Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Story #5: God is enough to walk with you through your biggest fears...

Our Adoption Journey
My husband and I knew early in our courting that adoption was part of Gods plan for our family. We began our adoption journey in China about 10 years ago. We gathered our paperwork and started our international adoption process. God had other plans! We ended up not going through with the China adoption because of an “extended wait time” and a job loss…

Even though China was not an option, the two things that we knew for sure was that we were: 1. Called to adopt
2. We were NOT adopting within the United States.

Before we started our adoption process, there were some specific custody battles involving adopted children being returned to their parents. These cases rang loudly for my husband and I. Our greatest fear of adopting domestically, was losing our child in a custody battle. This fear consumed us and made us more intent on adopting oversees.
Before I go any further, let me state that we believe God has every adoptive family going through a different avenue to bring their children home.  Whether adoption domestically or oversees. For our family though, the fear of losing our child was one of the main motivators for going oversees rather than seeking what God’s plan was for us.
In spite of our fears, God began to do some major heart changes in my husband, and myself. He allowed us to see the huge needs in our own city and the need for adoptive families. Our senses were heightened to the plight of our cities Foster kids through people we met, radio shows we “happened” to hear, and books we “accidently” read.  As we became more aware of local kids needing homes, God removed many of our fears. As we continued to prayerfully seek His will for our adoption, it became very clear that domestic adoption through the foster care system was what we were called to do. YIKES!!! This was definitely not “my” plan.
In the Spring of 2007, we started our classes to become a Texas Foster Care Family( FYI-in order to adopt through the state, you must first become a Certified Foster Parent. You don’t necessarily have to foster…we can explain more if you have questions). By the Autumn of 2007, we were a licensed foster family. We told the State of Texas (and God-hee hee) that we wanted 1 little girl under 2 ½ that was “Legally Free”( Legally Free meant that her birth parents had already lost legal rights to be her parents-we felt that this was the safest path for us). CPS and our adoption agency both told us that our chances were slim because our criteria was too specific. 

In spite of this, we received a referral call in August of 2008. There was a beautiful 2 year old little girl that was legally free. The adoption agency wanted to know if were interested, and we took about 2 minutes to pray about it, and enthusiastically waited for our Grace to come home. She came home a few weeks later. She had beautiful brown hair, round chubby cheeks, and the most beautiful brown eyes. Her 3 big brothers and parents were over the moon! We bonded over the next couple of months over tea parties, and trips to the park. There were many wonderful moments, and a few rough patches just like with any adoption, but our family was finally complete.
In December, about 4 ½ months after our daughter came home, we received a call from our CPS Social Worker. She told us about a court hearing that had been set for later that morning regarding Grace. We had been told during the process, that her former Foster family had been fighting to have Grace returned, but throughout the process had been told repeatedly “No worries”…the hearing is “just a formality”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Eight days before Christmas our lives were turned upside down.
The judge hearing the case decided to grant custody of our daughter back to her former Foster family. We received a call to inform us of the decision on December 18th at noon, Grace was gone by 1:00pm. December 19th. We were devastated to say the least. I wasn’t heartbroken, I truly felt like a piece of my heart had been amputated. It had been cut off, and was forever gone with my daughter.
Losing our child was the hardest blow our family had ever dealt with. I remember being so incredibly angry with God and grief stricken. It was the first time in my adult life that I could actually understand in a very small way how someone could decide to “bag their faith”. Thankfully, we serve a God who is merciful. In spite of my anger, He never stopped carrying me through my heartache. There are still tears, and my heart will always ache for my daughter, but I know that God will use this journey in my life, my husband’s life, and in the lives of our boys.

I do not share this story to scare anyone away from Foster care and adoption. In HUGE contrast, I want to encourage people to prayerfully consider Foster Care and state adoption through the CPS system. In spite of our family’s heartache, we want to share the message of HOPE that God brought to our family. He allowed our BIGGEST FEAR in life to be realized, and show me and my family that He is enough! He is enough when it comes to my needs. He is enough when it comes to my kids, and he is more than enough when it comes to my sorrow and my pain. God has given us hope in spite of our fears. He has shown us that hope in Him can and will carry us through the good times and the hardest times of our lives.
At this time, our family has fostered 4 children since we lost Grace. We have been uniquely blesses by each child. We have decided to make the decision to move forward again in the adoption process through CPS. We are pursuing the adoption of a little boy, but are open to God changing that plan!! We are excited to see what God has in store for us in the next phase of our “Adoption Journey”.

Mark and Melissa Baker

Monday, February 7, 2011

Story #4: Russian Miracle!

