Friday, January 28, 2011

A Little Girl Will Change Everything....

Now, comes the difficult part. After praying and praying and wrestling and talking and finally deciding to take the leap of faith and adopt, now comes the point of waiting. Now comes the point of papers, upon papers, upon papers, all of which need to be stamped, copied, sorted, sealed and mailed out along with a large portion of our savings account. However, even with the endless work and monotony, and not knowing when it is we will finally be able to bring our little girl home is nothing compared to knowing WE HAVE a little beautiful wonderful girl that we will have the unimaginable privilege to care for.

The process we find ourselves in is different from a lot of international adoptions stories. The orphanage from which we feel called to adopt from is in some ways an orphanage in name only. Perhaps it is better described as the home of a pastor and Godly man who has chosen to open his doors to care for children around his country who have no one else to care for them. He daily loves on the children, leading them through schooling and teaching them about the love of God and his Son which he sent to earth for us. The love of this man for each of the kids, and his commitment to caring for them while they are with him, and searching for permanent parents for them, makes this experience not one of calling or emailing an unnamed agency representative and then waiting for days for them to get back in touch. He has truly been a blessing to us even in the short time since our decision to adopt. John (the pastor) and the wonderful woman here in the states he works through are so incredibly invested in the lives of the children in the orphanage but also the parents that are matched to them. They pray for and over each couple and child asking God to show the parents exactly which Child he has chosen for them. How often can one claim that sort of Godly interaction in an adoption process?

However, the amazing pieces of this adoption process also bring challenges. Adopting internationally independently can be a struggle. Many of the automatic steps that are taken for granted with international adoption through an established international agency are not and are instead arduous and time consuming. Additionally, adopting internationally from Ghana is a new experience, for almost anyone, as Ghana has only recently opened its doors to international adoption. This means that rules and regulations can be fluid and that nothing is ever a given until the child is home in the U.S. with his or her parents. But these struggles and challenges are also a blessing. They are simply another opportunity to trust wholly and completely in God. This adoption experience has been and will be a very humbling one for me especially. As many women around the country and I’m sure the world know, men enjoy being in control and where a problem exists something deep inside us stirs us to fix it….. even if you don’t want us to. In this process though, Rachael and I will be helpless, unable to fix things if and when they go wrong. But luckily for us we are following the path of a God who is so much greater than any struggle we might face. And so we look to Him to provide us with things we do not yet have and to remove obstacles where one might appear. What an amazing God we get to call father. He adopted all of us, and refused to leave us as orphans and now Rachael and I get to live out his heart in this very process.

All of this is to say that we are so very excited for what God has already done and what he will do in the near future. He pointed us to an orphanage filled with amazing and beautiful children, run by a man of God who is sincerely invested in our adoption journey, and now…….. He has lead us to a beautiful 6 year old girl who has already stolen her new mom and dad’s heart.

More to come soon, on our unbelievable new addition.

“If you look at me I will fly like a butterfly…”

God Called...... It Just Took Us a While to Answer

It seems that often times in life, when we really want to seek God's will, we ask Him to give us some sort of tangible sign to let us know the direction we ought to take our lives. We ask for things like a raise if we are supposed to stay at a job, or a great job offer if we are supposed to leave for another, unsolicited encouragement from friends if we are supposed to make a difficult decision, or a roadblock if he doesn't want us to. This is not necessarily the story you are about to hear.

Rather, the story of this adoption revolves around a different way God often relays his will for us. While it may be easier to ask God to move a mountain if He wants us to walk in a certain direction, often God will respond instead by simply giving us the courage and drive to climb over it. God will inspire us, or place inside of us a longing or desire to move, or act, or give, or serve rather than sending a neon sign from Heaven that says "Though Shalt Do This NOW."

The process of God speaking to Rachael and I's heart about adoption began a long time ago (or relatively long ago in the context of a 3 ½ year marriage and 26 and 24 year old lives). Rachael and I have always felt called to adopt at some point in our lives, and after walking through the adoption process with my sister and brother in law and being able to witness the joy and love they pour into their adopted son's life, our initial inclinations were confirmed. Now, while we both have always agreed on the desire to adopt, the timeline for such a decision has always been disagreed upon. I have a logical, practical side when making decisions often having a voice in the back of my head that whispers: "Does this make financial sense? Couldn’t you wait a bit and it would make more sense?" Rachael, at least in the context of the adoption decisions, has a true mother’s heart and wants to immediately open her heart to a child or children without parents or a home and love them as one of her own.

