I want to introduce you to my friend Amy. She and her husband have a beautiful family including a lively little girl named Sarah. Born with HIV, Sarah was close to death when Amy adopted her last year from Uganda. Amy and her family have had the blessing of watching Sarah come back to life in more ways than one. Amy was an inspiration to me when we were praying about whether we could adopt a positive child and she continues to encourage me as we wait for our Veronica to come home. This woman has changed our lives. I hope she’ll change you too.
Tell me about your family.
We are a multi-ethnic, foster, adoptive, Jesus-loving, homeschooling, HIV+ family. We have four children who live in our home currently and seven children who live in our hearts. We had the honor of foster parenting these seven who have all moved on to different places but will forever be a part of us. Our family was formed through domestic adoption from the foster care system, international adoption and birth.
What does a typical day look like in your house?
We don’t have typical days. We homeschool efficiently but not rigorously. We have been known to do math in the bathroom and language arts in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. We play, sing, dance, and love as much as possible. When our daughter first came home, she had many, many different doctor and therapy appointments. Life is much calmer now and we only have occasional appointments. As her health continues to progress, this will go to only one or two appointments every six months. We anticipate her lingering health issues to be resolved in a few months. Parenting a child with special needs required much of us at first and not so much of us now. However, the blessings we receive from being her parents continue to multiply exponentially.
How have you grown in your faith through adopting?
I’ve learned to love deeper and trust completely. I’ve learned that God’s timing is perfect and my anxiety and planning only stand in the way of His perfect plans for my life. I’ve learned that anything that I cling to so tightly that is not Jesus is simply a stumbling block and a hurdle to receiving what God has for me. I’ve also learned that when the world tells me that I can’t, the world is usually correct. However, amazing things have happened to our family when we have laid down all of our insufficiencies before the Lord and simply asked Him to use us. He has done great and mighty things and we have been so honored to be vessels for His glory. We have no bravery, no skills, no power, no special knowledge, no extra doses of patience or compassion, just a longing to be more like Jesus.
What breaks your heart?
My heart breaks for the ones who are still alone. My heart aches for children in physical and emotional pain. My heart breaks for the ones who go to bed without being kissed, prayed over, and told they are loved. Mostly, my heart breaks for people who don’t know, care, or help these little ones. Of those of us who have plenty, it would take such a small percentage to help each one who waits, yet the beds in orphanages are full by the millions.
Who inspires you?
I’ve met countless people on this journey who inspire me. The ones who trade time, money and comfort for themselves to give to others. The families who have cheap hair cuts and Goodwill clothing so they can afford to feed one more. The families who will never go on a wonderful vacation because they’d rather take in one more child. Mostly, the people who truly understand that all of these things are NOT sacrifices, but blessings.
Lydia is a person who comes to mind when I think of people who inspire me. Lydia was a teacher at my daughter’s orphanage. She is a single mom. Early in her life she suffered terrible abuse and her children were taken from her by her husband. She didn’t see them for almost 10 years. She was so sad but she continued to pray. One day her oldest son called her and told her that they were coming home to her. Lydia met a boy who is deaf at the orphanage. Although she lives in a tiny home in a poor area of Kampala, she felt that God wanted her to take in this boy who no one else wanted. She barely has enough to feed her family but she has faith big enough to believe that God
would always provide. She’s taking classes at the deaf school in Kampala to learn sign language for her new son. When I have days that don’t go my way, I think about Lydia and her strength and her faith make me forge ahead with joy in my heart.
I have so much I want to write. We have been on this crazy
adventure for over two weeks. Although I promised I would blog, most of the
last two weeks have been overwhelming, hard and wonderful at the same time, and
I haven’t been ready to write. After two weeks in Uganda, our family is
settling into a good routine and I hope I will have more time to chronicle this
experience. For today, as a way to summarize our experience so far, I give you
the Top Ten Best and Worst things about being in Uganda.
