Thursday, August 28, 2008

Our Adoption Story

I can’t really pin point a time that God planted the seed of adoption in my heart. I’m thinking several small seeds where planted, such as when the children from a Nicaraguan orphanage came to visit and perform at our church and then there were the various couples in our church who had adopted internationally and to be able to hear their “stories”. All I knew was that I had an interest in adopting at some point in my life. When my husband, Matt, and I met and started talking about marriage we spent hours talking about what we wanted for our future and we discovered that we both had a heart for adoption.

However, when I considered how adoption would fit in to our future, I wanted to have my biological children first and then adopt. Well, on July 28, 2003 Matt came home from work and was telling me that Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman were on Family Life Today talking about their adoption story. Matt proceeded to tell me that they would be on again the next day and that I really needed to listen to the program. I was very reluctant because I wasn’t interested in adoption at that point in time. I mean we still hadn’t had our biological children yet. I didn’t even want to go down that road because I think I was afraid that God was going to call me to adopt now and that wasn’t my plan. I could tell Matt was a little disappointed in my response.

I really had no plans on listening to the program but the next day at that exact time my mind was brought back to our conversation and I decided to tune in to Family Life Today. I listened to Steven Curtis and Mary Beth talk about their adoption story and they pointed out something that I had never heard before and that was how adoption is a beautiful picture of what God has done for us, as His children. As it says in I Timothy 2:6, “Christ Jesus, gave Himself as a ransom for all.” The reason He paid a ransom for us, is because in Ephesians we are called the adopted sons and daughters of God. Just as we believe we are bought with a ransom and adopted into the family of God it became a “how can we not adopt" decision. I’ll never forget sitting at my desk at work crying thinking “How can we not adopt”?

Part of the reason the Chapman’s were on FLT was to help promote an upcoming adoption seminar that was being put on by FLT throughout the country. We went online and found out the If You Were Mine workshop was coming to Brentwood, Tennessee on October 11, 2003, so we decided we needed to go and learn more about adoption. In the meantime Matt went by Bethany Christian Services, our adoption agency, to pick up some information about international adoption. Wow, there was so much information from so many different places, so we tried to focus on where we needed to adopt from. I don’t know why but I had a heart for China. I could see this little girl with dark hair, dark almond shaped eyes, but a not so clear face sitting at our dinner table. However, as we began to look at the requirements for China we wouldn’t be able to adopt from China because we didn’t meet their income requirements. We were so disappointed. Our thoughts then shifted to Guatemala but my heart still was for China but how could that be.

As we headed for the workshop we decided that our prayer would be that God would somehow work to show us where He wanted us to adopt from. Throughout the day we were given opportunities to go off as a couple and work on a little project and pray together. Each time our prayer was the same, “God where is it that You want us to adopt from?” We knew in the afternoon there was going to be a breakout session where you could attend a meeting about domestic adoptions, foster care, Asia, Latin America, or other parts of the word but where were we suppose to go. We felt torn, should one of go to Asia and the other to Latin America or should we just go to Latin America since we didn’t meet the requirements for Asia. Well, after lunch Steven Curtin and Mary Beth Chapman came out with their two little girls from China and shared in more details their story. Once they were finished Matt and I looked at each other at the exact same time and said “We are going to China”. How awesome is our God! We both came to the understanding that we were looking at our circumstances and allowing them to dictate our choice instead of listening to God’s calling. It was God who had given us the heart for China and where God leads He will provide!

I was still struggling in one area though. Remember, I wanted to have my biological children first but then settled for the idea of having just one biological child first, then adopt but again God continued to do a work in my heart the day of the seminar. On the way back to Chattanooga I decided I needed to die to my desires and if God wanted us to adopt first then I was okay with that. What incredible peace comes when we say “yes” to His will and die to our own desires.

Once we were back home we decided we would continue to learn all we could about adoption in general and about China specifically, after all we had not been married for quite a year yet and Bethany required that couples be married for two years. So we were going to spend the next year praying, learning and saving for the adoption. As a matter of fact, we decided to look at the cost of the adoption as a ransom. Matthew 20:28 says “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Just as God paid a ransom to adopt us into His family we too would pay any amount of ransom to bring our daughter home, into our family.

In the meantime, I became pregnant. God granted me my desire to have a biological child first after all. He didn’t want to withhold any good from me; He just wanted me to say “yes” to Him. Many people then asked us about our plans for adopting, assuming we wouldn’t adopt since we could have children on our own. For us adoption was never a second option, if we couldn’t get pregnant, but it was about obeying a call God had placed on our lives. So we would just wait until after Eli was born and kind of get adjusted and then see where we stand.

God continued to prove Himself by working out the details that would allow us to meet the China requirements and in His timing we were able to officially begin our paperwork for the adoption in July 2005. We met many snags along the way that it became so frustrating but finally our dossier (mountains of paperwork) was complete. We received word in early May 2006 that our adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, had mailed our dossier off to China, and better yet we have received our official log-in-date of May 11, 2006. The log-in-date is the date China received our dossier and everything is measured from this date. At the time we began the process the wait time from log-in-date to referral, which is when China says this is the child we have for you, was 8 to 9 months and here we are over two years later.

So, the wait has become so hard for us especially since we don’t have any real idea of when we will be getting our referral. Our best understanding would be that we could expect to receive our referral around October, 2009 and we would travel about 8 weeks later but there are no guarantees.

We have such a longing in our hearts that it’s often painful but we can rest assured that God’s timing is perfect. We know that God has chosen Emma to be our daughter before the foundation of the world was laid and that He will bring her home in His way and in His own perfect timing.

Like I said this process hasn’t always been easy for us and at times it’s been down right hard and there have been times when the thought creped into my mind that said “Let’s just forget about this adoption, why don’t we just go ahead and have another biological child. It would be easier and it would be cheaper.” However, I’ve always come back around and realize that we can’t turn back; we have to be obedient to what God has called us to do. It’s not about what’s easy it’s about obedience. So we press on.

This journey has not only been about bringing Emma home but it’s also been about God’s desire to see our love and dependence upon Him grow. What a loving Father we have! I Peter 1: 6-8 says:

In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials,

that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do no see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory,

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