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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Our Adoption Story

We stood before you almost exactly two years ago and shared the hard times, the sifting that God had taken us through individually, as a couple and even as a family.  God had definitely broken up the ground of our lives. He reworked our marriage, our family our hearts and even our home as he moved us to China for a time.  It was at once the most terrible and the most beautiful time in our lives.
We knew God was up to something, but so much easier now to see that God was waking us up and teaching us to rely on him….he had more for us.  More for us than coasting through life on maintenance mode...he had a mission for us.  I thought we were all set.  Yes, we felt a calling to do more and were ready, so we thought…we still had our savings, our plans, our home, our family, our retirement…..all under control.  Right!
A quote by A. W. Tozer sums it up well:
" God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity we plan only the things we can do by ourselves."

Two  years later our savings are gone, our plans have changed, our family will never be the same, retirement…well, not likely.  We could not be more thankful!

Our pastor asked us to share our testimony about our adoption process.  As we tried to prepare our “adoption testimony” two things became abundantly clear:    
 It is impossible to separate our adoption testimony from the testimony of our walk with Christ
Finding analogies, parallels and clear callings in scripture between our salvation and caring for orphans is NOT like being served a softball pitch to hit out of the park it is like being served 1000 softball pitches all at once and deciding which one to swing at.   You just have to swing your bat and you are going to hit one.
For those of you who know us know one of the clearest passions or burdens that God placed on our hearts through our sifting process was one of pointing the lost to Christ in both word and deed, especially to those who have very little chance of hearing God’s word.  One of the very first quotes I remember reading was what John Piper frequently says: “there are three types of people;  goers, senders or the disobedient”.  We were sure two years ago and are still as sure today that we will be “goers”.  However, with all due respect, I think Piper’s quote is inadequate.  God showed us there is another action verb that should be added, “bringers”.  “Goers, senders, bringers or disobedient”. We are not yet prepared to go, but certainly God has prepared us to “bring”… the lost to us…today. 
We ultimately heard a clear calling for us to adopt from overseas.  This was our calling for today.
Please hear us when we say that we did not adopt only because we wanted to rescue someone, but it would also be untrue to say that it was not a part of it.  We also adopted because we believed there was still more room in our hearts and home.  Both are true plus dozens of other reasons that only God could explain.  It is true, however, that there are hundreds of thousands of children across this world that short of being adopted will likely NEVER hear the gospel.  Amy coined a phrase while in China that speaks to this truth: “Dead child walking”.  Harsh?  Probably.  True? Absolutely.
Amy had always wanted to adopt. As a child she had a Chinese doll that she pretended was her baby.  For decades she talked of Chinese children even  before I started traveling there or we lived there.  Although Amy told me of her desire to adopt, she rarely mentioned it and certainly never pressured me.  As far as I was concerned our quiver was full, adoption was dangerous, too expensive and certainly out my control.
One day in November 2008 the Holy Spirit moved in my heart. I told Amy before breakfast one morning that I thought we should adopt.  Amy was shocked (bruised her jaw on the floor when it dropped!) and overjoyed. Our adoption journey began for one little girl, a sister for our youngest child, Hannah.  
"God is looking for people through whom He can do the impossible. What a pity we plan only the things we can do by ourselves."  Thanks, Tozer!

