Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Contradiction of Adoption

There are not many situations in our lives that are so deeply rooted in contradiction.


The family born through hurt, anger, poverty, disease, and abandonment.

The laughter peeking through years of late night weeping.

The smiles forcing their way out of night terrors and a childhood lost.

The perseverance of parents wanting to love a child deeply, but finding the bricks built higher and higher in his fortress of protection.

The task is not just about loving a child. It’s about allowing yourself to be abandoned. Allowing the words of the Lord speak for you when the end of yourself seems too far.

The time lost to poverty and sickness. God can redeem.

A word spoken in harshness to a child wrapped in hurt and confusion. God can restore.

A child afraid of being abandoned. Again. A parent longing for a hug from a child who sees a hug as threatening, not loving. God can remember.

The heart can seem lost and the days can seem surrendered to impatience. God can refresh.

God never promises us easy days. Quite the opposite actually. He understands having a son betrayed and mocked. He cares for His children who scream curses and walk away, turning their backs on Him.

But only for a time.

His redemption is sure.
His restoration is complete.




Carrie and her family have lived in China for 7 years. A homeschooling mother of 5, she makes it through the day with prayer and a bit of caffeine. 3 years ago, God flipped their family’s world upside down through the blessing of adoption. They have watched Him not only orchestrate the adoption but compose a life dependent on His grace. Her first book, Redefining Home: Squatty Potties, Split Pants, and Other Things that Divide My World, came out not long ago. Feel free to follow along and laugh at their crazy lives with them at Rescued Remnant.

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I Want to Go Home

Lauren, Isabelle and Melanie

Several weeks ago during a control battle between Isabelle and I she suddenly announces, “I want to go home.” Hello, you are at home. “No my real home. Where I was born.” The idea that at 4 years old she had put together the tiny amount of information she has and come to the conclusion she used to live with Lauren was so absurd to me that I just had to laugh. I decided she had no idea what she was talking about and ignored her but a week or so later I heard the same thing during another tantrum. I had told her she had to eat one bite of her dinner or go to her room for the night. She had been in her room for a while having her break down and I went in to assess the situation and see if I could convince her to eat. She begins,

“I want to go home”
Me: this is your home.
Her: no my real home. Where I was born.
Me: the hospital?
Her: No with Lauren
Me: Even if you lived with Lauren she would make you take a bite.
Her: She is having the same thing?! Thats….Weird.

I was rolling on the ground laughing by the end of this conversation. She said it all while crying hysterically. I almost called Lauren on the spot to back me up on this food thing. We did talk later and I told her if I ever called with a strange request like, “should Isabelle eat a bite of fish?” she should just go with it. We laughed together at her comments and discussed the fact that neither of us are prepared for her to begin asking about this at such a young age.

Although I am very secure in my role as Isabelle’s mother and in her love for me I would be lying if I didn’t admit to having a little pang of sadness when Isabelle announced she wanted to live with Lauren. I had to give myself a little pep talk to remind myself that this is all part of the process and part of what I signed on for as an adoptive mother. I know that understanding Sam and Lauren’s decision is complicated and difficult even for many adults and will take time for Isabelle to mature enough to accept. Everywhere Isabelle turns and all the media that she is exposed to portrays a traditional family where the mother gives birth to a child she keeps rather than giving it to another mother to raise. Guiding her through this understanding will be one of the most important rolls I have as her mother.

After the second comment which I was continuing to try to ignore I felt God encouraging me to talk with Isabelle about her adoption. I simply shared with her that even though she was in Lauren’s tummy that I have always been her mommy. That I was there the day after she was born and brought her home from the hospital. She has never lived with Lauren. She actually hugged me and thanked me for telling her this and looked physically relieved. It is amazing to realize that at such a young age her sense of security can already be under attack. But I think if she didn’t feel loved and secure she wouldn’t feel free to say these things and ask questions.