Top Ten Worst Things about Being in Uganda
10. Bugs, bugs, bugs. There are bugs everywhere. At the
orphanage where we spent our first week, there were ants in and on everything.
One morning I was making French toast with a fresh loaf of bread. With each
slice of bread, before I dipped it in the egg, I had to brush off half a dozen
ants. But ants are fast. They can hide in bread. Once in the pan, they climb out
of their hiding spots away from the sizzling oil. Somehow it was satisfying
when I would flip the bread and know they were dead. Never mind that we were
9. Knives without handles. On the subject of cooking, last
week I had to cook for our family using knives without handles. I am a good
with a knife in America, but I discovered I was completely useless without the
knife handle. The Ugandan women effortless cut onions, garlic, ginger, mangos and
pineapple, using the palms of their hands as the cutting board.
8. Pots without handles. Like knives missing handles, most
Ugandans cook using pots that have no handles. They do not use pot holders,
even when moving pots of boiling water. Their hands are like steel. Mine are
not. I burned myself over and over again.
7. When the power goes off. One day last week, the power was
off all day. We should have expected this in Uganda, but we didn’t. Mark could
not use the laptop to work. I could not use my electric breast pump. By the
afternoon, I was miserable and we had to find a place to get a drink that had a
6. Driving. The driving in Uganda is insane. We have rented
a car for the time we are in Jinja, rather than hiring a driver every day.
Driving on the left side of the road, Mark has to navigate the insanity of
bodas, taxis, trucks, bicycles and pedestrians, cows, chickens and goats, not
to mention pot holes large enough for a hippopotamus to go swimming.
5. Malaria. Last night, I decided to go to bed early because
I felt like I was coming down with something. Within two hours, I felt
absolutely terrible. I took a test and although it was early, I had malaria.
Fortunately I was able to start on medication right away so I did not get too
sick. I still feel like a truck hit me last night, but I am getting better this
4. Rain and mud. The rainstorms here are both terrible and
wonderful. Most of the time it is sunny and warm, but most days there is a
storm for at least a few hours. There is incredible thunder, lightning, wind
and rain. It is both beautiful and terrifying. One night all the windows in the
orphanage broke due to the intense wind. Another afternoon, we were caught at
Bujagali Falls on the Nile River in a downpour that felt like being in a shower.
In the five minutes it took us to walk up the hill from the falls back to our
car, we were soaking wet and knee deep in thick, red mud.
3. AIDS. On a more serious note, this week we had the
opportunity to visit with our baby girl’s birth mom one more time. We also met
her 16 year old brother. While I love our little one and I feel so honored she
may be a part of our family, my heart is broken for her beautiful mama. It
makes me so sad to see the impact of this disease in the life of a woman who
affectionately calls me her sister. Before this crazy journey adopting in
Uganda, we thought very little about HIV and AIDS. We knew the statistics about
the disease and its impact in Africa, but they had very little influence on our
daily lives. But now we have played with HIV positive children. Hugged women
dying of AIDS. And are hopefully adopting two girls who have been orphaned by
2. Living in an orphanage. Last week, we had the opportunity
to live in the orphanage where one of our daughters is from. It was hard. We
had visited this orphanage in January and had really enjoyed being with the
kids then. Living in the orphanage with our children, however, was very
difficult. It seemed to bring out the worst in our kids, who were struggling
with not getting enough attention from Mom and Dad as well as the children who
had little respect for boundaries or belongings. It also brought out the worst
in the kids at the orphanage, who were very jealous of our biological kids and
who learned quickly to pick on our littlest son. The truth is that even the
best orphanage is nothing like a family. Kids need families, not institutions.
Living in an orphanage was hard for our family, but it was temporary. For
millions of children around the world, it is their whole life. My heart breaks
for these kids in a new way now understanding how hard it is.
1. Loosing El Bap. While we were at the orphanage last week,
Zephan’s treasured stuffed elephant disappeared. This was absolutely devastating for little Zephan
who is dealing with an incredible amount of change at once. We are in a new
culture dealing with huge changes: different beds, strange food, unfamiliar
people and places, two new siblings, the loss of being the baby in our family.
