Know what? This is my 4th adoption blog. That is wild for me to think about! Even more surprising is that as I begin writing this 4th adoption blog, our family still only has 1 child at home. What a crazy roller coaster ride we've been on!! Read on, and you will see what I mean.. :)
First was China. We started that journey in the spring of 2006 and submitted our dossier in the fall of that year. In the spring of 2007 we applied to be on our adoption agency's special needs referral list. And on December 7, 2007 we received The Call from our caseworker that we had been matched with a 15 month old girl with a minor heart condition. Noelle JiaZhen was soon to be our daugher-- March 17 (St. Patrick's Day) was the first day we held her in our arms. Oh what joy!! She is truly an amazing child and I have learned so much about life and myself and God, just by being her mom. (If you are interested in reading our China adoption blog, send me an email and I will share the link)
Second was Taiwan. In the fall of 2008 Eric and I started discussing the possibility of adopting again. This time around I was drawn to adopting an older waiting child. My heart was soften to the needs of school aged and/or special needs kids who typically get overlooked. Sometime during the winter holidays I saw the online profile of a 9 year old girl in Taiwan. After requesting her file from the adoption agency, Eric and I prayed about adopting her. In March 2009 we officially started the process to bring her home. That was the beginning of a crazy journey that sadly ended in April 2010. (The full story is in my next post)
Third was Ethiopia. In addition to having a heart for Asia, I also had a dream to one day adopt a child from Africa. As we were recovering from our disappointment of our failed Taiwan adoption, we once again began to pray and research options for bringing a child into our family. Ethiopia stood out for several reasons: the country program was stable and fairly predictable, children of all ages needed families, we found a very ethical adoption agency we loved (still do!),,,and we had a connection to Ethiopia. Our church - the Nazarene church - has a huge outreach to Ethiopia and many missionaries from our denomination serve in this beautiful country. The Nazarene church trains local pastors and helped plant many, many churches across the country. People are literally being saved by the thousands!! God is moving mightily in that country. Ethiopia felt like a good choice for our next adoption. We would be honored to parent an Ethiopian child and someday return to his/her country to serve the people there.
We began working with Children's Hope International out of St. Louis in June 2010. We started the home study process with our social worker to change to Ethiopia and began the dossier paperchase. This time we requested to be matched with a child 0-4 years (CHI does not allow adoptions that change the birth order of the children already in the home) and were open to a variety of special needs. We also began praying for God to provide the funds needed to proceed. Due to our modest income level and the particular way ministers are taxed, we were never eligible for the Federal Adoption Tax Credit (to our surprise and disappointment) to build an adoption fund for our second adoption. So we fervently prayed for God to somehow provide the funds needed to submit our dossier when it was completed. I started working in August while Noelle was in preschool, we were looking at grant applications, trying to muster the strength for a big garage sale, etc. We knew that if God had a child for us in Ethiopia, HE would make a way.
By the end of October and the near completion of our dossier, it was evident we didn't have the funds to pay the dossier fee. I kept hoping and praying for a miracle in those final weeks. But all along, our overarching prayer was for God's will and HIS timing. When we entered November, we (mostly me, because Eric was much more "chilled" about things) turned it all over to God and felt peace that what needed to happen would happen. Maybe we would be able to submit our dossier in the Spring--because it looked like with the Federal Adoption Tax "Credit" having been made a straight "refund", we would finally be eligible!! Whatever the case, God was in charge.
About this time I received a very interesting email from Dudley at His Hands. A couple years prior some dear friends of ours adopted through this small ministry in Taiwan. We almost submitted an application to them (it was filled out and ready to go), but ultimately decided to pursue the adoption of the school aged girl we had come to love. Then at one point when that adoption was on hold, we gave consideration to His Hands. We even requested an application. As it turns out, they had had such an overwhelming response of adoptive parents, they were no longer accepting applications. Our names were put on a waiting list to receive an application when their program reopened.
We had pretty much forgotten about the His Hands possibility, it had been so long. When Dudley's email came on November 15, Eric and I were amazed to read that he was sending us an application packet. We took a couple days to pray, sought some wise counsel, and decided to go for it! It seemed like God could be opening an unexpected door and we sure didn't want to ignore His opportunities. As quickly as we could we filled out the application and turned it in. And we left the outcome in God's hands (His Hands).
In January we received another email from Dudley that we had been accepted into the program and were now waiting for a referral. Yay!! Eric and I thought, okay, now we plan and save and get house projects finished and and...and maybe in a year we'll get matched with a child. On our application we put that we were open to a child 0-4 and were open to special needs. We left it wide open for God to choose our child.
On Sunday morning February 6th I had a HUGE SURPRISE in my email from Holly and Trena at His Hands-- our referral!! for a 3 1/2 month old baby girl!!!!!!!!!!!!! What??????
We laughed and cried and praised God. And to think of all the planning that I had done these past 2 years. God was putting the pieces together for His plan to unfold. All I can say is, W O W God.
Stay tuned for The Rest of The Story... :)