Thursday, February 26, 2009

And the Answer Is...





We are actually not leaning toward an infant adoption.

We are seriously praying about adopting an 8 1/2 year old girl and possibly her 5 year old sister!!!!

Yes, God has been strreeeeeeeetching our hearts wide open.

It took us a while to get to this place of openness to God. And by us, I mean me, mostly. I was determined this time around to adopt a newborn here in the US or an infant under 12 months of age, through international adoption. I told this to God, my husband, my parents and my friends.

Jumping into first time parenthood with a talking and running and opinionated little person had been quite a shock and challenge. I felt that adopting an infant would allow me to ease a bit more into parenthood-- in the sense that the child would be stationary and unable to talk back. :) We would also get to start the bonding process at an earlier stage and enjoy witnessing the first steps, first tooth, first word, etc. - things we missed with Noelle. I had convinced myself that newborn or infant adoption was the way to go.

Then late last fall I happened upon an adoption agency's Waiting Child Photolisting (pictures and descriptions of special needs and / or older kids needing parents - the "type" of children that are typically more difficult to find homes for). On a few of my yahoo groups, the theme seemed to be parents talking about adopting "waiting children". It had never really entered my mind. Since I had no interest in an older child, nor did we feel led or able to adopt a child with more severe medical problems, that adoption path was not even on my radar screen.

But I began to think about it. I started toying around with the idea. I became curious...

So one day I requested permission to view the Taiwan waiting children on one of our 'top 3 agency choices' website. I scanned the page and saw 2 precious sisters, a 6 month old baby and her 7 year old sister, that immediately grabbed my heart. They were in Taiwan (cool) and one of the girls was a little baby (double cool)! I shared the info with Eric, my parents and a couple close friends. I contacted the agency and we received their files to review. For a few weeks we prayed diligently about these little gals and whether we should jump ahead of our original schedule and pursue their adoption.

The fascinating part of this whole scenario was that the little girl who constantly popped into my mind's eye was NOT the cute fuzzy-headed baby, but the 7 year old girl. The more I prayed, the more I felt drawn to her and begun to imagine a life with her. It was exciting and scary all at the same time. I questioned myself and God but couldn't get her out of my mind or heart. God was beginning to open my heart toward a new path - and a different child - than what I had envisioned for myself. And He was beginning to stretch my idea of faith in Him.

Ultimately, Eric and I came to the conclusion that we were not able to move forward to pursue their adoption. We committed to pray for them, however, until we knew they had a family. (Just a few weeks later another family moved forward to adopt them!)

Since then, I have begun reading books and articles about adopting older children. I joined the Adopting Older Kids yahoo group (great resource and wonderful people), and started talking with parents who have gone down this road. I also signed up to view photolistings with several agencies. More importantly, Eric and I continued to pray for God's leading, offering ourselves to Him as parents to ANY child He should chose to bring into our family.

And this is how I found 8 year old "her". She was added late December (?) to that original photolisting I mentioned above. She actually has some brothers and a sister (they can all be adopted separately as they are living in separate foster homes), but as before, HERS was the face that jumped out at me and grabbed my heart.

This time I hesitated at telling Eric or anyone else. I knew we were now waiting for the house to sell before starting our home study. I didn't want to rush ahead and get emotionally attached. I didn't request her file. I just kept it all to myself and prayed.

After a few weeks of "her" remaining on my heart, I finally told Eric about her. I explained that I felt a strong pull towards this girl, in spite of the challenge that adopting her would bring into our lives. The more I prayed, the more of a connection I felt to her. Eric pleasantly surprised me. He was very open to the idea that God could be using me to find our next child, and just maybe it was "her".

So that was several weeks ago. Now Eric and I are praying together about this little gal. We are praying to receive confirmation to go ahead with her adoption. We are even praying about her younger sister, who we only recently discovered is also available for adoption.

We realize that adopting an older child will likely bring about challenges larger than we have ever faced. But if God is opening the door to a different kind of family, one that includes older children, then we say "Yes" to His vision. We will continue to walk this path - pray for our house to sell soon, get our home study done, and apply with the agency to adopt "her" (if she is still available at that time) and maybe her younger sister - unless God clearly halts us. We are leaving the details in His very capable hands.

Probably what has been the strongest confirmation for me to adopt an older child is an insight I received recently. One morning after spending time in Bible study and prayer, I was in the bathroom getting ready for the day. This realization came to me:

Whenever I've had doubts, fears and hesitation in adopting "her", those were the days I hadn't spent much time praying and meditating in the Word, times when I was feeling more distant from God. Conversely, the days I have good fellowship with my Lord and am living in His spirit, are the days I feel excited and up for the challenges of bringing an older girl into our family.

Wow! That hit me hard.

~When I am close to God, He helps me see I can take hold of BIG dreams "with Him".
~When I am further from God, doubts and fears rule my mind and I want to "play it safe", or even run away.

Playing it safe may be the easier route, but when it comes right down to it, I'd rather stick close to God and see what adventures He has in store. Besides, I'm used to adventure. Life being married to a pastor has been anything but slow, dull or predictable. Our road together is marked with challenges, difficulties, even heartache. But what stands out most in my mind are the tremendous blessings our Heavenly Father so graciously gives. I have told Eric on different occasions that I wish things would just be normal and boring from time to time. But when it comes right down to it, I chose the "heavenly surprises" God likes to bring us over "boring" any day!

How 'bout YOU? Will YOU be the kind of person God can take on an amazing ride? Who's with me?!?

From here, I struggle with how to close this post. I've come back to the computer half a dozen times trying to "finish" the story, but I just can't seem to come up with a good ending. Maybe that's because our story is unfinished - the story of finding our next child, and the story of my journey with Christ. So, I'll just walk out the path ...and see where God takes us!~~~

**July 2009 UPDATE**
I removed all references using this little girls initials. For now she will be referred to as "her" (or maybe "Claire"...though it's not official yet).


amorisa said...

Wow! How exciting Jen! What a journey you continue on. I will be in prayer with you about these precious girls. Your story is so uplifting and encouraging.
God is great.

laranou said...

Wow! We met you all in the KC area through AWAA and have followed your blog from adoption through your move. We just arrived home a little over a month ago with our 6 year old daughter. Older child adoption is quite the journey! But so very worth every exhausting moment! What ever plan God has for your family, He is preparing you for the child or children He will bring into your home. Congratulations and we'll continue to pray for His perfect time as it is revealed in your lives.

Angela said...

Congratulations guys! We are another AWAA family home just 3 months ago with our 4 1/2 year old daughter. Older child adoption has been an awesome experience for us and I know it will be for you too. Noticed in a previous post that you are Nazarene; we have that in common as well. We will enjoy following your journey to your new daughter(s)and wish you all the best. Angela

Wife of the Pres. said...

Wow!!! AMAZING, AWESOME, EXCITING!!! Can't wait to hear what God does next!!! Thanks so much for sharing! Would love to hear more about the new agency and/or how you accessed their waiting child list if you can share at some point.

Blessings in the next chapter of your AMAZING RIDE!!!

Sarah said...

Best wishes to you and your family as you pursue this waiting child. :)