Smelly shoes lined the floor. My bare feet stick to the dirty surface that hadn’t been swept since breakfast. As socks are always missing, they are a rare delicacy only to be enjoyed on speci…
Blessed be the name of the Lord
from this time forth and forevermore!
On a recent trip to visit the Ark Encounter (it opens July 7, please buy tickets!) and Answers in Genesis, my friend Tim Dudley asked me why I had not blogged in about a year about our adoption. When I explained how busy I’d been, he gave me his trademark eye-roll and “Really? Too busy to write 500 words?” (At the time, I didn’t realize that Tim hasn’t updated his blog in five years!) As usual, Tim was correct.
When we were first considering adopting six children; we went to the authoritative source on all things important – the blogosphere, and found several blogs written by families who had adopted large sibling groups. The sites were typically profuse regarding the decision to adopt, fluent regarding the initial stage, but then the posts became fewer and fewer between. That fueled my adoption paranoia: they started happy and optimistic, but then it went bad so they stopped blogging – didn’t want to share the horrors and strife that ensued. Or so I imagined from the darker crevices of my mind.
Well, having ten kids, six of whom we were given custody of 18 months ago as part of the adoption process, I’ve become one of “them”: after an initial flurry of blogs, I recall blogging once in the past 18 months about our return from the airport from Latvia. Now I know what I had before only suspected – it isn’t a desire to hide the horrors of our situation. To the contrary, the Lord has more than answered our prayers and richly blessed our family, as I’ll explain more below. No, it’s just that 24 hours has become much shorter. On the rare events we have any available, uncommitted time at the end of a day – I like to spend it in some form of a semi-vegetative state.
So for those few and far in between who might be considering large group adoption from Latvia, I offer some observations in no particular order from our experience thus far, a few of which may translate to adoptions from orphanages in general:
- Our Latvian children loved Ketchup® and sour cream, on EVERYTHING. Now, after 18 months, they simply really like those on most things.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff and they’re all small.
- Make sure you like your dentist. Lesley was there at least weekly for about six months.
- Karyn Purvis is a huge blessing and resource. Watch her videos and absolutely first thing read her book The Connected Child.
- Kids flourish quickly and learn English even faster.
- Sanctification. I wrote previously about how adoption further personalized the Gospel for us. As I explain further below, in the past year I’ve learned how it also furthers my sanctification.
- Everyone has their eyes on the stress of the new kids. The stress from the changed family dynamics can be more difficult on your biological kids, particularly where the “new” kids outnumber the original kids. The process was at least equally disruptive to both sets of kids, but nearly all the focus naturally goes to the new kids.
- Structure is king a.k.a. we’ve made rules for EVERYTHING! It started about day 3 when we were consuming more than a gallon of milk a day. First new rule: limits on milk consumption.
- The common guidance we received was to cocoon our family for most of the first year. We didn’t do that. Instead, we signed the new kids up for the same sports our bio kids were doing, which meant a lot of soccer teams, year round swimming, gymnastics, music and martial arts. It’s worked for us. With seven boys under one roof and many kids 10 and under (then), the activities gave added structure and plenty of positive outlets for energy.
- Our kids have become good friends with each other.
- You quickly realize how much you taught your children from the youngest years when contrasted with a child who hasn’t had the same, consistent level of parental involvement.
- The second law of sockdynamics: socks trend towards total disappearance. If you think your socks don’t match now, just wait. Our kids have turned a fashion into mismatched socks. I also try to only buy black sports socks for my boys since they can be worn with everything and for all occasions and all fairly closely match each other. Lesley also bought laundry bags for each kid to put their socks into, zip shut and keep socks together through the wash dry cycle. The bags quickly went the way of half the socks: disappeared.
- Life is loud at our house. We live the definition of boys: noise that moves.
- All meat is “chicken.”
- There are a lot of cool people in the adoption community.
- Americans are friendly. (Our new kids tell us this.)
- Feeding candy to our little new kids was like feeding Gremlins after midnight. For the first year, we purged high fructose corn syrup from our house and greatly limited candy and processed sugar consumption. We also fed them a lot of Omega 3.
