Monday, January 30, 2012
Thursday, January 26, 2012
I've said this several times already, but it hits me more and more as we progress through this process - My life would have so much less meaning and significance if it was left up to me! I'm so thankful that God has a greater purpose and plan for our lives than we ever did for ourselves!
I've also said that this is probably the biggest leap of faith we've taken in our lives thus far. There is so much that is unknown to us and beyond our control, but I feel that all that has happened so far has brought us to this point where we are ready to simply trust. We talk about our "faith" all the time, what better way to act on it!
We've only just started to share this story with all of you and already I am overwhelmed by the encouragement and support. We have recently begun meeting with a financial advisor and shared with him the other day about the plan to adopt. His job, of course, is to be the realist, to think with facts only and to remind us that despite an adoption tax credit, our tax returns and the money from our third vehicle we are trying to sell, there will still be a considerable gap. I loved that he chose that word....it immediately created a picture in my mind of what Christ did on the cross. He closed the gap and made a way for us to live with him for eternity. I have faith that He will provide.
This morning I received a phone call from a good friend from NJ. She shared with me about a large neighborhood yard sale they participate in each year on their street. She asked for my permission to share our story and collect items to sell at this years sale in order to help us raise money. I cannot tell you what a blessing this is. We have our plans to do a yard sale here, but how amazing that a few states away another sale will be taking place to help with this adoption. Again I thought about the word gap. These precious friends of ours are in a sense "standing in the gap" for us. We are humbled by all that God is doing and beyond grateful for the willingness of others to work alongside us!
Saturday, January 21, 2012
So back to sharing that summary of what I've learned.....this is an excerpt (by John Piper) from a book on Adoption that I think just about says it all.....(It's a little long, but SO worth it)
The Foundation of AdoptionThe deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel. Galatians 4:4-5 is as central a gospel statement as there is: “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” God did not have to use the concept of adoption to explain how he saved us, or even how we become part of his family. He could have stayed with the language of new birth so that all his children were described as children by nature only (John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”). But he chose to speak of us as adopted as well as being children by new birth. This is the most essential foundation of the practice of adoption.
Eight SimilaritiesWhat I would like to do is lay out eight similarities between what God did in adoption and what happens in a Christian adoption today. I pray that whether you have adopted, or are engaged in assisting adoptions, or are pondering an adoption, God will use these comparisons to heighten your confidence that God is graciously involved in our adoptions. He has done it himself. He knows what it costs. And he stands ready to support us all the way to the end.
1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:4-5)To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? In the previous chapter, we heard the answer: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It cost God the price of his Son’s life.
There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about the embrace of this cost for the life of a child!
Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish at Bethlehem. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.
2. Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.
When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:4-6)There were legal realities God had to deal with. His own justice and law demanded that we be punished and excluded from his presence for our sins. Righteousness was required and punishment demanded. God had to satisfy his justice and his law in order to adopt sinners into his family. This he did by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.
This means that the status of being a son legally preceded the experience of the Spirit coming to give us the affections of sons. We are legally sons before we experience the joy of sonship. The object work of our salvation (two thousand years ago at Calvary) precedes and grounds the subjective experience of our salvation by the Spirit today.
So it is with our adopting children today: The legal transactions precede and under gird the growth of family feelings. If the legal red tape seems long and hard, keep in mind that this tape is not yet red with your blood, but Jesus satisfied all the legal demands precisely by shedding his blood.
3. Adoption was blessed and is blessed with God’s pouring out a Spirit of sonship.
Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)God does not leave us in the condition of aliens when he adopts us. He does not leave us with no feelings of acceptance and love. Rather, he pours his Spirit into our hearts to give us the experience of being embraced in the family. What is remarkable about these two texts is the term abba. It is an Aramaic word. Why then does Paul use it, transliterated, in these two letters written in Greek?
