If this is your first time visiting our blog, you may want to began by reading why we are choosing to adopt. We ask for your prayers, encouragement, and support as we go where the Lord is calling.

Friday, April 30, 2010


So...we thought we would do a FAQ's for everyone reading out there. These are the questions we get asked the most.

Why are you choosing to adopt?

Simple/Short answer: Because Jesus has called us to adopt, and we are following through in obedience.
Long answer: See here

Do you have a specific gender/age you are requesting?

Yes. We feel called to adopt a little girl, and we have requested that she be anywhere from 0-4 years old. She is required to be at least 1 year apart from Caleb, though we don't know yet if she will be younger or older. We know that the Lord already picked our daughter for us, and we're leaving those details to Him. Additionally, we want her to be at least one year away from starting school so that she has time to attach to us and adjust to her new life in the U.S.

Will you tell her she's adopted?

Yes, absolutely. We want her to know that she has a unique story from a very early age, that this does not make her "strange" or "weird" but that it is a part of who she is.

Why Moldova (and not the U.S.)?

Simple/Short answer: Because Moldova is the place the Lord has laid on our hearts. We have prayed long and hard over the country, and Moldova is the answer we keep getting. Our hearts have been broken for the people and the despair in this country.

Long answer: In addition to the long answer to the question above (why we are adopting), there were a number of practical advantages to choosing Moldova. First, given that we are looking to adopt a little girl who is younger than 5 years old, Moldova is one of the few countries where this is achievable. Additionally, a Moldovan adoption requires two separate one-week trips to the country to complete the adoption, whereas many other countries require much longer in-country stays (some as many as 8 weeks).

As far as why we're not adopting from the U.S., here's the answer:

To adopt in the U.S. through the foster care system, we discovered that we would first have to be foster parents for at least 6 months, during which time we are working to reconcile the relationship between the child and birth parents. We could find an adoptable child the first time, or she might not come for 10 children later. We felt that, with having such a young child (Caleb) already in our home, the emotional aspect involved with dealing with birth parents and possibly having many children in and out of our home would not be right for our family in this current season of life.

We believe that EVERY child deserves a loving home...whether they're right here in the U.S. or somewhere else around the world.

How long does the process take?

From start (submitting our application to our agency) to finish (bringing our daughter home), it ranges anywhere from 1 year - 1.5 years. This being said, it can always change. Right now we anticipate bringing our little girl home between April and October 2011.

Where are you at in the process?

We have submitted our applications to our agencies (placement and home study) and received approval from them. We are now in the process of doing our home study, with our first interview being done next week.

Will you have more children?

It is our desire to have more children, but we will let the Lord lead us in that.

How will the adoption affect Caleb?

He will now be a brother! Just like families who add to their family through the birth of a child, their current children learn a new normal. We, too, are adding another child to our family, but we're just not doing it the "normal way." We also believe we are not taking anything away from Caleb by adding a sibling through adoption versus birth. We KNOW beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Lord is leading our family to adopt. We pray that we are modeling for Caleb what obedience to the Lord looks like regardless of how the rest of the world sees our decisions. We also hope that Caleb will see that being a family is more than just sharing the same DNA and that he will discover that we should always, always open our hearts and homes to others in need. As Christians, our life is not our own, and we have been called to love others the way that Christ loves us. As another adoptive parent shares, "You are NOT taking anything AWAY from your birth children. Instead, what you are doing is imparting to them something eternal: you are expanding their capacity to love. Think about that for a minute before you read anything else. How do you plan to teach your children to love others unconditionally and in total compassion without giving them an opportunity to do so? I'm telling you now, you can't." She goes on to say that, "My biological children have a greater capacity of love in their hearts than I could ever impart to them by just giving them a safe Christianity, by maintaining their status quo, by simply modeling "godliness" as parents (as if that's the end-all be-all for a Christian family). My kids...all of them...have lived out self-sacrifice and understand (because they live it!) that laying down one's life does not steal anything from us. That is the lie of the devil, who would have us believe that sacrifice is not worth it; that there is nothing for us in return; that God doesn't really mean what He says when He said to His followers that anyone who does not take his cross up and follow me is not worthy of me. [Because] Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it (Matthew 10:38-39)."

So how much will this adoption cost?

Based on the figures we've been given, somewhere in the neighborhood of $40,000 - $45,000. Yes, we know. It's A LOT. However, we were convicted by considering the fact that most of us would barely hesitate to buy cars that cost close to this amount, and that over the course of even a few years, many of us will spend this much or more on truly frivolous expenses (i.e. eating out, vacations, boats, media, etc.). It convicted us when we paused to worry (believe us, we did!) about this amount knowing we were spending it on something God called us to do. We believe that fleeing from this calling for fear of the monetary cost would ultimately cost us far more than any adoption ever would. We also know that where God guides, He always provides.

What can we do to help you?