He has been able to cope with so much in his little life with El Bap – which
means “Elephant Nap” – at his side. Loosing El now was just painful. Even
worse, he was likely taken by the kids at the orphanage, which further breaks
my heart. I understand why a child in an orphanage would take a stuffed animal
from a kid who seems to have everything, but it makes me so sad. And
frustrated. We love our little Zeph so much and it’s been really hard to watch
him grieve the loss of his best friend.
Top Ten Best Things about Being in Uganda
10. Chicken on a stick. This must be the most perfect road
food ever. On the road between Kampala and Jinja, you can purchase a roasted
chicken leg and a bottle of cold Coke for less than $2. The chicken is
literally the best I have ever had. And the combination of salty, hot chicken
and sweet, cool Coke is hard to beat. This is so much better than American
9. Taco pizza sitting on a deck above the Nile River. One of
the best lunches of my life was last week sitting above the Nile River. Mark
and I shared a Taco pizza: pizza crust topped with salsa, ground beef, onions,
cheese, avocado and sour cream. The boys shared a Hawaiian pizza. The setting
was incredible. We were on a deck maybe 200 feet above the vast, swirling blue
of the Nile River. So awesome.
8. Real coke in glass bottles. At home in Seattle, I do not
drink soda. But here in Uganda, I am pretty much addicted to real Coca Cola made
with cane sugar served in cold glass bottles. On a hot, sunny afternoon, it’s
pretty much the best thing ever.
7. Pineapple. And all of the rest of the delicious fresh
produce. The first day we arrived in Jinja, I strapped baby girl into my Moby
and went to the market to buy food. It was difficult to cook for our family in
a kitchen so completely different from our kitchen at home, but wandering around
the market was amazing. There were sacks of beans and rice, peas and cornmeal.
Fresh vegetables like peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, greens and carrots. There were
piles of fresh fruit including pineapple, avocado, mango, apples and papaya.
There were eggs and chickens – real, live chickens, not chicken breasts in
plastic packages. There is very little packaged food and what is available in
the grocery stores is very expensive. As a result, we are eating mostly
healthy, fresh, real food.
6. Shopping for lovely handmade things. I love shopping in
the craft markets. Full of gorgeous carved wood bowls and animals, paintings,
textiles, jewelry made from wood, cow horn and paper beads, soaps made with
goat milk and local spices, hand beaded leather sandals, the little shops are
incredible to explore. Although it is challenging to bring our little children
into the stores, the shop keepers are generally lovely and generous with our
children. Zephaniah talked one woman into sharing her lunch with him while I
looked for a pair of shoes yesterday!
5. Ugandan coffee rocks. Uganda, like Ethiopia and Rwanda,
is a great place to grow coffee. Coffee here is typically served with warm
milk. Although there is no Starbucks, I really enjoy the Ugandan coffee shops,
including Café Javas and Good African Coffee in Kampala and The Source café in
Jinja. It’s also hard to beat just black coffee here at the home of the
missionaries who are hosting us!
4. Hospitality. On that note, we are so thankful for the
missionaries who are hosting us in their home. After last week, when we were
completely overwhelmed living in the orphanage, a friend connected us to a
lovely missionary couple who have provided us with two bedrooms, a clean
bathroom with hot running water, and great food. The missionaries are from
Virginia and their cook makes delicious Southern food, including chicken and
dumplings and cornbread in a cast iron skillet.
3. The Sun. Oh the sweet, warm, African sun. The light here
is beautiful. From the early morning where the light filters through the trees
and the mist, to the hot midday sun so bright you almost have to take a nap, to
the late afternoon sun that is like honey, it just blissful after months of
dark, cloudy days in Seattle.