- Everyone likes Nutella and it makes everything edible and makes anything a dessert.
- Christ has cared for us in so many ways through his church.
- There are so many special memories.
So many special memories.
One of our children on their first day in a new Bible study class at church – each child had to tell the class something special about themselves. Our child proudly told the class he had a Mom and Dad. The teacher, not familiar with us, looked puzzled.
That same child, soon after arriving with us back to the States, now our child being adopted, was puzzled and perplexed one night at dinner. He asked earnestly, “Why when we were hosted was everyone nice to us but now they’re not?” I asked him what he meant. He explained that when we hosted them, our biological son Sean of about the same age shared everything with him and was alway pleasant, but now he does not share as much and they sometimes fight when they play. “Do you fight with Joshua and David [his biological brothers]?” I asked. “Yes,” he answered, which I knew having seen it often. “Well,” I explained, “when we hosted, you were a guest in our home. We are pleasant and tolerant to guests because we know that at some point they are going to leave. That is what it means to be a guest. But you are no longer a guest here. You are family and Sean is now your brother. Do you see the difference? You are no longer a guest; this is your home and you are family.” You could see the lightbulb turn on in his young mind as his face lit up. He smiled and looked down at his plate so his brothers didn’t see the tears streaming down his cheeks.
More hugs and kisses now when I come home from work.
One child often voluntarily gets up early and make me an egg sandwich, exactly the way I like it, before I leave for work.
Homeschooling ten children has been quite a challenge, particularly when six of them barely spoke English. Our three youngest had not learned to read at all (even in Latvian) while in Latvia. To help with the workload, we incentivized the big kids, particularly with teaching the little ones to read. We had small rewards for different milestones, culminating with our grand prize: a trip to Disney when we felt they had mastered beginner reading by reading through the dozens of early reader Bob books. All of the kids did a great job and they all learned to read far more quickly than we anticipated.
Most importantly, the adoption of our children has brought us closer to our Father in heaven. We find God most when we come to the ends of ourselves. Adoption brings me further outside myself and my natural limits, and thankfully beyond my abilities I find more of Christ and far less of me. When I married my beautiful bride Lesley, there was a paradigm shift – living with and for someone beyond just myself. I was not a Christian when I met Lesley so it was a paradigm shift. Having children was another paradigm shift. Not only did it deepen my comprehension of a deeper love (and a better understanding of the Gospel – the intimate, painful nature of a father sacrificing his son), but it also brought me into regular contact with my weaknesses and failings. Parenting is good at that in my experience. Adoption even more so. I have found it somewhat ironic that “outsiders” sometimes tell us they see us as special servants because we adopted a group of kids. Maybe that’s so, however, having ten kids has caused me to realize what a wretch I am in the flesh and how I am in need of a savior and in need of the strength of Christ in my daily walk. It has been humbling. Which is a good thing.
If you are interested in hosting, see here, here (play the video!), and here. There are a lot of children out there yearning for a family, for a mother and father to love and protect them. If interested in adoption, see here. I encourage you login into these sites and view the pictures of the many children and read their stories. If you are considering hosting or adoption, pray hard and trust God. It will not be easy, but you will be glad you did. He will provide.
God is great.
Oh come, let us sing to the LORD;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
For the LORD is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
It’s official! The six children we set out out to adopt earlier this year are our children … … at least in Latvia. God provided the way and has been with us every step. He has more than answered our prayers, blessing us abundantly.
I’ve intended for months to write a “thank you” post regarding God’s overwhelming love the past several months, particularly as expressed through his people. Life has been a bit hectic, however, the past five months, but in a very good way.