Pray! Seriously, we need YOU to be in prayer for our family, for our circumstances, and for the little girl we are going to bring home to our family EVERY DAY. We will try to post specific requests here on the blog so that you know how you can pray.

Provide emotional support to us. This process is hard for us! While we are so excited about this journey the Lord is taking us on, we're also very scared. We've never done anything like this before, and we don't know how it's all going to work out. We sometimes find ourselves listening to the world and how so many things can go wrong instead of listening to the voice of Truth. We need people like YOU to lift us up and encourage us along the way.

Consider providing financial support. The Lord has blessed us with a good income and we are saving every penny we can (and using our savings already established), but it's not enough to cover all of the expenses that will be incurred. We will be doing several fundraisers in the coming months, from selling t-shirts and coffee to hosting a dinner/silent auction and having a garage sale. Every dollar you give brings us one step closer to bringing our little girl home.

Oh, and if you have any more questions that we didn't address here, please email us (shaverfamilyadoption@yahoo.com) or post a comment on our blog. We will try to answer those questions for you!

Thank You!

Thank you to everyone who pre-ordered our adoption t-shirts! We appreciate your support more than you'll ever know! I placed the order today, and the shirts will be in the week of May 10th. You'll have your shirt to wear shortly thereafter. If you didn't order a shirt yet, it's not too late! We've ordered extras and will place another order in the near future.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Buy Coffee and Bring Our Little Girl Home!

Please check out this company that sells FAIR TRADE coffee while helping families bring home their children! For each item purchased, Just Love Coffee Roasters will give $5 toward bringing our little girl home.

Think about purchasing gifts for Mother's Day, Father's Day, birthdays, anniversaries, or whatever!

As one friend stated,
Fair Trade + Coffee + Helping Orphan = WIN, WIN, WIN!!!


- Purchase coffee online for $12.95 + tax + shipping
- If you live here locally, you can purchase coffee from us directly by emailing us at Shaverfamilyadoption@yahoo.com. This great organization is in Murfreesboro, so we'll be stopping by there about once a month on our way to visit my parents in Middle Tennessee. We'll stock up so that you can purchase from us and save money on shipping.

Thanks for helping us bring our little girl home!!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Pre-Order Simply Love Moldova Shirts!

Many of you know that we received approval to move forward in the Moldova program last week. Now we are ready to start fundraising to bring our daughter home! We are offering Simply Love Moldova t-shirts, and 100% of the proceeds will go directly into our adoption account.

We have a women’s style, a men’s style, and a youth style. All the t-shirts have Philippians 4:6-7 (“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”) wrapped around the country of Moldova. See below for pictures and descriptions. You can pre-order yours today! You should receive your shirt during the week of May 12th.

We ask that when you wear our t-shirts that you pray for our family throughout this entire adoption process. Thank you for your support and prayers!


The women’s t-shirts are extra soft and will fit like a unisex cut (ladies…this is NOT A SLIM SHIRT!) This t-shirt is available in either brown or black.

Women's Front

Women's Back

Women Style T
Pick up or Ship


The men’s t-shirts are extra soft and fit normal. This t-shirt is available in either army green or brown.

Men's Front

Men's Back

Men Style T
Pick up or Ship


The youth t-shirt is a good mix between the men’s and women’s front design and will have the saying like the women’s back (Love Will Always Find A Way). This shirt is available in either brown or black. NOTE: I need at least 10 youth pre-orders to order. Email me at ShaverFamilyAdoption@yahoo.com to order.

Youth Front

Youth Back

Youth Style T
Pick up or Ship

Amazing Adoption Testimony

Ludy Adoption Video from Lifesong for Orphans on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

My heart overflows with blessings from the Lord

What a week of blessings we have experienced here in the Shaver household! Our God is so good and so faithful! My heart is just overflowing with how the Lord is showing His love and kindness to us. He is Jehovah-Jireh, and we stand in awe of how He is already providing for our needs!

This week I had to take my car in for its big service/maintenance, which was going to be $200+. I am extremely diligent about maintaining my car, and it's in great shape, so I hated to spend that kind of money, especially in light of all of the adoption expenses we are already incurring. I talked to the service advisor, Mike, who waited on me (little did I know that the Lord had this divine appointment already set up for me). I explained to him about my car and about our adoption, and we settled on just doing an oil change this time. I had a coupon, and with Mike's help, I left paying $25 and change. As it turns out, I learned that I needed some new filters for my car and a few others things more thoroughly checked, so I called Mike back 2 days later and asked if we could do the full scheduled maintenance. I told him that I found a 15% off coupon and asked if I could use it...he agreed and gave me an estimated cost of $140 for the service. I took my car in, and again, we talked more about the adoption and the Lord's work in each of our lives. He told me that he was going to try to get the cost down a little more, and I thanked him since every penny we can save is going toward our adoption. Mike came to get me after the service was finished. My total bill was less than $75.00 even after tax. Praise the Lord! I'm pretty sure I had tears in my eyes as I thanked Mike for helping us out. This service advisor showed such compassion to our family and allowed the Lord to use him to be God's hands and feet that day...and words cannot express the gratitude I have for what Mike did for our family by helping us save money to bring our little girl home.

