Sunday, September 19, 2010

How Do I Know If I'm Called To Adopt? Let Me Tell You Our Story

I know everyone has to hear from God in their own way to find the peace and the courage to step forward in the world of adoption. I will try to quickly tell you our story and how things fell into place, even though we thought differently in the beginning.

Basically, we had 5 children (see above photo) and had never thought about adoption AT ALL until our eyes were first opened to it through some friends who had just brought home their daughter from China. We were invited to a Christmas party and when we walked up to the front door and rang the doorbell we were greeted by the beautiful little china doll pictured below. She had the biggest smile and was full of so much joy. It was the first time I had been around an adopted child. They eventually told us her story of how she was found on the doorstep of a building, abandoned. I just couldn't believe her story and then what I was now looking at in this changed life because they had adopted her. So that is what initially opened our eyes. This was in 2004.

Not long after that my husband and I went to a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. Toward the end of the concert he played THIS SONG WITH THIS VIDEO and his newly adopted little girl from China ran out on the stage and jumped in his arms. To say I was bawling was an understatement. Something had hit me like a ton of bricks. This is what made us start thinking deeper. It made us think Hmmm?? Could we?

Then, one evening my husband and I were watching an Oprah primetime special of Oprah in Africa. She was surrounded by children in Africa who had nothing, but yet had such love pouring out of them it was unbelievable. It showed orphans and again, our
eyes were opened and we were stirred once more. Again....BAWLING!! I'm talking an ugly cry. The show ended and my husband turned off the tv and turned to me and said "How do people turn off the tv and pretend that kind of need does not exist in this world? How can we see
that and not do something?" We had been having

a couple of conversations previously, throwing around the idea of adoption, but then kept coming back to how nuts we were because we already had 5 mouths
to feed. It hit us both after that program. We decided in that moment, immediately after that show that we were going to go for it....crazy or not! We were going to adopt.
We were then left with the question "From where?" We knew we were pulled internationally because everything that had been stirring our hearts was international need. We first went down the China trail because of how much our eyes had been opened to that but then learned it would be difficult because of the number of children we already had. So then we thought "Where?" We were praying for God to show us.

We ran into one of our pastors that week at a ballgame who was talking about adopting from Ukraine. They invited us to a banquet where we saw actual Ukraine orphans who had been adopted and their lives changed forever. We just knew this had to be the Lord because all the pieces were falling into place too easily. We felt Ukraine was the way to go so we signed with their agency and started the process to adopt a 2 year old little girl. In our minds that was perfect. Our youngest boy was 4 at the time and we felt it was time for another little girl that would fit perfectly in our family :) So see picture below.....this is who we had pictured in our minds, that would soon be joining our family.

We flew through paperwork, homestudy, all that good stuff only to have our dossier STOPPED and put on hold. What? Yep....the country shut its doors to Americans to adopt from Ukraine for what was supposed to be just a few months. Each month we were told it wouldn't be that much longer. Well......TWO YEARS LATER, we decided to switch countries. With no end to the wait in sight we felt it was just too hard and we needed to pray about another country. Now back to "Where, Lord, where?"

We were at a loss as to which direction to go when I received a very random phone call out of the blue from a woman I had never met. She was the aunt of a friend of mine who heard about what a hard time we were having. She called me and straight forward asked, "Have you ever thought about adopting from Africa? I am leaving on a plane tomorrow and am going into some orphanages and could look for you." Well, I was completely caught off guard but told her we had thought about it for a minute after watching that Oprah special but then ruled it out of our minds because we thought it would be too weird for one black child to live with an all white family. (This is how small our thinking was at the time) We didn't want that one child to feel differently. I then just told her to email me once she got there and let me know what she found.
She immediately emailed me and had found a newborn boy that she was certain was our son. What? Boy? Newborn? But again, the way it all lined up out of the blue we thought it just had to be God so we said "Ok". For one year we supported little Daniel pictured below with his mother. They let me name him and we fell in love with him. We switched all our paperwork from Ukraine to Nigeria where he was from and waited again. FINALLY the paperwork came back from Nigeria and they said we were approved to adopt him BUT we had to go live there for 3 months before we could bring him home. WHAT? How could we not have known this? That was impossible!! We had 5 children. So again, with tears streaming, we had no choice but to shut the door to that adoption. His uncle stepped up and adopted him and we supported him for a while. We were now 3.5 years into this and again back to square one. We were devastated and so were our kids. We loved Daniel.
We began praying and doubting if we were even called to adopt or not. I was now focusing my efforts on helping homeless kids and was wondering if we were just supposed to do that instead of adopt. We took in some kids into our home for several days to help their mom out who had a miscarriage. We really bonded with this family and the kids. (See picture below) This is the 4 year old boy and his sis who we helped (look familiar?). They quickly became a part of our family and we saw them all the time for a while. It is totally amazing to me to see how God was planting seeds and preparing the way without us even knowing it.
So then when I had just about given up on adoption all together and had just sent out a letter to all the people who had donated, explaining that we really didn't know if it was going to happen or sis sends me an email with a video. Kristi sent me an email that said "Watch this video! It is a family that just adopted a boy from Ethiopia. They did exactly what you have been trying to do and I hear it is easier in Ethiopia." So hesitantly I click on the video and this random video she sent happened to be a girl I knew. "Wait a minute! I know her! That's Tracy!" I had spoken at her bible study a year earlier and shared my testimony. I called her and she came to my house and brought her son, Levi and shared their story

