“As cold water to a weary soul,
So is good news from a far country.”
We have received good news indeed! News that we have been waiting for for a very long time. It seems as though I have been waiting my whole life for this moment.
I first knew that I wanted to adopt when I was 8 years old. I had happened upon a taping of Wednesday’s Child in a pet store. The sad little boy with the big brown eyes was enjoying looking at all the animals and I asked why they were taping him? My friend’s mother replied, “He will be on the News. He does not have a Mom and Dad and is looking for someone to adopt him.” My first thought was, “What does adopt mean?” And secondly, “There are really children in the world that do not have a Mom and Dad?!” That was a foreign concept to me!
I was reminded a few years later of adoption when I was 11. My friends and I were hanging out in the bathroom between classes, primping and chattering. My girlfriend suddenly announced that she was getting a new sister! We were all taken aback because our parents were old enough that they really didn’t have children anymore. And this particular friend’s parents were older than most of our parents anyway. She explained that her parents had seen a girl on Wednesday’s Child that they inquired about and were in the process of making her their daughter. I remember feeling such envy in that moment. I had ALWAYS wanted a sister! Now I knew how I could go about getting one! I rushed home later that afternoon busting with the news that I knew exactly how my parents could go about getting me a sister. I shared the news with them and sat anxiously waiting for their response. My bubble was busted however, when Dad replied, “Gosh Babs, we can hardly afford the kids we have….let alone raising someone else’s kid.” I was devastated. It seemed I would not be getting a sister after all. But I vowed that day to never feel as my parents did about children without families. I had set my sights on adopting one day.
Fast forward a few years and a lot of poor choices later. I had met the man of my dreams, birthed my first child, gotten married, and fallen forever in love with my Savior. In exactly that order. We had a wonderful little boy, Christian, and desired a brother or sister for him. I intentionally took Rick to the Kentucky State Fair that year for the single purpose of finding our way to the Wednesday’s Child booth. We scanned through the big book of parentless children and talked to the staff manning the booth. Rick, however, was not on board. And though I tried many ways to put a positive spin on why bringing an abandoned and (probably) abused child into our wonderful family was a good idea, he would not be convinced. I decided to wait (sometimes-not-so) patiently on the Lord and His perfect timing. Our second little boy, Gabriel was born. And then, our third, Jacob. We loved our little family, but greatly desired a little girl, whom we had already named, “Grace”. I again broached the subject of adoption with Rick. He was a little more open this time because he knew how much I wanted a daughter. We went to an informational meeting at Southeast Christian Church on China adoption and felt really good about all that we heard until the very end of the meeting when they flashed the requirements up on the screen. China required that both parents be at least 30 years of age. We were 23 and 24. Much too young to even be considered. We left feeling heartbroken, but again, trusting God that He knew best.
We finally had a baby girl, Graceann, in December of 1999. And she was truly a “double portion of Grace” to us. We felt like our family was complete….well, until 2002 when we learned we were unexpectedly expecting our fifth child, Elijah. On two different occasions throughout these years, we had attended informational meetings on adoption from Ukraine. Our church (at that time) had a thriving network of adopting and adoptive parents that had chosen Ukraine as the country wherein they would find their child. Both times though, we had to stop the adoption process. The funds weren’t coming, we’d get cold feet, we’d jump ship. We didn’t trust that “God would fund what He favored”. In 2004, our sixth child, John Ryle was born. We spent the next couple of years busily enjoying our full life and family.
The year 2007 brought great joy, tragedy, and change to our world. Micah was born in February of that year and my faithful, fearless, Prayer Warrior-friend/Grandma, died in May of a massive heart attack. It was a tremendous shock to me and to my life. She had helped me raise my children…she had doted on them from infancy….taught them songs, stories, and sayings…we were all the better for having her in our lives, and her absence was felt greatly. The days were not the same and we all reeled from it. But we were able to say with Eli, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”
In July of 2007, we decided to embark on an adoption journey that we felt would honor her and would do the greatest good with the small sum of money that she had left to me as an inheritance. We began the process to adopt a little girl from Guatemala, whom we hoped to name after my Grandma. We gathered papers, participated in interviews, applied for visas and our passport, submitted fingerprints, and finally sent our dossier to Guatemala for approval. We were approved and began our wait for the little girl of our dreams. But our dreams were dashed in December of 2007, when we learned that Guatemala, because of the inability to handle corruption, would be closing their country to International Adoption. We were left without the referral of a child, heartbroken, and the $8000 invested. Per our agency’s recommendation, we decided to wait a while to see if Guatemala would reopen. The summer of 2008 brought the news that Guatemala would NOT reopen (they are still closed to this day), and we had to rethink what we wanted to do with our adoption hopes. We regrouped and decided to participate in a pilot program with our agency to adopt from Bulgaria. We updated our home study and Immigration Clearance to reflect Bulgaria and once again adjusted our mental image of what our much-desired child would look like. We pressed on, believing that God did have a child out there for us…somewhere.