On Saturday night, Austin and I went to the annual Hope Resource Dinner in Knoxville. And again, the Lord had a divine appointment waiting for us. We soon learned that the couple seated at the table with us are adoptive parents of a little girl from Guatemala. It was so encouraging to hear their story and we were truly blessed by their words. AND...as if this isn't all enough for the week, we learned from a friend whom we rarely see now that there is a girl in his small group at Church who is about our age that is from Moldova. Seriously?! How cool is that? We're hoping we might have the opportunity to meet her in the future and learn more about her country.

Thank You, Jesus, for putting people in our lives to extend Your love and compassion and to encourage us as we move forward in this adoption process!

This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. - 1 John 4:14

Friday, April 23, 2010

Please pray for our friends...

Josh and Elizabeth Nunnally, who are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia. They are having a HUGE garage sale in Middle Tennessee this weekend. You can learn more by going to their website. Please pray for a successful garage sale, especially in light of the bad weather threats.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Today, please pray for...

the orphans of Moldova. Pray that the Lord will call others to go and become a mommy or daddy to one of these precious children. Pray for their health. Pray for their safety. Pray that the Lord will send someone into each of their lives to show them what love looks like...and that they will discover that while they may not have an earthly daddy, Jesus is their Daddy and loves them dearly.

As you take time out of your day to remember the orphans of Moldova, pray also for our daughter. We don't even know if she is alive yet or not, but pray these same things for her as well. Pray especially that her caretaker will give her extra love and attention until we can get to her. Pray that the Lord would move things along according to His will. We want so badly to bring her home!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Our application has been approved!

Carolina Adoption Services let us know today that our application with them has been approved! One step closer in the process!

To Russia...With(out) Love?

Like many others in the adoption community, I am saddened that Russia has suspended all adoptions to the United States in light of the situation with Torry Hansen and the poor decision she made in sending back her adopted son, Justin Hansen aka Artyem Saviliev, to Russia by himself with a note stating that she no longer wished to parent him.

Of course, since Ms. Hansen refuses to talk to anyone unless a charge is filed, we might never know the whole story. Or, as one person pointed out, maybe she's going to write a book on her experience and make lots of money (please...don't go buy it!). Anyway, back to my point, there is a lot that we just don't know. But here are some things that I do know.

1. One of Ms. Hansen's arguments is that Russia, its officials, and orphanage workers lied about the mental/emotional stability of Justin. And maybe they did. But here's the deal: regardless of whether or not this 7 year old had real issues, his adoptive mother accepted responsibility for him upon adopting him and should have sought professional help from other sources. Why didn't she exhaust every option to get him help? It appears that Ms. Hansen's agency, WACAP, was unaware of any difficulties she was having with Justin. See their comments here (note: this is very informative on adoption protocol in general...I say it's a must read). So...the question is, did Justin REALLY have issues, or was he just a confused kid who was trying to adjust to his new life in the U.S.? I mean, who actually believes that you can take a child from a different culture, stick him in a new place with new foods, systems, languages, people, etc., and not expect some type of behavioral issues? But seeing as how no professional help was sought, I guess we'll never really know if Justin's issues were truly as severe as Ms. Hansen claims. And, to make matters more interesting, it seems that, at least from one source, Ms. Hansen was pursuing a second adoption through a different agency. If things were really SO bad with Justin, why immediately start another adoption process? Is it just me, or does that make no sense at all? Oh, so many questions!

2. When you adopt a child, it's not like bringing home a dog from the pound. If things don't work out, you don't just take it back to where you initially got it. The child is legally yours! Just as with a biological child, you can't send him back. There are no guarantees when it comes to children...regardless of if they are biological or adopted. You can't guarantee that they won't have physical, mental, or emotional issues. Children are risky business! But as their parent, you accept the role of loving them, caring for them, and doing what is in their best interest. And when it becomes too overwhelming for you, you get outside support and help. Reaching out to others for help doesn't make you a bad parent. Sending your child alone back to another country by himself because it was all too much for you? Well...that's another story.

3. Oh, and by the way, for those whose only comment about this tragic situation is that all children from the U.S. should be adopted before international adoption is even considered, you should know that there are many different reasons why people adopt from other countries and EVERY ORPHAN (whether in the U.S. or somewhere in the rest of the world), deserves a loving family. Maybe your passion for the children here in the U.S. is God-given and YOU should be the one to give them a forever home.

My heart goes out to all of the families who are in the process of a Russian adoption. Families that have already met their new son/daughter and are waiting to bring them home. Families that just received their referral and now wonder if they will ever meet the sweet little face in the picture. Or the others who have been laboring over mounds of paperwork only to wonder if it was all in vain. It's beyond amazing how one person could create such an international disaster. Let's just pray that Russia will re-open adoptions to the U.S. sooner rather than later for these families and children alike.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Does It Pay to Visit Vermin? By John Piper

So...nothing really new to report here. We're still waiting to hear back on our application to our agency.