with me and my sis, Kristi and my sis Karson. By the time they left, Kristi and I both were on board!! Wow! This was not only what we had been waiting for but it seemed to be my sister's time as well.
So now almost 4 years into the process we sign with an agency to adopt a boy between the age of 3-5 from Ethiopia.
About a week into it I jumped on their waiting list. I knew most of the kids were siblings but I wanted to see them anyway.
Out of about 50 different kids, there was one boy who stuck out to me.
I was drawn to him and his great big smile. I kept coming back and looking at his pic. When I looked up his info, it showed he had an older sister around the age of 13. So, disappointed, I said "Shoot!" and then tried to get him out of my mind since I knew we couldn't adopt two. I got up and walked out of the room and left the waiting kids up on the screen. My oldest daughter came in and sat down and next thing I know she is yelling my name. She yells "Mom, come here! You have to see this cute kid!" I ran in and it was the exact same boy I had been drawn to. I thought how strange that she was drawn to the same great big smile I was out of all of those kids. I quickly showed her that he had to be adopted with his sister and she was disappointed too. That was the end of that.
The following week, while we were in Fl on the kids Spring Break, I received an email from the agency with a referral. I couldn't believe we were getting a referral within two weeks of signing with them!! The email read....."This little boy is around 4 years old.
He just became available. Would you consider adopting Natnael?" When I opened the email I about died!!! It was him!!

It was the same little one, with the great big smile, that I had seen and my daughter had seen!! I went on to read that he had previously been listed with his much older sister. She had always remained with his mother since the orphanage would not take her because of her age. Natnael had been waiting in the orphanage for well over a year without getting picked because he was connected to his sister. So they decided that they would separate them since she was about to age out and he had not been living with them regardless.

It took me one second to send the email back and scream "YES,YES. WE WANT HIM!" I knew without a doubt that THIS WAS FINALLY IT! The pieces finally fit and I didn't have to force it :) So when it was finally right.....from start to finish after switching our paperwork from Nigeria to Ethiopia.....5 months later we flew to Ethiopia and met our child that we had waited four years for.
I finally was staring into the eyes of the child that God had picked for us all along. He was such a long awaited beautiful gift!! I couldn't believe my heart had ever thought I would end up anywhere else. He was perfect! He was mine! We were his! Finally!!

Now, knowing his story, we see God's plan all along. It is amazing!! We weren't waiting for God to bring a child to us, we were waiting for God to bring us to him. Here is the cool part.....When God laid adoption on our hearts in 2004, that night after watching Oprah, that was the very time Nathan was born. Then, we went down the Ukraine trail and waited for two years.....that was the two years that Nathan lived with his mother. Then, when we got that, out of the blue, call from my friend's aunt asking "Have you ever thought about Africa?" ....that was when Nathan was placed in the orphanage. That is what turned our hearts to Africa! We tried to adopt the little boy from Nigeria which is what made us fall in love with the idea of a boy from Africa. That was also the period of time that Nathan sat waiting to be adopted, while linked to his sister. Then when that fell through, and we were at the end of our rope, was when the agency was thinking of separating Nathan and his sister. We had just lost our boy from Nigeria and our hearts were longing for a son from Africa. Then everything lined up for us to turn in our paperwork for Ethiopia which landed on the desk at the exact time that they decided to separate Nathan from his sister and have him get adopted out on his own. That was around the same time I saw him on the waiting list and then he showed up in my inbox a week later, which was God's confirmation :)

How could we ever deny that God was all over that? In the midst of our wait we doubted, we spent more money then we planned, we switched countries 3 times, we thought everything was out of whack when in all actuality we were in the middle of God's will the whole entire time. Everything would line up perfectly for him to give us the time He needed to change our hearts and our mind set of what we thought our family was supposed to look like, and to bring us to Nathan at the very moment he needed a family to step up.