So far these question have come up when she was being disciplined. It came up again this morning after I sent her to her room for something. I specifically remember during one of our early meetings with Sam and Lauren before she was born Sam telling us that if she ever called them because we were disciplining her for something and she wanted to get out of it that they would always back us up. I think we were all envisioning a pre-teen or teenager calling them not a 4 year old but it is nice to know even at this age they have our backs. (If she really knew what was going on she would run to Grandma and Grandpa, they are the real push overs.)

Never a dull moment around here.


Melanie Hardacker

I married my high school sweetheart 21 years ago at the age of 19 and ever since we have been on a grand adventure set before us by God. Nearly 4 years after we married I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and threw myself into the world of motherhood. 2 years later I expected to quickly get pregnant again but it was not meant to be. After many painful years we looked up and realized that God had blessed us with one incredible little boy and embraced life with an only child. Then one day God whispered, “it is time”. After a little resistance we began to follow Him as he led us somewhere we never thought we would go, adoption. And not just adoption, open adoption. We brought our daughter home from the hospital 7 years ago and discovered a completeness to our family we didn’t know we were missing. It has changed the way we view our life and define family. Today our son is finishing high school and preparing to leave for college in the fall. Isabelle is a wonderful 7 year old who recently became a big sister as her birthparents started a family of their own. She is loving her new role and takes the job quite seriously. I blog about all the adventures God leads us on as we raise 2 only children at

Fear of WHAT unknown?

I’m afraid.

I’m afraid that I’m not afraid.

I don’t dread bringing the most severely disabled child into our home and calling her our daughter. And perhaps pushing her in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. And struggling everyday to understand her needs and meet them.

So why am I afraid that I’m not afraid? Because I’VE changed. And it’s for the good. And that scares me.

OK, I know this doesn’t make sense. If it’s a “good” thing, then why am I scared? Well, sometimes I just can’t put into words what the Father has done deep inside of my being. How He’s changed me to be putty. But it’s not putty in everything that He wants me to be. I still have a very long way to go.

Believe it or not, the act of bringing home such a daughter is not nearly as difficult as facing my flaws as a father or husband. Sometimes it’s just so darn hard to go to my wife or kids and say, “I’m so sorry. I was a dweeb. I was wrong. Please forgive me.”

But as I work on the obstacles of the heart, I’m finding it easier and easier to dive into other things that other men see as CRAAAAZY!

Enter our eighth child waiting for us in Bulgaria.

If we do this, then what, Lord? I’m scared…BUT…I’m excited! It’s kinda like when you’re standing on a high dive. You’re scared, but excited because you know what you’re about to do. (OK, that’s not such a good example, seeing as last year I broke my back diving off a high dive. But you get the idea.) Because THAT’S where I have craved to be—living on the edge for Jesus. Signing up for anything and everything HE wants me to do, where HE wants me to go, and what HE wants me to say yes to.

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.
James 4:14

I am sure that some of my friends look at Anthony Salem and say, “Well, he’s getting old. He’s throwing his life into God because he doesn’t have much time left anyway.”

But statistically, if Jesus tarries, I have at least another 30 years on this earth, Lord willing. That’s a long time in human years. And in dog years, that’s 210 years. And in GOD years, that’s…well…just a mist, isn’t it?

So that’s my point. We can have 30 years left, 60 years left, or just a few months to live. It’s all a mist. And that’s what we need to continually remind ourselves of. It was important enough for God to mention in the book of James. So it should be foremost in all of our minds.

If we do that, we have no fear of the unknown. Just the Godly adrenaline to “dive in.”



A child of the King of Kings, saved by grace, blessed with a gorgeous South African bride, inside and out, named Adéye, blessed with seven children–three bio boys and four adopted girls. Loving living life on the edge for Jesus and bringing as many people there as possible before I die. Follow along here – No Greater Joy Dad.

Adoption is beautiful. But, it’s ugly too.

We like to gush about the beauty of adoption.

I wear a necklace with a cut-out of Taiwan and Christ’s words in John 14:18 – “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” – promising the Holy Spirit and His second coming.

I believe that earthly adoption serves at a metastory and a shadow of the true Story of God’s redemptive power in adopting me and Lee and Jocelyn. Hopefully, one day when they come to know Him, Robbie and Zoe and future children and grandchildren into His forever family.

