Thursday, January 31, 2008

One Word

Last night I had an experience that frustrated me. It went something like this. I was on my way out of church and a good friend asked me "So, when I fill out your reference form, how do you want me to fill out the question about why you decided to adopt?" Now, this should have been easy for me to answer- right? Wrong? I stood there like a total idiot without one educated thing coming from my lips. (Now- in my defense- I had just finished 2 hours with 15 Kindergarten Mission Friends.) I could think of about 2 hours worth of details, but no concise and complete response.
So, I said what any person would say, "Uh, here's my blog address, if that doesn't explain it, I can give you more details." She graciously agreed to check it out, but I'm sure she was thinking, "Bless her heart, she's an idiot!"
The whole way home I was beating myself up about my ridiculous response. I thought about the fact that I needed to be prepared for these questions. I had portions of 1 Peter 3:15 rolling through my head which says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect." I decided last night that I would try to prepare myself so that the next time someone asked me a similar question, I would be able to respond with a reasonable answer.
This morning I woke up and had my quiet time. I have been reading in the book of James and today I finished with chapter 4. As I was reading the very last verse just leapt off of the page. It said, "Anyone who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." There you go. That's my answer. I can now sum up my reason for adoption in one word- OBEDIENCE. We know the good we ought to do, and we want to do it.
Now, don't get me wrong. I get very excited about the thought of a new child in our family. I can't wait to hold a baby and smell that freshly bathed pink lotion smell. I will be thrilled when it's time to put up the crib and pick out the diaper bag and buy our 5th copy of Pat The Bunny (that has been a first Christmas gift for all of our children). And I frequently imagine what our family portrait will look like with a little chocolate face in there. But, all of that will be a bi-product of our obedience, not the reason for it.
I am so glad that the Lord uses ordinary people to draw us to His word and His ways and that He cares enough about me to pursue me in spite of my pathetic self.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Plugging along

We are working away at our Gladney application which arrived on Tuesday. Let me say we were OVERWHELMED when we saw that stack of papers. But, when we dug in, it wasn't so bad. We have completed all of the parts that we could do ourselves. We have contacted our references and plan to give out all of those forms by Monday. We go to get our medical stuff completed on Tuesday. So, we think we'll have most everything completed for our Gladney application by this time next week.
We tracked our Fed Ex package to immigration and found out that it arrived on Weds., so we're cooking with gas!
Next stop, fingerprinting and home study. Woohoo!

My "Holy Ground" moment

One of the things that I've seen again and again in my walk with the Lord is that anytime he calls me to do something "big", he always gives me some scripture to confirm whatever it is he is calling me to do. That certainly proved to be true again with our adoption calling. I thought I would share my story about how it happened.
Now, Ryan and I have always been open to the idea of adoption. Ryan has a sister who was adopted when he was 10, so he has seen first hand the blessings that adoption can bring. We love children and we have both always wanted a large family. However, our four children came quickly and we found ourselves reeling with all of the physical and financial demands that came with having four children in less than six years. So, the idea of adopting was put on the back burner and life went on.
Then, about 15 months ago, God provided a very significant and unexpected financial blessing which allowed us some relief from many of the pressures we had been experiencing. So, we began to relax and think a little bit about how we could take the blessing that God had given us and use it responsibly. Again and again God brought forward the idea of adoption. Through relationships, media, and scripture, God kept turning our attention toward adoption. So, we began stalking blogs, reading agency websites, and asking lots of questions of our adoptive friends. I was pretty confident that we were supposed to move forward. Then, Ryan finally surrendered to the idea after a particuarly meaningful Focus on the Family episode.
We went online the next night, which was a Friday night and found that the agency we were most interested in was having an informational session in Raleigh on the following Monday, so we made a reservation to attend. When Monday came, I woke up feeling unsettled. I was just concerned that this was some good deed I'd cooked up, and not a call from the Lord. I had my quiet time that morning, and I still didn't have that assurance I wanted.
After lunch, I sent the kids off to play for a few minutes before we started back into our school work. I found myself sitting at the kitchen table talking to the Lord about my anxiety and asking Him to make it very clear if this was of him. I looked up and saw my Bible resting on the counter from my morning time and I just felt the need to pick it up and read from it. I decided to open it to the center- thinking that reading a Psalm would calm my spirit. However, instead of opening to the Psalms, I opened to Isaiah chapter 43. The subtitle was "Israel's Only Savior." I had no idea how this could relate to my need, but I decided to read on. Now, the chapter as a whole had nothing to do with adoption, but some of the verses just lept off the page and I felt the Lord was telling me, "these apply to you, this is food for YOUR soul today." Here are what some of the verses said:

  • "Do not be afraid, for I am with you; I will bring your children from the east and gather you from the west."v.5
  • "Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth."v.6
  • But the clencher for me was verse 3. "For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I give Egypt for your ransom, Cush and Seba in your stead." After I read it, I decided I wanted to know where Cush and Seba were, so I went to my study Bible and searched the notes. I still couldn't find out the location of Cush and Seba, so I went back up to reference the verse number and re-read verse 3. This is what it said in the text of my study Bible: "I give Egypt for you ransom, ETHIOPIA and Seba in your stead." Well, needless to say, I started weeping. I knew that God was talking to me. Peace came rushing in like a flood. I was overwhelmed with the personal way my God chose to answer me that day.