I came across this today and thought I would share it.

(Meditation on James 1:27)

"Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world." (James 1:27) Local businessmen in Brazil call them "vermin." Garbage. "If we let them grow up, they will be criminals, a blight on our society." There are an estimated twelve million homeless children on the streets of Brazil. Their parents lost them in the crowds, put them out, died. However they got there, they are there. They beg, they steal, they sell their bodies. They eat garbage. They start scared and end scarred, hard, and dead.

Some policemen and others moonlight by contracting to kill street children so that they will not menace the city. In 1992 an average of four hundred of these children were killed monthly in Brazil. It's the same in other big cities. The Philippine government estimates that there are fifteen thousand child prostitutes in Manila between the ages of nine and twelve. One estimate suggests that in Thailand there are eight hundred thousand girls between twelve and sixteen years old involved in prostitution.

Is your first thought merely human? Like, "If I can barely rear my own children to walk worthy of the gospel, what hope would there be to change the lives of these street kids?" Or, "If it takes ten thousand dollars' worth of Christian counseling to stabilize a mature American Christian who was sexually abused, what in the world would we do with thousands of adolescents who knew nothing but abuse and lawlessness and violence on the streets?" Do you find yourself looking (in good American fashion) at the bottom line and saying, "The turnaround on this investment would not be good"? Or, "The growth potential in planting churches among street kids is not very great. There are too many obstacles."

Shift your thinking a minute (or a lifetime). What about the widow who put in her last two pennies? Jesus said she gave more than anyone (Luke 21:3). What about John the Baptist who lost his head on a dancer's whim and never did a miracle? Jesus said, "Among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John" (Matthew 11:11, RSV). What about the poor in spirit? Theirs is the kingdom of heaven. What about the meek? They inherit the earth. What about those who receive one child in the name of Jesus? At that moment they receive God (Mark 9:37). What effect does it have on your longings when you think that God says true religion is to visit orphans (James 1:27)?

The effect it has on me is to make me want to love like Jesus loved and not always be thinking of the earthly payoff. Face it. A few kids are cute, but most street kids will be thankless, rude, dirty, diseased, scar-faced, shifty-eyed, lice-infested, suspicious, smelly, and have rotten teeth. If we minister mainly for the earthly payoff, we will burn out in a year.

Jesus did not say, "True religion is converting orphans." He did not say, "True religion is making orphans mature and successful adults." He said, "True religion is visiting orphans." Results are God's business alone. Obedience is ours by His grace. More specifically, by faith in future grace. Perhaps when we grasp this, we will be freed from our earthbound way of thinking and released to minister to the ones who are least likely to thank us.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Moldova...where's that?

The title of this blog is one of the first questions many people have asked when we talk about adopting internationally. Well, in the age of Google and Wikipedia, we figure none of us should remain in the dark. So, for those so inclined, I would recommend the following sites to learn as much as you so desire:

However, if you want the Cliffs Notes version, here are some highlights about this far away (and yet, now so much closer) land...

Where is Moldova? Moldova is located between Romania and Ukraine.

Has there always been a Moldova? (Hint: You're probably older than the current iteration). It has been a long road for Moldova to get where it is today.

Antiquity - What is now Moldova was part of Dacia before coming under Roman control.
Middle ages - The territory is part of the Principality of Moldavia.
1812 - Eastern part of the territory is annexed by the Russian Empire and becomes Bessarabia.
1859 - Moldavia unites with Wallachia to form modern Romania.
1917 - Russian Empire dissolved and an independent Moldavian Democratic Republic is formed.
1918 - MDR joins Greater Romania.
1940 - Bessarabia occupied by the Soviet Union and is split between the Ukrainian SSR and the Moldavian SSR.
1944 - Subsumed into the Soviet Union.
August 27, 1991 - Moldova gains its independence.
March, 1992 - Moldova becomes one of the first former Soviet republics to be admitted to the United Nations.

How big is Moldova? Moldova is slightly larger than the state of Maryland and has approximately 4.3 million people. Compare this to the actual state of Maryland, which has approximately 5.7 million people. The capital city of Chisinau (pronounced kee-shee-now) has a population of 630,000 in the metro area and 809,000 when considering its suburbs, making it similar to Memphis.

How is Moldova governed? Moldova is governed as a unitary parliamentary representative democratic republic (as opposed to the United States, which is governed as a federal constitutional presidential republic). From 1998-August, 2009, Moldova was one of only three countries with democratically elected Communist leaders. However, on August 8, 2009, four Moldovan parties agreed to form a governing coalition and rendered the Communist party the opposition party (Coalition [Alliance for European Integration] - 53 seats; Party of Communists - 48 seats).