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God.
Romans 8:4-6

But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son,born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”
Galatians 4:4-6

However, consider the Garden of Eden.
Before sin.

Did death or sin turn children into orphans then?
No. Death didn’t happen before sin… and, um, obviously sin didn’t happen before, uh, sin.

So, yes, let’s bask in the beauty of God’s redemption in adoption and God’s act of placing the lonely into families, blessing us and blessing her. And let’s rejoice when Zoe comes home.

But let’s also remember that every earthly adoption is a response to the ugly realities of a fallen world. Let’s also remember that our adoption with gain a child for our family and a family for our Zoe, it also involves loss. Orphans only exist because – whatever the circumstances may be – they lost their birth family.

Don’t get me wrong. I do still believe that adoption is beautiful. I will keep sharing the beauty in adoption.

But, I will also write about the ugliness too.

In Isaiah 61:3, the prophet writes about the glorious exchange of “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Would the beauty seem as sweet in the absence of the ashes? Would the joy be as rich without the mourning first? Would the praise be as consuming if it didn’t follow despair?

Let’s keep celebrating the beauty, and let’s remember and be brokenhearted over the brokenness from which the beauty emerges.


Shannon Dingle

Shannon and her husband Lee have been married for 7 years, with three children Jocelyn (5), Robbie (3), and Zoe (9 mo). The oldest two are homegrown, and Zoe joined the family via adoption from Taiwan in July 2012. Shannon is a stay-at-home mom, writing about family and faith and whatnot at Dinglefest, who also serves as her church’s special needs ministry coordinator, blogging about that to equip and encourage other churches at The Works of God Displayed. Their adoption of Zoe – including the picture to the left – was documented by The Archibald Project; all the pictures are on Facebook here. The Dingles love to call Raleigh home, and they hope to adopt again in a few years.

This Just Needs To Be Said

I can always tell when we are starting, praying about or in the middle of an adoption.
I know because of the paper work that lies about,
the emails that clutter my inbox,
and the anticipation that seems to linger in the air.

But more tangibly, I know because the whole world seems to go awry.
The axis of the earth seems to tilt,
the Super Moon graces us a bit longer
and our house starts to come alive.

Not like the house in Ammityville,
but alive with activity
and none of it is the good kind either.

On our date night last week, The Hero and I discussed our second adoption.
We made some very direct goals and hard decisions.
Almost immediately, our house responded.

The vacuum cleaner sparked and died on Friday.
Behavioral issues abounded with our children.
The washing machine keeled over Saturday morning.
And Monday we awoke to the air conditioning units refusing to pump cold air.

The repairman told us both units would have to be replaced.
(For those of you who have not replaced one in quite some time,
it’s about the same cost as an international adoption).

The Hero met me at the door on Monday, smiling.
I found nothing to smile about.
But as we sat at the dining room table,
we started talking about our last date night.
And I started laughing.

Our house was under attack.

While The Hero called our insurance,
I called our adoption agency.
And sent them some money.
And just for good measure,
I made some small financial gifts to some of our favorite places.
And prayed over our house.

It’s Thursday morning.
The Hero called me from his car.
The a/c repairman just left.
Units are fixed and pumping.
And it’s covered by our insurance.
His only words “give thanks baby. This was all HIM today.”

The Hero found a part for the washing machine.
And fixed it for less than $30.

Behaviors have been identified and specifically prayed over.

The only total loss was the vacuum cleaner.
But considering it was almost 12years old,
it didn’t seem like too big a loss.

