My sister Jess, has graciously stepped into being and amazing adoption fundraiser organizer. I honestly hate fundraisers and I am probably the worst sales person alive. But, sometimes it's worth it!! I so appreciate all the time and organization she has put into it for us. She shared some of past story on Facebook and thought we should give an update as why we are adopting. So, here is my best attempt...sorry it is so long.
I really cannot remember when I first began to love Ch*na. I remember as a young teenager always being drawn to that culture whether it was a cute Asian elderly couple or a cute little girl. I remember there being an inner awareness of the preciousness of these people. I remember in college a period of struggle as I questioned if I should move there and teach English. At the time I had a suite mate from this area of the world, and it was a thought that bounced around in my heart and in my mind, as I tried to figure our what was in store for me after college.
A few months later I met Kevin and we began dating. I remember there being a conversation early in our relationship that went something like, "I'd like to adopt a child one day" and he then said, "Yeah, me too." And in my mind I mentally did another check mark to keeping this guy around.
A few years into our marriage, as we were getting closer to starting our family, we had a christian musician come and sing and share at our church on a Sunday night. I don't remember his name or his music, but I do remember him sharing of his two little girls that he and his wife had adopted from Ch*na. That night the Lord continued to whisper His plan for me into my heart. So, we came home that night and began researching Ch*na adoptions. We thought maybe it was God's plan for us to adopt first and then have biological children. It didn't take long in our research to see that Ch*na had an age requirement of 30. At the time we were probably 25 and 26 and 30 seemed so far off. (We are now 36 and almost 38 and this thought just makes me smile.) So, we decided that the timing was not right and it wasn't too long until we were pregnant with our first child.
If you've followed our story, you know that we lost our first, precious baby, not long after birth due to a rare birth defect. In the year that followed we struggled to get pregnant again. I wanted another baby so much that it was all consuming and it seemed like month after month the Lord said no. During those months we looked into adoption some more. Maybe my body couldn't handle pregnancy. I really didn't think I could handle another loss. We checked into some other countries and programs and still my heart felt called to Ch*na and we weren't 30 yet. After and entire year of begging God, trying and praying, we finally got pregnant.
In a short time frame, I found myself with two busy little girls and precious little boy who was born with Spina Bifida. God had given and blessed and though it was not without struggle, I was so thankful to be a mom. There were many days that I protested that we were done having kids, that our hands and hearts were full! It was also during those years of filling our home that Ch*na pretty much ended their healthy child adoptions and moved to mostly special needs adoptions. I clearly remember realizing for the first time that if we were to ever adopt from Ch*na that we would have 2 kids with special needs. I wish I could tell you that when I first realized this that I was excited, but the truth was that it seemed overwhelming. Throughout the next few years we looked at several waiting child files prayed yet we just couldn't say yes.
Over the last five years of being a special needs family, I do feel that God has worked on my heart and helped me to see that I can trust Him more. He has shown me that He is with me through scary appointments. He's continues to comfort me that he has a good plan even when the future scares me to think about. I've seen Him get great glory when our family finds our delight in Him and not in our situation or circumstances. He has continued to nudge us slowly again and again to open our hearts and home to another child.
There are so many reasons to say no to adoption: the crazy paperwork, the money$$$, the unknowns, the travel, all the hard that comes with it. There were many days that I acknowledged these difficulties and thought, "Yeah, were good." Life had finally gotten back to a sweet place and why would I want to invite challenges again? Then there were days when we'd sing,"Break my heart for what breaks yours, everything thing I am for your kingdom's cause" or "Who makes the orphan a son and daughter, the King of Glory, the King above all kings" and my heart would about burst.
Last fall on a Sunday night, Kev had preached that day and we had just gotten our kiddos in bed and sat on the couches for a few minutes to finally chill out. Instead of turning on a movie we sat and talked for a bit. I asked him what the Lord had been telling him. Without hesitaiton, he said, to adopt. I think I was a bit shocked, not sure why because I knew the Lord was telling me the same thing. It was kinda one of those...We're having a baby moments of shock and fear.
We waited for the new year to come and had planned on getting started. We invited some friends over who had adopted several kids and shared our plans with them and we asked lots of questions. We still felt like we were spinning our wheels. So many agencies, so many reviews both good and bad. Do we find a child first and then begin or begin and then match with a child? I felt a bit overwhelmed and the months were busy and full. In April of this year, I felt led to spend 40 days praying about how to move forward, asking the Lord for guidance. So we committed to really just praying for direction and peace.
After about a month of praying were were driving home from a quick little family getaway and I checked Facebook as Kev was driving. I noticed a precious 12 month old's picture as I skimmed an advocacy site that I followed. I showed Kev and he immediately said, email for more information. The little sweetie had spina bifida like Eli, and yet appeared to have great mobility for a 12 month old. I emailed and over the next week we requested to be matched with this little girl. We prayed and prayed for the Lord's will. It seemed like such a good match for us. We prayed, we asked and then we didn't match with her. Our whole family was bit disappointed, but this was just what we all needed to push us to get started.
By that weekend I was in full-on paper work mode. We quickly found a home study agency and a placing agency, both of whom we had not originally planned to use, yet felt led to. We have worked so hard on the paper chase all summer long. I am so thankful for the Lord's timing, since we got so much of it done over the summer.
As of now, we are not matched. Our dossier is in the process of being authenticated and we are waiting to get i800a approval. We have no clue who our girl is, what she looks like, when she was born or how old she is, what her special need is, or when we will get to bring her home. But, without a doubt I know that God put her on my heart years ago. I know that God wouldn't let me forget about her, when I wanted to be content with our little family. I know God loves her and must have some great plan for her life and we get to be a part of that!!
When I one day arrive in heaven, I want to arrive tired. I want to have spent out every ounce of Julie so that I don't even look like me. I want to know that I was obedient to the point of being paranoid that I might miss God's plan for me. I want to know more of what it must have felt like for God to have taken me, a foreigner, into his family and love me forever. Little Eden Grace, you are somewhere on this great big planet, and we can't wait to love you!