What language is spoken in Moldova? The vast majority of the population speaks Romanian (we picked up a Romanian language/phrase book... results have been mixed so far) =) with significant minority populations who speak Russian or Ukrainian.

What religion prevails in Moldova? Officially, 93.3% claim to be Eastern Orthodox Christians, 2% claim Protestantism, 1.2% belong to other religions, 0.9% is non-religious, and 0.4% claim to be Atheist.

How wealthy is Moldova? Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe with a per capita GDP between $2,000-$3,000 (whereas the U.S. is $47,000) while more than 25% of the population lives off of less than $2/day. In fact, many of the Moldovan citizens have to leave their home country to find work abroad, which is one reason why so many children end up in state-run institutions.

Obviously, entire volumes could be filled talking about the nation and people of Moldova, but I hope these have been a few useful highlights. I encourage you to take the time to learn more about this fascinating country and its people.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Home Study Application is Submitted!

Austin and I have been working SO hard to get everything in. We submitted approximately 310 pages to the home study agency. And what, do you ask, could we have submitted? How about...

Home Study Contract
Client Rights
Service Plan
Parent Checklist
Questionnaire for all adoptions
Questionnaire for international adoptions
Local criminal record checks
Employee letter
1040 tax return
Medical statements
Releases of information - COA, DCS, other
Immunization letter for children
Birth certificates
Marriage certificate
Proofs on insurance - health, dental, homeowners', automobile, life
Monthly budget
Savings account information
Pay stubs
Property tax notice
Mortgage statement
Home appraisal
Car titles
Kelley Blue Book appraisals for cars
Other financial information - stock summary, 401k plan, Roth IRA's
Credit reports
Veterinary records

Whew, I'm tired just typing all of this! But you know what...it's all worth it!

THE notebook that has consumed our lives for the past 3 weeks

Sweet Sleep

Please say a prayer today for this ministry.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Search On!

Josh and Whitney created this for us...what a sweet surprise!

Friday, April 9, 2010

To Our Daughter

Sweet Little One,

Daddy and I are working as hard and as fast as we can to come and get you. We are frantically filling out our paperwork, gathering all sorts of important documents, and sharing our life story with strangers…all steps that are necessary to bring you home. Oh, and how we already long for the day that we will bring you home!

So much of this waiting period reminds me of being pregnant with your brother. I loved the planning stages and preparing for his arrival. I couldn’t wait to meet him and just hold him in my arms, but I was okay waiting for him to be ready because I knew that he needed to grow strong and healthy. But it’s a little different with you, because you are most likely already born and halfway across the world from me. I don’t want to wait…I just want to bring you home now. Every day that I wait is another day that you are growing up in an institution away from here. It’s another day that I miss out on that new thing that you do. I want so bad to hold you in my arms and hug you and kiss your sweet little head. I want to make your world safe and secure. I don’t want you to worry about your tummy grumbling because you’re hungry. I don’t want you to worry about waking up from a bad dream and there is no one around to make it all better. It’s so hard to wait, but I know that Jesus is there with you, and He will bring you home to our family when His timing is right. Until then, I want you to know that we love you so much already. We can’t wait to meet you, little one.


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Application Received!

Got this in our email today:


Thank you for applying to Carolina Adoption Services. Your application has been received and is being reviewed. You will be contacted in 2 weeks.

Hooray! Please pray that the Lord will once again confirm that this is truly His will for our family by providing the acceptance of our application for the Moldova program.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

If you're a Christian, orphans are your thing...

It is estimated that there are over 147 million orphans worldwide. Of course, depending on what website you look at, you’ll see the number ranging between 143 million to 210 million. Regardless of the exact number, anything more than zero is too many. These children experience things that most of us could not even imagine. Life is without hope for them. Let’s face it: the statistics are grim. In Eastern Europe, less than half the orphans will live to see their 20th birthday. Of those that do survive to their 20th birthday, over half will end up in crime, drugs, and prostitution. In Africa, the AIDS epidemic runs rampant, leaving millions of children to suffer without their families while awaiting a similar fate. Orphans all over the world are victims of natural disaster, disease, poverty, malnutrition, and more. The facts are disheartening, and while most people feel bad, they become overwhelmed and push their feelings off, believing that it isn’t their problem.

Do you understand that, apart from Christ’s unmerited grace and undeserved mercy, you too were an orphan? You had nothing desirable to offer Him. In fact, Isaiah 64:6 says, “all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Don’t miss what this is saying about us. The Hebrew word for “filthy rags” is “iddah beged” and actually means used menstrual cloth. Too graphic? Maybe so, but that’s what the Bible says we are presenting to God when we try to show Him all of the good things we’ve done apart from Jesus. You came with your own baggage and issues, but He never held that against you. He took you in and made you an heir (Romans 8:17; Galatians 3:29). If He can offer us this, why can’t we offer this same kind of compassion and love toward the orphans of the world?

