Saturday, December 18, 2010

Best Laid Plans

 At some point after college, I had it in my mind the way my adult life would go.  I would get married at 25, have our first child at 28, our second at 30 and we'd be set with our 2 kids and a dog.  I would stay home and raise our children and I would be the perfect wife and mother.  Well, little did I know God had other plans.  Mike and I got married when I was 27, I didn't have my first child until I was 33 and I had been struggling to get pregnant with our second and "final" child. We started to let go of our plan to only have 1 more child.  We decided that we may decide in the future we wanted more, or we might discover that 2 is plenty.  I was starting to LET GO of MY plans.

Now, after 14 months of trying to get pregnant with our second child, I became emotionally exhausted by the emotional roller coaster.  I added it up and between trying to get pregnant w/ our 1st child and our 2nd, we had spent about half our marriage trying to get pregnant.  That is almost 48 times of going through the emotions of thinking "this is the month", and then finding out, "nope, not this month".  I just wasn't sure I could take it anymore.  Mike and I talked about it many times and we both knew we wanted Noah to have a sibling.  We just were not done yet.  I began to pray fervently about this.

During this time of trying for baby #2, I felt God was working on my heart.  I had read a book titled The Heavenly Man by Brother Yun, which I highly recommend.  It is a story of a man from China who was called by God to preach the gospel and he did just that.  Only problem is, in China, it's illegal and he was in prison many times for his faith and was tortured severely.  This book was impacting my faith a TON!!!  I also was learning some amazing things at church through the pastor's teaching and the songs we were singing.  One of the songs was "Lead Me to the Cross".  I remember going home that Sunday and laying down prostrate saying to God, "Ok, rid me of myself, and replace me with Christ.  Give me the desires of your heart."  I began praying this quite often after that.  I also prayed that God would stop the desire for Mike and I to have more children because it was killing me emotionally.  The desire to have more children, however, was not going away.  

We had difficulty getting pregnant with Noah, therefore I knew something was wrong way back then, but hoped it would just go away.  After 15 months or so of trying again with no success it was time to get answers.  The doctor confirmed what I knew to be true and we were told that Noah is a miracle.

After a few months of unsuccessful fertility treatments, I continued to pray for the desire to have more children be taken away.  God had other plans.  He placed an extremely strong desire in my heart on July 4th, 2010 to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.  This had come out of nowhere as I had just told my mother-in-law that I had no interest in adopting.  We had considered it in the past, but for some reason, I just did not desire adoption any longer.  Then, while sitting in a church service, listening to the speaker tell a story about a man from Ethiopia who shared the scriptures with people who had no access to a bible, this amazing idea just came to me out of nowhere.  In my head I said "Maybe we could adopt a baby from Ethiopia...".  On the way back to Mike's parents' home, I told Mike about this idea.  Immediately, we emailed some friends who had adopted their daughter from Ethiopia just the year before.  We gathered some information from them about the cost and some other things.  The cost was intimidating, but I distinctly remember saying that if this is God's plan for our lives, he will provide a way.

We began reading blogs that friends had emailed to us of families who were adopting from Ethiopia.  The first two I had read: my sister-in-law's friend Hilary and my friend's friend Amber both pointed me to AGCI as an adoption agency.  From there I read a blog of another adopting family whose blog I follow religiously.  I watched their gotcha day video as well as others and I just knew AGCI was the right agency for us.  The whole time I kept praying for God to take the desire to adopt away if this was not his will for our lives.  Mike and I both felt passionately towards adopting.  After seeing the statistics (approximately 5 million orphans in Ethiopia and 147 million worldwide), we felt so strongly towards adoption.  Then when we read a blog post about a community called Korah, where approximately 130,000 people literally live in the trash dump outside Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, we knew we had to follow through with our convictions and pursue adoption from Ethiopia.

We had decided it was time to send our pre-application in to AGCI just 2 1/2 weeks after God placed the desire on my heart to adopt a baby from Ethiopia.  It was no easy decision.  I realized when the idea came to me, that in the end, we may not receive a child. I realized at this point that God was calling us to obey Him and that we were to just follow so that He would be glorified.  The end result was that God was to be glorified, not that we would get what we want.  I learned through this short 2 1/2 weeks time period that it will not be an easy road to follow, it may be heart-wrenching and a very difficult path.  I know of a few families who went through a very difficult time of setbacks and heartbreaks along their adoption journey.  This may not be an easy road to take, but it is all for God's glory.

All this to say that adoption is not necessarily a means for us to add to our family or save a child.  It is a calling on our lives and God is asking us to completely let go of our own agenda and our own desires and follow His heart.  Here are three Bible verses that really struck me during those first few weeks into the adoption journey.
James 1:27 says "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." 
Proverbs 24:12 "Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows what we know and holds us responsible to act."
Proverbs 21:13 "If a man shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, he too will cry out and not be answered."

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The start of a new chapter

"How did this adoption stuff all begin?" you may wonder.  It started many years ago to be quite honest.  Mike and I tried for 2 years to get pregnant.   During that 2 year period, our church had begun to support an orphanage in Kenya, called Into Abbas Arms.  We went to the website and looked at the children's profiles and I saw a brother and sister.  I told Mike to come look at them and asked him if we should adopt them.  Mike said lets look into it.  I emailed the founder of the orphanage and she said that the children at Into Abbas Arms were not adoptable.  It would mean they would have to relinquish the children to the government's care in order for us to adopt and we'd have to live there for 6 months.  She offered for us to stay at the orphanage for 6 months if we did decide to adopt a child from Kenya.  As a result of that email, Mike and I decided that we were not going to pursue this avenue at this time.
So, when we did get pregnant it was very exciting.  I was shocked when the pregnancy test came back positive because I thought it was never going to happen. It was right before Christmas and we were getting ready to go visit Mike's side of the family.  We decided to wait to tell his side of the family until our trip, but we wanted to call my family and close friends.  It was so much fun coming up with sneaky ways to add the announcement to the conversations.  We were so excited to give Mike's parents an early Christmas gift the night we arrived at their home while his brothers, their wives and children all were gathered around.  They opened little bibs that said Grandma and Grandpa.  What fun that was!!  My first ob appointment was on January 2nd.  When the Dr. could not find a heartbeat he said the baby may be too small and we'd try to do a different type of ultrasound.  I didn't think anything of it and I just thought it was for the reason he shared and that the baby was still too young.  When he did a different type of ultrasound, I realized that he was being way too quiet.  He shared with us that something must have happened about 2 weeks prior.  We were heartbroken and I was in shock.  I was majorly depressed for quite some time after that and we grieved so much.  I knew something must have been wrong with me because it took 2 years to get pregnant and then this.  But, by some miracle, I did get pregnant again 6 months later and we now have a beautiful little boy named Noah.  We are very blessed beyond our wildest dreams with him.  We love Noah to pieces and we just think the world of him.
After Noah was about 6 to 9 months old, Mike and I desperately wanted another child.  We felt Noah  should have a brother or sister.  We both have siblings and know the wonder and importance of having a sibling.  Also, we didn't feel that our family was complete just yet. Well, I'll have to finish this story tomorrow.  Stay tuned for the rest of the story.