2. Meeting our four year old again. On Sunday afternoon, our
family spent a few hours playing with the beautiful little girl who will be one
of our daughters. She was quiet and shy. At first it was difficult to imagine
how she would warm up and what it would be like to bond, but as the day went on
she began to warm up. One of my favorite moments was when she was playing with
our baby girl. As we were leaving, she was excited that we would come back and
that maybe she could take a ride in our car soon. She does not know yet that we
are adopting her. I am so excited for her to know that she has a family that
already loves her as soon as we have a court date!
1. Spending the last week and a half with our beautiful baby
girl. We are all in love with this baby girl. She is gorgeous and funny. The
brothers love their baby sister. They kiss her all the time and pick flowers
for her hair. They like to help feed her bottles and give her snuggles. I love
getting her dressed in her beautiful little clothes. I love her fluffy hair and
her big lips. She has surprised us. When we held her in January, she still felt
very much like a newborn. She weighed maybe 9 pounds and when I held her, she
just snuggled and fell asleep. This week she is still just 11 or 12 pounds, but
she is definitely acting like a six month old! She is rolling around, sitting
up, very interested in the food we’re eating, and mimicking sounds and facial
expressions. We are enjoying every moment. Even those middle of the night
moments. Perhaps the best news of the week is that we finally have a court date
for next Wednesday!
We appreciate your prayers and words of encouragement. Please keep praying for our health as I recover from malaria, baby girl has a cold and the boys have lots of bug bites. Pray that we would get a court date for our big girl as soon as possible, hopefully before the end of next week. We trust that these details are in God’s hands!
I need to be honest with you all.
Many times over the last month, people have asked me how I am doing. How am I coping with the death of this little girl who we hoped to adopt. Usually I say that we are okay. And we are. At least sort of.
The truth is I don’t really know how to feel. I don’t know what to think. It has been hard, but unlike anything I have experienced before. At once, I am both sad and hopeful. My heart is so full of love for the child we will adopt, but I do not know who this little person will be. Loosing Song has been really hard in a lot of ways. It has changed me. Whereas before this happened I thought I had a heart for adoption, now my heart is completely broken for orphans in Uganda. But I don’t know how to walk around feeling like this while still going through my life here.
I am also exhausted. Adding the sorrow of loosing this child on top of a busy holiday season and a full schedule with the kids has been a lot. I normally handle stress well, but lately I feel like body is sort of falling apart. It is like I have hit a wall. Normally I can run six or seven miles, but over the last two weeks just going up the stairs is exhausting. I am seeing that I have run too hard – both literally and figuratively - over the last few months.
I need to slow down and take better care of my health. I went to see my doctor today and we came up with a plan to help me sleep, improve my energy levels, support my immune system and help my body cope with stress. I am going to be getting vitamin and mineral shots, drinking tea and taking supplements. I am going to try to schedule more regular chiropractor and massage visits so that my body continues to recover from the September car accident. I need to pull back and rebuild so that I can be a better wife, mom and everything else.
Friends, for those of you who read this, I would ask for two things. One is that you would encourage me to be real. I know I need to share my heart more openly so that you can carry this burden with me. The second is that you would be praying for us.
Never before in my life have I felt such an urgent, pressing need for prayer. More and more I feel like adoption is a battle against a real enemy. Join us in praying against the evil one. Pray that God would give us peace as we wait. Pray that he would show us what to do with our broken hearts. Pray that we would share this story well. Pray that God would give us courage and hope as we walk forward trusting his plan.
This week I had the opportunity to sit down for a glass of wine with a friend.
The fact that I can call this woman a friend is honestly nothing less than a miracle. One year ago, we were not speaking to one another. I do not want to go into the details, but the situation was very messy. I literally had no nope that I would ever call this woman a friend again. No hope.
But God, in his wisdom and grace, has allowed us to be friends again. He forgave our sins against one another, giving us the ability and responsibility to forgive one another. He poured his love into our hearts, allowing us to love another as sisters in Christ. He reconciled us to himself, allowing us to be reconciled to one another.
