"You should start a blog..."
I've heard this time and time again from several friends and family members who we don't get to see as often as we'd like, so here we go. My hope is that this blog will share snippets from our life as a family, as we grows from a household of 2 (+Cooper, our lovable little dog) to a household of 3 (or more!). We've officially started the Adoption Process and couldn't more excited for what God's plan is for our life! We're currently working with Dove Adoptions International to adopt a little boy from Ethiopia. We're hoping to have the process complete and the little guy in our arms by Christmas 2011. Please keep us in your prayers as we journey this road. We know it's not going to be easy, we're prepared for that, but our prayer is that this process will open the eyes of those around us to the fact that caring for the orphan is something God calls us to do. It's a cause that we can't turn our back on and pretend doesn't exist. With 143,000,000 orphans in need of a loving home, it's increasingly evident to us that this is a cause we should fight for, a fight that NEEDS to be fought. Although I don't believe everyone is called to adopt, I do believe as Christians we are called to care for the orphan in someway. What does your part play?
Our Story (in the making)
Approximately 2 1/2 years ago, JT and I felt God calling us to adopt. He laid a burden for the orphan of the world heavily on our hearts. We "talked" about it time and time again, but often ended each conversation with "Let's have 1 or 2 kids of 'our own' first, then maybe we'll adopt." This typical conversation played out several times over the next year and a half, until last fall when we attended an event held at our Church (Calvary Baptist Church - http://www.calvarysc.org/) called "Real Religion." It was a self-guided tour throughout the entire church, set-up for each participant to see and feel what it would be like to be an orphan in different regions of the world. As JT and I stood in the dimly lit stairwell of the church, with photos of waiting children covering the walls, we both began to cry and made the commitment that one day we would adopt. We kept this overwhelming experience to ourselves, did not share it with any family or friends. As moved as we were that night, we still had thoughts of biological children lingering in our minds. At this point we had been trying for about 1 year, with me struggling with infertility issues. After several doctor appointments and several tests, my doctor had recommended beginning fertility treatments. As much as I wanted a baby, something inside of me was holding me back from getting the prescription from her.
JT and I began talking about adoption much more frequently. We began to wonder if God was saying "Why are you waiting to adopt? This is something I have planned for you now." Being human, we still weren't convinced adoption was the plan for us at this current time in our lives, that is until we heard it in a much clearer voice! In March 2010, we decided to go to a different Sunday morning service than we usually attend (our church is multi-site, so it's not uncommon to attend a different service from time to time). We knew a few people at this particular service and went there to see and talk to them, unknowing that this day would be a turning point in our life. After the service ended, a woman named Becky, who we knew of, but didn't know personally, approached us. She tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I was Erin. I told her yes and she proceeded to tell me that she had a "crazy question" for me. I had no idea what this stranger was about to ask, but her 5 word question forever changed my life. She looked me in the eye and said "Have you ever considered adopting?" I began sobbing, which surprised her (obviously...I now looked like a crazy person!). She went on to say "I don't know you, I don't know your story, I'm not sure why you're crying, but during the service, the Holy Spirit kept telling me that I needed to talk to you about adoption. I kept trying to ignore His voice and put it out of my head, but then I could picture my daughter (who is adopted) with you. I could see her as your daughter, so I knew I had to tell you that you should consider adopting." Needless to say I was an emotional wreck. I told her that I wanted to talk to her about it, but I couldn't at that moment. She told me to call or email when I was ready to talk to her. We left there in shock and amazement of the entire conversation...she didn't know us from Adam, she had no idea what was going on physiologically with me or how we were feeling emotionally, she wasn't aware that God had already placed adoption on our hearts and had been nudging us to go in that direction. We hadn't told ANYONE about this, which made it all the more clear that this decision was one God had designed for us.