Whatever is keeping you from adoption, remember:

Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rules, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”


Lindsey Andrews

We are a family of God’s perfect design. With two adopted angels (2, 5) from Ethiopia in 2010 and more on the way soon. The Andrews family are one of three founding families of LoPa Art, buying Ethiopian art fair-trade and proceeds benefiting an Ethiopian non-profit, currently serving 210 orphans in Korah, a trash dump outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Lovers of gardening, advocating for Children’s HopeChest, swimming and traveling to Africa, the Andrews continually seek to connect those they know with the things they love. Mommy is a writer, lawyer, speaker and chief laundry distributor. Daddy “The Hero” is a fireman, handyman and human jungle gym. “The Angel’ is now eight and loves reading, drawing and dreaming about buying a bunk bed. “The Dinosaur” is now four and stomping his way through home, hearts and life. The family is loved by Jesus and protected by a french bulldog, Walter. Mommy blogs at

It’s All Good Hair

She’s beautiful just the way she is. Each hair an uncanny reminder of who God made her to be. African, tightly wound, a coil of boundless energy, full of spunk, with a mind of her own, and wild. I’m glad I remembered that before we decided to change it.

Satan speaks his lies in the subtlest of ways. And he is relentless…and his lies so predictable. “You don’t have what it takes to care for her,” he whispers. He’s been whispering this since the day she imprinted herself on my heart. Most of the time, I don’t pay any attention. Most of time, I remember all of the ways that God has made her mine and marvel at the miracle of adoption.

But sometimes….sometimes, his whisper sneaks it’s way inside. It wraps itself around my heart and I feel that familiar sadness. I feel all of the distance and the differences that separate her from me. The flesh and blood and DNA that prove that the miracle of her had nothing to do with me. And sometimes, in that state, I come up with ways to minimize the differences, and convince myself that it’s best for all of us.

So, we almost relaxed Hope’s hair last month. I came really close. I’m not saying we won’t do it someday. I don’t have firm feelings on whether it’s right or wrong. I don’t really think it’s a moral issue. But, if we do it someday, it won’t be so that I can avoid learning ALL I need to know to properly care for her naturally beautiful hair texture. And it certainly won’t be so that I don’t have to think about our differences.

I’m glad I was reminded that it doesn’t honor Hope when I pretend we aren’t different. Because we are. And most of the time, I remember that that is something to celebrate! I don’t need us to be the same. I don’t want us to be the same.

And besides, what does flesh and blood and DNA know about love, anyway?


Amada Kolman

Amanda lives in Canon City, Colorado with her husband Loren where he serves as the Young Life area director. She is a stay-at-home mom to three fabulous kids, all adopted, and all girls, which means she also spends a lot of time sweeping up glitter. Recently, she has begun serving as the team leader for YoungLives, Young Life’s ministry to teen moms. She blogs whenever the mood hits about adoption, ministry, and raising girls.

Yes, I’m an adoptive mother. No, I’m not a saint.

Important to realize, we adopt not because we are rescuers. No, we adopt because we are the rescued…
David Platt

We went to dinner on Monday night, and an all too common scene took place. One of the waitresses stopped by our table and said, “The owner said you guys adopted him. That’s awesome.” At first I wasn’t bothered. I just smiled, told her that he’d been home 17 months and that he was from Ethiopia. Then I mentioned that we have a little girl in Ethiopia who will hopefully be home in a few months. She responded with, “Oh you guys are such nice people. What a wonderful thing you did.” I smiled and said my usual response, “He is a blessing to us. ” But she wouldn’t stop. Over and over she said, “you’re just wonderful people…. what a nice thing to do!” Then she proceeded to just stand there and stare at us for awhile. I don’t know what she was hoping to see but it left us feeling a bit like we were on display at the zoo. She finally left, and I was left with the now familiar annoyed/frustrating feeling.

Here’s the thing. I’m not a saint. I’m a mother – just like any other mother in the world.

I am cranky in the morning before I have my cup of coffee.

Sometimes I get frustrated sometimes with my strong willed toddler and have to work hard to control my temper.

Sometimes the laundry gets piled up and there have been times when John comes out to tell me he’s out of underwear.

Sometimes I give Mareto candy and plop him in front of the TV just because I’m tired and I need a break.

I don’t love waking up at 3am with a teething child and sometimes (like last night) I cry while rocking him because it’s taking so long and I’m so tired.

Sometimes I get tired, or hungry, or selfish and I snap at my husband.

