So this is the first post on our blog. Many of you already know our story. Some of you are just coming in and want to find out what’s going on. WARNING: THIS IS A VERY, VERY LONG POST. And then I began to bargain with God. And, if you do want us to adopt, I’m sure we can make that work eventually. Just not now. We’ll do it later in life, when we have that bigger house and the mini van and plenty of money in the bank. We can’t afford to do this now. We have other priorities, other things we’re saving for and other things we want to do first.
I guess you can say that this really started about 10 months ago, but we didn’t know it yet. I (Brittany) had the opportunity to spend time with a girl who had come into our college ministry from foster care. She was living with a family in our church at the time, and about once a week I would pick her up, and we’d just spend a little time together. I cried over the stories she shared. I cried over the fact that she wasn’t cared for and loved like she should have been. She didn’t choose that for herself…others chose it for her. I’m not going to go into details so that I can protect her identity, but the Lord really used that time to show me that there is a world full of orphans who are hurting and need to be loved. He also used the family that she stayed with to show me that, as Christians, we are to care for the orphans (see James 1:27).
So, fast forward a little bit. Sometime in the fall, about three or so months after we had our son, Caleb, I felt a stirring in my heart about adoption. I didn’t have this grand revelation or anything like that…just a stirring. I discounted it as hormones leftover from pregnancy and didn’t think much of it. But the stirring continued and got stronger. And the more I would push it away, the stronger it would get.
One Sunday morning, December 13, some Ukrainian children were visiting our church. They had come over on an exchange program. One little boy came up to the front of the church, and he sang in front of the entire church. I cried. I mean, we’re not talking a couple of little tears…we’re talking uncontrollable crying. Poor Austin had no idea what was going on with me! Later in the service, I looked back to where that little boy sat, and he snuggled in between the woman and man he had been staying with. He had fallen asleep, but his arms were linked with their arms. It was one of the most precious sights I’ve ever seen. I thought to myself that he must have felt so comfortable and secure with them. It also made me think about all the many children out there who didn’t have a mommy and a daddy to snuggle in between and to find shelter from the rest of the world. It broke my heart. The Lord continued to stir…
On December 15, I was driving to see my Mom and Dad. Caleb was in the backseat sound asleep. I don’t remember what triggered this, but I knew that the stirring about adoption I had been feeling wasn’t a feeling. It was the Lord. I remember crying out to Him, asking Him to show me what this stirring was all about. I felt Him quietly saying to me, “I’ve got a plan for you. A plan that involves adoption.”
I would like to say that I got on board immediately and thanked the Lord for choosing me. However, that’s not true. I fought Him, and I fought Him hard. Lord, WHY would we adopt? We can have children! Look at the healthy, beautiful baby boy YOU gave us in July. Why would we adopt and go through the expense and emotional rollercoaster and all of that? Shouldn’t we just continue having more children and raising them in YOU? Adoption is for those who can’t have children, right? So we’re exempt. Besides, Lord, just hold on a minute. I’m married. And you don’t call one partner without the other. So if you want us to adopt, You’re going to have to call Austin.
And with that, I thought the whole idea was over. But I was wrong. Very wrong. The Lord doesn’t bargain when it comes to something He’s calling us to do. So, instead, the stirring in my heart toward adoption and orphans became heavier. My thoughts were constantly invaded by thoughts of those orphans needing a home. I felt like I was going to bust with what the Lord was doing in my heart. But I didn’t know who to tell. And I definitely wasn’t going to say anything to Austin. I was waiting on the Lord to tell him.
Around this same time (see how the Lord was already at work?), some friends of ours shared their story on how they grew their family with the addition of their now oldest son. I remember a phrase they used in our conversation. Our friend said, “Well, we’ve got an extra bedroom, so why not?”. After that, every time I walked into our guest bedroom, I thought about her words. I also thought to myself, how cool to be used by God like that. I’d like to do something like that some day.
The day before Christmas Eve, Austin and I went to see The Blindside at the theater. And, of course, I couldn’t stop thinking about the millions upon millions out there that needed homes and a family to love them. And yes, I cried some more. The Lord used the film to show me a family that took another in. I was touched beyond words. If you’ve seen the part in the movie where Michael Oher says that he’s never had one before, and Leigh Anne responds, “What, a room to yourself?” and Michael says, “No, a bed”. Oh, the things I’ve taken for granted! And I thought, some day I hope the Lord uses our family like that.
On Christmas Eve, I remember the drive back from Mom and Dad’s house to our own home so that we could have Christmas morning together as our family of three. I remember being so excited, but images of children all around the world who wouldn’t be celebrating Christmas with their family haunted me. Why was this happening? Why couldn’t I stop thinking about these orphans?
At the beginning of January, I felt like I was truly going to bust, and it was time to share what the Lord was doing in my heart with Austin. I turned everything over to the Lord and believed that if this is what He was calling us to do, He would make it happen by getting a hold of Austin’s heart. Now, my husband is a Godly man, so I knew he wouldn’t laugh at my idea. He said very matter of factly, “I’m not closed to the idea [of adoption], but I haven’t felt called to it. I’ll pray about it.”
