Twenty Million Minus One
God Opened Our Hearts
Two and a half years ago, Paul and I stood in the courtyard of Kai’s orphanage. It was a beautiful, sunny day in May. The friends we traveled with had received their precious babes. We waited. It felt like an eternity. While we waited, we were looking all around. Every time a door would open, our gaze was immediately drawn. We didn’t see our little boy, but we saw many other kids. Today, some of those kids may be someone’s son or daughter, but the reality, most of them are not. This small city in China had 600 orphans, maybe 60 of which would be adopted. I can still feel the warmth of the sun on that day, mixed with the cold reality of the crisis in that city, in that country, in our home country, and around the world. I can’t forget the faces I saw. The groups of children sitting in a circle in their wheelchairs on the concrete courtyard. The babies lined up in the cribs, cribs that filled entire rooms. Paul and I were both persuaded, that day, before we even held our son, that this would not be our only adoption The need is too great. The stakes are too high.
God Asked Us to Wait
Kai adjusted and attached so well that we felt we were ready to return to China within months of being home. Most of you know the story by now. We were halfway through our adoption and thousands of dollars into the process when God rocked our world with sweet baby Charlie. Right before Charlie’s birth, we learned that China changed their regulations and we would no longer be able to continue with this adoption. Though this felt like a messed up plan and a costly mistake, we knew God was not absent. We just needed to wait.
We committed to wait until Charlie turned one to begin considering what God would have next for our family. We began to pursue an open adoption through domestic infant adoption. While it is not an easy thing, we felt a strong desire to impact not only the life of a child, but the life of a birth mother as well. We started down this path, but we started to sense that this was not the direction God was leading us. That was a hard door to let close. We continued to return to the question, where is the greatest need? We couldn’t deny the urgency of the needs of waiting children around the country and the world. So we began to investigate foster adoption. We were disappointed to find that the needs of this program and the needs of our family, particularly with Kai’s attachment, made this not the best fit.
Our agency had no programs that were a good fit. They connected us with another agency with an established program in India. Within a few days, we had a conference call with America World Adoption Agency. Paul was home with the boys, I was in a Starbucks parking lot. We ended the call and called each other. We both felt incredible peace and full conviction that this was the right program for us.
The program is similar in many ways to our experience of the China program. It requires one trip to India of approximately two weeks. The process takes on average 18-24 months. Because of the significance of Kai’s medical needs, we were matched with him early on. There were unique challenges and joys with that. While this is not the way most families in the China adoption program experience the process, it prepared us well for this adoption, as it will be our sequence of events.
God is Moving
Paul and I visited India in 2010 with our church. We both fell in love with the culture and the people. There is a massive number of orphans in India. Due to the extreme poverty and caste system, there is little hope for many of these children. It is obviously difficult to quantify something like this, but it is estimated that there are twenty million orphans in India. As a reference, there is estimated to be 460,000 orphans in China. The United States has approximately 400,000 children in foster care. All of these numbers are overwhelming. There is need all around us.
The spiritual need in India is significant. The current religious climate is increasingly anti-Christian. Just as was the case with China, we have to be very careful and limit what is stated in our paperwork to India regarding our faith. We wanted to adopt a child who may otherwise have limited access to the Gospel.
As this adoption is starting to take shape, we can already begin to see the ways God is molding and shaping us in this process. We can see His hand in the opening and closing of doors. We sense His calling in this journey. It is a strange thing to be doing something that doesn't quite make sense. We aren't doing this because we have an excess of time, energy, resources, relationships or support. In many ways, this process depletes what feels scarce already. It requires money, time, energy and support. In a journey that can sometimes feel very lonely, a season where money is meeting our needs, but not overflowing, a time where three little ones take up most of our time and energy and it takes late nights to get the paperwork done, it can feel overwhelming. The anxiety swells just talking about it. But can I tell you the moments when I feel most convinced that this is what God is calling us to do? When I am spending time with God, meditating on the truth of who He is, the reality of who I am in Him and the certainty of our eternity and the Gospel. When I am filled with this Truth, finances, relationships, time and energy take their place under the all powerful, all sovereign God. I remember that this life is temporary, but our future is eternal. What feels most important right now, pales in comparison to what matters most. This life is so brief, but our impact will live forever. That's why we are adopting.
We aren't adopting to increase our comfort or fulfill our dreams. We are adopting because we have been rescued in the most ultimate way through Jesus' death for us and resurrection. We are adopting because we have been spiritually adopted. When we remember the absolute lavishness of God's love and movement towards us, we are compelled to move with the same passion and intensity towards the most helpless, vulnerable and needy among us, the orphan children.
Would you please pray for us?
Pray for attachment to continue to grow in our family. The boys are absolutely thrilled about this adoption. Don't worry, we only tell them what we expect they may tell others, so if they have talked about our adoption, it is true! Kai calls him/her our India friend and Asher has chosen the name, CJ from his favorite book, Last Stop on Market Street. Adoption will bring up things to process with Kai and may stir up emotions and anxieties in him. Please pray for wisdom and comfort and we navigate this.
Pray for the process. It is so much paperwork. There is a unique amount of red tape, particularly regarding wording, documentation and notarizations for the documents. Our home study may be complete later this month.
Pray for financial provision. We know that every resource on earth belongs to God and He will meet our needs, but the anxiety and stress of the financial aspect of this adoption is very real. It's pushed me, in this season, particularly to consider my own heart's attitude towards money and having things or experiences, gifting things to my kids and those around me. God is working in my heart in so many ways! It's a never-ending journey, I know!
Pray for our son or daughter (to answer maybe our most frequently asked question-- are we 'going for a girl' this time? We don't know yet. We are open to whoever God has for us. The number of boys and girls available for adoption is 50/50.) Our child is likely already alive and living in an orphanage. There are rarely foster homes in India, so this child will be living in a very different environment than Kai had. India does not adopt out of birth order, so our child will be very close to age in Charlie. Pray for their protection and for their health. We may be given priority to a child with neurological special needs as we have experience with this type of need, but are open to other medical needs as well.
Pray for our child, as this would be a time they may be receiving care. All of the children available for adoption have special medical needs. This can range in severity from minor, correctable to moderate or more severe needs. We are pursuing a child with special medical needs. Every adopted child has special needs. Sometimes they are visible, sometimes they are the unseen, emotional struggles, but their needs are unique and we want to provide love and care for a child in need.
We are thrilled. We are overwhelmed. We feel the excitement of this clear direction. We are very aware of our need. We are in awe of the good news of the Gospel in our lives, in our children's lives and in the life of this precious one across the world. Thank you for sharing with us in our joy. We are excited to move forward, able to now share it with all of you!