Sometimes I get mad at perfectly innocent waitresses who are just trying to be nice and understand our family that looks a bit different than most families.

Sometimes I just want to go out with my child and not be stared at by strangers and asked by the cashier if he’s “mine.”


I feel incredible grateful for the gift of my child. Full arms are better than empty arms any time of the day… or night.

I look at the tiny shirts and pants I fold and think of how long I waited for this and feel so much love for my little man who creates impossible stains on his clothes.

I enjoy morning snuggles and hugs – pre or post coffee.

I struggle with maintaining consistency in Mareto’s training and discipline because he is so darn cute and I just want to give in to all his wants.

I miss him just a bit when I do get little mommy breaks and am so thankful to be with him again when my break is over.

I choose rocking him over leaving him in his crib because I love him and want to comfort him and meet his needs no matter how late it is or how tired I am.

I am thankful for my husband who is an incredible father and loves us so well.

I am so thankful that God chose adoption for our family.

Yep. I’m a mom, just like every other mom. I’m not perfect and I mess up daily. But at the end of every day I lay it all in the hands of my Father and ask him to make something beautiful out of my mistakes. I’m not “good.” I’m not doing a “nice thing.” I’m not a “rescuer.” I’m just a mom trying her hardest and leaving the rest up to God – praying that He’ll make up the difference… especially on days when the gap is incredibly large.


Lauren Casper

Lauren Casper has been married to her amazing husband, John, for 7 years. After enduring painful years of infertility and the loss of two babies, they embarked on the journey of adoption and brought their son Mareto home from Ethiopia in February 2011. They will be traveling soon to bring home their daughter from Ethiopia as well. Lauren has a passion for Africa, orphan care, adoption, infertility and pregnancy loss awareness, and writing. You can find her at her blog Traded Dreams.

My Find at Salvation Army

Today, I was heading to the grocery store, but I had a feeling Max wouldn’t do well. We had already been running errands for a little over an hour, so I decided instead to go to The Salvation Army to see if I could find any treasures. I was going to do a quick walk-through – maybe I would find a cool piece of furniture or some clothes for Max. I found something much more amazing.

This nice lady was helping me figure out the price for a play kitchen set. She looked familiar, but I didn’t really think much about it.

I went on my way to hunt some more.

As I was walking up and down the isles, I heard another worker say the nice lady’s name. It’s a unique, unforgetable name and it’s the name of the first birthmom we met when we were going though our adoption journey. It clicked and I realized why she looked so familiar. I made a bee-line for her.

January 2010 – A birthmom wanted to meet us. We found out that she was from the Gary area, but was in a rehab center in the town we live in.  She would be having her baby in here. This for sure was the baby God had for us! We met her and the meeting went really well. She had it narrowed down to us and another couple. We were her #1 pick. The counselor said, “Birthmoms almost always go with their first choice. It’s just to make sure that they made the right decision.” She didn’t pick us. That was a humbling experience and we would love to know the reason she went with the other couple, but we know that God had other plans.

I started jabbering at her. Understandably, she was looking at me kind of nervous. I told her my name and then I’m pretty sure I said something like, “Did you give a baby up for adoption?” Not real smooth…Then I told her my name again along with Wes’ name and she said, “Oh yeah! Wes!” I then remembered how much she loved Wes. She has good taste.

We just assumed that this uniquely-named, nice lady would move back to the Gary area. I’m so thankful that God allowed our paths to cross again.

We hugged. She told me about her little girl and how she gets pictures every 3 months…and this month is one of those months…and she’s checking her mail every day for those pictures. {Such a good reminder for me to be extra prompt with my pictures to Max’s birthmom.}

She gave me an update about her life and I could tell that she was proud. She has her other children back, she has a job and she has a house and I believe her.

I started to get all teary-eyed as I told her how humbling it was to not be chosen, but that we knew that God had a different plan for our family. I wasn’t teary-eyed because of the not-being-chosen-part but because I was holding in my arms the different plan that God had for us.

God wants me to pray for her. I just know it.

And I can’t wait to go back to The Salvation Army.


