!” quickly followed by
a shiver and emphatic “oh, dear God, no!” , “you’re adopting?!” But, for those who didn’t have a clue, I figured I’d take a few minutes to fill you in on how this all came to be. In order to do that, we have to go back. Way back. To 2003. Yep, SEVEN YEARS before we began our adoption journey.
In 2003, just prior to the birth of our second child, Eric and I were fortunate enough to be able to put an addition on our home. A fairly large addition. An entire second floor, in fact. Our original home was very
tiny modest -- a 2 bedroom and 1 bathroom ranch with an unfinished basement. We’ll say it was..... cheap cozy. :-) The addition was actually larger than the original house thanks to cantilevers and other construction methods that kind of boggle my mind. The new floor had 3 large bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms, plus 2 large walk-in closets. <cue the heavenly music> I was very grateful for this opportunity to enlarge our home and found that my prayer became, “Thank you, Lord, for this home. Please let us always use it to glorify You.”
Fast forward 2 years. Happy little family living in the bigger house. Eric and I were regularly holding couple’s studies in our home with 4 or 5 other couples. We held some Friday night small groups. We were holding occasional Bible studies in our home. God was hopefully being glorified in our home. My prayer was being answered.
Then, in July 2005, most likely during one of my
insane, neurotic, detailed searchings of the web for some information (probably attempting to diagnose some new injury that Eric had sustained), I stumbled upon an article about an orphanage in Romania. What I read blew my mind. As internet searchings often go, one article led to another, and another. One agencies’ website to another agencies’ website. One shocking statistic after another shocking statistic.
What?! Children actually live in orphanages for their entire lives without EVER knowing the love of a family?! Not all countries have foster care like the USA?! (I know - I was very sheltered and pathetically ignorant.) The children are just asked to leave the orphanage at the age of 16 or 17 with no place to go?! They never have their own clothes or their own shoes or their own toys?! Babies stop crying because they learn that no one is coming to pick them up no matter how much they cry?! With each word that was read, my heart broke piece by piece. Then I read, “do you have room in your home for one more?” and of course, we had just done this addition a few years before, so the answer was yes. And my prayer came back to mind....”Thank you, Lord, for this home. Please let us always use it to glorify You.” and I began to feel called to this. I thought about it and read more and more. I began to pray and was more and more certain.
I read verses like:
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, ...
The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:35,40)
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. (Matthew 18:5)
God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land. (Psalm 68:6)
Yep - we were being called. Surely this was God’s will for our family. So, I talked to Eric about it, fully expecting an affirmative, "YES, this is definitely our calling!"
Surprisingly, he said, “nope. sorry. not going to happen. no way.” I was shocked. What?! How could we NOT do this?! He apologized. He said he was praying about it. He said he’d think about it. “Ooooh, ok”, I thought, “He’s definitely going to change his mind”. I am certain about this. I know it deep in my soul that we’re doing this. I patiently waited and occasionally sent an email with a little quote or a link to a website or a Bible verse that I stumbled upon. I...umm....bought 2 of the comforters for Daniel’s big boy bed because, well, I wanted them to match when we added the second bed!! :-) But, weeks went by. And nothing. He wasn't changing his mind.
Here’s where my
neurotic, crazy, very organized nature becomes kind of fun. I still have the emails that we sent back and forth during this time! It is SO COOL to be able to look back and know that God’s hand was on this the entire 5 years that it took for us to begin this journey. Here’s a quote from the last email that Eric sent to me regarding the idea of adopting (back in Aug. 2005):
As for the adoption, I wish I were inclined towards it. I wish God had
impressed it upon my heart. I don't understand why we have been
differently led in this. I'm guessing there is something larger here
in the works. Where it goes, only He knows. Further, I don't see a
firm schedule to this - all things happen in His time. I'll keep my
heart open, and I'll keep talking to Him about it.
Following this exchange, still a little shocked because I was SO certain that this was our calling, I eventually began to believe “this must have just been MY desire for our family, not God’s will for us”. I kept telling myself, “surely if He was calling us to this, He’d have called BOTH of us!”, so I gave up the idea and accepted that it just was never going to happen.
OK, now fast forward to 2010. Eric and I sponsor a couple of kids through Compassion International. One little boy, named Maxxon, was born on the exact same day as our Daniel. Maxxon lives in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. So, on January 12, 2010, when the earthquake hit, we began praying for him. We watched the devastating news reports and we waited for news from Compassion regarding his safety. We watched the news stories about the Haitian orphans being evacuated to Pittsburgh and about all the newly orphaned children. We saw the government shut down to adoption due to the devastation. And, we just kept praying for Maxxon and his family.
During this time, Eric was home from work one day and we went out to lunch. I was telling him about a recent report that I had seen about the earthquake. And, completely out of the blue, he says, “you know, if you’re still open to adopting, I’m open to it now.” (????!!!!!!)
What?!!!!! That was FIVE YEARS AGO!!!!! I was just accepted into a Master’s program and had finally figured out what I wanted to do for a career when I went back to work.
I just sat, dumbfounded. Every time I started to talk, I would start to cry. It was the strangest lunch date EVER. We barely spoke because neither of us could speak. No. I hadn’t changed my mind. Yes. I still felt called to it. But, I just....I had given up on it ever actually happening. And seriously, you’re just telling me this now?! Couldn’t you have given me a little heads up that you were thinking about it? Did you just now decide this?
He explained that he couldn’t really explain it. That he had felt his heart softening to the idea over the years and that he DID say that he’d keep his heart open to it and keep praying about it. (5 years ago!) :-)
I teased him later about him being SLOW on the uptake, but in all honestly, it is truly amazing to look back and see the things that were taking place during the 5 years to prepare us and to make straight the path. God's timing is perfect! He is amazing!
This post is long enough for today, but I’ll post again soon & explain the 5 years of prep and how we can now clearly see God's handprints along the way.