I am struggling a little to have hope as we have entered the season of waiting for our child or children. We are basically done with our paperwork and now just waiting for God’s timing and trusting in his perfect will. Being able to sit down with this friend over a glass of wine after more than a year of brokenness is a sweet encouragement. God is faithful. He is patient. He is eternal and our agenda often has little to do with his. And he is good.
In the book of Ephesians, the author Paul calls all who believe in Jesus “God’s possession,” (Ephesians 1:14). This is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian. I belong to God. Everyone who believes in Jesus belongs to God. We belong to God because we have been both reconciled and adopted.
Our sin separates us from God, but Jesus reconciles us to God on the cross:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins…But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…Therefore, remember that formerly you…were separate from Christ…without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” Ephesians 2:1-13
God goes one step further: he adopts us into his family. He calls us his children. He makes us his own.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
Today I am putting my hope in the God who reconciles and adopts. He has gone first and I believe he will be faithful to see us through to the end.
This morning, I described the neighborhood where little Song spent the first year of her life. After writing the blog, I felt the heaviness of my words.
About ten years ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to spend a few months traveling in South Asia. We went to Pakistan and I remember driving through Karachi in a taxi, seeing the slums along the Layari river. The poverty there is as absolute as anywhere in the world. I remember the feeling of wearing a veil, peeking out the windows of our taxi, watching little children play in putrid water.
When I read about places like Kisenyi, I feel the same way: like I am peering from behind a veil, through a dirty window. I know the poverty is real, but I don’t get out of the car. I don’t take off my veil. I certainly don’t move into the neighborhood.
But Jesus does.
The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood. John 1:14
Jesus moved into the neighborhood. He left everything behind to move to a place as horrifying and disgusting to him as Kisenyi is to you and me. He left heaven to dwell with broken, poor people, like you and me. Do we understand that apart from Jesus, no matter how comfortable our lives may be, we are just like people in Kisenyi? We have no way out. There is nothing we can do to rescue ourselves from sin, suffering and death.
But Jesus moved into the neighborhood and rescued us. He adopted us into his family. It cost him everything. And he gives us everything.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Colossians 1:13-14
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. Ephesians 1:3-8
If we struggle to understand why we should care about people in places like Kisenyi, here is the answer. We care because God cared first. We love because God loved first. We go because God went first.
And we adopt, because God has adopted us.
About a year ago, when I told my friend Julie that our family was considering adoption, she asked if we would consider adopting a child who was HIV+.
No way. Wouldn’t it put our kids at risk? Wouldn’t it be hard? What if the child died?
Over the last year, my husband and I made the decision to adopt a baby girl from Africa. We were open to some special needs, particularly the issues we have faced with our biological children. We thought about adopting from Ethiopia, began the process to adopt from Rwanda, and then switched to adopting from Uganda two months ago.
In one of my first conversations with our adoption agency, Agape Adoptions, they told me about a little girl. She was fifteen months old. Her birth parents had AIDS. Her father had died and her mother was dying. And the little girl is HIV+.
My heart broke for this little girl, but how could we possibly say yes? We were planning on a baby and she’s a toddler. And she has HIV.
Mark and I did not think there was any way we could adopt this child, but we decided to pray and learn. We began to ask our friends and family to pray and learn with us. We are still praying and learning.
Will you join me?
In 2010, the number of children who have lost one or both children to AIDS is expected to reach 25 million. There are nearly 16 million AIDS orphans in Sub-Saharan Africa alone. There are 2.1 million children living with HIV around the world. Most children living with HIV – almost 9 out of 10 – are in Sub-Saharan Africa.
In the hour or so it will take me to write this blog, 31 children will die as a result of AIDS. Most of these children will be in Africa.
AIDS is terrible. Terrifying. I understand why it might sound crazy to consider adopting a child with HIV.
But over the last two months, I have become convinced that it is crazy not to. Read the facts. In the United States, HIV is considered a chronic illness, rather than a terminal disease. When HIV+ children have access to treatment, they can live healthy lives and have close to normal life expectancy. They can grow up, get married, have healthy babies and expect to live long enough to meet their grandchildren.