Abby Akers


Abby has been married to her college sweetheart, Wes, for 8 years. After 5 years of infertility, they began the journey of domestic adoption. Blessed with a (more than they had planned) open adoption experience, they were able to witness the birth of their first child, Max, in the summer of 2010. Wes and Abby are trusting God as he leads them in their relationship with Max’s birth family and as they journey through adoption number two. You can follow their story at Akers of Love.

Overthinking fundraising


Just the word can give me the chills. I picture overpriced wrapping paper and pizza kits, going door to door and begging family friends to help me go on my choir trip or get new softball uniforms.

Years later, I don’t really remember who bought the candy bars or candles or pizza kits I was selling though I remember where they got me.

But, raising funds—terms with a whole lot less chill factor, in my opinion—for an adoption is entirely different.

A private domestic adoption may cost around $20,000. An international adoption costs a whole lot more than that–$10,000-$25,000 more than that. I have a friend who spent $60,000 to bring their daughter home. There are simply not a lot of families who have that kind of money at their fingertips.

Enter…raising funds.

And, enter criticism.

If you can’t afford to adopt, you shouldn’t be doing it. You shouldn’t use a child to play on people’s sympathies to give you money. If you wouldn’t fundraise to buy a house or your car, you shouldn’t do it for an adoption either.

But, see, a child isn’t a house or a car. And, not having $20,000-$45,000 in a savings account doesn’t disqualify you as a good parent—thankfully. And, actually, I’d venture to say that most families raising funds for their adoptions are not standing on street corners with cans and a picture of a malnourished child wearing a tent sign saying, “Help bring my baby home.”

I give families raising funds for adoptions a lot of respect. Everywhere I go online, I’m finding families who have designed and are selling great t-shirts to raise funds. I’m finding moms who have learned a craft and are working hard when all is quiet in their homes at night to make them and list them online. I’m finding parents writing books, threading needlesmaking jewelry (and more and more jewelry), selling coffee, teaching a skill–in this case, Chinese!, becoming artists, selling items through The Sparrow Fund (there’s a program for fundraising families), gathering unwanted stuff to sell at massive yard sales, hosting giveaways for Kindle Fires, putting together big ole raffles, doing their best to somehow get closer to that money needed to grow their families through adoption.

And, I’m finding God providing.

These families aren’t playing on my sympathies and making me say, “Fine, already, take my money!” Instead, I’m saying, “I want to be a part of that family’s story. I want to play a part—albeit a small part—of God’s provision for that family.”

I read a post not long ago written by an adult adoptee criticizing adoption fundraising, criticizing adoption itself in a lot of ways. At one point, the author wrote specifically about fundraising with this:

Is it really so hard to see how that [fundraising] is using the child, your future child, for personal gain? Do what you have to do, but is doing it at the expense of your child’s privacy, and well-being, really how you want to begin your new family? What will it teach your child? Will it teach them that when you want something bad enough, it is acceptable to play on the compassion and sympathy of others to get what you want?

Is that really how parents want to begin their new families?


What will it teach their children?

It will teach their children that they did all they could to bring them home. It will teach their children that their being a part of their families was not a mistake. Families will recall to their children the late nights, the thank-you notes, the clicking away on the computer. And, they will tell their children how God provided through people—people who shopped with purpose and people who gave with purpose.

Count me in.


If you are a fundraising family, head over HERE to the original post on Kelly’s blog to link up your fundraising efforts. If you are looking for ideas or want to support other fundraising families, go there too and click around to see what these families are doing.


Kelly Raudenbush

Forever changed by our experience of being adopted and adopting, Kelly is a stay-at-home mom/manager to 4 children and a professional juggler, juggling her calling as wife and mother with her secondary callings (professional editing, WAGI, and serving adoptive families through The Sparrow Fund). You can learn more about their adoption story, how they’ve been changed, and what life for them looks like on their personal blog.

And, if you have a few seconds to spare, help them get to the Together for Adoption national conference in September by voting for their video entry HERE. No sign ups or sign ins and takes 2 seconds to vote for Video 4. You can vote once a day until the contest ends Saturday at noon.

