This story really began several years ago, shortly after Madeleine was born. Steve and I had agreed that biologically this was our last child, but we also knew our home wasn’t complete. I, Kristi, began praying about adoption. A big BOLD prayer. A prayer I scarcely dared to breathe to anyone. I felt a strong call to international adoption and special needs; I couldn't explain it, but it was real and present.
Years passed and life was busy. The big dream, the bold prayer never died away. But in the busy-ness of life it wasn't something we could focus on each day. We would talk about it and dream about it, always ending on the same note.
We want to.
But now isn’t the time.
We explored foster care, attended orientations, prayed about a more economical way to help those children without homes. The big dream, the bold prayer, the calling remained the same: international special needs adoption. CHINA.
BUT GOD ...
It's so big.
It's so scary.
We want to.
We’re just not ready yet.
Two weeks ago, on Saturday, Benjamin sat on the floor, begging me to play about the 10th game of checkers that day. He was alone, again, as the girls were together with their family of babies in the upstairs rooms. He's been lonely a lot and needing someone with whom he can run, jump, wrestle, tackle, fight ... and play checkers with ... As he curled up next to me on the floor and set the board he casually said, "Mom, when are we going to get me my brother from China?"
I nearly spewed my water all over him and stared at him in amazement. We'd talked to the kids about adopting, a LONG time ago ... but he was always the one who was the most resistant. He sensed my hesitation and, in typical Benjamin fashion, filled the silence with his case, "I'll give up my bed. I'll give him my room. He can take all my toys and all of my clothes, but Mom, can I please have a brother?"
My tears spilled over as I recounted the story to Steve that afternoon. It was time to be serious; it was time to take action.
BUT GOD ...
It's so big.
It's so scary.
We want to.
We just don’t have the resources.
The next day I sat by Steve as we listened to Brad Gray teach from Exodus 12 and discuss the movement of the Israelites through the desert. After Egypt He moved them from the known (albeit slave labor) to the unknown (the desert). They hated the unknown and sentenced themselves to 40 years in the desert. When that generation had died off, God again moved the people from the known (dry and nasty desert) across the water to the unknown (the Promised Land). In each in between time He was moving them from the known to the unknown, and each time he asked them to take a leap of faith, to trust Him, to take a HUGE risk.
Brad closed that sermon with a challenge: Our greatest stories occur in the unknown.
As we drove home that day in the van I, Steve, knew what Kristi was thinking. Our unknown was adoption, and it was time to stop telling God why now wasn’t the time. That day became the time to step into the unknown.
It IS big
It IS scary
We want to.
We will listen!
Nothing about our financial circumstances changed, but our hearts changed; our willingness to follow God's leading into a great unknown became our number 1 mission. From that moment forward we have seen God (our very known God) move in incredible ways on our behalf. For the sake of brevity I will list them here:
•The following Monday, our friend posted a waiting child from China on her Facebook page
•We applied for the child and were pre-approved the next day
•We filled out the full application and trusted in faith that God would provide for the $ we needed to submit to the process
•We submitted the application on our boy's 3rd birthday
•We mailed in the check on the 3rd anniversary of the day his birth family surrendered him.
•The following Tuesday the agency contacted us. They sent us a video update, a full referral and the option to accept this little boy and lock our profile to his. He COULD be ours (upon completion of many new hurdles).
•God provided a urologist to review our boy's file; He granted us an incredible plastic surgeon, at Helen DeVos, willing to hear our story and listen to the case - providing us with the necessary medical consultations to fill in our Letter of Intent.
We believe this little boy is where God has been calling us for years (and its no coincidence that he's just slightly younger than our Madeleine). He's been preparing our hearts, our lives, our children and our circumstances for such a time as this.
You’ve now read our story and our step out into the unknown. We realize this is not something that we will ever be able to do on our own financially, nor can we raise our new family of four without Grandparents to babysit, friends for playdates, and a great church and school to support us along the way.
We also realize that you need a commitment from us, to know that we are in this to bring home a little boy and raise him as our own. We promise to love our adopted child as our own. We promise to raise him in a loving, Christian home where the truth of the Bible is taught through our words and our actions. We promise to hold this child to the same expectations to which we hold our biological children - to be polite, hard working, to treat others well, to have fun with family and friends, and to follow Jesus with every fiber of their being.
To our supporters, we promise to communicate clearly and consistently, to let you know how the process is going. This is a lifelong commitment on our part that is built on the shoulders of our community. As we move closer to our “gotcha day,” we will continue with regular updates (please subscribe to our you caring page here so that you can receive them via email), photos when able, and I’m sure there will be a great story or two along the way that will bring a smile to our face or a tear to your eye. We will share them all. When our son comes home, we commit to introducing our new son to the community who welcomed him here, who prayed him here, who sacrificed with us, and who loves him (almost) as much as we do.
How Can You Help
We covet your prayers, your patience, and your willingness to help show our children the love they deserve throughout the process, even if Mom and Dad seem a little distant. Obviously, there are financial needs as well. We’ve struggled with how to ask, and to be honest we’d prefer not to, but as two first born children with good stubborn streaks, there is a lesson for us to learn in depending on God to provide. There are opportunities for grants that we intend to pursue to the fullest, but for now, the road ahead looks like this:
Agency fees of $8,000
Home study fees of $2,400
USCIS Immigration Fees of $1,000
Document preparation and translation fees of $5,000
Travel and Visa Expenses of $12,000
Post Adoption fees of $3,000
Additional fees while in China (some of which is a donation to the orphanage that has raised our son thus far) of $7,000
As we shared in our story, we both felt the Lord nudging us to take a step out in faith and begin this journey of adoption. We don't know how this is going to work, but we are committed to taking this as far as He will take us. As you support us in prayer, please also consider if you are being asked to join us ithrough a financial contribution. We are excited to share our journey with you, and we can't wait to introduce you to our new son.
To bring God the glory,
Steve, Kristi, Kayleigh, Benjamin, Madeleine, and "Judd"
"Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God."
~ Corrie TenBoom