Ha! Our 2 year old, blonde little girl actually turned out to be a 4 year old boy from Africa :) God has it all planned out and knows exactly what we need, even when we don't. We now support his mother and sister and his sister just got into a brand new school which she is very excited about. She and her mom get to stay together, while knowing their beloved Natnael is taken care of and loved, just like she prayed.

Just hang on for the ride and trust Him every step of the way.....even when things don't make sense. It is all about the child in the end.....not us. God tells us to adopt for a reason. That reason is a little child that God has already hand picked for YOU and your family.

Proverbs 3:5-6 (New Living Translation)

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart;
do not depend on your own understanding.
6 Seek his will in all you do,
and he will show you which path to take.
Our many paths led us to Natnael,which became our Nathanael, which is our beloved Nathan.
This is Nathan the first day we picked him up in Ethiopia. He was ready to go, never to look back again. He had been waiting and he was more than ready to meet his Mom and Dad. Who is waiting on YOU?


  1. Oh wow!! That is an amazing story!! Thanks for was so encouraging!!

  2. That is such an amazing and awesome story of God's perfect plan!!! I loved it! Thanks so much for sharing it!

  3. That is such an incredibly amazing story! What a testimony that is. We are waiting for immigration and a court date for our 2nd Ethiopian adoption, and as much as I want to say we will wait awhile before starting number 3.. I'm already feeling the tug!

  4. i loved reading every detail. what a beautiful story of god fulfilling his purpose for your family.

  5. :) LOVE this story! I love watching God work.. He's amazing.
    Funny, SCC spoke to us November of 2004 as well. Now we have 2 precious boys from Ethiopia, and hopefully more...

  6. I have never heard that whole story. So glad I did. I started following your blog when you were in Ethiopia picking Nathan up. I followed along and my husband and I fell in love with the idea of a boy exactly like Nathan. It took us a while to finally make the big decision, but we finally did. Now on this crazy roller coaster ride of international adoption. Somehow our 3-5 year old boy turned into requesting a toddler boy (18 mos to 3 years). We can't wait!!! :) Just know that your story definitely touched our family's hearts. I will always be thankful for Abe Alexander, Nathan, and Lucy Lane for helping to change our family's lives and that of our little boy we are waiting on!

  7. Thank you for sharing your heart about adoption and your journey. I totally understand your bawling as you hear about adoption. That is how I am!!! I was sent your sister's blog and linked to yours as well from a friend when we were considering adoption. We actually almost went with the country of Ethiopia with All God's Children, but God opened the door for us to adopt a little girl from Thailand!!! We filled out our paperwork this summer and our dossier was sent to Holt International the beginning of this month. We can't wait to meet our little girl!! Thanks for the encouragement to wait for God's perfect timing!!! The wait will be long but so worth it!!! My blog is if you want to follow mine! Thanks again!!!!

  8. This is so similar to our story, Kelly. We first went through the process in Vietnam only to have the government shut it down. Then we were adopting a 9 year old boy from Russia (who we were in love with and had his pictures all over our house) and a Russian family came in and took him into foster care. Our hearts were broken. And now, two years later God is giving us the most beautiful set of THREE from Ethiopia. This morning I got their picture holding OUR picture. It is amazing to see the hope in their eyes - complete joy on their faces. I can't imagine what they've been through and I just can't wait to get to them and HOLD THEM. I believe that everyone should be a part of an adoption - in one way or another. It is life-changing - in so many ways!! Thanks for your story!

  9. Your story is just AWESOME...I loved reading it. So very inspiring. Thank you for sharing with everyone.

  10. Tears are literally pouring down my face. Wow God is truly amazing. I just love Him. He did the same thing with us. Multiple countries. Lost childrn we thought were ours. Only to bring us our child who was made for us...