After many months of paperwork, interviews, and more paperwork, we have one more trip (our third) back to Latvia to process U.S. immigration for the children to be admitted as citizens. We spent most the month of August in Latvia for our “first” hearing (which actually entails two formal court hearings, two informal meetings with the adoption judge and an interview at the U.S. embassy). Like the children’s visit last Christmas, Inga, the then-orphanage director, was with us every step of the way. She attended every hearing and spent nearly every day with us. Inga prepared a (large) rental home for us and reserved a large van with a full time professional driver (required for passenger vehicles in excess of 9). She also brought us several home made and excruciatingly delicious Latvian tortes. She taught us how to make eastern-European styled pork roasts. Inga planned an itinerary and showed us the sights of Latvia from well known Cesis castle to Rundale Palace to off-the-beaten-path places like Barefoot Walk , the delicious bread of Liepkalni bakery (the best rye bread I’ve ever had), Viking boat tour of the Dauguva, a fantastical doll museum in Preili and the nearby ruins of Kokneses castle and several other interesting places. Perhaps my sweetest surprise was the afternoon we spent with master beekeeper Jana Bisu, eating honey directly from a few of his hundreds of hives.
We returned to the loving embrace of dozens of our friends and families at the airport. As I mentioned on these pages before, it was a celebration of life and a lifetime memory. It has been the only time I’ve walked into an airport terminal to the sound of vuvuzelas blaring and people cheering — and for us! We were embarrassed and encouraged and loved. Our Latvian children were primarily bewildered. All were exhausted after 24 hours of travel. It was a welcome home kiss from God.
A week after we returned, several members of our church coordinated a clothing and stuff donation drive. There was so much donated that donations not only filled one room – they filled several. There was the ‘girl sweater’, the ‘boy pants room’ etc. The kids’ favorites were the toy room and the sports room. Within minutes they were riding scooters and bikes up and down the church hallway. We were encouraged to select as many items as we wanted. Unwanted items were sold at a local thrift store for which we received a gift card. Following our ‘shopping’ spree they treated us to a reception/celebration. Many friends and family participated and we felt so loved and encouraged.
Another great example of support we received came through our daughter’s American Heritage Girls troup. The coordinator approached us saying they wanted to bless us with their annual service project. Together we came up with the idea of doing a ‘yard make-over’ to prepare our home to put up for sale. The outside had been at the bottom of the priority list with basic survival as a large family at the top of the list for several months so the yard was definitely in need of some TLC. By 9am that day mini vans lined our street and whole families marched about our lawn armed with rakes and shovels. Dead leaves were removed; flowers were planted; and 20 cubic yards of mulch was spread. The transformation was incredible and trumped only by the support we felt.
The love we’ve received has been incredible, very welcomed and appreciated. Through the past year, so many friends and people we do not know have prayed for us and/or given us encouragement, time, money, food, clothes, toys, furniture, bicycles, bedsheets, computers, games, puzzles, medicine, dental care, yard cleaning, house cleaning, packing/moving/unpacking help, and I’m sure there are at least another dozen areas of help we received. It has been an overwhelming wave of love. There are too many names to name. To each and every one – THANK YOU!
A few folks commented that we are “saints” for adopting six children at once. Heh. They are correct in the theologically accurate, New Testament sense that we are “saints” because we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ as our lord and savior. In the colloquial sense, however, I can assure you that I don’t feel “saintly.” What we experience is just what every other parent experiences, it’s just we’re getting a more concentrated dose of it lately. Parenting and marriage exercise the fruits of faith. Or to put it less diplomatically, few things expose our fallen, self-centered nature more readily than parenting and marriage. At least that’s the case for me. Being an adoptive father of a large set has shown me more areas than I care to admit where I really need to be more like Christ and less like me. “Areas” … that’s too generous. More like territories. Like Newfoundland size territories.
But while being stretched over the past year exposed my weaknesses, God yet again showed me that He is far bigger than my shortcomings. He provided beyond my weaknesses and beyond our expectations. He is a mighty and awesome God who provides for his children. We might not feel saintly, but we feel incredibly blessed. We serve a holy and almighty God. He provided the way and loved all twelve of us abundantly, particularly through His people – the church. We thank God for each of you who faithfully loved and supported us this past year.
God is great!
