…look after orphans and widows in their distress… James 1:27
How It Began
In September 2008 God began to tug at our hearts individually. We each spent a lot of time in prayer asking God what He had in mind for us to do; specifically we believed He wanted us to serve children, but didn’t know precisely what He had in mind. Although we had earned our Foster Parent license, it seemed clear that He didn’t want us to be fully involved in that. As we – individually – prayed about it and asked God to give us direction, we kept coming back to adoption, which was something we had talked about on occasion over the last 25 years. We both had largely given up on the idea of adoption – after all, we’re 50 years old with grown children. But the more we spent time with God, the more strongly we felt His call in this direction.
Without discussion for fear that the other would think we’d lost our minds (or, more accurately, confirmation that we’d lost our minds), we each began to research adoption. Our research followed similar paths as we narrowed our choices.
First, we were inclined to foreign adoption, but from where? There are many countries from which to adopt children in need. Sary-Jo speaks Spanish and there are spanish-speaking kids in need of adoption. Why would we keep being drawn to Africa? And why, when we thought of Africa, did we keep coming back to Ethiopia? Janel has ministered in Uganda; we sponsor World Vision children in Uganda and Kenya. There are lots of other African nations. Why Ethiopia? It didn’t really make sense – we couldn’t even find a nearby agency that does Ethiopia adoptions. But isn’t God wonderful? When He’s got plans, He can make them known. All He wants from us is obedience.
Finally, in mid-November, Randy asked Sary-Jo, “So… what would you think if I suggested we consider adopting one or two children from Ethiopia?” Instead of, “Are you INSANE?” she replied (after a few minutes of recovery from the shock), “That is exactly what I was thinking!” So we had a good cry, talked about it and finally prayed together on this subject. We asked God to confirm whether this is what He had in mind for us. We don’t handle hints very well so we asked Him to be clear and specific. Two days later we received a Thanksgiving card from our friends who are affiliated with Adoption Ministry of YWAM; its primary function is to help place the babies from New Beginnings Home for pregnant teens into adoptive families. Their card said that the Adoption Ministry is now doing international adoptions, but only with… (can’t you just feel the excitement?)… Ethiopia! So we cried again and praised God for providing a local agency while answering our request for “clear and specific confirmation!”
We still had some doubts and questions, but we committed to move forward. This time, we asked God to close doors if he did NOT want us to proceed with this adoption. But we were pretty sure we were following His plan.
It Costs How Much?!!!
We met with the director of the Ethiopia adoption program in early December. We had a wonderful discussion and left with another question – where will all the money come from? The cost is staggering. So we asked God if He would please show us what He has in mind regarding this particular concern. We could think of miraculous ways He could provide the money (bank error, like in Monopoly maybe), but we were anxious to see specifically what He had planned. We were confident that if He wanted us to adopt two kids from Ethiopia, He would provide for every detail. So we did all we could do – we prayed about it, we asked others to pray for us, and we tried to listen to what God was telling us. Two days later, Randy decided to check on the tax implications of adoption. His thoughts were that, if it’s deductible, tax benefits would cover about 25% of the cost – it’s a start. It turns out there’s an adoption tax credit that will cover almost 100% of our needs. Once again, God demonstrates that He will equip us for everything to which He calls us. We’ll depend on Him for physical strength and wisdom in our “second round” of parenting.
What Do Ethiopians Think?
I (Randy) had one other nagging question – what do Ethiopians think when Americans adopt children from Ethiopia? I’m not sure how I feel if we’re viewed as the “ugly Americans stealing our children.” So, once again, we asked God to give us assurance about this. And once again, we only had a couple days to wait for an answer. I went into a store in Southcenter and the clerk just happened to admire my jacket (micro-suede – very comfortable) and said he’d like to take one to his father. He said he’d be going back to his country in January. So I asked him what country that might be. Don’t get ahead of me here, let me say it… Wait for it… E-thi-o-pi-a! He told me he is gratified when Americans adopt Ethiopian children because the situation seems so hopeless there. After a few minutes of conversation with this man, I realized that God had once again answered prayer – this time by arranging a meeting that others might call “chance.”
What Do Our Kids Think?
At Christmastime we discussed this with Sarah & Kyle, and with Janel. They are totally supportive and have been a tremendous encouragement to us. It’s exactly what we expected, but it’s been gratifying to actually have the conversation and receive their support. Plus, they’re open to babysitting! They want to come with us to get the kids if possible.
We’ve spoken with several other couples in various stages of foreign adoption, most from Ethiopia. We are amazed at the wonderful stories and are encouraged that we will have a support system in place for our kids and us. We still have much to learn, and we’ve been trying to read as much as possible. We’ve completed our application packet and our homestudy forms. There’s a long way to go and much of it will be spent waiting. But we know who’s in control and we trust Him completely!
Check the News page for updates periodically. We covet your prayers.