By Julia, waiting mom to Caleb in China with cleft lip and palate
I clearly heard God calling our family to adopt years ago. I cried every time I heard or saw anything adoption related. I just knew that we were called to go somewhere to adopt someone. I didn’t know where, who, when or how in the world we would pay for any of it. But I know the voice of my God and I knew that he was calling me and preparing my heart to go. My husband Andy, however, did not feel led to adopt. At all. And I did not understand why God would give me such a heart for adoption and not my husband. So I prayed. I prayed that he would listen to God. I poked and prodded and pushed him into everything adoption. I tried for years to convince him that this was indeed our calling. Funny thing, it didn’t work. After nearly five years of this, I finally gave God the chance to do His work. I somehow thought that He needed me. He didn’t. I prayed quietly and said nothing. And God did move in my husband’s heart.
In March of 2008, we decided to start the adoption process. Slowly. We had just received a tax rebate of $2,000. We actually had money to start the process. But when that was gone, that was pretty much it. We had no way of knowing where the money would come from. I had complete faith that God would provide what we needed. I truly felt like the money wasn’t ours to need. The money wasn’t for us in any way. The money was merely a ransom, of sorts, that had to be paid to bring our child out of a dark and desolate place and into a home with a mom and a dad and to a promise of a hope and a future. My husband was basically freaked out about the whole financial aspect. He paid the bills and he felt the stress. We chose an agency (All God’s Children) and thought that we’d go through the application process slowly. Well, God had different plans.
There was a list of “waiting children” in our application packet we received from AGC. We were still trying to discern what country we would look into. We had narrowed it down to a few based solely on finances (we chose the cheapest options!) and the travel time (we didn’t want to be gone from our three children for more than two weeks). And then we looked at the faces of the children on the Waiting Children list. My heart broke and I literally would have gone and brought them all home with me if I could have. My husband was drawn to one little boy. He was in China and was listed as being 2 years old with a repaired cleft lip and palate. He also had a grant available from Britany’s Hope of $3,000. Our adoption agency offered another $850.00 grant as well. So, within the first week or so of this process, we had nearly $6,000.00 taken care of financially, a name, a face, and a country clearly in front of us. We also found out that this little boy had been on the waiting list for nearly 9 months (and was now nearly 3 years old) and was about ready to have his file sent back to China. Our agency had been advocating for him to find a family for 9 months and no one wanted him. I could not understand why. I asked our agency and they said that they had about 20-25 families wanting to adopt from China and only 3 would even consider adopting a boy. My heart just broke for all the other boys on that list. I can still see their faces.
We spent the next few weeks trying to figure out how we were going to pay for the next huge amount of money that would be due. We were accepting a referral before we even had our homestudy started, so things were a bit unusual as far as our whole paperwork payment process. We were faced with a $6,000 agency fee and a $1350 homestudy fee. And on top of that we had to order all kinds of documents and such that all cost money. Our grant money covered one of the last fees, so we needed money now.
A dear friend of mine offered to help me plan a fundraiser. We planned a Family Fun Night in May that included a carnival and silent auction. We had less than two months to plan the whole thing. We sent out emails letting all of friends and family know about it and asked for donations for the auction. We prayed that God would work in a mighty way. And He did. In big and small ways. We had one person from church offer to donate 2 granite countertops for our auction. That donation alone brought in nearly $9,000.00. We earned about $3,000 in admission tickets and from the sale of donated cookies, popcorn and cotton candy. The silent auction ended up bringing in $3,000. All in all, we came home that night and counted over $15,000 in cash and checks on our kitchen table. We clearly experienced a miracle that night and we were in awe.
We also held a huge garage sale at our house. We asked for friends to drop off anything that we could sell. And they did. Our garage was literally five feet full of everyone’s junk, good junk that is! We spent hours and hours sorting through it all and selling it. We sold $1500 worth of junk in two days!
We had friends offer to pay for the cost of our homestudy. We had family members send us checks. We had anonymous donations of big and small. We had plane tickets donated to us. We were overwhelmed with the generosity and sacrifice of family, friends, and complete strangers.
The one thing that I would tell someone who is wanting to adopt but is scared to death of how to pay for it is this: Share your story, pray, and ask for help. They are all hard things to do. But God clearly showed us that we could not do all of this on our own. We are not called to do all for all. We were clearly called to open our home and love a child. That is a huge calling. We did not have the money to do it. But we knew that God had a child specifically chosen for us long before we did. He knew we were broke. He knew we couldn’t do it all on our own. And you know what, the blessing is that we didn’t try. The blessing is that we saw God work in a huge way. We didn’t wait until we had it all together. We didn’t wait until we had a certain amount of money in the bank. We didn’t wait until everything seemed perfect. We waited on Him. We walked when God called us to walk and we let others come alongside of us. And that is the joy of being called children of God. We are a family. We have experienced the miracle of this firsthand.
Throughout the last 9 months, I have been connecting with other adoptive families via blogs and yahoo groups. In May, I “met” a family via their blog just before they were travelling to the same orphanage our son is in. They offered to hand deliver a few small gifts to our son and sent tons of photos and even a video of him! I met another adoptive family via a yahoo group for families adopting from this orphanage. They just delivered more gifts to Caleb and sent more precious photos.
Our journey is not over. We don’t have our son home yet. But he is part of our family already. We have a stocking hung for him, ornaments on the tree for him, a bed waiting for him, and stuffed animals just waiting to be hugged by him. We pray for him every day and talk about him all the time. I wear a necklace around my neck to remind myself of him and carry photos in my purse to share with anyone who asks about him (and even some who don’t ask!). The true miracles we have experienced will soon be replaced with doctor appointments, attachment and bonding times, sleepless nights and who knows what else. The real work comes later. We are in the middle of raising three kids right now. I know the joys and hopes of being pregnant and looking into the face of a newborn and I know the trying times of dealing with a pre-teen girl and rambunctious five year old boy. But I also know that there is joy in them both. There is joy is the journey and there is peace in knowing you are following God along the way.
We are still waiting to meet our son. He has seen photos of us. He has heard that his “mama” and “baba” are coming. He has heard the good news! And we are so thankful that Jesus has done the same for us. He has come for us. He has called us. He has loved us even before we loved him. He paid the ultimate ransom for our life. He IS the Good News! And I am so blessed and thankful to be able to actually live out the hope of the gospel through adoption. It really is the story of all of us who call ourselves children of God.
Feel free to visit our family blog here.