We prayed as a family, talked as a family and agreed that we were on this path together.
We did not know in which country to look.
We did not know how to look at scores of photos and “choose a child.”
We did not even know how to choose an agency.
Much less did we know how to pay for the adoption
For months, Amy agonized and pleaded with God along with many ladies from her Bible studies. 
Although Amy wanted to adopt from China, there were several mountains in our path.  We ended up looking to several other countries including Ethiopia and Thailand and signed on with two different adoption agencies. 
Proverbs 16:9 – The heart of a man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.
In ways that only He could do, God either MOVED those mountains, showed us a path around them, or called us to climb them.
God providentially took us back to China, with still no idea how we were going to pay for it. This was the part for which we were going to have to get our climbing boots!
After months of agonizing “how to choose”, in early June God showed us our little Mandy from Wuzhou City, China.  God brought us each to love her in due time with only a short bio and a couple of aged pictures.  We had hopes of having her home by Christmas.  Just paperwork to complete now!  (Yeah, right!)
In July another Calvary adoptive family stepped in and started praying with us and helping us figure out how to pay for this.
The next 3-4 months were times of learning to trust God and remember he was in control.  The paperwork always took longer than it should, things got delayed, and expenses started to mount faster than savings accounts and fund raisers could handle.  Even with these minor frustrations we were extremely blessed and amazed at the generosity of our friends, family, Hamilton businesses and even some local Hamilton churches. We saw God at work in His people at grocery stores, at an optometrist office, at car washes, at prayer meetings, and even blog sites.  We were greatly humbled.
It was hard enough to raise money, but soon it became necessary to just be gut level honest with people and ask for help.  This was not easy.  There was a lot of pride that had to go and it HURT. 
We soon learned to understand that God’s resources are not limited to what we see, what we think is reasonable or practical.  God uses generous people. 
“One man gives freely, yet gains even more…”  Proverbs 11:24a
We truly saw God’s hand extended in mercy and generosity. 

AND THEN God decided there was more…. The Friday before Thanksgiving, Amy received an e-mail.  Amy prayed and prayed before I got home for direction on what was presented to her.  When I got home she did not yet sense a clear direction, but shared with me what she was presented and that was that there was another little girl just outside of Kunming, China who would turn 14 on Jan. 20th and as a result become “unadoptable”, she would age out of the system.  We had until Monday to decide if we would be the ones to try and adopt her.  With only 8-9weeks until her “age out date” it was a long shot to even try.  Our own adoption agency said it could not be done, apparently they did not know our God.
We prayed all weekend.  By Saturday Amy already knew, but did nothing to pressure me.  After a long night of wrestling with God, by Sunday I knew that I could not say no.  My flesh, my logic, my selfishness screamed “NO WAY”, but how could I???  How could I possibly let finances, bedrooms, college tuitions, weddings, savings, or retirement stand in the way of giving a little girl a family. 
We stepped out in faith the first time to get a daughter we wanted for our family. We stepped out with our other foot in faith to get a daughter GOD wanted for our family.
The race was on!!!
Amy started praying and Amy starting pushing (a dangerous duo). 
Literally hundreds if not thousands of people praying for us and Hope from adoption blog sites across the nation.
An unnamed angel put up a $5,000  matching grant. 
The grant was matched, mainly from other adoptive families we have never met face to face.
The US and China moved paperwork (or, should I say, God did).
Against our agency’s best advise we bought airline tickets over Christmas for January to arrive in Kunming two days before Hope’s birthday.  Technically, we were traveling illegally as the documentation to allow us to adopt, which doubles as our reason for getting a visa to China, would have to meet us there.  There was no time to wait.
We hugged Hope on Jan. 18th at about 9:45 am, less than 1 day and 7 hours before she would be without a forever family forever. 
Approximately 28 hours later we were in Nanning hugging Amanda for the very first time. 
To compare this with how God first loved us, before we even knew he existed, or how we resisted Him even when He got our attention seems so obvious.  We loved these girls before we ever held them. We were never going to let them go.  To lose them in the process would have been kindred to a miscarriage, as we know all too well.  To expect the girls to feel the same would be na├»ve, and they certainly did not.  Pastor Paul could preach a couple dozen sermons on the spiritual salvation parallelisms that started then and continue until today. Trust, love, & transparency all take time and are things that they know little of.  Sometimes all we can do is hug them, even when they resist. Especially when they resist!
Isaiah 43:5-7
Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west.
Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth – everyone who is called by my name whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
Our earnest prayer is that both will be sharing their own testimonies in the coming years like their “sister”, Minnie.  Their understanding of our faith to date is ironically off to a perfect start.  Hope shared with us that in China she was taught that only the weak believe in God. May we always be weak so He can be STRONG!
All our best,
Dave (writing for Amy)
PS. Minnie was baptized this past weekend! She made a public confession of faith before she took “the plunge”.  We are so thankful and honored that God blessed us with the opportunity to walk this path with Minnie! Hope and Amanda don’t quite understand what went on. They think it was cool that Minnie was able to go swimming in church! I pray that we will soon be a family of “swimmers”!