Furthermore, HIV+ children are not a risk to the people around them. HIV is not spread through casual contact. It is not spread through hugging, kissing, or snuggling. It is not spread through coughing or sneezing. It is not spread through swimming pools or bounce houses or playing soccer. It is not spread through diaper changes or bathing. Since the introduction of antiretroviral medications in 1995, there have been no cases of HIV being spread in a household or school.
Even if you were to have an HIV+ child living in your home, you would be 267 times more likely to die by a lightning strike than to accidentally become infected with HIV.
I am a careful mom, but I don’t walk around worried about lightning.
Do you know what I do worry about?
Twenty five million children who are alone, without the love of a family or hope for the future. I worry about two million children who have HIV or AIDS and who may not have access to the medication that could save their lives. And I grieve for the 31 children who died of AIDS between 10:30 and 11:30 pm as I was writing this blog.
Do you get it?
I have never been very good at waiting. Most of my life, I’ve been in a rush.
I was born six weeks early. On the first day of fourth grade, I stood up and told my teacher that I was done with fourth grade. He believed me and I started fifth grade a few weeks later. I graduated high school at sixteen. I began dating my husband the week of Thanksgiving in 1999. We began to talk about getting married before Christmas, even though I was just seventeen. I graduated from college after just two and a half years and we were married when I was nineteen. We bought a house when I was twenty and had our oldest son when I was twenty two.
I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
Over the last nine years, however, I have learned how to slow down. In my pregnancies with my sons, I spent a total of nine months on bed rest. If you met me ten years ago, you would know that bed rest is my definition of hell. I love to run, swim, bike, dance, cook, shop…really anything other than laying around. I loved being pregnant, but hated the waiting.
Even though I knew through each of my pregnancies that the waiting was a unique opportunity to rest, pray, study, and be quiet, I fought it.
Two years later, we’re in another season of waiting. We’ve done most of the work we’ll need to do to get the adoption process started and now we’re waiting: waiting for my fingerprints to come back from the FBI, waiting for our immigration paperwork, waiting to meet our little girl.
Somehow this season feels much more peaceful. I feel joyful and content, even as we’re longing for the baby girl who will be our daughter. I am trying to accept and embrace where God has our family right now.
It has taken me almost six years, but I feel like I am finally loving being a mom. I have always loved my kids, but I have struggled with resenting the work. It is a lot of work to parent three little people. Over the last few months, however, something has changed and I’m just loving where our family is at. I am loving teaching the kids, loving watching them learn and grow. People still tell me all the time that I am busy and I have my hands full – just in case I didn’t know???
But more than ever before, I am not looking across the fence thinking the grass is greener. God has been gracious to me. The change in my heart is a small miracle. For most of the last five years, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking I would rather go back to work part-time to pay for private school instead of fully embracing the call of motherhood. God shut the door for our family to send our kids to private school, however, and I’ve ended up doing two things that terrified me: homeschooling and sending our kids to public schools.
And I love it. Like crazy love it. I love being more involved in our community. I love teaching our kids. And more than ever, I love being a mom. I’m thankful that God didn’t give me what I wanted and instead gave me what I needed.
And I’m even joyful in the waiting.
This weekend, we had a garage sale fundraiser for our adoption. For the last two months, we’ve been asking friends and family to donate things they no longer needed. Friends, neighbors and even strangers filled our garage with clothes, furniture, music, books and all sorts of household goods. We took maybe five minivan loads to my parents’ house and set up the sale.
The sale went really well: over two days, we made more than $1,100! Amazing!! The last time we had a garage sale, I think I made $74.
Asher and Micah had a little lemonade stand and bake sale too. On Friday, the boys sold cookies and lemonade. Micah discovered that most older ladies would not buy a cookie for themselves. He also figured out that if he asked nicely, they would buy a cookie for him to eat! I think he ate at least half a dozen cookies before I figured out his strategy.
