Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Just Say Yes

Sometimes God asks you to do things that make sense. His requests fit in with the happenings of your life. They seem like a natural progression with the season you are in. They are not necessarily hard and can be seen as the next step. And then sometimes God asks you to do things that make you wonder if you are even really hearing from Him at all. Requests so big and crazy that they are seemingly impossible. These requests would turn your life upside down, change the direction of where you are going and in all honesty, might not make any sense to any logical person. This is the story of one such request.

My husband, Mike, and I had talked about adoption before we even got married. We met just before I took a mission trip to Romania to help in orphanages and minister to street children so from the get go, adoption and orphan care was on the table. It was a topic that came up throughout our marriage as we watched friends adopt and started having children of our own. After giving birth to three beautiful daughters, we had a sense that we were done having children "the old fashioned way" (And low and behold, a few months after having our youngest daughter we were told I needed surgery to correct some post pardum issues and that the surgery would prevent us from having more children). We knew that this was a nudge from The Lord, preparing our hearts and home for adoption.

In 2011, through a series of circumstances, we began to talk seriously about growing our family through adoption and in May of 2013 we were able to bring our daughter, Bridget, home from Uganda. God did amazing and beautiful things to bring her home. His fingerprints were all over her adoption and at every step He was there. We did the usual fundraisers, adoption blog, tshirt sales and grant applications. God blessed all of that and by his grace we were able to bring her home. The process in Uganda, while having some bumps, was fairly "easy" (as far as Ugandan adoptions go) and we were home after 5 weeks in country.

Here, God asked us to do something we had been anticipating for years. We wanted more kids, had a heart for adoption, and felt the timing was right. He opened up doors and we brought our daughter home. It seemed like a natural progression for our family. It made sense. We now we had four beautiful daughters and life would go on as usual. Or at least that is what we thought.

Something very unexpected happened to us while in Uganda. While there to adopt our daughter, we met our son. While in Uganda adopting Bridget we got to spend time at her orphanage. Our first visit there we met an eleven year old boy named Joram. He was sweet and curious. He asked my husband (a pastor) hundreds of questions about the bible. He quizzed me on all the families that I knew that had adopted from this orphanage, eager for updates about his friends. He shared his passion for music with us and his hopes of one day having a family. We played games with him and watched him play with the others. Within 15 minutes of meeting this boy, we had fallen in love.

That night my husband and I were in tears over our encounter with this young man. We were overwhelmed by the emotions we felt for a child we had just met. We were so moved that we emailed our social worker that night for more information. We knew there was nothing we could do right then and there, and so we began to pray. Once the initial emotional reaction wore off we then began to reason. We couldn't afford another adoption. Not so soon! We were still IN Uganda adopting Bridget for crying out loud! And it's not like we had the money. We had extended all our resources on Bridget's adoption. And contrary to popular belief, part time associate pastors of small town churches that also work part time as X-ray techs and stay at home moms that homeschool don't pull in a lot of money! (Weird, I know!). Not to mention the fact that at the time we had four daughters ages 4-8. Adopting an 11 year old boy made zero sense on the "oh, that makes sense" scale. So we decided we would be advocates for this boy and commit to finding him a family.

We came home with Bridget but we couldn't shake the idea that this boy was supposed to be our son. We went back and forth on what made sense and what we should do. We also looked at our finances (or lack there of) and wondered how we would even attempt to finance another adoption if we did move forward. I had gotten sick shortly after coming home with Bridget and we had medical bills. Both of our cars ended up needing costly repairs. Our daughters were all in the throws of transition (how could we do this to them again so soon?). It didn't make sense. It was financially impossible. Adding a boy to our girl-centric world didn't seem easy. But after several weeks in prayer (and having others pray with/for us) we felt that God was making the answer clear- that we were to move forward. There was no doubt in our minds that we needed to try- to step out and say "yes" and see what would happen. And what happened over the next 10 months was nothing short of a miracle.

We had to start all over. All our paperwork and background checks had expired and our homestudy needed updating. We had to pay new application fees, filing fees, get fingerprinted again- everything from square one. We discussed what fundraisers we should do again, but I hate fundraising! Anyone who has done fundraising knows how much time and effort it takes, and honestly, I just didn't have it in me to do it again! We are a homeschooling family and a lot of school was sacrificed during Bridget's adoption. Time spent organizing fundraisers, filling out applications, doing this, doing that (not to mention the time spent prepping for travel and actual traveling). I just felt like I couldn't do that again. I really felt God telling me "no fundraising". I knew I needed to focus on my girls and the bonding and attachment process and getting back into a routine.

There was a great deal of guilt that came with not actively fundraising- how could I not be doing everything I could do for my son on the other side of the world?!?! But truth was, even if I did want to fundraise, there was no time. I had gotten really sick after coming home with Bridget and fought illness for nearly 10 months. A few months after retuning home, both my grandmothers entered hospice and those next two months were spent helping care for them, helping my aunt and my mom and trying to soak up as much time as I could with these extraordinary women. We started school and it was a doozy! Teaching Bridget English and figuring out how to school 4 kids was a full time job in itself! And then there was just one financial need after another. We would get some money saved up and then one of the cars would break, or the kids got sick, or medical bills came in. With our already "pay check to pay check" life, saving money for another adoption seemed impossible. And all the time, our boy was waiting for us in Uganda.

