God has been so creative and clear for our family growth and confirmed many times His plan to bring more children into our home. We are so excited to be in the final stretch of bringing our boys home, and find joy in reflecting on the journey we’ve traveled thus far.
It was little more than four years ago that God was shaking things up for our family. The sunken economy was bearing down on us, yet our hearts were drawn to “giving” more. We found ourselves burdened for the people of Africa and began considering mission work in the northern regions of the continent. The church we attended at the time has large missions and prayer ministries. The possibility of training and preparing was very real, yet we prayed together asking God for further direction and wisdom. Almost immediately our children, then ages 7 and 10, included in our family prayers the desire for more siblings (yes, plural). At first, Paul and I were a bit surprised, as we hadn’t discussed the idea of more children in a long time, and pretty much hadn’t ever discussed it with our kiddos. We were open to praying with the kids knowing that children are a blessing, and that though we hadn’t planned it, God certainly may have. It didn’t take long for me to realize that God was not only putting Africa on our hearts. He was talking to us about African orphans! We continued to pray, and the kids continued to “beg”. On Christmas Day of 2010, I opened a small gift from Paul. It was a tiny, toy baby carriage. It also happened to be blue, which now I associate with our little boys! There was a handwritten note in the carriage. It said, “Let’s adopt!” The kids and I were thrilled. At that point, I pretty much knew we had children in Africa. And we all always believed it would be two children.
When God made this calling clear to our family, it was also very clear that we didn’t have the funds it required. Paul had been unemployed for nearly a year. He had taken oddball jobs to keep up with the regular bills, but we ended up having to short sell our home and move in with family. We just knew that this story for our family wasn’t about having the money it was about being obedient to God and His plans. We had to say yes. As soon as we moved into a rental, we prayed and researched about where in Africa our children were. Ethiopia was God’s answer and we began the application process. We also began the fundraising and waiting process.
Fast forward two years later when the wait seemed to be endless. We were #97 on our agency’s wait list. Not very encouraging, yet we knew God had us there for a reason. He was certainly teaching us how to trust in Him and His timing. In December of 2012, I was chatting with a good friend who asked if we would be willing to bring in children from a wait list. I told her of course we were and that we were already looking at waiting children, but God hadn’t called us to any of them yet. Then she said she knew of two little boys who had just been posted on RainbowKids, and she thought of us right away when she saw them. She asked if she could send me their picture. I remembered how Sara and I met and how “divine” the entire story was – knowing through it all that there was a special reason why God brought us into each other’s lives, and all of a sudden I thought, “If I see these little guys, I have a feeling they are going to become our sons!” Sure enough, I saw their sweet faces and knew that Paul and I had a lot of praying to do! Sara knew the agency coordinator who was working on finding a home for our boys and she was able to connect me with her. Randi spent time on the phone with me and my unending questions. She told me as much as she could without breaking confidence and encouraged Paul and I to keep praying and get back to her with any other questions we may have. I remember her reaching out and advocating for the boys, hoping to find a family for them, and I kept thinking – please don’t send my boys to another family! It was pretty confirming, as was God’s heart. He gave us His heart for our boys and we knew we had to say yes again.
So, we didn’t have the money for the fees – switching agencies, foreign fees, new dossier, etc. However, it wasn’t about what we had. It was about what God had for us and the boys. We stepped out in obedience and told Randi we would have the funds in two weeks. That was our deadline, and that is exactly what God was faithful to. In twelve days, we had raised (including some savings in our account) the thousands of dollars necessary to secure the referral for the boys. It was such a testimony to God’s sovereignty and will!
We also had to have our home study changed. Though we already were approved for older children and special needs, we had to include HIV in our papers. Our youngest is HIV+ and we were sure he was our son as well as his older brother. Our four-year-old is crazy busy with the joys of life, at least as much as can be expected for a child in an orphanage! He has the energy of a whirling dervish and loves people with a joyful heart! We spoke with the doctor when in country and she encouraged us that he takes his meds obediently and his numbers are good. We have been in contact with the only HIV clinic here in Arizona and have been encouraged that Elijah’s medical needs will be met. The nurse coordinator has our family on file and she put me at ease when she told me there are translators at the hospital who will help us all from the very beginning. He is a strong, healthy little boy who carries with him a virus by no desire of his own. His biological mother lost her life to AIDS and there is some allusion to the possibility of their biological father being “ill” as well. We are so excited to bring him home and nurture and care for him for our lifetimes, knowing that the stigma in the US, though it is present, is not quite as culturally or relationally destructive. These are issues we will all have to live with and pray through. We’re humbled that God has chosen our family to walk this path.
Our six year old has a gentle and peaceful heart with so much love for his little brother. It’s obvious that he has had to be “older” than his years, yet he has such a calm peacefulness. He is affectionate and quick to attach. He loved sitting with us and our Amharic/English translation book. He would scoot right up next to Paul or myself and ask us to read it to him. His excitement in knowing we wanted to communicate with him and knowing we would all learn together was so encouraging. He kissed the little book and kissed us on the cheeks. It was truly amazing. He is a sweet, calm spirit and we pray his adjustment to the family will be smooth, as he learns that we will always be there to take care of him and nurture him.
We are surrounded by an incredible community of love and support. Our family, church family and others have helped us through huge garage sales, spaghetti dinners, silent auctions, candle sales, eat-out nights, and some have even offered personal checks with so much love and generosity. As a family, our daughter and I have babysat endless hours and encouraged donations to our adoption in lieu of birthday or Christmas gifts. Our church created an Adoption Assistance Program when we had the two week deadline to meet, to encourage individuals who wanted to donate large amounts to go through this program as it would allow them a tax receipt if they so desired. This is how our one grant from Arizona Community Foundation came to us. We are now selling friendship bracelets with Threads of Hope.
I have been discouraged by grant applications as we have attempted to apply for some with no success, but God has softened my heart to understand that it’s okay to keep trying…and it’s okay to be turned down. He has met our needs all the way through this journey, so if it’s meant to be through a grant, then so be it. We won’t give up trying and we know that our efforts aren’t in vain. We are humbled by the fact that there are MANY families applying for the same grants and their needs are just like ours, if not even deeper. It’s wonderful knowing that there are organizations many which are supporting and assisting adoptive families so generously! We feel as if we are part of the community as a whole and that any adoptive family who receives any financial support is family to us therefore we really do receive as well!
The latest information we have is that we are being submitted to US Embassy next week – July 29th. Knowing the time crunch in getting our travel and remaining agency fees funded gives us even more motivation to ask for assistance in whatever way possible. Historically, it has been very hard for me to “receive” financially. I come from a pretty “proud” parentage. Twenty two years in the US Air Force can mold a personality. However, we know that it is time to get our boys home. If we do not have our agency fees covered and enough funding for travel, we can’t go pick them up! We know God has this covered and it may or may not be through a grant, but we also know it is okay to ask. He’ll take care of the details.