And speaking of strategy, Asher had a smart approach to pricing his goodies. When he had a plate full of cookies, they were 3 for $1. When the plate was about half full, the price increased to 2 for $1. When there were only a couple cookies left, they were $1 each. My husband, who is a data analyst, was proud of his solid grasp of supply and demand at a young age!
Raising money for the adoption was awesome, but even better was meeting people. We talked with several different families who have adopted recently. One mommy of twins from Ethiopia found our garage sale ad on Craigslist and showed up with her arms full of things for us to sell. Her daughters were beautiful and they made me more excited about meeting our little girl. We also connected with several other Christians who have a passion for adoption. It was exciting to see how God was providing not only financially, but in so many other ways.
On Saturday, we met a woman from Uganda who was very kind. She works for a Seattle-based medical research organization building a clinic to serve people in Uganda who have cancer caused by infectious diseases. She offered to take us around Kampala when we go to Uganda next year. I have been praying that I would be able to learn about things like food, holiday traditions, hair, beauty and other things that may be significant for our daughter. It was an encouragement to meet a Ugandan woman who is willing to teach me!
I’m sorry we didn’t take pictures. The weekend was really fun, crazy exhausting, and I’m glad it’s done. I’m very thankful for God’s provision, as well as for all the family, friends, neighbors and strangers who made it happen!
Three weeks ago I was sitting on the couch finished up a summer Bible study with the women from our community group. We had studied the book of Esther together.
Throughout our study, I was amazed at how perfect the timing was – how much Esther spoke to my heart as we are in this season of waiting and praying for our daughter. The book is one of the few in the Bible about a woman. It is also the story about God’s providence in the face of fear.
A friend asked how our adoption was going. I said great. We were almost done with our homestudy and looking forward to getting our papers to Rwanda this fall.
When I sat down in the car five minutes later, I looked at my email on my phone. There was a rumor that things were changing in Rwanda . It sounded like Rwanda would possibly be closing while the country implemented the Hague Convention. Can things really change that fast?
My heart was pounding. I felt like I had just lost a fight. I came home and told Mark. We emailed our contact in Rwanda.
The next morning, we read the news. Rwanda was closing to international adoption.
(This is when I wanted to freak out.)
Three weeks have passed. It is clear that Rwanda will not open to international adoption again soon and when it does, we would have to start over with a Hague accredited agency. If we were to wait, we’re guessing it would at least a year before we could star the process again and then more time waiting. My husband and I both feel this isn’t right for our family.
After praying and looking at our option, it seems like another door is open. We’re moving forward towards adopting a little girl from Uganda.
Our homestudy is nearly done. We have our FBI Background Checks back and we have our last homestudy visit this Sunday. We’re still deciding between two adoption agencies, but we are close. Our papers could be in Uganda by October. We could travel next spring or summer.
This all brings me back to the book of Esther. In God’s providence, Esther, a beautiful young Jewish girl who was orphaned and raised by her cousin, has become the Queen. The King, however, has a plot to kill all the Jews. After Esther hears about the plan to kill her people, Esther’s cousin asks her the following:
“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14
Esther was thrown a curve ball. She was the queen. She was not planning on putting her life on the line. She knew she would be risking everything if she told the king she was a Jew. Her cousin was right – God would take care of his people, with or without Esther.
But God gave her this position for such a time as this.
As we sit here, trying to fight through this crazy battle that is adoption, I have to trust this God. I have to trust that God will, in his providence, lead us and guide us in every step. Sometimes I am terrified. I am afraid because my heart is so full of love for this little person. Whomever she is.
If parenting is like having your heart walk around outside your body, international adoption is like having your heart walk around half way around the world. I trust as one door has closed and another has opened, that God is with us. I trust that he has put us in this position. I trust he will give us wisdom. Never in my life have I been so desperate for wisdom and so thankful for God’s promise to give it to those who fear him.