“Hear my cry, O God;
Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”
September 2008….the day our world changed. My husband called home with awful news. He was hearing rumblings at his work that his company, National City Bank, may be going bankrupt. He felt it was best that we put our adoption on hold until we knew more. I couldn’t believe it. We prayed…hoped for the best. But the company did go under. Our adoption plan was swallowed up by penny-pinching, job-hunting, and fervent prayer for a new job that would support our large family. The job was eventually provided by our gracious, merciful God. But the new income meant that we no longer qualified for International Adoption. We were sad about our wants, but grateful that God had been faithful to meet our needs.
The new year 2009 brought many “Champions for Foster Care” into our lives, and we began to pray about whether our child or children might be found in the US Foster Care System. We attended an Informational meeting and were thrilled with what we heard! Our government didn’t have a problem with our income and the adoption costs would be minimal. Plus, they provided a stipend to help with the costs of adopting a child with Special Needs. We left hopeful and feeling like, “This might be it!” We signed up for the first training class of ten. It was to start a week later. We navigated through difficult topics, fought to overcome the stigma of “already having a lot of kids and still wanting more”, and made difficult decisions in evaluating our strengths and weaknesses of what needs we felt we could and could not handle in the children that may pass through our home. It felt good to once again be working toward our goal of adding another child to our family. But weeks turned into months, and months into years. 2009 turned to 2010 and finally into the spring of 2011and still, NOTHING. We had inquired on over 1000 children/ sibling groups all over the United States and were met with rejection after rejection. We cried out to God again and again, reminding Him of His promise to set the lonely in families and of His heart for orphans and widows. He, in return, pointed me through His word to promises of His love and affection for ME. He had heard me; He had not forgotten me. His goal of my sanctification was greater than my desire for another child and HIS WILL WOULD BE ACCOMPLISHED. I resolved that, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him”.
“You crown the year with Your goodness,
And Your paths drip with abundance.”
~Proverbs 65: 11
In April of 2012, I received the usual correspondence from my State Social Worker….time for us to have all of our kids physicals completed, mine and Rick’s physicals redone, more face-to-face interviews, another walk-through of the house, 30 more hours of training, etc. etc. As I was reading that email, I just had a knee jerk reaction similar to what I had heard of infertile women experiencing when they receive the news of yet another failed IVF attempt or the miscarriage of another baby. I felt like I had had enough! I had jumped through every hoop the State had put before me for the last 2 1/2 years and to no avail. I didn’t need to talk to Rick about it….I was done. And I felt elated about that decision.
In May, we attended our church’s Memorial Day picnic. Some dear friends of ours were there, the Popes. They had in tow their seven beautiful children, six of which are adopted. Two from Guatemala, two from Kazakstan, and the last two from China. She naturally asked me how the adoption process was going and I just vented! She sweetly proposed that maybe I should give her agency a call and see if they could help us. I told her I just didn’t think I could stomach any more heartbreak…I just thought the Lord had said no. Forever. Maybe I just needed to be okay with that…. She insisted she felt this agency could help. Pray about it. Think about giving them a call. I decided to do it. It couldn’t hurt to call. Just another rejection in a long line of many, right?
So I called.
That call was eventually what led us to our daughter. We submitted our Medical Checklist in October. That’s a form where you jointly decide what Special needs you are comfortable with parenting. We received the call telling us about our daughter on December 10th and the Preapproval from China on December 31st. She is beautiful and perfect and spunky. She is chosen and loved. Thanks be to God for this indescribable gift!
“Blessed be the Lord,
Because He has heard the voice of my supplications!
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
My heart trusted in Him,
and I am helped;
Therefore my heart greatly rejoices,
And with my song I will praise Him.”