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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Ready. Set. Go!!!

I've been teasing of big things and big changes for our family for a long, long time. I'm not talking about packing everything up and moving 1000 miles away. We've been there, done that. I'm not talking about moving everything to a small island overseas. Yep, that's a check in the box. I'm referring to our decision to add to our family through adoption. Buckle up folks. This may get long.

I haven't felt like I had the words to make the big announcement to the cyber world. I've been biding my time and praying. We've been slowly letting family members know. Now, I think I'm ready. I'm praying that the words come and show our excitement tempered with anticipation. We still have a mountain to climb. Here's the story.

More than three years ago, around the time I started this blog, I started talking to Ray about adoption. I think it was an episode of Oprah that got to me. It was about a whole town in NC that stepped up and started adopting orphans in Africa. I watched and I thought, they're just like us! Why aren't we doing that? At that time, there were obvious answers. Money comes to mind. Then the thought of bringing in an older boy into our home with such little girls. I didn't think that's what we were supposed to do. I spoke with some friends who had considered adoption. They said, "Sure, we've thought about that but we thought that was a ministry for us after we raise the kids we have now." It was more to think about and pray about. As I started mentioning adoption, Ray and I knew we weren't done with our family. I was inquiring about adoptions in Guatemala when I found out Bria was on her way.

After Bria was old enough for me to think about another child, (about a week old) I started thinking about adoption. Ray's work combined with finding the money, combined with not knowing what we were supposed to do was all coming to a head. I knew I wanted four kids. I couldn't imagine Bria growing up without a close sibling. I didn't want her to miss out on the type of relationship, even with the screaming and yelling, that Arleigh and Hanan have. I started looking again. Guatemala was closed. There was no real hope of it opening up. Before I could blink, we were expecting Jessa.

I've documented the pain that loss brings. I won't keep talking about it other than say. I miss her even after never really getting to know her. After Jessa people said, "just try again." We did. Two more very early miscarriages later I was tired and angry and done. Count your blessings I kept hearing. Looking around, we still didn't seem full.

I started praying and researching, sometimes too much researching. I ran up on verses like

I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you
- John 14:18

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.
- James 1:27

...Once our eyes are opened, we can't pretend we don't know what to do. God who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows that we know, and holds us responsible to act
- Proverbs 24:12

I started to wonder why I was trying so hard to create another life when their are little souls all over the world that need to be loved. There are so many children. A high range of estimates say that there are 147 million orphans in the world. Did you know that if just 1/3 of Christians chose to adopt there would no longer be an orphan crisis? I would read things like that and my heart would break.

I read each and every one of Katie's posts, my heart breaking with each one. How can I help from here? Does one week of preparing VBS and making rice really help? Sure it does, but I wanted something more. Ray and I started having conversations about what orphan care really means. One night I started on another rant. There are so many orphans. I tell the girls all the time to follow the golden rule. I tell them to think about what the other person would really want. If you were an orphan would you really want a bag of rice and VBS and some clothes, or would you want the love and support a family can provide? I know what I would want.
Ray was stuck on what we could do for a large group of people with the money we would be spending on one child. I have to agree. Then I said, "Why can't we do both?" It was followed with nervous laughter. Since that conversation there has been alot of nervous laughter around here.

We've gone through almost a year of me researching countries and agencies. What could we handle as a family? What effect would it have on our extended families? What effect would our extended families have on our child? We've prayed and talked and Ray might have considered locking me up a couple of times.

I'm drawn to Africa. I want so badly to help that country. I think of Sam and Esther lying in the dust with no one picking them up. I think about Katie stepping up for 14 girls at an age where I didn't think I could take care of myself, much less feed hundreds and adopt 14. I always thought that we would adopt from a place that I could go back to and do mission work. At least, that's what I thought I wanted.