One of the big added benefits that came from that moment was with my oldest daughter. She came in before I'd gotten myself under control and saw me sitting with 2 Bibles in my lap with tears streaming down my face. I was able to show her what God had revealed to me. When she re-read the verse in the study Bible, her eyes got as big as saucers and she said "Mom, how could that happen? How could Ethiopia be right there?" I said the only thing I could think of to say: "Because Abby, God's word is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword!" She couldn't wait to tell her daddy all about it when he came home that night!

People who love our children are naturally concerned about whether or not this adoption will affect our children. All I can think is, "Dear Lord, please affect my children!" If my children are affected to trust in His word, rescue the orphans, sacrifice for someone in need, or get out of their comfort zone- bring it on!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

So, what do the kids think?

Okay, one of the questions we're repeatedly getting from folks we share our adoption news with is, "So, what do the kids think?" First of all, it's great to know that so many people are concerned about our children and their emotional needs! Secondly, that makes me want to laugh. This is because, quite frankly, the kids have been a major driving force in getting us to this point. They have been ready for a baby WAY longer than we have. In fact, for several years my standard response when one of them asked if we could have a baby was, "IF we ever have another baby, it will come from somewhere across the big waters because it doesn't have a mommy or daddy." That was my stall tactic. I guess the jokes on me because now God has made it remarkably clear to us that we need to cross that big water and get that baby- HA!

So, for those of you who want to know what the kids are thinking, here are a few anecdotes of baby conversations at our house:

Abby, our 9 year old has been most persistent. Another family in our homeschool co-op recently brought home 3 siblings from Ethiopia and she has been deeply affected by their story. Anytime she has a chance to hear any detail of their journey, her ears are peeled. In fact, when we were leaving co-op the other day she said to me, "Mom, during lunch time I wanted to play, but I was torn. Whenever Ms. Mestas and Ellie start talking about Ethiopia, I just can't stop listening, it's so fascinating." God is certainly doing a work in her heart.

She was also the straw that broke the camel's back a couple of weeks ago. When she entered the kitchen and found her Daddy weeping at a Focus on the Family broadcast on adoption she said, "Dad, can't you see God is telling us to adopt a baby and you're being disobedient." How do you respond to that? Especially when you know she's right!?!

Elizabeth, our 7 year old wrote this on the prayer request card at church about 6 months ago, "I wut a bthr bekos my buthr is lonley all he has is 3 sitrs and 1 uf him." Translate, "I want a brother because my brother is lonely, all he has is 3 sisters and 1 of him." Okay, here's a confession- the reason I can recall the exact inaccurate spelling is because I highjacked the prayer card. I was not yet ready to have the pastors of my church praying for a brother. Oh ye of little faith!

Isaac, our 5 year old son became open to the idea of adoption about 9 months ago. We were driving down the road and we had a conversation that went something like this:

Isaac: "Mommy, if we ever have a brother, will he have black skin or white skin?"

Me: "Well, if he comes from my tummy, he'll have white skin"

Isaac:"How do you know?"

Me:"Because Daddy and I both have white skin."

Isaac: "Well then how did the K family get a baby with brown skin."

Me:"Well, remember, they adopted Baby E."

Isaac:"Oh" (long pause) "then why don't we adopt a brother!"

Me:"Because God hasn't told us to adopt a baby brother."

Isaac:"Well, can we ask God if he wants us to adopt a baby brother?"

Me:"How about we put it in the prayer jar?"

So, we wrote on a prayer jar slip, Does God want us to have a baby brother? Anytime it's Isaac's turn to pick a request out of the jar, he digs around in the hopes of pulling that one out.

Lily, our youngest who just turned 4 last week asked for two things for Christmas this year. A Hello Kitty cash register, and a brown baby. She had no idea that God was turning our hearts toward Ethiopia!

Don't get me wrong, we know they have challenges and adjustements ahead of them, but I think they "get it" as well as we could ever expect them to at this early stage of the game!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

On Our Way!

Ryan and I are so excited to be beginning a new adventure in our already fun-filled life! After much prayer and consideration, we feel confident that God is calling us to begin the process of adopting a child from Ethiopia. We are hoping that ultimately the whole journey will end with a new Campbell baby, but whatever happens, we know this is a door that God is leading us to walk through at this time. We hope this blog will help us to share our journey with friends and family. We also hope that those who are considering adoption may benefit from the details of our experiences the same way that we have benefited from the blogs we've been reading for the last several months (thanks to all the Gladney families that we've been anonymously following- we feel like we know you!). Here are a couple of the details of what we've accomplished so far:

  • We have narrowed down a variety of options concerning when, where, and how. At this point, we are planning to adopt an infant from Ethiopia through the Gladney adoption agency. We are already in the beginning stages of the process. If everything goes according to the "normal" time line, we should be bringing a baby home before Christmas.
  • We have begun to gather the initial paperwork necessary for the immigration portion of our process and we expect to receive our Gladney application at the beginning of the week.

We would certainly covet your prayers as we seek to be obedient on this journey. It's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the things that must be accomplished to make this happen. The paperwork alone qualifies as a part time job!

We look forward to posting more details about how we arrived at this point in the coming days and weeks!