Are you sitting down?
Take a really good look at that family photo....do you see what I see? Right there, in front of Rebekah and just to the left of Daryl, behind Dayton....do you see it? It's an empty spot. It's a spot we are going to be trying to fill this year....
WE ARE ADOPTING...at least we are stepping forth in faith to attempt to adopt. Whether or not we can pass all the tests we really don't know, but we have been researching for months and have not yet found anything that would disqualify us from adopting. Well, there is the question of both parents being of sound mind, and our adopting when we already have a house full will cause most people to think that we are no longer in our right mind. But let me explain how and why we came to this decision.
If you have been following my blog, you already know that I have a heart for orphans. What you don't know is that I have always had a heart for adoption. When I was in high school, I read the book "The Family Nobody Wanted" that was about a family who adopted lots of kids and I just loved their story. My friends from my youth will remember me telling them that if I have 4 boys, I'd adopt a girl...I've offered to adopt relatives and we've taken in several young ladies through the years to help them through a tough time in their lives. I love to invest in children's lives and I praise God for the opportunities He has given me in the past. Opportunities to be used by Him to make a difference in someone's life. Opportunities to serve God by serving others.
Starting last spring, just after Carese was born, Daryl and I started talking about adoption. Mostly we were talking about the orphans that I was advocating for. But our discussions also included talking about whether or not we could adopt one of these little ones who need so badly to be saved from their awful situations. But each discussion ended with, it just won't work for us, right now.
Until last November. This time, after reading a blog post about adoption and how freeing it was for this family to learn to let go of the desire for "things" and focus their money and time into saving two children from Eastern European orphanages, our discussion ended with "it's time to move forward and see if this is what God wants us to do." We began to seriously look into the possibility of adopting a child with Down Syndrome from Eastern European Countries. These children are in desperate situations, and we fell that God is calling us to use all the knowledge/skills/understanding that we have learned through loving and caring for our precious Esther.
Around that time I really got excited because I got a glimpse into how God has been setting things up for this time. Over the last few months, Daryl has been working overtime, and I've been involved with a gleaners group and the combination has packed our larder. We can live very inexpensively for a long time. On top of that with some hard work, plus our tax return, plus fund raising and grants, but most of all with God pulling a few miracles off for us, we felt that this was indeed something possible for our family.
So we presented this idea to the children. A few of the older children were aware the Daryl and I had been talking about the possibility of adoption and we knew that they were in favor of the idea. But the children's response to our commitment to pursuing adoption was beyond anything I had expected!
All morning long they were brainstorming with me about ways that we could live on less and save the difference. Some of the things that they voted on to agree to do without until the adoption process is finished are Little Caesar's Pizza, cold cereal, no DVD rental. I took a nap that day and when I woke up the kids had decorated a canning jar with fabric, buttons, a bow and the words "Bring Her Home" on it. We scoured our rooms and put all the change we could find into the jar.
At that time we found an adorable little girl that we hoped to adopt. Only we found out after some initial paperwork, and someone actually talking to a judge in a particular Eastern European country, that even though they allow "large families" to adopt, their definition of large families is no more than 7 children. We tried for an exemption since only 7 of our children living at home are dependents, the other 3 are over 18. We were told that the official even said "we have fewer children in some of our orphanages than that family has in their home!" They just don't get it.
We were disappointed and felt like this was a real set back. We decided that since the holidays were approaching rapidly, and since Esther was having surgery soon after that, we would put adoption thoughts on hold until things were settled after her surgery. But we did some leg work. We found another country that was open to families of our size adopting from their country and began some paperwork with an agency, About a Child, that has a great history with adoptions from that country and working with large families. We also looked into home study providers in our area and started paperwork with Bethany Christian Services.
We also looked at children available from that country. Checking new children whose files became available as well. But we just didn't find one that we felt led to adopt.
Until.Last.Week. Esther was recovered from her surgery (at least she was off pain meds and beginning to be very active - i.e. getting into trouble/wanting to go outside and such), so I decided to take a look to see if there were any new children from the country we were looking to adopt from. There were. I forwarded the link to Daryl and the conversation was picked up once again. The next day, Daryl send me an email stating that this was his written approval to begin the process to try to adopt a particular child that we had found. He was so sweet to do this as then I knew that he was 100% ready to go and that he knew that I was ready and doing it for the right reasons (most of our recent discussions were about why we would pursue an adoption).
In the last week and a half, we have submitted the money to begin our home study, filled out more paperwork than it takes to buy a house, handed out referrals and picked up a new/used printer/scanner/copier as we'll need it for this process! I also moved up our tax appointment and will have our tax return submitted by the end of this week! I've made appointments for nearly all our family members to have physicals done (our family physician has generously agreed to do this for us all at once, and at an extremely discounted rate!), and tomorrow the 5 adults are all going in for fingerprinting/FBI background checks!
I can't say more about exactly who we are attempting to adopt until we are legally/officially committed to this child. That means sending in our commitment fee and some initial paperwork that is sent to the country we are adopting from, and they agree that we are good candidates to adopt and they accept our commitment. At that point she is no longer available for international adoption unless we have to quit the adoption process for some reason. There are no guarantees, as an in-country family could still adopt her, or a family member step forward, or the child could become too ill to leave the country (or even die - this has happened).
We've now told most of our close friends and family, and have found more excitement and support than I could have imagined. I hope that you, my readers, will also be excited for us as we begin this life changing adventure!
Please pray with us for favor with the application process, and that the funds will be in place as we need them as we complete our home study and prepare our dossier. Please pray that the little one we are hoping to adopt will continue in good health and that we will find favor with the officials in that country.
Just to give you some idea of the cost of adopting from an Eastern European Country, you can check out these stats:
Home Study - $4 - $5,000
Adoption Agency fees - $3 - $5,000
Program Fees (paid to the orphans country) - $10,000 - $17,000
Finger Printing/Background Check - $200
Plus misc expenses along the way that can reach to $1000 or more.
Traveling Expenses - $2,000 - $8,000 depending on the time of year!
As you can see you'd have to be independently wealthy to accomplish this. Most families who can adopt, can't afford it! You can see why. We are committed to now incurring any debt to adopt this child, and I know that God can do this if it is in His will for our family. Pray that we will follow His lead.
If you are interested in helping us with our early expenses (most grants are not awarded until the home study is completed or once you have been approved to travel to the country the first time), please email me and I'll let you know how you can help. Right now we are looking at around $6,000 that we still need to raise before we can submit our dossier.
Stay tuned for links to fund raising efforts!
Here's a few things that keep running through my thoughts lately"
"God's work done in God's way will never lack God's supply." - Hudson Taylor
James 1:27 - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."