Friday, January 28, 2011

Our Adoption Story - Part Three

I can remember heading into the Lifesong event feeling fairly nervous, truthfully. I didn't want to let my emotions get in between Ryan and I. I didn't want my emotions to run ahead of God. I knew I'd be hearing about adoption, desiring to adopt, and was fearful of where that would leave my heart. I prayed so hard that I would just give it all over to God.

And so the evening went.

We saw presentations regarding each of the work going on in the individual countries Lifesong is involved. We heard the stories of children whose lives were changed through the endless ways Lifesong "looks after orphans in their distress." It was incredibly moving and inspiring . . . but I was doing ok.

Then a couple stood up and shared their adoption testimony of how God led them to adopt two infants from Ethiopia: virtual twins (adopted together but not siblings). There wasn't anything particular they said moved me. But the entire time they spoke, all I could do was look at those two babies and think of the oodles of baby stuff we had sitting around our house, the huge need for adoptive families, my heart's desire to adopt and prayed that one day, God would move Ryan and I together to act.

A little later that evening, those who were advocates for specific countries within Africa spoke. But the part that seared my heart was a video showed about Ethiopia (you can see a similiar one here ) and its utter poverty and orphan crisis. Again, I watched myself look at the total need that exists straight in the face of all we'd be given. It was painful to compare the difference.

On the way up, we'd both said out loud if we were going to adopt internationally, Ethiopia was largely the only available choice for us but we didn't feel called there at that moment. It's not that I think it has to be this big divine moment, but it's also enough of its own journey, that we both needed to be peaceful about it.

But as I watched and sat there that entire night, this time felt different. It was as if God was telling me, "Here's where I can use you." So I prayed God would give me a patient heart and the grace to sit on my emotions.

It was actually the evening's close that spoke so much to me. The husband and wife from FFH sang for us that night. And as they shared, God spoke to me. They had been through their own time of waiting and unknowns. They had learn their own journey of God's sufficiency. They had experienced their own brokenness . . .and the fruits that came as a result. In fact, I posted two of their songs here.

Every song they sang, seared me a little deeper. It was as if God was showing me my own journey of the past year and a half. He was showing me the beauty of being taught He is always more than enough. And in that night, I knew, that in the midst of my health, my dreams, and our family, if nothing else came from our journey, I would be ok because I had Him. He was my best. It wouldn't be an adoption. It wouldn't be fostering. It wouldn't be whatever "something" I wanted to do in His name. His best was Him.

Oh I still desired to adopt. Don't get me wrong. It was so painful in that moment to think God's best could be surrendering that dream. But that night, I was willing to, if that was God's best. Whether it meant moving forward or standing still, I wanted Him more. And I trusted Him with the hearts of both Ryan and I. It was painful . . . but it was peaceful.

As the night ended, it was all I could do to chit chat. Ryan had stopped and was talking with the couple who had adopted the two infants from Ethiopia and I wanted to avoid them. : ) But I stopped and talked (they were hard not to really like). In their eyes, all I could see was our baby and I just wanted to get upstairs and just be still. Yet Ryan kept talking . .. : )

We finally got upstairs and just looked at each other. I was refusing to speak because I didn't trust myself. I didn't want to corner him or pressure him. I wanted to hear what he'd thought of the night and was totally bracing myself to hear it was just one more great night to him and to be ok with that. But he kept pushing me to talk and finally I couldn't handle it and blurted out, "It's all I can do not to fly straight to Ethiopia and adopt two babies."

His mouth dropped and he just stared at me before he finally said, "me too."

Then he started talking. He said the moment God had really spoken to him was when JT Olsen, the founder of Both Hands project (something we hope to share much more about with you in the future) shared his own adoption testimony.

JT shared how his wife and children had always wanted to adopt but he'd been unwilling. Then one day he was up in their attic looking for something and came across all their old baby items. As he stared at each item, he was convicted how they already had everything they needed and that he had no real reason not to adopt. He went downstairs and told his wife he was finally willing.

Ryan said as he watched the couple whose testimony had touched me, that was all he could think as well. Especially as he also watched the video of the total need the exists in Ethiopia. The total poverty that children were being orphaned in was heartbreaking; on their own, they had little to no chance. He, too, felt like God was calling us to adopt from there.

The night was powerful, there isn't any other way to say it. We talked, we cried, we prayed. And yet what was so powerful was something else.

I told Ryan, "What is the most to absorb right now is that I feel totally free to pursue this."

For a year and a half, we'd had no real obstacle to pursue fostering other than the total weight of God's hand on our shoulder. That was gone and in its place was a total peace and excitement (in us both) to move forward.

Yet we also knew a huge mountain stood in our way: my health history and diagnosis. So together we prayed that if this was really of God, He would move all obstacles and pave the way for us to move forward.

The following morning was an awesome time of worship. It was still a time of surrender, though, in so many ways. For now it was both of our hearts desiring adoption and both of us having to trust God to be bigger than my health history. We were ready to move forward and not knowing if we'd have to die to this dream all over again.

As the group together sang "I surrender all," I couldn't sing by the second verse. And yet we did. We surrendered the dream and told God we were willing to move forward even if it meant heartbreak.

We went home that weekend and filled out our preapplication with All God's Children Internations (AGCI) -an incredible christian adoption agency that has been such a blessing to us.
There's what I think is a really neat story of God moving incredible mountains to bring us where we are today. Our preapplication took 2 1/2 months - incredibly longer than most other couples. But over and over God paved a way and spoke His promises to us. At some point, I'd love to share that with you. But frankly, I'm tired of writing about us. : )

It's my prayer you'll hear God in this story and not just a long Ryan and Amber saga. I was thinking last night if I could describe the biggest lesson God's taught me about adoption it isn't about a baby needing us or us needing a baby (although I'm sure there are those who could argue we don't need a baby at all ; ) ).

Adoption is all about us desperately needing Jesus; about me desperately needing Jesus. It's about a baby who desperately needs Jesus. It's about how much we've been given and praying our family can point others to the most beautiful adoption story there is. How God wants to write their own, or dare I say, your own, adoption story in the truest sense of its meaning.

And can I confess?

We're totally excited about a baby brother or sister at our house (biggest sister especially).


Q and H said...

Thanks for sharing Amber! I am always amazed at how God will open and close doors in our lives to show us His perfect will. There have been times when I too wanted to go through a different door, but God gently pushed me towards His and I'm so thankful. I pray he continues to guide you and be with you during this process and again we are so happy for you.

Mindy said...

So sweet! I loved hearing every part of your story. God is so faithful!

Carissa J. said...

Thank you so much, Amber, for sharing your story. It is truly a testimony of surrender, waiting on the Lord, and His leading. I was encouraged as I read it. May God continue to be glorified as He writes Part 4, 5, etc. of your story and as He reveals the rest of His plan for your adoption! Let me know if/when you have a Lifesong account set up.

mom Bahr said...

I am so inspired by your journey and by your hearts. We are prayerful for all of you, and trust God will open the doors and the way for you to bring His perfect angel(s) to your hearts and home. oceans of love, mom

Janell said...

Hey Amber! So excited for your family. We've been so blessed as we've journeyed through adoption. God is good.

Holli said...

I was directed to your blog by a friend of a friend who thought you went to church with my sister in-law. :) And if I read between the lines you probably do!
We also have twin girls. They are almost 17 months old and they were born in Ethiopia! :)
God is good!
Thank you for sharing your story - God's story and look forward to seeing your journey to your fourth child!
We will be praying!