You did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:15-16)
The answer is that it was the way Jesus spoke to his Father, in spite of the fact that virtually no one in Jewish culture referred to God with this endearing word abba. It stunned the disciples. They held onto it as a precious remnant of the very voice of Jesus in the language he spoke. In Mark 14:36, Jesus is in Gethsemane and prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Therefore, in adopting us, God give us the very Spirit of his Son and grants us to feel the affections of belonging to the very family of God.
In the mercy of God, in our families God works to awaken affections in adopted children for their parents that are far more than legal outcomes. They are deeply personal and spiritual bonds. Adopted children do not infer that they are our children by checking out the adoption papers. A spirit pervades our relationship that bears witness to this reality. Like the other children in the family, they all cry, “Daddy.”
Praise God that he give us both legal standing as his children and the very Spirit of his Son so that we find ourselves saying from a heart of deep conviction, “Abba, Father.”
4. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) marked by moral transformation through the Spirit.
All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)God does not leave his children without help to bear the moral image of the family. We may trust that his help will be there for our children as we bring them under the means of grace that God uses to awaken and transform his children.
5. Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.
Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Galatians 4:6-7)Notice that Galatians 4:7 says we are heirs “through God” and Romans 8:17 says we are heirs “of God.” In Galatians, the context is the promise of Abraham—through God, that is, by his sending his Son to redeem us, we are heirs with Abraham (even though many of us are Gentiles!) of his inheritance, namely the world (Romans 4:13). But in Romans 8:17, the context is that we, with Christ, are heirs of all that God has, namely, everything. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21).
The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:16-17)
Just before we left for England on sabbatical, Noël and I went to a lawyer and updated our wills. All the boys are married, and Talitha is the only legal “dependent.” A lot had changed since the last time we made wills. This was a reminder to us that she will inherit like the sons. She is not in a lesser adoptive class. All inherit together. That is the way God did it. That is the way we do it.
6. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) seriously planned.
He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.
In our lives, there is something uniquely precious about having children by birth. That is a good plan. There is also something different, but also uniquely precious, about adopting children. Each has its own uniqueness. Your choice to adopt children may be sequentially second. But does not have to be secondary. It can be as precious and significant as having children by birth. God is able to make adoption and A+ plan in our lives.
7. Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations.
We . . . were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3)God did not find us like an abandoned foundling bundled on the front step and irresistibly cute. He found us ugly and evil and rebellious. We were not attractive. We would not be easy children to deal with. And, what’s worse, God himself was angry with us. He hates sin and rebellion. We were then doubly “children of wrath.”
These are the ones God pursued in adoption. Therefore, all of God’s adoptions crossed a greater moral and cultural divide than any of our adoptions could. The distance between what we are, and what God is, is infinitely greater than any distance between us and a child we might adopt. God crossed the greatest cultural barrier to redeem and adopt us.
Consider too, that according to Romans 9:4, the people that God chose in the Old Testament, the Israelites, were adopted out of a terrible situation. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” But how was this adoption effected? Hosea 11:1, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” They were slaves in Egypt. But not only that, they were often also rebellious against God. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).
Therefore, God went and took a son from Egypt who was both enslaved and rebellious. The pattern is set: adoptions do not just come from nice, healthy, safe, auspicious situations.
8. Adoption meant (for all Christans) and means (for Christian parents) that we suffer now and experience glory later.
The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)This strikes us as strange. Aren’t we already adopted? Why does Paul say that we are “waiting for our adoption”? Yes, we are already adopted. When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. But God’s purpose for adoption is not to leave any of his children in a state of groaning and suffering. He raised Jesus from the dead with a new body, and he promises that part of our adoption will be a new resurrection body with no more disabilities and no more groaning. Therefore, what we wait for is the full experience of our adoption—the resurrection of our bodies.