Our adoption story is a little unusual in that I wasn't one these Moms that ever thought about adopting a child the summer of 2004 we recieved a "baby" announcement from some friends we had no idea were even pregnant.  Marc knew the couple from college and I guess you could say we were distant friends but always caught up with each others families with the Christmas card every year.  Our friends already had 2 boys but she had always wanted a third wanting to try for a girl.  They had a hard time conceiving the third time and turned to adoption to grow their family.  When I opened our friends announcement my whole world changed and in an instant the direction of how I wanted to grow our family changed to how God wanted to grow our family which I knew was through adoption.  We also had two beautiful boys and God placed on my heart the desire for a girl.  The little 12 month girl staring back at me in the announcement was name Kaylee and her piercing blue eyes captured my heart as I read how she was adopted from an orphanage in Russis.   Now I knew I wanted a third child but getting my husband on board was a different matter not to mention adopting a child in a country that was a 15 hour plane ride away in a country that's not exactly known for their warm hospitality.  My husband had never been out of the United States so this took some serious prayer on my part.  However, four years later almost to the date I had received little Kaylee's adoption announcement Marc and I were staring at the most beautiful 15 month old brown eye little girl from an orphanage in Muron, Russia that we were soon going to call our daughter.

Now there are a few, what I would call, miracles that happened within those 4 years leading up to Ellie's adoption.  There was our move from California to Texas in 2006 that allowed us to have the financial ability to pay for an adoption as well as the family support that allowed us to take four trips back and forth to Russia.  In the summer of 2008 I did unexpectedly get pregnant only to lose our baby to an ectopic pregnancy a couple of months later.  Now this is the moment that Marc did want another child because the two months I was pregnant he got very excited about adding to our family and we had already been visualing what that would look like.  So after our heartbreak of losing our 3rd child he was very much on board with adopting.  God knew all along.  Well that's the short story of our adoption journey but fast forward to November 2008 when we took our first of four trips to Russia.  Wow, what an amazing journey those next 2 months were.  Ellie had been in her orphanage for over nine months which is the time Russia requires before children our allowed to be adopted outside of their country.  Our first trip was meeting and agreeing to adopt Ellie as our own.  No one had to twist our arms for that one because we were completely smitten with her.  Our second trip was to go to a Russian court and stand before a judge explaining why we should be Ellie's parents.  The judge agreed we would be fit parents for Ellie and with the sound of her gavel we were the proud parents of Elisabeth (Ellie) Kate Fowler.  What a beautiful sound that was.  The third trip I went alone to get Ellie's passport and the fourth trip at the end of Jan. 2009 Marc and I took the long journey again to pick our beautiful daughter up and bring her home to her forever family.

It's been exactly two years since we brought our daughter home.  Now I wold love to say that once we brought Ellie home we all lived happily ever after....  Well anyone who has ever adopted a toddler in which you are taking them away from everything they have ever known will tell you it's not an easy road the first few months.  Ellie had a hard time attaching to us at first not to mention adjusting to the time change.  I don't think I slept for the first 3 months.  I'm sure we looked and smelled weird.  I mean after all Russia looked and smelled weird to me.  We most definitely sounded weird and she wasn't too fond of my second son Luke nor was he of her.  So that was a real joy trying to get my son who had been the baby of the family and quite the Mama's boy for 5 years to try and accept his new instant little sister who was taking his toys away not to mention his Mama.  Let's just say there was a lot of crying going on with me doing most of it those first few months.  Well I can honestly say we are all one big happy family with the "normal" sibling rivalry these days.

Everyone's adoption journey is their own special story and we are on this amazing journey forever with our daughter.  There will definitely be struggles as she grows which is why I am so thankful for our adoption group because they so "get me".  I can't imagine a better way for all of us as Christians to understand God's unconditional love for us than through adoption.  As God's children we have been adopted into His family and as Ellie gets older and starts to understand where she came from and how she became part of our family I hope and pray that will bring her comfort and peace.  Thanks so much for letting me share our adoption story.  It was and will always be an amazing journey! 

There are 700,000 orphans in Russia today.  Up to 80% of children in Russia who live in the more than 2,176 orphanges are so called "social orphans" who have been taken by the authorities away from their problematic families due to alcoholism and the general destructive tendencies in Russia society.  Please pray for the orphans in Russia.

God Bless,
The Fowler Family
Marc, Lisa, Jake, Luke and Ellie

Friday, February 4, 2011

Story #3: God's perfect timing for the Jones'

We have known, and have been convicted, that the Lord clearly states in His Word to care for the fatherless, widows and strangers of this world.  James 1:27 - "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress..."  For a long time we just didn't know what exactly this meant for our family, but we knew we needed to do something. Kent and I have always been open to adoption, whether we had problems conceiving or not... it didn't matter. It is beautiful, and we have always thought this. The way God orchestrates His sovereign plan in bringing parents THEIR child, biologically or from all the way around the world, is absolutely incredible and moving beyond words. I was ready for many months, but it wasn't God's perfect timing, because Kent wasn't there yet. I had a strong feeling God would bring Kent to this place, but I was really having to trust Him and wait on His timing for us. It obviously wasn't right yet... until a Saturday night, August 15, 2009.