In the meantime, I, of course, kept praying! I also started trying to learn as much as I could and even ordered in a couple of books. One book was called Adopted for Life by Russell Moore. Even if you’re not considering adoption, you should read it! It presents an amazing parallel of how earthly adoption is the representation of a believer’s adoption into God’s family. More on that later.
On January 10, Austin and I went to Sunday night Church. We thought we were going to a comedy concert, but as it turns out, the Lord again desired to show us something. An organization was there that talked about orphans in Haiti. Again, it made me think about all of the orphans worldwide. As we walked to the nursery to pick up Caleb, I made the comment to Austin, “I know this sounds crazy, but I truly believe that there is a little girl out there who is meant to be in our family down the road.” And Austin said, “You could be right. God will show us.”
Sometime around mid-February, Austin and I were talking about adoption. He said something about adoption and then used the phrase, “when we adopt...”. I looked at him, bewildered. “What do you mean WHEN we adopt?” And it was then that Austin told me through prayer the Lord had been speaking to his heart as well. I remember thinking, Are you sure, Austin? Don’t you need to pray about it some more? I was convinced that I was making it all up and that my Godly husband would confirm that thought! Anyway, I think it’s fair to say that we both felt called to adopt, but what we didn’t know was that the Lord was stirring in our hearts not for adoption later in life…He was calling us for NOW.
So we began the next step in the process. We researched everything that we could possibly think of related to adoption. We researched our different options for adoption. Even though we can’t really explain why (other than the Lord giving us this desire), we both felt called to international adoption. Since we are the very thorough and analytical people, we did, however, research foster care and domestic adoption. After our research, we felt more confident in our call to international adoption. We were drawn to some of the Eastern European countries like Russia and Ukraine, but when we looked at the estimated cost to adopt, we threw those options out the window. WE couldn’t afford those! So we started leaning heavily toward the Asian countries, and we liked the cost involved a lot better. But God had a different plan in mind for us. He wasn’t (and isn’t) concerned about the cost, because He owns all of the resources in the world. He shut all of the doors leading to us adopting from an Asian country. Now what?
In our process of researching adoption, we talked to several different people…some who are just beginning their adoption journey (like Josh and Elizabeth Nunnally) and others who have brought their children home (like the Eglys). We had the privilege of meeting with a man on staff in our Church on Wednesday, March 10. He and his wife have adopted through foster care and are currently in the process of adopting a little boy from Ukraine. The Lord used our time with him to confirm again international adoption for us and that NOW was our time to move. Our meeting was running long (yeah, we had a million questions!), and so he invited us to go to lunch with him, his wife, and another guy named Steve, who had just returned from the Ukraine (did I mention he is an adoptive parent to three boys as well?). During the course of our lunch, we came away with a lot of information, but we never dreamed how one little word that we heard during lunch would forever change our lives. Moldova.
Now, if you’re like me (Brittany...of course Austin knew), you’ve never heard of Moldova (pronounced “mall-dō-vuh”). You actually didn’t even know it existed. But it does. And there are over 12,000 orphans in Moldova waiting for a forever home. The Lord took this little word and little country and laid it on our hearts. As we began to learn about Moldova and the hopelessness suffered by its people, we felt the Lord calling us there. Our prayer for where to adopt from was answered. The Lord gave it to us in an unexpected way.
On Thursday, March 25, we had our call with the ONLY adoption agency that we could use in Moldova (again, isn’t it really cool how the Lord just shuts all other doors?). The call went so well, and Austin and I had a complete peace about our country coordinator, Julie, the agency, and their practices. However, there was an issue: the agency typically does not encourage adopting out of birth order (which is most likely what will happen because Caleb is so young). Julie wanted to run our unique situation by their supervising social worker. She told us that she didn’t know if it was best for us to start this process now or to wait anywhere from 6 months to 1 year before starting the process to ensure that we keep the birth order. Austin and I talked after the call and both commented on how crushed we were to think we would have to wait up to a year to even BEGIN our process. Before the call, we thought it might be a “relief” to be told we had to wait to start all of the paperwork, but the Lord used even the thought of waiting to begin the process to really reveal our true feelings on it. However, the Lord confirmed to us again that this is His plan for us and now is the time. We received clearance to move forward less than 24 hours after our call.
So, basically, to sum up this long story (hey, no complaining! You received fair warning at the beginning), the Lord has called our family to adopt now. There are 147 MILLION orphans in the world that didn’t choose to be orphans. They want a family, and they want to be loved. We are convinced that the Lord has called us to grow our family through one of these orphans. The Lord has chosen us to give a forever home to one of these.
We are on an exciting and unpredictable journey. This is not a journey that will end when we bring our child home. This is a lifelong journey to which the Lord has called us. While we don’t know why the Lord has called us for this specific task, we are following His calling in obedience and going. We hope that you will come along with us on our journey and pray for every step to be taken in His will and in His timing.
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
And then I began to bargain with God. And, if you do want us to adopt, I’m sure we can make that work eventually. Just not now. We’ll do it later in life, when we have that bigger house and the mini van and plenty of money in the bank. We can’t afford to do this now. We have other priorities, other things we’re saving for and other things we want to do first.