There is much groaning in the path of adoption on the way to full salvation. But the outcome is glorious. It is worth it all. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
This is especially relevant for parents of children with disabilities. They know the “groaning” of this life. All of us have children with some sort of disability, and some of us will live to get very old and watch our children age and die before we do. Others will see their children struck down in war or by accident or disease. Others will care for a disabled child till one of them dies. All of this groaning is groaning in hope because we are adopted by God and destined for a resurrection and an eternal future of health and wholeness and joy. It will be worth it all.
All that being shared, I feel it is important to note that there are also many differences between our adoption as Christians and the adopting we as Christians do.....I thought this was a great post explaining several of these points.....
Adoption: On Earth As It Is In Heaven?
Thursday, January 19, 2012
I think we've already covered the why.....(here and here)
1. Where are we adopting from? We feel God has called us to adopt from Russia. We did explore adopting domestically, and even the possibilty of fostering with hopes of adoption. For whatever reason, God has put Russia on our hearts and we are following that path. When we started we both really felt compelled to adopt wherever the greatest need was. We're not sure that you can really say the greatest need lies in Russia, but there are currently an estimated 700,000 orphans there. We also faced age restrictions when we started looking into adopting from China and Haiti, two places we had previously considered. Both require for adoptive parents to be 30 and 35, which we soon found to be the case for many countries.
2. What age child are we hoping to adopt? We have read and heard a great deal about maintaining the current birth order of your home and felt that this was important. As Caleb is only about 20 months old at this point, we are looking to adopt a child younger than 20 months. Most children in Russia do not come home until about 11 or 12 months at the youngest, so the child will likely be at least a year old.
3. Are we specifying gender? Just as with a biological child, we feel that we should leave this decision up to God. We do know that there are often more boys available for adoption.
4. Will we consider special needs? While I thought it was crazy that God was having us consider the idea of homeschooling our children when Caleb was just a year old, we truly feel that this was all part of the plan. I was really nervous about making all of these decisions as I didn't want to place my own wants above what God had planned for us. I also worried about being inadequate to care for a child with special needs. There is such a wide spectrum when talking about special needs, however. I think that when considering that we will eventually homeschool, we feel that it would be more harmful than good to adopt a child whose needs we could not meet at home on a daily basis. If the child would require special services in a public school setting they would be leaving the home daily while the rest of us are home together. I think this would create a disconnect and as soon as we realized this I felt that it was God's way of showing us why we had to make that decision so early on. As a result we will be open to mild special needs and see where God leads us. We know He will make it clear if He wants us to be more open.
5. Are we going to have more children in the future? We had told a lot of people that around the time that Caleb turned 2 we would like to start considering having another child. We'll definitely be putting those plans on hold for now! I also have said time and time again how much I want several children, but don't want to be pregnant that many times! I think God was listening!
6. How long will the process take? Truthfully we don't know! We know there is a great need for Russian adoption right now and that things are currently moving rather quickly for the Russia program through the agency we chose. That being said, we still don't have a guarantee of how long it will be. We are still at the point of applying to the agencies so it will likely be a while.
7. How much does it cost? This depends on where you adopt from, but it will likely cost us anywhere from $40,000 to $50,000 when all is said and done. We were as shocked as many of you probably are at the cost of an adoption, and it was certainly something we struggled with. We certainly don't have this kind of money laying around, yet we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that if God is calling us to adopt, then he will make a way. He has proven faithful so many times in our lives and has provided for us in extraordinary ways over the years. We would be foolish to doubt him now. Never have we been so ready and willing to sell anything we don't need and use any money that we do have to make this happen. We know that willingness could only come from a God given desire to follow his will. When you put it into perspective and consider that this amount of money will change a child's life forever, it doesn't seem so overwhelming.
8. How can you help? The first and most important way you can help is by praying for us! We sincerely covet your prayers and support in this process.
Please pray for.....
1. Us to trust God 100%, never leaning on our own understanding, desires or giving in to our fears.
2. Our future child....for their safety and care until we are able to bring them home. That God would have His hand on their life. Also for their future and adjustment.