On this Saturday evening, Brooks, for the first time, spoke his own prayer... out loud... without direction... without repeating, at the dinner table. It went something like this, "God, thank you for this food. Thank you for Mommy and Daddy, and help those without mommies and daddies in this world." Tear... seriously, it was SO sweet! We hadn't been talking about this much, although we had in the past. We know God put it in his heart and mind! Anyway, that night, Kent was praying during his quiet time that God would show him clearly in His Word. Kent says that he got through his time with God in the Word, and there was nothing new. He was disappointed and asked God again. Then he felt God was revealing to him..."I have already shown you in my Word. Tonight, I showed you through your son." Then he knew it was time to move forward and pursue our little girl!

I was still praying about this issue and had no idea for days that God had moved on Kent's heart to adopt. Through a series of ordained events, God confirmed it to both of us that adoption was how He was going to grow our family. Our hearts were not at peace until we began to follow His calling to adopt.

How did we know to adopt internationally? 
If you know us at all you know this: we are passionate about the Great Commission and making His name famous... until all people groups hear. We are also made more aware the past few years of the orphan crisis around the world. God has revealed to us that we, as believers, are all called to care for the orphans, widows, and strangers of this world (all throughout His word). How are we to care for them? Well, one way is to adopt... and our family is called to this, but not all are. Other ways are through sponsorship of children, helping orphanages, going and serving, giving, etc... so many ways!  (Recommended reading - Fields of the Fatherless)
God led us to Ethiopia and international adoption because that is where God has called us and made it known. Everything from length of trip to bring our child home (important considering our 2 boys), one trip only (which has since changed to 2, but God knew that), our passion for the lost and oppressed, the unreached and so many other details... were in place perfectly because that is where He has our little girl.   He has put Ethiopia in our hearts for a reason. Right now, our hearts are with a little girl, between the age of 1-2 years. Who knows what God has in store? But we trust Him... and we know He will lead us to her.  For the record, we absolutely believe domestic adoption is wonderful and equally important!

Please, please pray for us in this amazing journey. I know there will be surprises, good and bad days, and lots of waiting. We have presently been waiting 8 months... a wait that we know is worth it!  Also, please pray for our little girl and her birth mother and father... their safety and provision, the birth mother's health and choices, and that she will seek the Father and find Him in her circumstances. Thank you for sharing in our joy and in this journey! We can't wait! 

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Story #2: The Heaton's take a Leap of Faith!


My name is Kim Heaton, and my husband Jeff and I have been married for almost 11 years.  We have two biological children, Emily (7) and Josh (4), and we are currently in the process of adopting a toddler girl from Ethiopia.  We were officially added to the wait list on January 4, 2011, and we look forward to the day when we will one day meet our little girl.

Going into this process, one of our concerns was how we would be able to afford adoption.  God has always provided for us in the past, but we still had the occasional doubt of, “How can we afford this?”  Knowing that international adoption could easily cost us $30,000, and knowing that we have a tight budget already, we wondered where in the world we would get that much money.  But, we knew that God had called our family to adoption, so we began the process trusting the Lord.  And thankfully, we know the owner of the cattle on a thousand hills (God!), and He is faithful!

Our financial journey is far from over in regards to the adoption, but in less than five months time, we have already paid over $11,000 in adoption related costs.  In case you’re wondering, that was a lot of money that we didn’t know we had.  Yet, we have not had to take a loan, and we have not yet done any real fundraising.  Simply put, God has provided.

One direct example of His abundant goodness came with a phone call from my husband one night.  He had a work dinner to go to, but he called on the way from the office to the dinner.  We had a big payment due to our adoption agency within the next few days, and we knew that if we used our credit card to pay for it, there would be a 2.5% fee—adding about another $100 to the total.  We didn't want to do that but didn't really have the extra money lying around either. My husband gets a work bonus in December, but he wouldn’t get it until a week after the payment was due. Jeff called our caseworker and asked if we could send the money in after we received the bonus so that we wouldn't have to pay the 2.5% fee. Our caseworker said YES and put a note in our file about when it would be coming in. (This reminded me of how God tells us: You have not because you ask not.)

But back to the phone call: He told me that he’d had his bonus review that day. Would you care to guess the difference between his bonus the previous year and this year?  Exactly the amount that we owed the adoption agency!  Yes, there were taxes and tithes to think about, but God proved Himself faithful to meet our needs in providing the exact extra amount so that we would be able to pay our agency.  How GREAT is He?  Plus, on top of that, Jeff was given a new title in his company—which also came with a pay increase.  Then, a week later, he was told that he would be receiving an extra week’s salary to finish out the year.

As I said before, we are a long way from the end of the financial journey before us, but God has shown us that His yes is bigger than ours, and He is continuing to care for all of our needs as He's so good at doing.

*To follow along on their journey click here