It’s not often that the oldest child in a family gets to share the news that he’ll soon be a little brother! (So really this is Levi’s shirt, but he’s still growing into it!) This little-big brother is thrilled, I mean really thrilled, and you are all likely thinking we are crazy! The past month has been a bit of a whirlwind. God laying the same thing on my heart over and over….and over….and over. Sure I realized that this was only the beginning of adoption for us, but once again I put a long term time plan on when it would happen again. Six months after bringing our son home was not a consideration. I’m not sure exactly when I’ll learn that God’s plans are not our plans, His time is not our time and His ways are not our ways, but I can say I am glad that it's true.
In 2011 when God started laying adoption on our hearts it was a slow process of Him really getting my attention and my very slowly crawling on board – it took months. This time, in much the same fashion, God has made himself overwhelmingly clear by speaking to us about this in every way possible, multiple times a day, with a vast variety of “coincidences” which I know are all confirmations of God calling us to adopt again. I started keeping a log after the first few, because it was all too familiar and again I didn't want to forget. I remember someone asking me early on in our last process how we knew we really heard God. There were a million ways we had heard from Him, much the same as what follows…..(warning, this is extremely long and may make a lot more sense in my head than in writing)….just time and time again having adoption, or something related, brought to the forefront of our lives over the past few weeks…..
· Throughout May I decided to read one of my favorite blogs from the beginning because I felt like there was so much background that I had missed out on. Let me just say I've never been one to have any interest in blogs, until this adoption process started and have since been amazed at how much I enjoy reading some of them. Some, like this one, are like a good book I don’t want to put down! And at the same time, they are encouraging and I have learned so much. I truly feel that God used this family’s experience to change my heart. They recently adopted a baby and an older child from Russia. I have always been so resistant to adopting an older child, but in reading their journey, seeing the overwhelming need and gaining some insight into these precious children’s lives, my heart has completely changed. If you want just a glimpse into who some of these “older” institutionalized children are that I've been so fearful of adopting, please read here (it’s a little ways down in the post, but all of it is worth reading). This was the beginning…..
· In the meantime, I've been sharing some of what we've learned and experienced throughout our journey with a new friend interested in adoption. We've talked several times about adopting older children, and shared some thoughts on a child who needed a family that the above blog had advocated for. This child weighed on my heart and as I started to explore where she is from and the great need for older children and sibling groups to be adopted, I felt myself being drawn in.
· She was from U*raine, a country that neighbors where we so recently were. A country where many of the people speak the same language I've been struggling to learn. Which also hadn't made a whole lot of sense to me in the first place….Why, when our adoption was complete and we have no plans to return for years, did I feel so compelled to continue learning this language? Perhaps we will be needing it sooner than I thought….
· For months, Caleb has been asking for a sister. I really don’t know why or where this came from. Back when we were adopting Levi and still had not received our referral, I would ask if Caleb thought it was a boy or a girl. He always said girl or sister…always. I know he didn't quite understand then, but I found this consistency interesting. Even more interesting, is his frequent request for a sister. There’s a song on his CD that says brothers and sisters and every time he hears it he pleads with me for a sister! I’d love a little girl, and we had even started making our own plans to expand our family so we joked that he may actually get his wish! One day with the sweet girl mentioned above on my heart (who I believe is 11), I decided to ask Caleb if he wanted a baby sister or a big sister. His reply was immediate and as if it should have been so obvious. “A big sister!” (He has since elaborated to tell me he doesn't like little sisters!)
· Through a series of contacts, shortly after I was able to talk to a missionary in this country and to ask some questions about how the process works. It was great to get some information from someone who knows firsthand what goes on there. We learned that while there are adoption agencies with programs for this country, there is not really a need to use an agency, but rather a facilitator within the country that would handle the adoption. That further complicated things in my mind as I wondered how on earth I would ever be able to just find a good, trustworthy, facilitator in a country I knew very little about!
· Just a few days later, I was scrolling through a page of waiting children from U*kraine on facebook. It had “randomly” come up on my wall as a friend had posted on it, and of course it had to do with adoption and U*kraine which was all too coincidental so I had to check it out. I was looking at the children’s faces and my heart was breaking, especially as I thought about many of the older children aging out and what is in store for them. I decided to ask a general question about adopting from this country under one of the pictures. Shortly after, I received a message from a woman I didn't know. She was asking if we were planning on adopting from U*kraine, as she had recently returned with her two daughters and had a lot of information to share with me if I was interested. I wanted to tell God to slow down at this point, but knew it was all happening for a reason. Almost simultaneously we realized we had a mutual friend in common. She asked if I lived in Rhode Island….seriously, out of all the places in the world, the woman who messaged me in response to my question (who does not work for the agency, but just liked the page the same as me) just adopted two 9 year old girls form the U*raine and is from Rhode Island too? At that point I had chills. She shared a great deal with me, gave me the link to her blog (which I've already read start to finish), and also shared contact information for her amazing facilitator. Well that was fast…..I could hear God reminding me that I didn't have to figure it all out….
· The next day, Luke and I finally sat down to watch a movie on international adoption that I’d been dying to see. A friend had so kindly offered it to us and we finally had a free night to watch it. Talk about timing…..at the end of the movie Luke and I looked at each other and we just knew….it was clear. Our plans needed to be put on hold, or put off altogether, and we needed to take this seriously. A short time after the movie ended, this quote came to mind. “Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.” Which reminded me of the fact that we are not promised tomorrow….and then, our plan to adopt again someday just seemed so foolish when we could do it now…..when we have plenty to share and love to give…why not?