3. For our precious son Caleb....for his adjustment to being a big brother!
4. For this entire process to go as smooth as possible.
5. For the opportunity to share what God is doing in our lives and for this experience to impact others spiritually.
6. For wisdom as we move foward.
In addition to our plans to apply for grants, we plan to fundraise. We have heard of other families requesting any unwanted items from their friends and family and holding a yard sale. We plan to do so when the weather is nice enough, and would so appreciate any help! I remember driving by yard sales in the summer and thinking to myself that it was amazing how much stuff people had to sell. I thought about it and came to the conclusion that we didn't really have anything to get rid of. When this whole idea of adoption came up and I heard about having a yard sale I suddenly felt that we had a ton of things we could sell! It's all in your perspective. I realized we don't need things that we haven't used in what seems like forever, nor do I need 6 coats! If you would like to help we would appreciate anything you have to offer....and we'd be happy to store it here if you're trying to get things out of your home! While we've been waiting for the nicer weather, I've actually started selling some items on e-bay and craiglist and have already sold a dozen or so things. Every little bit helps!
We also appreciate any other tips or suggestions on other fundraisers!
If you have any other questions please feel free to ask us! We are so grateful for those of you who want to join us on this journey and would be happy to share anything with you!
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ROUND TWO (Was previously it's own page, but we have attached it here as this adoption is complete! )
Since we're just in a period of waiting and there won't be much to update until the much anticipated "call" I figured I would take the time to list and answer some of the questions we are getting often at this stage......
The most common at this point is simply "What now?" - At this point everything on our end is done for a period of time (aside from continuing to learn about Russia etc.). We are registered in our region and everything is ready. We are just waiting for Russia to choose a child for us and to relay this information to our agency. Basically any day from tomorrow to several months from now (the current average wait time is 2- 2 1/2 months which would bring us to some point in September), we will receive a phone call letting us know that a child has been chosen for us. We will find out the age, gender and brief medical history of the child and be given a week or so to make a decision (although I think it's safe to say this will be the easiest decision we will ever make!). As soon as we say yes, Russia will invite us to come meet the child - this will happen within 2 to 4 weeks from their invitation. After our first trip, we will return home and wait for a court date (2-4 months), and after we return again, we will wait 30-35 days for it to be finalized in Russia in order to return to bring our baby home. (3 trips total)
Some other common questions........
1. Do we know anything about the child we are adopting? Other than where they are from and that they will be between 8 and 24 months old, we do not know anything else. (This leads into the next question I always get after using "they", no we are likely not adopting more than one, it's just easier than saying he or she!)
2. Will we change the baby's name? We are really uncertain about this right now and feel that we need to meet the child before we make this decision. Because they will be young enough, we are considering it. If we were to change the name, we would keep their current first name as their new middle name.
3. Does Caleb have any idea what is going on / Do we tell him? We talk about it all the time, but he simply does not understand. He is consistent on one thing, however, which I find interesting.....whenever asked if he would like a brother or a sister, he always answers "sister" or "girl." : )
4. What can we be praying for? Our prayers are constantly for the child....their health, safety, that someone is loving them and they are getting attention and care. Also for patience for us as this wait period could be long....for continued provision financially, and then for the transition home for all of us.
5. Russia is huge, do you know where you will be going? We do know that our region is Krasnodar (southwest corner) and that the town (not sure if it's really a town) will likely be Sochi.
6. Are you still collecting donations for the yard sales? At this time, we've pretty much stopped taking all donations. We SO appreciate the offers, and have been blown away by how many people have been so eager and willing to donate. We still have a garage full, however, and will likely only have 2 more sales. Our next one is August 18th, this coming Saturday, and the final one will be at the end of September. At that point we'd like to have sold most of what we have so we aren't keeping it in the garage all winter. HOWEVER....next Spring we are seriously considering doing this again in order to raise money for adoption in general, whether it be for our family or to help another family.
