Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Our hearts have been captured by Hannah!

I don't know exactly when God started healing my heart from all the ups and downs of foster care/adoption and loss of Taylor in January 2010 and the loss of Madina from 2005, but slowly he has in His own way.  We weren't looking to have our heart captured, but God has been known to do the unbelieveable. 

In July/August of this year our church started planning a mission trip to Honduras.  For some reason Ben and I just didn't feel like God was telling us to go on this trip, instead we felt like God was saying--go to China.    So we began looking into trips to China, we wanted to take Leighanne back to the city where she was found.  We wanted  our whole family to be able to love on some orphans while we were there.  We also wanted  Leighanne to be able to expereince some of the beautiful sights of China.

In August, my heart was burdened to take on the details of an Orphan Sunday event.  I went to our pastor and youth pastor and we started planning a service to simulate what it is like to be an orphan/social orphan in the world today.  Basically as people entered the sanctuary, they were given a booklet that had the beginning story of an orphan from either China, Russia, Africa, Honduras or India.  They then traveled as a group from simulation room to simulation room, and even ate a meal simular to what an orphan from that country would eat.  When they came back into the sanctuary they found their orphan's picture on the wall and found out if they lived or died.  All of the stories were based on research that I had been looking up during the months of Sept./Oct.  We followed this up with the "Answer the Cry" video and a what can I do now session.  As I was gathering information about waiting children for people to pray for, my kids were sitting in my room with me and we started looking up waiting children on Rainbow Kids.  I said hey let's look up  older girls near Leighanne's age from China.  Well that's when it happened--we saw Hannah's picture and our hearts were captured.  All of the kids said mom--Hannah's it--she's the one.

Well, you could imagine that I wasn't quite ready to say yes- let's adopt Hannah, but my heart was drawn to this sweet face.  I began praying for her. 

On Orphan Sunday, November 7th, I put her picture up on a board for people to take a child's picture home to pray for.  Guess what--her picture was still there at the end of the night--so I brought it home.

I didn't sleep much that night--I just couldn't get her off of my heart.  The next day I asked Ben if I could call the agency and find out if another family had already chosen her.  To my dismay there was a family looking at her file and they had already moved her to the "pending" part of the waiting children list.  I told God that I was okay, but could he please make sure that Hannah was adopted into a christian family.  Ben agreed to complete the waiting child application with me, just in case this family decided not to adopt Hannah.  However, we were not expecting to be given a chance.  On Friday, I received an email from the agency--Hannah's file was ours to look at.  I was so nervous I could hardly open the documents on the computer.  She is a precious 7 year old and she is from the same province as Leighanne. Oh--and just another small detail, but Hannah is the name we had picked out for Austin if he had been a girl.  Isn't God cool?

So now we are waiting for doctor reports.  We also are praying hard--we do not have any money set aside for this adoption.  We are asking you to join us in prayer--we have to have a certain amount soon.  We know that God is able, more than able, and because we can't possibly come up with this amount on our own in the next couple of weeks, we will wait to see God get the glory in this.  We ask you to pray, that if Hannah is to be ours, that God just show up and show off in a way that others will say, "Wow look at the God they serve!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Where it all begin

In May, 2010 our family took a wonderful cruise to the Bahamas. We immediately came back wanting to schedule our next cruise, but God kept telling us that our next family trip would be something that was focused on him and not just a relaxing vacation.

In August our church started planning a mission trip to Honduras. Julie and I both want to go on this trip because we have friends in Honduras we would like to see again, but neither of us have felt a peace about us personally going on this trip for a variety of reasons. Instead, we were already praying about going to China as a family to love on orphans, let Leighanne (and her brothers) see the country (and hopefully even the village) where she was born.

November 7, 2010 -- Julie (my wife) led an Orphan Sunday emphasis at our church on Sunday evening. It was called "One Day in the Life of an Orphan". During this emphasis, we had orphans and their stories from 5 different countries and everyone who came to church was given one of the orphan stories and went through simulation rooms as to what sleep, bath time, school and play, eating, etc. was like for that orphan. Then we all came back together to learn what happened to our orphan in the end and to watch the "Answer the Cry" video and then talk about some practical ways we could do something for orphans. One of the ways Julie had for people to get involved was to take a photo listing of a waiting child from one of the 5 countries and pray for that child to get a Christian forever family. In the process of collecting the information on those waiting children, Julie and our other children focused on this one child from China that was about 20 months younger than Leighanne. As you would have it, that child (we will call her Hannah") was not taken for prayer that night so she brought her information back home for our family to pray for. Both Julie and our children were all talking about adopting Hannah, but as the financial provider for the family (I know.... God is the provider.... I am just the conduit) and after been through what we had already been through with the other two failed adoptions, I wasn't interested in having in part of it, but I was willing to pray about it and let God tell me it wasn't something we should do (you do understand I already had my mind made up though right?).

