Those of you who have been friends with us for years know about our adoption journey that never happened. November is National Adoption month, so each year I am reminded that what I thought was God's plan for our family didn't happen the way the I had anticipated. I know that had we adopted we probably would not be going on this extended trip to Africa with our kids. I'm not "happy" that we did not adopt so that I can give our kids this amazing opportunity. We all had looked forward to having a bigger family and I know that 'adoption' would have been an amazing opportunity had God given us that chance. I trust that God will use me to help the orphans in whatever way I can and that his way is perfect.
Actually it was difficult at first to believe that we would be able to go to Africa together. Circumstances alone made me doubt that we would ever be able to come up with the money that is needed. I at one point had believed so strongly that God would want us to adopt children. When it didn't happen, it left me wondering if I had heard from him at all. I wanted to have the faith that God would provide a way to go to Cameroon but at the same time I felt uncertain based on the past. I may never know why God chose to close doors on what we thought was his will, but I do not regret that we took the steps of obedience in trying to reach that goal.
Back in 2006, Drew and I had attended an adoption informational meeting thinking we would love to adopt internationally. Well, to be honest, I wanted to adopt internationally. Drew was along to get information and hadn't given it too much thought. Ever since I was young I had been drawn to other cultures. Drew and I had been to Mexico, Honduras, Dominican Republic and Africa and the children were always the thing that impacted me the most. After our informational meeting that evening in January 2006, I saw my husband gain a new passion for the orphans. I knew it was serious when he went home and wrote more than a page in his journal. We both believed that we would one day be the parents of a child from another country. As we prayed about it, the biggest decision was what agency to go through. I searched the internet and asked everyone I knew who had adopted internationally. International adoption is very expensive but we were doing pretty well at the time and knew that God would provide for us if this was his leading. The week that we sent our application in to the agency still seems unreal. We sent in the paperwork and a few days later Drew got a call that he no longer had a job. He had worked as a foreman in the concrete business for the same company for 17 years. Our application was not accepted due to the job loss, we had to put a hold on our plans for international adoption.
We continued to pray about adopting and the thought burned in my heart all the time. The next couple of years were tough ones for our family. Our teenage son brought us through some difficult days with the choices he was making. The good that came out of that was how much we learned as parents. His teen years actually highlighted many things in our parenting that could use improvement. Our 3 younger children have definitely benefited from the support group we attended during those long years. I also believed that the training we got during that time was good preparation for bringing adopted children into our lives. We had some things happen with our younger boys that had us on our knees as well. It just felt like we could barely catch our breath and something else was happening. Through it all Drew and I were there for each other and clung to Jesus like never before. I have never felt such an intense battle going on around me. It was also during some of the worst of this time that my Mom's illness took a turn and she died suddenly. God knew all the things that we would be going through and spared us from bringing a child into the middle of our chaos. It would have been very difficult for any child to come into this and understand that it had nothing to do with them. Obviously, the time was now for us to focus on our family and on helping our children deal with grief as well as walk that unknown path myself.
Time went on and I realized that things were calm around our home again. The kids were growing, Chris was on his own and we were not getting any younger. Drew had been working but not making nearly the money he had been making, so International adoption was out of the question. My heart still yearned for the orphan. Every time I read a verse about orphans I prayed that God would show us a way to bring one (or more) into our home. Drew and I decided we were at a better place and should pursue adoption again. MN Waiting kids seemed like a great place to start once we realized how many kids right here in Minnesota need good homes. We applied with an agency and started jumping through all the hoops that need to happen before bringing a child into your home. Drew missed days of work for training and we were assigned a social worker. She was wonderful and we spent lots of time with her. Our children also had a social worker assigned to them to see if they were on board with our adoption plans. They all were but all 3 of the younger ones just wanted to make sure the child wasn't too noisy - we laughed pretty hard about that because they are pretty noisy themselves. We spent money on back ground checks and fingerprinting. We made sure our house was up to code and checked off everything that was required of us. Then we waited... and waited. We got several calls but never second calls. Life was going along quite fast and we just knew it was all in God's timing so we were not worried. We even had a bunch of our closest friends and family come over for a support meeting and a chance for our social worker to see the awesome people we have surrounding us. During all of this we prayed constantly that God would use our home to be a place of refuge and a place of healing. We prayed that he would close any doors that would not be the best for our family. We prayed for the children that we hadn't yet met but who we couldn't wait to love. We prayed for protection for our children as well as any child coming into our home. We prayed that we could be the best parents, ready to meet any challenge.
After almost 3 years of classes, preparing and waiting, it was once again time to renew our fingerprints and back ground study. This costs money so we were wondering how many more times we would have to do this. One day we received a call that our social worker had been laid off, as well as 12 other social workers. We were shocked - not only because we really had grown to care for her but because she had been there 20 years. Our new social worker called and said she wanted to meet with us and since our paper work was 3 years old, she thought it would be best to start over with the paper work. I felt so discouraged because it is so much work to fill out all those papers. I told her I would call her back after I talked it over with Drew. The next day my older brother called and asked if he could live with us for a while. We had 2 empty bedrooms so we invited him to stay as long as he needed. A few days later, Drew's brother's daughter called. She was in college and her housing fell through so she needed a place to stay. The basement room by my daughter's was available and so she moved in. Suddenly our house was full and we had 2 adults living here that we would need to get background checks on. It all felt a little crazy. As Drew and I were discussing what to say to our new social worker when we called her back we both had to laugh. We had prayed that God would close doors - and it appeared he was slamming them shut all around us. We had also prayed that our house would be a place of refuge and healing - which it has been in both cases but that would be a whole separate blog. It was obvious to us that God was still in control even if we couldn't understand the outcome.
People would ask us, "So what is happening on the adoption front?" Our reply is "We have adopted a 50 year old and a 20 year old." Not exactly what they are expecting to hear but that is who has found refuge in our home and we love them both.