Guess what, Christian? Your life is NOT your own. It was bought at a price (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). Your agenda no longer matters, and contrary to certain preachers who advocate for your best life now, God’s utmost concern is not for what makes your life the best in your eyes, neither is it for your comfort or your happiness. God’s utmost concern is for His glory and your holiness, which is what separates you from the rest of this world (Romans 11:36; Isaiah 43:7; 1 Thessalonians 4). He wants to make you become like Him. And you are never more like Christ than when you are loving others and giving to them sacrificially (John 13:34-35; John 15:13). I’m also saying that when the Lord calls you to love others like this, it’s probably going to look crazy to the rest of the world (I mean, c’mon, what Jesus did while He was here on earth…it looked crazy to those around Him, and people thought he was in league with Satan - Matthew 12:22-29. In Acts 2, when the disciples are preaching on the day of Pentecost, people accused them of being drunk. Yeah, we should probably look a little crazy to the world). But not looking like the rest of the world…well…that’s a GOOD thing! As Christians, we are called to be salt and light. We shouldn’t blend in with the rest of the world…we should standout! (Matthew 5; Romans 12:1-2).

Instead of only being known as the people who take a stand against something (which we should), we should also, and perhaps moreso, be known as the people who take a stand for something and then ACT on it. We were not called to sit on our blessed assurances and try to live comfortably, knowing that we have “fire insurance”. We should do what we say we believe (James 2). We say we believe in the sanctity of human life (which so often references the unborn), and this is right and good. But I submit to you that the sanctity of human life does not end at birth (we who claim Christ and oppose abortion but do nothing to care for the orphans open ourselves to valid criticisms of only caring about life before it is born), but also includes the millions of orphans out there (this could also be said of the poor and the oppressed, too). What about them? Do we not value their lives enough to take them into our homes, to love them and care for them as one of our own? Christian, do you realize that if just one out of every eight people who claim to be a follower of Christ would adopt one of these precious ones into a forever family, that there would not even BE an orphan crisis? That means for every orphan, there should be one Christian willing to adopt them and seven other Christians supporting that adoption. Don’t you get that we have been given the responsibility and the opportunity to make much of Jesus and bring glory to Him through our love for these orphans? And we should WANT to do this. Our love for the Lord, OUR FATHER AND REDEEMER, should make us passionate to follow His command to care for these orphans (James 1:26-27; 1 John 2). The Lord is calling. Will you, Christian, like Isaiah, say “Here I am, Lord. Send Me.”?

Matthew 25:31-46

"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."

Deuteronomy 10:17-19

For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the alien, giving him food and clothing. And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.

Tertullian (one of the earliest Christian writers, late 2nd – early 3rd century), Apologeticus pro Christianis 39:7-11

But it is mainly the deeds of a love so noble that lead many to put a brand upon us. See, they say, how they love one another, for themselves are animated by mutual hatred; how they are ready even to die for one another, for they themselves will sooner put to death. And they are wroth with us, too, because we call each other brethren; for no other reason, as I think, than because among themselves names of consanguinity are assumed in mere pretence of affection . . . . One in mind and soul, we do not hesitate to share our earthly goods with one another. All things are common among us but our wives.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Our application is in the mail!

We mailed our application to our agency this morning...so exciting!

And here's a picture of our little man helping us send it in so that we can bring his sister home! :)

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel

The following you are about to read was written by John Piper. Amazing!

Adoption: The Heart of the Gospel

Eight Similarities Between God’s Adoption of Us and Our Adoption of Children

Galatians 4:4-8

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. 8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods.

Romans 8:14-17

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 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!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 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.

The biblical foundation for the act of adopting children is primarily in the New Testament rather than the Old. There are only three adoptions in the Old Testament (Moses, Esther, and Genubath, 1 Kings 11:20). Israel is called God’s son (Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 14:1; 32:6; Jeremiah 31:9; Hosea 11:1) but not until the New Testament is this called adoption.

The Foundation of Adoption

The deepest and strongest foundation of adoption is located not in the act of humans adopting humans, but in God adopting humans. And this act is not part of his ordinary providence in the world; it is at the heart of the gospel. Galatians 4:4-5 is as central a gospel statement as there is: “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.” God did not have to use the concept of adoption to explain how he saved us, or even how we become part of his family. He could have stayed with the language of new birth so that all his children were described as children by nature only (John 1:12-13, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”). But he chose to speak of us as adopted as well as being children by new birth. This is the most essential foundation of the practice of adoption.

Eight Similarities

What I would like to do is lay out eight similarities between what God did in adoption and what happens in a Christian adoption today. I pray that whether you have adopted, or are engaged in assisting adoptions, or are pondering an adoption, God will use these comparisons to heighten your confidence that God is graciously involved in our adoptions. He has done it himself. He knows what it costs. And he stands ready to support us all the way to the end.

1. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) costly.

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. (Galatians 4:4-5)

To redeem means to obtain or to set free by paying a price. What was the price that God paid for our liberation and adoption? In the previous chapter, we heard the answer: “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” (Galatians 3:13). It cost God the price of his Son’s life.