What {my} faith looks like

Matt loves to surprise me, but not in a way that I appreciate. He’ll frequently come up to me and say, “Close your eyes and open your mouth,” so he can surprise me with a treat. I can’t stand it when he does this. It’s not that I think he’s going to put something gross in my mouth, it’s that I don’t know what to expect. Sweet? Salty? Spicy? Crunchy? Gooey? Small? Big?

So, instead of readily closing my eyes and opening wide, I close my eyes, then peek, then close my eyes again, then peek, then close. Then I open my mouth as little as possible and cringe as I await the mystery food.

Which leads him to say, “You don’t trust me.” And, I tell him I do. I do trust him. I just hate the unknown…not knowing what to expect…which makes it look like I don’t fully trust him.

In reflecting on our adoption journey to Miss L, I feel like that is a perfect picture of what my faith looked like. Cringing, cautious faith.

Faith that was caught off-guard by a God who clearly answered our prayers to lead us to a third child, if that was His will for our family.

Once we committed to moving forward with Miss L’s adoption…in faith…I still found myself guarding my heart and doubting it would or could all work out. Humanly speaking, there were a lot of reasons to be cautious and to doubt because no US adoption agency works with her country. I would have to figure out how to do an independent international adoption, so I immersed myself in researching immigration laws and adoption requirements and learning the US definition of orphan. I spent months gathering documents from the other side of the world.

Each potential road block I encountered along the way, He leveled. Every question, He answered. Every dark path, He illuminated. Each time I learned of a new requirement or necessary document, He provided it.

When it became clear that hiring a lawyer who specializes in US orphan immigration law would be a wise idea, he provided a the lawyer who had experience with this country. (No small task seeing as only a handful of adoptions from this country have ever even taken place.)

When it came time to get our visas and book our travel, He worked out the details and put us in touch with people who went above and beyond to help us.

When we were told to expect it to take one full week in-country to get her passport, He provided it the same day we applied for it…within hours.

When it seemed as if we’d be stuck in her country for a few extra days waiting for an open departing flight, He provided just enough seats on the plane to get us out ahead of schedule.

When we were waiting to pick up the results of her US-required medical exam, He provided a group of US adoptive parents in the waiting room who gave us important information on dealing with the US Consul@te.

When we arrived 15 minutes after the office closed to apply for her visa at the US Consulate, He provided kind officers who were more than happy to allow us in anyways.

When we expected to have to wait at least a week for her US visa to be approved because hers was such a unique case, He provided it in one day.

When it appeared like we would miss our flight back to the US due to insanely long and slow security lines, He provided an officer who noticed my tears stress and allowed us to move ahead in line to make our flight.

In more ways than I can list, His fingerprints were all over her adoption and our trip. And yet my faith seemed so small. So filled with doubt and uncertainty. Will it work out? What if they won’t issue her visa? What if we run into snags? What if our trip is longer than expected? What if? What if? What if?

Small faith cringing with each new call to trust and watch Him work.

So when people see our family or hear our story and say, I could never do it, my first thought is: Yes, you could. If God calls you to it, you can do it. I am proof that He doesn’t call only those with no fears, no doubts, and no worries. He doesn’t limit his blessings to only those who have unwavering, bold faith.

He calls and equips and blesses even those with weak faith. His grace covers our doubts. His strength enables us to walk through our fears.

I don’t look at either of our adoption journeys as displays of how strong my faith was or is. I look at them as displays of how strong my God is. It was His power that was on display for all to see. His power at work through a weak and worried woman who had just enough faith to take the next step.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
2 Corinthians 12:9



Stephanie’s 18 years in the classroom as a teacher is nothing compared to teaching three little ones at home full-time. Through their three little girls, God has revealed Himself most clearly to them. He not only worked a miracle in giving them their biological daughter, He continued to show Himself in a mighty way throughout adoption journeys in China and Bhutan that were anything but normal. You can read more about their family on their personal blog We Are Family.


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