Now for background and understanding about our current family dynamic, Rachael and I have two beautiful biological little boys: Noah, who is 2 1/2 and Henry who is still working towards 1. Life right now is comfortable and filled with joy. God has blessed our family exorbitantly. But, God also wants more for our family than comfortable living accommodations, date nights every so often and an occasional vacation. God wants us to pour into him and his children, with are hearts and minds, time and finances.

The context is important in understanding our decision to adopt, because the comfort and fulfillment of our current life is the very thing God needed to work past in my heart to lead us to where Rachael and I currently are.

Now, on to the actual beginning of our adoption story.........

Around late fall/early winter last year, Rachael came to me wanting to talk about adopting our next child. I immediately told her how wonderful of an idea that was and that if we started saving now in about 2 years we would be in a wonderful place to make that decision. Rachael, being happy for at least my excitement for eventually adopting, was feeling a bit different about the adoption timeline. Now shortly after I came driving home for work one day, listening to the radio when the DJ's brought on a little girl who told a story about visiting an orphanage in Russia. She spoke about a 7 year old little girl she had met there. The orphan girl told the American little girl visiting the orphanage that she did not expect to ever get adopted as "only the babies get adopted, and I am much too old." This terribly sad statement struck a coard somewhere in my heart and that evening was spent with me and Rachael out on a date night discussing the possibility of adopting an older child rather than an infant as we has always imagined (eventually).

Little did I know the wonderful conversation we had and conclusion we came to that night about adopting an older child and having the privilege to become their mother and father and love them for the rest of their lives, would only spur on my wife's silent belief that adoption was not something for us in 2 years, but that God had already been tugging on her heart about doing it much sooner.

After a wonderful Christmas break and off and on again conversation about the adoption issue and even some preliminary budgeting on my part to ensure in my perfect timeline of two years we would have all the financial means necessary to bring home the little girl God had in store for us, things started to change in the new year. We arrived back home in Chicagoland, after wonderful time with family and friends, and met up with friends of ours to catch up and see how life was treating them. Our friends are going through the adoption process currently and have been matched with beautiful siblings: a 6 year old little girl and a wonderful 3 year old boy. After hours of conversation and fun Rachael and I grabbed our coats, the boys, and the 15 suitcases we seem to travel everywhere with now a days and loaded up the jeep to head back to our apartment. It was on that ride home that God finally got a hold of my heart and started to change things. On the ride all I could think about were the faces of the beautiful children at the orphanage in Ghana that our friends were adopting from. These weren't babies or toddlers who didn't quite understand their circumstances, but rather these were 5, 6, and 7 year olds who knew their parents were no longer alive and knew that they were different from other children in the villages they used to live in, the ones who had parents. These were children who didn't have people to point to and say "those are my parents, I know they will always love me and protect me and care for me." Rather than let their parents worry about providing the life’s daily necessity’s these kids instead carried that burden themselves.

When we got home I sat down with Rachael and told her about the growing emotions I had and the fact that even though it went against all my better judgment I feeling like God might want to do something in our lives. She smiled like she always does and told me she had been praying for quite some time that if the feeling she had to adopt soon was indeed God's will for her life that He would show that same vision to me, without her having to convince me on her own. Well after a TON of prayer and much disbelief on my part, God had done just that. The overwhelming drive to, even for just one of those children, bring them into the blessed life that God had already provided our family and share with them our love and God's love was too much to deflect.

And so we have decided to adopt from that very same orphanage in Ghana. Details still need to be worked out. My perfect financial plan has fallen to ruin. We are moving into a new place in about a month and much still needs to be done on that front. But.... we know that if God has truly called us to adopt, that as always He will be faithful. We aren't exactly sure where the finances will come from, and we are not exactly sure how we will set up the new place to accommodate three children instead of two. However, we know that at the end of this process we will be able to take a beautiful little girl and explain to her that she is now our daughter, which means all of the things she used to have to worry about she no longer does. We will protect her and care for her and love her unconditionally.

So that’s where we are. Convinced of God's calling and excited to see where this journey leads our family. I have little inclination to believe the adoption process will be easy, but I do believe God has plenty of lessons in store for our family and that in the end it will be well beyond worth it. God may not have sent us a neon sign that says “adopt now and life will be grand,” but he did bring our hearts to a point where we know giving our love and his love to another child is exactly what he wants, which means it’s what we want as well.