Of course now that I'm listing the questions, I'm forgetting many that keep being asked, so I'll update this as I remember! Thanks so much for wanting to be a part of this journey with us, we hope our next post will be about a referral of a child!!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
As I mentioned, we had always talked about potentially adopting a child, later on in life. Although I meant it, I had never done any research on adoption, nor had I ever really thought about all that it would entail. Basically, the idea of adopting hadn't crossed my mind in quite some time, so when it started coming up I knew there was a reason. I guess I should preface this with a quick story. Several months ago the idea of homeschooling started coming up in every aspect of my life. Luke and I had always felt strongly about our kids attending public school and had never even considered this as a possibility for our family. Little by little I felt my attitude softening as I saw examples, heard stories, and listened to people's experiences with homeschooling. I kept feeling this need to research and have an open mind. I remember thinking how ridiculous it was, as I knew Luke would never go for the idea. After a few weeks passed and I could not get the idea out of my head, I mentioned it to him. Much to my surprise he was open to talking about it. I couldn't imagine why this was coming up now, as Caleb was only about a year old, but we started to research and talk about the pros and cons. There were times when I was so overwhelmed and ready to throw in the towel, but I couldn't seem to escape it. The more we prayed about it and discussed how it would work with our family life and schedule, the more certain we were that this was going to be part of our future. In time I found myself excited about all of the possibilities it would allow and the fact that I could put all that I had learned and worked for into practice with my own children.
Okay so here's how it all ties in. I'd say within two weeks of accepting that we were going to homeschool and having such a peace about it, a new idea started coming up in every aspect of my life - Adoption. Had I not just had a similar experience, I may not have been so quick to hear what God was trying to say. I remember the sinking feeling I had and literally thinking to myself "God, you've got to be kidding me!" When I tell you I couldn't escape it, I mean Adoption was the topic on the radio when I turned it on, in the contestants story on the show we were watching, the book I was reading, on the facebook homepage and everywhere in between. I thought about it immediately when I woke up in the morning and within a few weeks I knew it was not going away. I had thought the decision to homeschool was life-changing and a lot of work, but this was much bigger. Again I wondered what Luke would say, and if God was simultaneously working on his heart. His response was that we'd always said we wanted to adopt someday, so why not now? I had countless answers as to why now was not a good idea, but if God truly wanted us to do this, I knew my reasons wouldn't matter. Despite all of that, I remember very vividly that on October 31st I felt overwhelmed to the point that I was seriously considering giving up. Again God had other plans: the next day, November 1st, marked the start of National Adoption Month and if I thought I couldn't avoid it before, now it was downright impossible.
Before long I had packets arriving from various adoption agencies and we began trying to learn as much as possible. I was blessed to speak with a couple of people who had been through the process and began reading various books on the subject. It is amazing how much adoption echoes the gospel....how adopting a child is not all that different from our adoption into God's family. I soon realized that whether we would eventually adopt or not, all that I was learning and reading was changing me. To be sure that adoption, and specifically international adoption, was the path that we were supposed to take, we researched a few additional avenues. I attended a foster care meeting, we met with an agency, participated in webinars, and did a great deal of additional reading. Through it all, we continued to feel strongly about adopting internationally.
We spent some time just waiting and praying after the bulk of our research and after about five months we have found ourselves feeling certain that it is time to take the next step. I remember reading these words at one point during this process: "Stay at his feet. Move when He says move and wait when He says wait." At that point I felt it was a confirmation that we were supposed to be still and wait. Now we couldn't feel more strongly that He is saying move!
We know this will change our lives forever and that it will likely be the most difficult thing we will ever do. We know there are a lot of uncertainties, and we know that we cannot do this on our own. This is probably the biggest leap of faith we have taken yet, but we are excited, and we truly believe that if God is calling us to do this, then He will be with us every step of the way!