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for times of adversity. – Prov. 17:17
After 23 hours of travel, I turned my phone back on as the plane taxied to the gate. Within seconds my phone rang, “Are you here?” my friend Allen asked. He was picking us up in a large passenger van he picked up from the rental lot for us earlier in the day. My brother Travis should be waiting also with his truck to move our luggage. Allen asked me to give him a 30 second warning prior to exiting the terminal. He said there were a few folks waiting for us.
Our kids emerged one by one from their various rows on the plane. We were excited to be back in North Carolina. Some groggy. One son had to be shaken awake; he stumbled toward the door. Then the text messages started pinging. Same line of enquiry: where are you? Let us know when you’re close to leaving the terminal. There are a few folks here …
To depart Terminal 2 at RDU, you climb a flight of stairs and walk down a long partitioned hallway, about 50 yards long and emerge at a “meeting place” and a Starbucks. After the obligatory airport bathroom ordeal with ten children, we thanked God for our passage, sent the warning text, and ascended the stairs to exit.
We walked about ten yards down the hall and heard them before we saw anything. It sounded like the vuvuzelas common to southern hemisphere soccer games, but maybe an octave higher pitch. Exiting passengers further ahead looked back, scanning the crowd and grinning.
There was a horde waiting for us. A wonderful, beautiful throng of family and friends, cheering and hooting. It wasn’t vuvuzelas; it was at least a dozen children running around with birthday whistles blowing as loud as they could. My brother estimated there were somewhere between one hundred to two hundred people. Our children were stunned. Our youngest adopted son was overwhelmed. I found him and he rested his face against my shoulder. I would like to say that I was overwhelmed, but I was too tired.
For three weeks, Lesley and I had counted to ten repeatedly throughout the days, counting to make sure we had all the children with us. In the past 23 hours, together we probably counted the kids dozens of times as we travelled through several airports. Now, everyone was lost in the crowd. After the first ten minutes of hugging and embracing, I realized I had no idea where any of our kids were in this crowd. I didn’t even know where Lesley was. It did not matter. We were home, with friends. We were absorbed into a giant human love sponge.
On the ride from the airport, I felt great. Home is so much more than a place. It is where you belong. It occurred to me that this is a glimpse of what our real homecoming one day will be like. Surrounded not just by the people of God, but in the presence of the author of life Himself.
Our friends were telling us something much more than welcome home. They were celebrating the new lives added to our family. They celebrated our adoption. They celebrated the wonderful gift of life. His people love life. We “get” adoption, particularly those of us that have been close to it. Adoption is a celebration of the new family, but for believers, it is also a celebration and reflection of the eternal father’s adoption of His children, of those that have placed their faith in His son. Each one of us is adopted.
Sometimes God is not subtle. His holding us up along this way has been so clear in ways big and small. Even symbolically. As our friends arrived at the airport to greet us, a giant rainbow showed over the airport. Several friends said that as they approached, the rainbow appeared to end at our terminal.
It is good to be home. The children are doing really well. In our travels and at home, God has abundantly provided. He continues to make the way smooth before us. He strengthens and encourages us, particularly through his people. We are grateful for and continue to covet your prayers. It is humbling. Please keep praying!
There’s still some adjusting. Our youngest daughter still doesn’t really get “America.” When we pull into our neighborhood, she still yells “America!” We returned to the start of soccer season, homeschool, co-op and a busy work schedule. We have little idea of how to figure out the new “normal.” But God is clearly providing, one day at a time. Last night, our “middle” adoptive son proudly recited John 3:16 to us. Last December, he hardly spoke a single word of English.
God is great.
How lovely is your dwelling place,
My soul yearns, even faints,
for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh cry out
for the living God.
Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young—
a place near your altar,
Lord Almighty, my King and my God.
Blessed are those who dwell in your house;
they are ever praising you.
Are you crazy? I’ve heard that question from others and internalized the question to myself a few times since we decided to adopt six children from an orphanage in Eastern Europe. And five of them are boys!
It was not our idea. It’s not that we did not want to do this. To the contrary, we are excited and eager (in fact frustrated by the tediousness of the process). God has given us a love and passion for these children that only increases over time.