Julie contacted the agency that Hannah was listed through to get more information. The first step was to complete a free online pre-application. I helped Julie get the information she needed for the application (income, net worth, etc.) and she filled it in and sent it along. We learned that another family already had Hannah's file and she was listed as pending (meaning there were more than one families in line for her) so we all concluded it probably just was not an open door for us (I felt relieved).

On Friday, November 19th, Julie received an e-mail from Hannah's listing agency with her file attached. We have two weeks to review the file, have doctors review the file, and make a decision. Okay, so now I have to start getting serious about whether God is really calling us to do this. I get on the internet and research the agency. As with any agency there are people who love them and people who hate them. I checked their financial forms filed with the IRS and didn't like what I saw, but I already knew they were not a Christian agency and their focus on working with orphans is not in line with mine so it really wasn't a surprise. Honestly I think at this point I was looking for a reason to not do this and I thought I found it. Over the weekend, God showed me the following truths:

In history (as documented in scripture), God has on more than one occasion used people who are not His children to accomplish His will. God is in control and even those who do not believe in or follow him are under his authority and work towards accomplishing His will even though they may not know it.
God provides all of the resources necessary to accomplish His will.
We were already praying about going to China as a family.
Hannah is from the same province that Leighanne is from and one of our reasons for wanting to visit China was to visit her province.
Somebody (God) has already opened doors that were not supposed to be opened to get us the file.
As of Sunday (November 21, 2010), I have concluded that we are almost certainly supposed to proceed with this adoption. We are still working on getting doctors to review her file, etc. before we make the final decision, but based on what I know right now the answer is likely yes.

Here are our immediate prayer points:

For wisdom and discernment as we get Hannah's file reviewed by medical professionals.

For financial provisions to proceed with the adoption if that is God's will for our family. I know it doesn't surprise you to know that we don't have an adoption savings setting there waiting on God to tell us to adopt again. We already know we have the first amount due within a couple of weeks if this is to be, so we are waiting and praying.
I thought I was over the corruption, evilness, and loss that we experienced with the attempted adoption from Kazakhstan, but this has brought up a lot of emotions that apparently God wants me to work through for the next level of healing.

Please subscribe to the blog as I will post what I know (that I can share) as it happens.


Some background information

Our family has three biological children (all boys ranging in age from 14 to 17) and one girl that we adopted from China 8 years ago as a 9 month old. For the past 8+ years we have been very active in advocating for adoption and in Orphan Ministry.

In the summer of 2003 we hosted a 13 year old girl from Kazakhstan for 4 weeks and attempted to adopt her until she turned 16 in January of 2006 and was no longer adoptable. As you might imagine our hearts were broken for a child we had already gotten to know and love. We continued to serve faithfully in orphan care ministry, but this threw us for a loop for a little while with regards to considering adoption.

In 2009 we felt the call of God to step out again and go to the U.S. foster care system to foster and adopt. In August, 2009, a little girl slightly younger than Leighanne came into our home as a foster child that was expected to become available for adoption. For the next 6 months we went through an emotional roller-coaster dealing with various issues with this child. During the final time of her being in our home her biological father was located and he did not know he had a daughter. She is now in his home to stay and has adjusted well. As you might imagine, we went through emotional trauma of once again getting attached to and coming to love a "daughter" and then having it disrupted. At least with this one we can see how God used us to give this child some stability and tools that she needed to be a success so her biological father could be successful with her and as much as it hurt, we praise God that she is now with her biological family who loves and cares for her.

With this background, you should now understand at least part of why I would be reluctant to go into another adoption -- especially of a child that we know anything about so early in the process.......


Friday, November 12, 2010

God is Up to Something!

God truly is up to something if I'm blogging!  I have spent about 6 hours proving to myself that I am blogging-challenged.  Finally, I have made some headway and have figured out a few things like--I am not cut out to design blog backgrounds, I need help with the simplest of things and that you need to make your pictures way smaller before trying to upload! :)