Approximately 2 weeks later, we were discussing the costs of international adoption, and were saying "How are we going to be able to do this?" That evening I was checking my email, I had a blog update from an adoptive family in our community. The title was "The Weed of Financing" the post explained how some folks use the excuse of funding an adoption as their reason not to go through with it. The author went on to say that if God is calling you to adopt, don't let finances become a weed in your decision making. Thank you, Heavenly Father...just the words we needed to hear! A few weeks after that we were talking about how scary the possibility of having a referred child taken from you prior to adoption finalization would be...again that night, I had a blog post from the same author. This post was titled "The fear of the Reclaimed Child" Seriously, God?? Talk about a smack to the back of the head! How could we let fear, after fear deter us from this decision? We decided that evening that we needed to start researching adoption agencies. Soon after, we received a newsletter from the college that my brother-in-law attends. It generally is filled with upcoming events or new majors that they've added. I was going to throw it away before even looking at it, but decided to check out what was going on at the college. To my surprise, the ENTIRE edition was filled with alumni who had adopted! Their stories were each different: domestic adoption, international adoption, newborn adoption, special needs adoption. Directly in the middle of the newsletter was an entire page devoted to adoption resources, including web addresses, phone numbers, contact persons at each agency, etc. Could this call on our lives be anymore clear?? I took the newsletter and began typing web addresses immediately...we needed to start this process. Enough "talking" about it already! As I researched one agency in particular, I saw that they had 3 offices in our state, one in Pittsburgh, one in Philadelphia, and one in...State College??? Crazy!! As I looked further on their website, I found that they have general adoption information meetings monthly at...my church??!!! Seriously Crazy! I called to reserve spots for JT and I at their next meeting. We ended up being the only couple there! While we chose not to use this particular agency, the meeting was very helpful and we were able to get all of our questions up to that point answered. I am so thankful for that first one on one meeting with an adoption agency as we were getting started.
Another special message directly for my heart...
As I was driving to my parents house this summer for my sister's wedding, I had the radio tuned to KLove (a nationally broadcasted christian radio station) which I can usually pick up during part of my drive home. I was coming upon the mile marker where I usually have to change stations as the DJs were interviewing artist, Natalie Grant who had a new album coming out. They began talking about her being pregnant and she informed them that both of her pregnancies have been miracles. She explained that she had struggled with infertility and was given a less than one percent chance of ever getting pregnant. As she explained her struggles, one of the hosts interrupted her and said "Natalie, I believe that right now as your speaking, there is a woman, and there may be more, but I believe there is at least one woman listening to you who is struggling with infertility. Would you mind praying for her?" I began to weep as she prayed a beautiful prayer for the hurt I had been feeling, the struggles I had been going through, the failure I had felt as a woman. She went on to pray that (I) would be open to other paths that God may have for me (adoption) and that I would cling to the hope and promise that He gives. I know that there were probably hundreds of other women crying in their cars or at their desks at that very same time, but it was a prayer that I needed to hear at that very moment and thankful that God cared enough to make my radio signal strong enough to pick up those encouraging words. Directly after she prayed, I lost that station.
Up until this point I hadn't spoken to or even seen Becky since that Sunday in church months prior. I decided I needed to email her to let her know that we were in fact researching agencies to get the process started. I emailed her late one Thursday evening. The next day, I headed to Giant after work, and ran right into her! I hadn't seen her in months, and here I was standing face to face with her! I wasn't sure if she had gotten my email yet, but soon realized she had as she hugged me and told me she was so happy we were going to adopt. We chatted for a few minutes, planning to get together soon, but as her kids got a little restless she told me she need to take them home. As she left, she said over her shoulder, "I hate this store, I never come here!" To her, she was just voicing frustration she was feeling, but to me it was confirmation that God had planned our meeting all along!
Over the past several months, we've done a lot of research on different agencies, countries to adopt from, fundraising, etc. We're currently waiting to get our clearances back so we can schedule our home study. After that's completed, we'll be compiling paperwork for our dossier (a packet of extensive, detailed information about us to send to Ethiopia). Each step takes months to complete, so we're praying that everything goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. We'll keep you posted each step along the way!
This was a lengthy post, thanks for sticking with it and thanks for journeying with us...