I offer my sincerest apologies for being gone for so long. I'm sure you were having "blog withdrawls" from my absence, but our life has been traveling at the speed of light. The Lord has confirmed HIS child for our family, and I plan to chronicle how this child has come to be our fifth son. (Yes, we are adopting another BOY!)
Until then, I'd like to share one of the essays Reid and I wrote together for a grant application. This was an incredible testimony to all that God has done and is doing to lead us on this path toward a precious little boy in Ghana, Africa. The timeframe on the left side of the blog will share some of the details in "blurbs."
Journey to Adoption
In May of 2001, our family became the American surrogate family to a Sudanese refugee, one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Mathiang Gutnyin. He was 20 years old when he came to America, and although we were only just over a decade older, he has always called us Mom and Dad. Since he entered our lives, Christmas Eve has always included African songs and dance, our prayers are constant for the continent of Africa and for peace in Sudan, and we have witnessed God leading this young man to follow hard after Him. After nine years, Mathiang is still an integral part of our lives. He’s overcome adversity by obtaining his GED, his citizenship, and he now maintaining a 3.6 GPA majoring in International Business at Maryville College. Although our relationship with Mathiang was not a legal adoption, we consider him a son. Through Mathiang, our hearts were initially opened to the idea of opening our hearts to an orphan.
Early in 2009, Robin and I began to consider the adoption of a child. The economy had weakened, the stock market took a dive, and real estate values plummeted. During this anxious time, the Spirit of God began to stir in me saying - at a time just like this, when people tend to become more self focused, we (God’s people) need to offer hope to the most forgotten people in the world – orphans. We began to pray about adopting but sensed that the Spirit was saying we should wait because He would “bring the children.”
Shortly after, our family became involved with a local ministry to the homeless of Knoxville – Water Angels. One of the aspects of the ministry is focused toward homeless children. We befriended two boys, 9 and 12 years old, that lived at a local shelter with their mom and younger twins. Shortly after meeting them, we began having them spend weekends with us, realizing that at this time, these were the children God wanted us to love as our own children. As our involvement with these boys and their family grew, the thought of adoption began to fade but never went away completely.
In February of this year, God began to nudge us once again toward adoption. We began praying as a couple about this possibility. Our oldest son, Mason, came to us one night and shared that he believed we were to adopt a child. Additionally, the O’Learys, who are very close friends of ours, were in the process of adopting and God used this family to fan the flame of desire. Very quickly we found ourselves believing this was God’s desire for our family. One Tuesday evening in February, Robin and I were in a World Missions class. The teacher was illustrating how very short our life on earth is in view of eternity. At the same moment, we turned to each other and said we needed to immediately submit an adoption application, and our journey toward adoption was underway.
Related to the orphan problem is child slavery. God began opening our eyes to this horror shortly before we initially began praying about adoption. I was surprised to learn that child slavery is significant problem in the Volta region of Ghana where small children are sold as slaves to fishermen. I have been to Ghana twice on mission trips and Robin was with me the second time, but we were unaware at the time of the slavery problem. The O’Learys were adopting from Ghana, and the Lord seemed to be directing us toward this nation trying to stabilize their new international adoption program. From the time we had spent in Ghana, a part of our heart was already there. It seemed natural for us to pursue an orphan in that country.
We have decided on a referral, a two and one-half year old boy. We received the initial information on him on Robin’s birthday. In his picture, he is wearing a shirt exactly like one our boys used to have when they were younger. This child’s birthday is also very significant to Robin as it redeems a day which has been a reminder of loss and now God is bringing “beauty from the ashes.” We learned last week that a family in Chattanooga, Tennessee is adopting three children from Ghana who live in the same orphanage as our little boy. In fact, one of those children is currently helping to look after our soon-to-be-son. How exciting that when they all come to live in Tennessee, they will have good friends less than 2 hours away.
The Lord is leading others around us for Him to “set the lonely into families.” Since we started this process, both my sister’s family and my Robin’s sister’s family are pursuing the adoption of children from Ethiopia. Our son will have a brother from Sudan, four American brothers, nine American cousins, and two Ethiopian cousins – one on each side of the family. God is bringing the nations together. His fingerprints are incredibly evident.
In God’s gracious and compassionate heart, he has chosen to adopt us into His family. We have been chosen by Him through His great love. It is an honor to be surrendered to his call on us to bring another son in to our “quiver.” We will have “no greater joy than to see our children walking in the truth.”
4 weeks ago