Over the course of the last year and half I've had to learn the hard way that it's not always about what I want. If it was about what I wanted, I would be on vacation all the time, tons of credit card debt, a new mom mobile, I guess I'll stop here but I could go on. It's not about what I want. It's about what God wants.

Here's where I get a little kooky. I look for signs. I do. I know all about self fulfilling prophesy but there are certain things that happen. The Holy Spirit is here to guide us. Why don't we let Him? Anyway, before we moved from VA, I went to pick up the pictures for our Christmas cards. There in the middle of literally 100 of the exact same picture of my three girls was someone else's picture. It was a picture of the Great Wall of China. I showed the girls, thought it was strange and put it up on the fridge.

Our friends were adopting from China. Kristen kept calling me telling me all about the process. I thought it was fabulous what they were doing. Kristen would soon have her little girl with her God story. I listened. I paid attention but I didn't think China. China. Really?

In the meantime, I got all the information about adopting from Uganda. I knew it would be difficult. I knew it would be long. That's what God wanted right? He had broken my heart for Africa. Why would He do that if that wasn't what we were supposed to do? We had other friends trying to decide Rwanda or Ethiopia. Every blog I read seemed to point to Ethiopia. Ray went there for crying out loud! There is Ethiopian artwork all over our house. I teased him on his trip telling him to put a couple of orphans in his bag on his way home. As quickly as it opened, our door for an adoption in Uganda closed. The baby home we wanted to work with is no longer accepting applications. It was time for a new plan. Maybe I was overlooking a call to Ethiopia.

I know there is a great need for people to adopt from Ethiopia. Dear friends are waiting to pass court there now. For a long time, I thought maybe that's what we were supposed to do too. I always had an uneasy feeling about it. There were lots of things that stopped me. One was the main agency we wanted to work with told us they wouldn't interrupt our birth order. Other little things nagged at me telling me it wasn't right.

One night Ray said, "You jump from country to country. We've even considered domestic adoption. We need a plan first." I was upset. I'd considered lots of countries. I'd prayed over and over to be shown what to do. Sometimes this free will stuff is down right annoying. I finally said, "I just want someone to say, 'here is a kid no one wants. Will you take him?'"

The next day our movers were at our house packing. I should say mover. Things were crazy. Boxes were flying. I was watching to make sure Bria wasn't getting packed up. The phone rang. It was the director of an agency. He said, "Brandi, I'm calling because I'm the director of an adoption agency. I know you made some inquiries. Is it true that you aren't asking for a particular gender?" I told him no. If I was pregnant we wouldn't know, we have no preference. "Well, there are boys in China that no one wants. The people adopting from China want girls because they think with the one child policy, that's who they are saving. These boys are almost always not adopted. Could you consider one?" My heart stopped. Literally less than 12 hours before that's exactly what I said to Ray. I needed to hear there was a child that wasn't wanted. Still, we're in the middle of packing. I didn't have a home study and frankly Ray wasn't totally signed off on the deal. I told the director we would call as soon as we were settled. He asked if he could send the information packet. I said of course. I got it and read it and prayed. I also pestered my husband.

We got here. There were nights of Ray talking things out while I listened and agreed. There were nights of me talking to Ray. Finally, my Valentines present was a card from Ray. Inside it was his fortune from a cookie. It said, "Often the greatest gift to you is to help someone in need." or something like that. It also said that he would sign the papers.

Our applications have been sent to an agency here in TN for our home study and an agency in KY for the international adoption. We are expecting a referral for one of those waiting little boys. Our first meeting with our social worker is in a little over a week and a half. Please know, we covet your prayers. This is all just starting and we are already getting a taste of the mountain of paper work and all the hurry up and wait time tables.

I'll finish with an old Chinese legend of the red thread. We're holding on to our red thread and we can't wait to see where it takes us.


The Driskells said...

All I can say is, AWESOME!!!! We'll be praying!
: )

Shannon said...

That is beautiful Brandi! I am so excited to see what/who God has for you!!

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