But that’s the thing: this was God’s doing. Not our own. As I’ve explained earlier, not only was this not our idea, it was counter to what we had planned and contrary to the little rules we agreed would govern hosting or adoption. God has made clear to us that He has different plans.
How did we know it was God’s will for us and not an emotional response or reaction to what we ate for breakfast? How can you ever be certain whether God is leading you or whether you are simply rationalizing your desires as being the will of God?
Well, we knew because we heard God talking to us the way He typically does: through His Word, through His People, through the circumstances he put us in, and by that very quiet urging deep in our souls. Through the solid convergence of these four, God spoke to us. The more we prayed about it, the louder all four seemed to speak to us.
His Word on Adoption
I am somewhere in the second year of my one-year read through the Bible program. Every time I do a read-through the Bible program, I’m surprised how God anticipated my falling behind. So often the readings (which should have been completed weeks (or months!)) ago coincide perfectly with God answering my then current prayers and questions.
Last Christmas season was no different. As the orphans were with us, I was much more diligent in my daily readings. And those readings several times reminded and encouraged me regarding God’s heart for orphans and widows. Some of such passages follow:
Orphans and Fatherless
James 1:27 Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Exodus 22:22-24 You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
Deuteronomy 10:18 He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing.
Deuteronomy 24:17-21 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.
Psalm 68:5, 34-35 Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. … Sing to God, sing praises to his name; lift up a song to him who rides through the deserts; his name is the Lord; exult before him! Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation.
Psalm 82:3 Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute.
The Bible does not, however, compel Christians to adopt. Adoption is simply one way to serve in a manner pleasing to God. We are however mandated to be servants of the living God:
Matthew 20:28 “Even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Romans 13:9 For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Acts 20:35 In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
Matthew 18:2-5 And calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me”
Proverbs 24:11 Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
John 3:15 That whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
I have also recently been encouraged and reminded that adopting and being entrusted with parenting a child or children is an incredible gift from God. The costs (and frustrations) of adoption are small price compared to the blessing received:
Psalm 127:3-5 Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!
In studying the Biblical rationale for adoption, I was reminded of an interesting historical note. Who is the most famous person you can think of that was adopted? Moses!
Acts 7:21 And when he was exposed, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son.
Every Christian is Adopted
As Lesley and I approached the “deadline” during hosting to decide whether we were going to pursue adopting our children, someone recommended that we read Adopted for Life by Russell D. Moore. I bought it and added it to the “top” of my “most urgent” reading pile of books. In quickly perusing its contents, I was convicted by the fact that each one of us professing Christians are broken orphans who have been adopted. God quickly reminded us and convicted us of His words in this regard:
John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”
Romans 8:15-17 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
Gal 4:4-7: But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
These passages remind us all who we are. Contrary to what the world might have you believe, you were no accident of nature or circumstance. You were created by the God of eternity who thought of you before time began. He has a plan for you. Each one of us, if we’ve accepted Christ as our Lord and savior, each one of us is a child and heir of the almighty, infinite and eternal God. What an honor and what a gift!
Christ’s Hands – the People of God
The second way we knew this was God moving us was through his people. Our Christian brothers and sisters came out of the woodwork to love on us and the children. It was incredible. The love, encouragement, prayers and material support were continual. And what a huge difference that made to us. God provided. No material needs were unmet. Friends gave us furniture and bags of clothing for the children. Nearly every meal for a month was delivered, without our having to ask.
I like to eat. As a result, I work out. Running is the most accessible way to exercise. One early morning while the children were with us, I went for a run. When I returned home, there was a car in our driveway. A friend had brought us breakfast. I saw the woman bringing a GARBAGE BAG apparently filled with food into our house. I was amazed. An entire garbage bag filled with food? That’s a lot. Kind of incredible. Even with ten kids, that’s more than we need for breakfast.
I was wrong. She didn’t bring a bag filled with food.
SHE BROUGHT SIX BAGS OF FOOD! We’re still eating some of it nearly four months later.
