Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Taking One Step at a Time

If you are wondering how we got to the conclusion that we were going to pursue International Adoption, this is the post for you...
So, backing up to right after Ben had his "adoption moment".  We didn't really know where to go from there, we just knew that God was opening our eyes to see the real need to love the orphans.  Honestly, life just kind of got back in the way until about 3 months later, in June 2014.  I (Brandee) had a vivid dream that a child was in trouble.  I woke up feeling like we didn't have years to begin the adoption, but should pursue it sooner, rather than later. However, we were getting preparations ready for a summer camp in July that we attend each year and decided to look into adoption agencies after camp.
In Sept. I began seeking information. I checked out a book, You CAN Adopt from the library and began reading it. It was a good book to learn from and I think God used this book to soften my heart for the orphans even more.  It sparked several conversations between Ben and I. As I finished that book, I reserved A Guide for Christian Families for Successful Adoption. This book was great in providing the advice we were looking for from a Christian perspective.
In October, Ben and I decided we were going to seek out families who were living out what we were trying to figure out.  We met with some friends who were fostering kids here in Kettering.  We got great info from them on the ups and downs of fostering. Then we met with a family from our church, who had recently brought home their daughter from China and learned a lot from their story as well. We asked a lot of questions about their agency, which led us to start requesting info. from different fostering and adoption agencies.  We also got great advice from the worship leader at our church (who has adopted internationally and currently fosters), that we should just take one step at a time.  God will open the right doors and close the ones that are not for us.  I feel like that's what we kept going back to, just keep taking steps. Through the times of seeking information, we kept coming back to China. However, the cost seemed like too big of a hurdle to even consider, ranging from 28-43K.  With fostering, there wouldn't be that huge expense; in fact, they even pay you. But God is bigger than finances and if He's calling us to something, He will provide everything needed to get through it.  In the book, A Guide for Christian Families for Successful Adoption it says, "Christians are lovingly commanded by God to love others, particularly the innocent, the young, and the poor.  If you have ever felt even the smallest pang of curiosity of adoption, the merest flicker of interest in an orphaned child, then ask God if He wants to fan it into a flame. Then trust Him to take care of the details. As you consider adoption, focus on the resources you do have and let God take care of what you don't." By this point, He has definitely fanned the desire into a flame.
In November, I read a statistic that many people say they want to adopt, but only 2% actually "follow through to completion." One of my fears at this point was that we wouldn't "follow through to completion", which led me to pray all the more fiercely that He would carry us through to completion and beyond and that He would help us be a part of making that percentage rise.
Over the next month, we just kept taking baby steps which led us to applying for an international adoption from China through Gladney Center for Adoption on December 17, 2014.
November 26, 2014 - Submitting our online Pre-Adoption Application with Gladney

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

We Thought We Were "Done"

Our adoption story is a bit long, but if you want to hear the whole story, now you have the opportunity.  God has known about this part of our life before time began, although for us, we became aware of it over a couple years worth of time.  We have 3 biological kids (Noah-6, Gavin-5, and Lilee-2) and after having our girl, Lilee, we thought we were done having kids.  There was a small question of "should we try for a 4th?" but definitely didn't feel the desire to adopt. I (Brandee) thought if we had 3 boys, MAYBE, we could adopt a little girl. But since we had a girl, I didn't see how I could adopt another girl or boy and love them the same as a biological child.  Somehow I thought if I only had bio boys than I could love an adopted girl the same, but not if I had a bio girl.  Strange to think about it now, but it was a very real concern at that time.  
Then, on a Sunday in November 2013, God opened my eyes to see a different picture for our family.  I was sitting in the church service, listening to the message on Adoption weekend. (November is Adoption Awareness month.) I had heard a similar message the previous year and didn't feel any tug or desire to adopt, but this day was different.  As I listened, it was very clear that I could love a child who was adopted, boy or girl, just as much as a biological child, because God would help me.  I started to see a little Asian girl, with brown eyes and brown hair. I was so excited and couldn't wait to talk to Ben (he was at work). As I left the service to go pick up the kids down the hall, it seemed as though each direction I looked, there was an Asian child or family.  It was as if God was magnifying or shining a spotlight on them for me to see brighter. I get the kids and we drive to visit Ben at the Fire Station. The song "Oceans" comes on the radio and I've suddenly got tears coming down my face as I imagine us going overseas to pick up our daughter, how it will be a different and tough path of adoption paperwork, expenses, and the unknowns, but God will carry us through and that we would be at peace because of Him guiding us through this.  I get to the station and tell Ben he's got to listen to the message.  I didn't tell him any details, but just that I wanted him to listen and let me know what he thought.  Later that week, after he listened to the message, he tells me, "That was a great message, but I didn't feel any special calling or directing to do anything other than pray for the orphans." I was a little disappointed, but knew that I couldn't force anything on him.  If God wanted us to do this, He would put it on Ben's heart in His own timing. And if not, then we would be content with that as well.  I didn't bring up the conversation of adoption again. However, the next time the word was spoken, it was four months later, by Ben.  
We were at a food ministry with our House Church (aka small group) one Saturday in March.  Right before we were about to leave, a lady showed up, who we had never seen before, with her 3 grandboys. We talked with her and gave her a bag of food and prayed with her.  As we're driving home, Ben tells me, "I would've taken those boys home today." God had used that moment to speak to Ben and soften his heart to adoption.  You see, the grandma had shared with us that the boys' dad and grandpa had both been murdered and they had no male influence in their lives.  Through the conversation and Ben getting down on the ground and talking with those young boys.  They were soaking up his attention; placing his hands on their shoulders and putting their hands on his shoulders. Ben realized in that moment that our family has a lot of love to give, and there are a lot of kids without a loving family.  It began to make sense that if we were going to have another child, it would be through adoption...
So, this led to lots of prayer time... what was our next step? Do we foster? Do we adopt? Do we adopt domestically?  Internationally?  The answer would take months before it became clear to us that we were on a path to an international adoption. One step at a time...