There are huge costs in adopting children. Some are financial; some are emotional. There are costs in time and stress for the rest of your life. You never stop being a parent till you die. And the stresses of caring about adult children can be as great, or greater, than the stresses of caring for young children. There is something very deep and right about the embrace of this cost for the life of a child!

Few things bring me more satisfaction than seeing a culture of adoption flourish at Bethlehem. It means that our people are looking to their heavenly Father for their joy rather than rejecting the stress and cost of children in order to maximize their freedom and comforts. When people embrace the pain and joy of children rather than using abortion or birth control simply to keep children away, the worth of Christ shines more visibly. Adoption is as far as possible from the mindset that rejects children as an intrusion. Praise God for people ready to embrace the suffering—known and unknown. God’s cost to adopt us was infinitely greater than any cost we will endure in adopting and raising children.

2. Adoption did (for God) and does (for us) involve the legal status of the child.

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!” (Galatians 4:4-6)

There were legal realities God had to deal with. His own justice and law demanded that we be punished and excluded from his presence for our sins. Righteousness was required and punishment demanded. God had to satisfy his justice and his law in order to adopt sinners into his family. This he did by the life, death, and resurrection of his Son Jesus Christ.

This means that the status of being a son legally preceded the experience of the Spirit coming to give us the affections of sons. We are legally sons before we experience the joy of sonship. The object work of our salvation (two thousand years ago at Calvary) precedes and grounds the subjective experience of our salvation by the Spirit today.

So it is with our adopting children today: The legal transactions precede and under gird the growth of family feelings. If the legal red tape seems long and hard, keep in mind that this tape is not yet red with your blood, but Jesus satisfied all the legal demands precisely by shedding his blood.

3. Adoption was blessed and is blessed with God’s pouring out a Spirit of sonship.

Because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6)

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. (Romans 8:15-16)

God does not leave us in the condition of aliens when he adopts us. He does not leave us with no feelings of acceptance and love. Rather, he pours his Spirit into our hearts to give us the experience of being embraced in the family. What is remarkable about these two texts is the term abba. It is an Aramaic word. Why then does Paul use it, transliterated, in these two letters written in Greek?

The answer is that it was the way Jesus spoke to his Father, in spite of the fact that virtually no one in Jewish culture referred to God with this endearing word abba. It stunned the disciples. They held onto it as a precious remnant of the very voice of Jesus in the language he spoke. In Mark 14:36, Jesus is in Gethsemane and prays, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” Therefore, in adopting us, God give us the very Spirit of his Son and grants us to feel the affections of belonging to the very family of God.

In the mercy of God, in our families God works to awaken affections in adopted children for their parents that are far more than legal outcomes. They are deeply personal and spiritual bonds. Adopted children do not infer that they are our children by checking out the adoption papers. A spirit pervades our relationship that bears witness to this reality. Like the other children in the family, they all cry, “Daddy.”

Praise God that he give us both legal standing as his children and the very Spirit of his Son so that we find ourselves saying from a heart of deep conviction, “Abba, Father.”

4. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) marked by moral transformation through the Spirit.

All who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)

God does not leave his children without help to bear the moral image of the family. We may trust that his help will be there for our children as we bring them under the means of grace that God uses to awaken and transform his children.

5. Adoption brought us, and brings our children, the rights of being heirs of the Father.

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. (Galatians 4:6-7)

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. (Romans 8:16-17)

Notice that Galatians 4:7 says we are heirs “through God” and Romans 8:17 says we are heirs “of God.” In Galatians, the context is the promise of Abraham—through God, that is, by his sending his Son to redeem us, we are heirs with Abraham (even though many of us are Gentiles!) of his inheritance, namely theworld (Romans 4:13). But in Romans 8:17, the context is that we, with Christ, are heirs of all that God has, namely, everything. “All things are yours, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s” (1 Corinthians 3:21).

Just before we left for England on sabbatical, Noël and I went to a lawyer and updated our wills. All the boys are married, and Talitha is the only legal “dependent.” A lot had changed since the last time we made wills. This was a reminder to us that she will inherit like the sons. She is not in a lesser adoptive class. All inherit together. That is the way God did it. That is the way we do it.

6. Adoption was (for God) and is (for us) seriously planned.

He chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)

Adoption in God’s mind was not Plan B. He predestined us for adoption before the creation of the world. Plan A was not lots of children who never sin and never need to be redeemed. Plan A was creation, fall, redemption, adoption so that the full range of God’s glory and mercy and grace could be known by his adopted children. Adoption was not second best. It was planned from the beginning.

In our lives, there is something uniquely precious about having children by birth. That is a good plan. There is also something different, but also uniquely precious, about adopting children. Each has its own uniqueness. Your choice to adopt children may be sequentially second. But does not have to be secondary. It can be as precious and significant as having children by birth. God is able to make adoption and A+ plan in our lives.

7. Adoption was (for God) and often is now (for us) from very bad situations.

We . . . were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. (Ephesians 2:3)

God did not find us like an abandoned foundling bundled on the front step and irresistibly cute. He found us ugly and evil and rebellious. We were not attractive. We would not be easy children to deal with. And, what’s worse, God himself was angry with us. He hates sin and rebellion. We were then doubly “children of wrath.”

These are the ones God pursued in adoption. Therefore, all of God’s adoptions crossed a greater moral and cultural divide than any of our adoptions could. The distance between what we are, and what God is, is infinitely greater than any distance between us and a child we might adopt. God crossed the greatest cultural barrier to redeem and adopt us.

Consider too, that according to Romans 9:4, the people that God chose in the Old Testament, the Israelites, were adopted out of a terrible situation. “They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises.” But how was this adoption effected? Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” They were slaves in Egypt. But not only that, they were often also rebellious against God. “Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wondrous works; they did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but rebelled by the sea, at the Red Sea” (Psalm 106:7).

Therefore, God went and took a son from Egypt who was both enslaved and rebellious. The pattern is set: adoptions do not just come from nice, healthy, safe, auspicious situations.

8. Adoption meant (for all Christans) and means (for Christian parents) that we suffer now and experience glory later.

The whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8:22-23)

This strikes us as strange. Aren’t we already adopted? Why does Paul say that we are “waiting for our adoption”? Yes, we are already adopted. When Christ died for us, the price was paid, and when we trust him, we are legally and permanently in the family. But God’s purpose for adoption is not to leave any of his children in a state of groaning and suffering. He raised Jesus from the dead with a new body, and he promises that part of our adoption will be a new resurrection body with no more disabilities and no more groaning. Therefore, what we wait for is the full experience of our adoption—the resurrection of our bodies.

There is much groaning in the path of adoption on the way to full salvation. But the outcome is glorious. It is worth it all. “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

This is especially relevant for parents of children with disabilities. They know the “groaning” of this life. All of us have children with some sort of disability, and some of us will live to get very old and watch our children age and die before we do. Others will see their children struck down in war or by accident or disease. Others will care for a disabled child till one of them dies. All of this groaning is groaning in hope because we are adopted by God and destined for a resurrection and an eternal future of health and wholeness and joy. It will be worth it all.


Adopting Talitha Ruth

In conclusion, it might be helpful for you to hear some of the process that Noël and I walked through in deciding to adopt Talitha. We spent long hours and days pondering and praying over whether to adopt in 1995. It was not a light or easy decision. I was fifty years old. Here is the letter I wrote to Noël saying yes.

Monday, November 6, 1995, 11:12 PM

Dear Noël,

With confidence in the all-sufficient future grace of God, I am ready and eager to move ahead with the adoption of Talitha Ruth. I want to thank you that during these years, when your heart has yearned to adopt a daughter, you have not badgered me or coerced me. You have been wonderfully patient. You have modeled faith in the sufficiency of prayer. You have always expressed support of me and my ministry even if we should never adopt. You have been reasonable in all our discussions and have come forth with your rationale only when asked. You have honored my misgivings as worthy of serious consideration. God was good to put it in Phoebe’s heart to call about this child when she did, and not before we were ready.

I realize more than ever that “the mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” This decision is not merely a tabulation of pros and cons. I would be deceiving myself to think that. Yet I am persuaded that this decision to adopt honors God more than not adopting. To my perspective, it seems to be the path that will “spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.” I believe it will bless Bethlehem and not hinder our work there. I believe it is the path of the greatest love for the greatest number. And therefore I have confidence that God is pleased with it.

I choose it not under constraint or with any reservation of commitment. I relinquish every thought that, because you initiated this idea, you will bear blame for the burdens it will bring. As with our choice to have children in the first place and with our choice to go to Germany and our choice to leave Bethel and enter the pastorate, there is a common and united commitment to all that God will be for us in this path, including any “frowning providence” that he plans to sanctify to us. I believe our eyes are open, though we have learned that the toothache expected and the toothache experienced are not the same. We have come through enough to believe that God’s future grace will be sufficient. His mercies are new every morning and there will be mercies for every weight and wonder on this new path of our lives.

I thank God for you. I enter with you gladly on this path. Whether we live to see our daughter grown or not, we will have done well to take her in. Life is very short, whether 12 hours like Ashley Hope, or 50 years like me, or 76 years like my father, or 94 years like Crystal Anderson. What matters is not that we do all we might have done or all we dreamed of doing, but that, while we live, we live by faith in future grace and walk in the path of love. The times are in God’s hands, not ours.

With this common conviction, we will, God willing, embrace our new daughter and give ourselves, with all the might that God inspires in us, to love her into the kingdom. May the Lord establish the plans of our hearts, and bring Talitha Ruth (and the future husband God already knows) into deep and lasting fellowship with Christ. May she be an ebony broach of beauty around your aging neck and a crown of purity and joy on your graying head.

I love you,