· The day after that was Sunday and the sermon was on greed. Of course when this started coming up again, our thoughts naturally turned towards the financial hurdle as well. It seems as if this would be slightly less expensive than the last adoption, but either way it’s out of our hands. Fundraising and needing help again wasn't the most appealing part of this, but we know we just need to focus on trusting God and being obedient, not on being prideful or fearful. The whole sermon was just a great reminder for me about where our treasure should be, and the fact that our security needs to rest in Christ….not the savings we’re trying to accumulate in the bank.
· I came home on Sunday to a flat tire, which was frustrating when we were just starting to get back into adoption mode in terms of finances. I had excitedly come in under budget after grocery shopping the week prior, even including some really good deals on random kids clothing I figure we can take as donations to the orphanage when we go. So the flat tire was a bit of an annoyance, but I know that Satan is going to be back to working overtime in his (failed) attempts to destroy this plan. I had so much more peace about it after reflecting on this than I ever had in the past and twice within the past week Luke has been ordered back (not exactly exciting for him, but good financially) which more than compensated for the new tire.
· I know this is an exhaustive list, but there’s more…..feel free to stop anytime… Apparently I need an over abundance of confirmations because God has been speaking to us left and right!
· So another blog I love is Ann Voskamp’s A HolyExperience. She wrote an amazing book that I am currently re-reading and has seriously changed my life, so I try to keep up on her blog as well. On June 18th her blog included the following excerpt which hit home again…sometimes I think we just need a bigger house first, or to save up a little more…but really, we have plenty…..more than enough….so thankful for and humbled by this reminder…
If you have any food in your fridge, any clothes in your closet, any small roof, rented or owned, over your head, you are richer than 75% of the rest of the world.
If you have anything saved in the bank, any bills in your wallet, any spare change in a jar, you are one of the top 8% wealthiest people in the world. .
If you can read these words right now, you have a gift 3 billion people right now don’t, if your stomach isn't twisted in hunger pangs, you have a gift that 1 billion people right now don’t, if you know Christ, you have a gift that untold millions right now don’t.
It’s like you can hear the cry of the red soil of Africa’s pulsing right here with the heart of God: “You have got to use your position inside the gate for those outside the gate – or you’re in the position of losing everything — of losing your soul.“
You are where you are for such a time as this – not to gain anything — but to risk everything.
You are where you are for such a time as this — not to make an impression — but to make a difference.
· Everything I read, everything I hear, everywhere I turn God is reiterating this point to me….
· Isaiah 58:10-11 Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
· Excerpt from “One Thousand Gifts” I just so happened to re-read during this time…. “It’s the fundamental, lavish, radical nature of the upside down economy of God. Emtpy to fill. Give your life away in exchange for many lives, give away your blessings to multiply blessings, give away so that many might increase, and do it all for the love of God. I can bless, pour out, be broken and given in our home and the larger world and never fear that there won’t be enough to give. Eucharisteo has taught me to trust that there is always enough God. He has no end. He calls u to serve, and it is Him whom we serve, But He, very God, kneels down to serve us as we serve. The servant-hearted never serve alone. Spend the whole of your one wild and beautiful life investing in many lives, and God simply will not be outdone. God extravagantly pays back everything we give away and exactly in the currency that is not of this world, but the one we year for: joy in Him.”
· I forgot to mention that as the month of June began, prior to realizing God was calling us to adopt again, I had started to feel comfortable. Too comfortable. I had become used to the excitement of being a part of something bigger than me. I had learned to be excited about having to trust fully on God and being essentially helpless. Our family has had some adjusting to do, but things have settled into a rather comfortable routine and I started to feel like things were just too comfortable. I would soon find out why as God started to reveal all of this to us, and just a couple of weeks later I read this…..http://www.aholyexperience.com/2013/06/a-letter-to-the-north-american-church-because-it-is-time/
· June 23rd, the pastor’s sermon series continued and spoke to me once again. One of the thoughts to ponder was this….. “In Jesus’ parables, those that discovered valuable treasures went so far as to radically change how they were using their money in order to get what was most valuable. Do your financial priorities line up with what God says is the right spiritual priorities in life? How much of yourself and of what you have are you willing to invest in pursuing the things of God?”
· Lastly, (okay not really lastly, but for the sake of this entry not being a novel in itself) if you have never read the book Kisses From Katie, I highly recommend it. This young girl left the comfort and security of her life in the US at the age of 18, moved to Uganda and has since adopted 13 girls of all ages and started Amazima Ministries. I also follow her blog and it often reminds me that if one young girl can move to another country and adopt thirteen children, why on earth do I make such a big deal out of adopting one, two, maybe three children while living in my own country, in my comfortable home, with my husband and surrounded by friends and family. Sometimes….I just need a little perspective refreshing.
So…..that’s just a glimpse into how we know. How we've heard God very clearly telling us it’s time. Because really why not? We’re taking it slow…we’re researching, learning, praying (and yes fundraising)….but so much has come together so quickly that we believe it will be in the near future. Please join us in praying for the journey God has in store, and for the child(ren), whoever they may be, that will join our family. We are remaining fairly open to age, gender and sibling groups so we aren't sure what to expect. (All of the things I've read on maintaining birth order have clearly gone out the window!) Thankfully, God has known since the beginning of time, and He has it all worked out. What peace!
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think" Ephesians 3:20