When we started with this adoption we knew it would be hard. But we also knew that if this was The Lord, if this was the path we were supposed to follow, that God would provide. And slowly, we started to see that provision. Friends started contacting me saying that they wanted to do fundraisers for us. One friends did photo sessions and donated all the proceeds, others hosted a dinner at their church, some posted on social media, others hosted garage sales. One friend even included our story in her Christmas cards. It was unreal. We were in a spot where we couldn't fundraise (and after doing so much fundraising for Bridget's adoption, I felt really bad for turning around and doing it again) yet the money was coming in. God was putting our son on other people's hearts and prompting them to action.

We did fill out grant applications, but knew they were a long shot (as they are far and few between and since we had gotten some for Bridget we didn't feel confident about being repeat recipients). We got our first batch of "rejection" letters and were discouraged. Grants had covered a large majority of our previous adoption, so without them we were unsure how we would meet our goals. We reapplied for one grant in specific and were hoping for the best. We were still SEVERAL thousand dollars away from our goal but very close to receiving our court date. I got a call early one February morning from LifeSong For Orphans telling us we had received a $5000 direct grant from one of their partner organizations. But more than that, this organization had also given us a $5,000 matching grant. In early March we were a featured family on the Give1Save1 blog and within that week we reached our matching grant goal. By early April, we were not only fully funded, but actually had extra to help cover expenses while we were gone. Looking back, I'm still not sure how it happened, but somehow, it did. The only explanation is God.

The day after Easter, one week shy of a year since we had last left for Uganda to get our daughter, we were on a plane to go get our son. We anticipated a similar experience as we had with Bridget, and after going back and forth we decided I would only stay 12 days and my husband would stay and finish out the process. It was hard on our daughters when we went to go get Bridget and we also had no long term child care for our girls this time (and unfortunately, a week before we left, my husbands grandmother died and my in-laws who were going to keep the kids had to go to Florida - it was a crazy time).

We hit a few bumps headed out of the gate. Our court date was cancelled twice, but thankfully I was able to do my part before I flew out. I said my goodbyes and figured it would be a few weeks before we were all reunited. I was wrong. Everything went downhill and fast. There were lots of complications. As each week went by, we began to feel the pressure. Not only of being separated, but also of my husband being away from work. He only had 3 weeks of paid vacation. We had 2-3 weeks of income saved up in anticipation of things going as long as they did last time. We figured we could stretch things to six weeks but six weeks came and past and we were still nowhere near the magical word every adopting parent wants to hear..."visa".

We went back and forth on what to do. Should Mike come home? Should I go back? But who would watch the girls? And with the cost of airline tickets, that would be a paycheck itself! So we decided to keep Mike there and wait it out. After ELEVEN weeks (9 of those unpaid) we got the news that our sons visa couldn't be approved at that time and that they would need to investigate further. We had no timeline on how long that would take, or what would happen. So, we made the hard decision to have my husband come home. As gracious as his work had been, he had to return to his job. And for some reason the mortgage company still wanted paid! (Ridiculous, right?) Thankfully, friends that were adopting in Uganda as well stepped up and volunteered to take care of our boy, so even though the situation was heartbreakingly hard, we knew he was in good hands.

Mike came home and 1 week later the girls and I headed out to an already committed to family wedding in Yosemite. While at the wedding we got an email from the embassy saying they had cleared things up and the visa was approved! So now, the "how" of getting me home and on a plane to Uganda came into play!!! My in-laws graciously offered to keep the girls in California and finish out the trip and I drove 1000 miles home in two days, packed my bags and flew back to Uganda the next day.

We came home one week later, just minutes before my 34th birthday.

We left in April and didn't get home with our son till the end of July. What we thought would take 5 weeks took 15. But let me tell you- we made it through. God provided. Those 9 weeks my husband didn't work? Every bill got paid. Every single bill. Friends came over and mowed our lawn. People from church bought us groceries. When I had to fly back to get our son, an old friend from high school emailed and said "we will buy your ticket there". Every need was met. Our money was stretched. What could have destroyed us financially, didn't. Don't get me wrong, we are still catching up and paying things off, but we didn't go completely under.

There is so much I could share... So many more stories of Gods provision in this adoption- but there simply isn't room! But let me end with this: So many times God asks us to do something and we reason our way out of it. I know finances is a reason a lot of families decide not to adopt. I get it! Who has $30,000+ just sitting around with nothing to do?!? But I am here to say, God doesn't need you to figure out the "how" of it all. He just wants your "yes". If you feel God is calling your family to adoption but feel you can't afford it, I want to encourage you to say "yes". Say "yes" to having your mind blown by His provision. Say "yes" to allowing others to answer the call to help the orphans. Say "yes "to growing in faith!

God has a history of asking people to do crazy things that make no sense! What kind of story would Noah's be if he said no to the ark? Or Joshua if he said no to walking around Jericho? The greatest stories of faith that we read about are when God asks people to do the craziest, most impossible things! I'm so glad we said yes! While our transition home has been hard (that is a whole other story...) I'm thankful for our story. When I'm discouraged and consumed with doubt, I can look at what God did this past summer and I'm reminded that it was not us that brought our son home, it was Him. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story. This is beautiful. God never leaves our side, and He won't leave yours. Praying for you all.