In fact, despite having to feed twelve people three meals a day for a month, I don’t believe we cooked more than two or three times for dinner. Our friends continually brought food. And everything and anything else we needed.
When God gives, He gives abundantly.
We wanted for nothing, for which we will remain thankful.
God fed us, through His people. God encouraged us, through His people. God provided for us, through His people. God loved us, through His people. God’s people prayed for us and our way was smooth.
Even now, as we build a new home and go through the expenses of the international adoption process, God blesses us through his people. Good friends of ours run the website http://homeschoolmania.com and are selling adoption friendly clothing and donating 100% of those sales proceeds as well as 50% of all online proceeds towards our adoption effort. Further, several friends have donated directly to our adoption agency designating their donations towards our adoption costs. God continues to provide for and encourage us through his people.
Circumstances and Urging
The final pieces that confirms this is God’s leading and directing is when our present circumstances and internal feeling of being led align with God’s word and the influence of God’s people. It was not simultaneous, but over time, Lesley and I each felt convicted that we were to adopt these children – to bring these children into our home as our children. I am convinced and every adoptive we have spoken with tells us: both parents must feel called to this. If one does not feel called to adopt the children, you should not do it. Over several weeks, Lesley and I varied back and forth, but as time passed we found ourselves with the same conviction. We explored several easier alternatives, but each time and in various ways, God closed each of those doors.
We have other friends we’ve made during this journey where they felt led to adopt particular children, but God firmly closed the doors. In our case, the desire and the circumstances have thus far aligned. One circumstance seemed quite obvious – after it happened. Nearly five years ago we bought a piece of property on which to planned to build a home designed for homeschooling and a lot of books. We prayed for years that God would bless that effort and use the home for his purposes. But it never worked out. For years and for various reasons, we were simply unable to move forward with construction. Everything came together towards the end of 2013 – finances, design and builder. While lying in bed on the night we committed to hosting the six orphans, I realized that earlier that day Lesley and I had also signed the contract to build our house on that property – after many years of waiting and prayer. The design was very easy to modify to accommodate 10 children! The timing and convergence of circumstances did not occur to us until after they occurred. There have been other events, some significant, that have occurred since to make the way clear for our adoption effort. It confirms our conviction that this is entirely God’s doing and timing.
Finding yourself in the midst of God’s will and His timing, is exciting. It reminds me of body surfing large waves in the Atlantic. A very large force moves you in ways and fashions beyond your control and often differently than what you anticipated.
Thank you for your prayers and support. God is Great!
Long time Christian friends, fellow triathlete and former Army tell of their first month with adoptive daughter … the pictures show it all … click over to original to see the last picture!
Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!” Isaiah 6:8
On the side of the church parking lot before a soccer game, Thea Lewis told me they will “rock your world” and implied we would never be the same again. Sounded like a threat to me. No. Thea assured that we would find ourselves most blessed. I wasn’t entirely confident. Thea and her large family have adopted multiples from overseas and are in the process of adopting another. She’s invested in the adoption community. She told me gritty, hard stories about the difficulties and pain of adoption. Her stories reflected what we heard from others that traveled down the adoption path: struggle, joy, pain, healing, brokeness, happiness, despair, lies, praise … drawing closer to the Lord. We had committed to host six orphans from Eastern Europe over the holidays and I was scared.
Our oldest child of four, our 13-year-old daughter, kept asking us when we were going to stop talking about possibly maybe someday adopting or fostering or possibly doing something like that. It’s time to stop talking and start doing she insisted. She gained access to the children “available” for hosting pages on the Open Hearts and Hands (“OHHC”) and New Horizons web pages and began emailing us pictures of available children from Eastern Europe looking for their “forever family.” Soon, our other three children joined the search. They happily offered that our hosting children for a month over the holidays would be their Christmas presents.
So we started reading the pages. Not surprisingly, it was heartbreaking surfing pages of pictures of orphans. Each picture carried a short caption giving insight into these children. Many expressed their desires for hosting – swim in a pool, learn how to pray and ride a roller-coaster were recurring themes. My wife and I quickly began setting our rules and expectations: