We are not your “typical” adoptive couple. In all of our travel group pictures it’s like the Sesame Street song… “one of these things is not like the others!” We are in our fifties, our BMIs are off the charts, and arthritis meds and insulin are part of our daily regimen. However, we are active late bloomers. We had our first child at thirty and our second child at forty. I graduated college at forty-four and got my master’s degree at forty-eight. So why not make the decision to adopt while staring fifty in the face?
Two years ago, I was sitting at the table, dishes stacked to be washed, resting in the quietness of the end of a long day. Enjoying the peace after a wearisome day of living out my nobility as a teacher of broken children. Comfortable in the knowledge that I was doing more than my fair share to help the world, proud of my Christianity, proud of my position of leadership in our church, proud of my daughter excelling in college. Proud of my sweet son. Feeling complete and looking ahead to an empty nest in a few years, maybe full time children’s ministry, travel, a new car. The word surrender never even encroaching it’s way into my spirit. I was scrolling through Facebook and a picture of a little Chinese girl with a pixie haircut caught my eye… I turned the computer around to my husband and said, “Isn’t she a cutie?” (This little girl is now Winnie and has a beautiful family in Texas.) I clicked on the link and it took me to an adoption advocacy site that was called Reece’s Rainbow. I clicked a button and up came this picture.
This little girl? She was standing at the beginning of our road to surrender.
Sitting at that table, in that very moment, we looked at that picture and not knowing the way or where the road went or how we would travel, we turned onto the road of surrender and began our journey to the beginning of understanding what Jesus asks of us following salvation. That moment when He requires us to pick up our cross, sell our possessions, leave our father, mother, brother, sister, sons, and daughters and follow Him.
We threw our retirement out the window, listened (and are still listening) to countless, well meaning loved ones and friends question our sanity. We decided that following Jesus, and the lives of these children were more important than anything we had on our agenda for the future. We completed lots of paperwork and lots of doctor’s appointments and then, we brought home Gracie and Oliver in August 2014.
From the moment we laid eyes on our precious children and spent time in China, we knew we would go back. We had already found two little precious ones with Down syndrome, and we decided to turn around and do it again.
That was in January 2015. We had completed our home study and life was crazy busy. My husband was working a lot of overtime and he didn’t seem well, but we thought he was just overtired. In May he landed in the ER on a Sunday afternoon and the bottom fell out of our world. Frank was in massive heart failure. He was in a-fib. He had a stint put in and had another artery that would need a stint in the future. They couldn’t stop the a-fib; his heart was pumping at 30%. His diabetes was through the roof because of the heart problems. He spent twelve days in the CICU. The cardiologist told us to cancel our adoption because Frank would never be able to work again, and he probably had only two to three years left to live. I wrote the hardest letter of my life, asking that Nini and Harry be released from our adoption.
I was exhausted, angry, depressed, and just lost. God is with us when the water is deep, and when we are drowning. We (and hundreds of God’s people) began to pray for a miracle for Frank. God heard our cries and healed Frank’s heart. I mean, completely healed it. He went back to work full time at his physically strenuous job in July 2015. With his heart pumping at 95%, the cardiologist gave us the okay to adopt again and told him he’d see him in a year for a check up. We got in touch with our agency and with more paperwork, a new home study, and letters from the doctor, they said yes! Nini was still out on the shared list. Harry had been chosen by another family (we are so thankful a family found him!) so we decided to go ahead and adopt our girl.
Because we were only adopting one, we could do a dossier reuse and that would shorten our time a bit. Fast forward to Thanksgiving week, our dossier documents were at the agency and our paperwork was getting ready to leave for China when this handsome mug popped up on my Facebook newsfeed.
The moment I saw this face, I began to weep. He was thirteen years old and would age out on January 30, 2016. Still weeping, I called my husband at work and shared JoJo’s story with him. When I asked him what did he think? He said, “We can’t leave him there, he needs us.” My hubs has the biggest heart! As I hung up the phone, the words – my mantra – that I had said so many times since the beginning of our adoption journey came flooding in…
Lord, I will take any child, but not a teenager, not one that is aging out. I can’t handle a teenager, please don’t ask me, I won’t do it.
When God asks us to surrender our will to him, he’s not asking for a piece of it, for almost all of it. He’s asking for a full-on, white flag, I give up, kind of surrender. I knew JoJo was our son from the moment I laid eyes on him.
That was my first moment of true surrender.
Our agency said yes, and we were now running the race of our lives. No one knew if we could make it in time, especially with the holidays. We also didn’t know how we would pay for it because we were still raising funds for Nini’s adoption.
But God knew.
I hopped on the plane to China on January 16th.
Adopted Nini in Beijing on January 20th.
Flew to Shandong province.
Adopted Joe on January 25th.
Five days before he turned fourteen (!) and would no longer have been adoptable.
We celebrated his 14th birthday and first birthday celebration in China.
We returned home on February 7th… a family of eight!
Whatever it is, whatever fear that leaves you questioning whether God is calling you.
Let it go.
It will be the beginning of your road to saying Yes!
– guest post by Melissa