Friday, October 5, 2007

The Adoption: How It All Began

Adopting a child has been the desire of our hearts for over 10 years now. Our names are Jarrod(35) and Anita(35). We have two biological children: one daughter who is almost 3 years old and a son who is nearing one. We had our first appointment to begin our home study four years ago when we found out that I was pregnant with our daughter and decided to put the adoption on hold for a while. It was clear that God had placed the desire to adopt in our hearts, but it just wasn't the right time.

Our daughter grew and captured our hearts, and then along came our son, who filled our home with more smiles and laughter. Once we had our newest addition into a nice sleeping routine, Jarrod and I once again felt that it was time to begin praying about and researching adoption. We know that it can take several years to bring our child home, and we didn’t want there to be too much time between our second and third child.

Since 4 years had passed between our first adoption "attempt" and now, we felt that we should research countries and agencies again. We had previously decided to use CCAI to adopt from China. They were so sincere and organized and seemed to have a great reputation in China as well. We began to research countries in July 2007. As we continued to pray and research, we found and fell in love with Taiwan. We are so happy that God moved us to research countries again! Everything about Taiwan adoption seems to be the perfect fit for us: the ability to choose foster care or an orphanage; the potential to meet the birth-giver and to have some health history for our child; the possibility that one day our child might be able to find their birth-giver if he so desires; the wonderful care and love that the children receive in Taiwan; the length of stay in country, which is less than most others; and the possibility of adopting a boy, since he will be closer in age to our youngest. All of these things, and mostly that God is leading us to Taiwan, made it the perfect choice for our family.

Great! By the end of July we had found our country. Now, where to find an agency? Next, we joined several incredible Yahoo! groups. Reading all of the member’s posts and suggestions regarding agencies was exciting. We began to call to request information packages. After receiving packets from two different agencies and speaking with them on the phone, we started to become quite frustrated. We had ruled out all of the other agencies with Taiwan programs for one reason or another. And the two from which we received packets just didn’t seem right for us. Continuing to pray about the situation, we “happened across” an agency called FFC (Families For Children) in Utah. We spoke with several different agency representatives on the phone and via email, and we read everything that we could find about them. Jarrod and I believe that we have finally found our agency! I can’t even begin to explain the feeling of relief.

Next, we began to think about how we would know for SURE when we should begin the process, and if we could even successfully raise three children. We are just beginning to get into the “swing of things” with our children. It truly would not be an issue for us to have a third child if all we wanted to do was get our children to adulthood by clothing them, feeding them, getting them from point A to point B, and educating them. However, Jarrod and I have decided to make it our highest goal to raise spiritual champions. Knowing that this is our goal, we had to have a plan and to be intentional about living it out. We are aware that the final outcome is up to the Lord, and our goal is His desire for them as well. However, we know that we have a responsibility to do our best to achieve the goal of raising godly children. It doesn’t usually happen by default. Thus, we would need to have quantity as well as quality individual and family time to devote to each of our children. Do we really have within us what it takes to achieve this awesome goal? After much prayer, God’s answer to us has repeatedly been to step out in faith, and He will provide for all of our needs. We continued to pray for God’s guidance……

On August 17th, I had a very interesting dream. We were living in Tennessee, there was a HUGE hurricane coming. We just felt that we should go to Baton Rouge to weather the storm (Jarrod's family lives there). The storm was HUGE and was due to hit all of the southeast, even Tennessee to some mild extent. It was, however, headed straight towards Louisiana. In the dream, someone that we know (who lives here in our home town) told me that they didn't know why we were going to Baton Rouge and that it just "didn't make sense" (since the hurricane would be passing right through Baton Rouge). We left anyway believing that we would be safe in Baton Rouge and feeling like God was directing us to go there. It was interesting because when we arrived at Jarrod's dad's house we could look out of his window and see the ocean. It was like we were in New Orleans. I remember that we were watching the weather channel to decide when it would be best to return to Tennessee and the hurricane was about to hit Baton Rouge when I was awakened. NOW.....I told Jarrod about the dream in detail when I awakened, because I thought that it was so strange. We lived in Charleston, SC for quite some time, and I don't remember ever having a hurricane dream while we lived there. I had not even heard about any hurricanes this year. Anyway, later Friday evening (same day as the dream), I spoke on the phone with the person from my dream about our adoption plans. This person doesn’t seem to be completely against our adopting, but I know that they don't see how it will happen financially since they know that we don't have an extra $25,000 to$30,000 available to pay for the adoption expenses. So during our discussion, they told me that they didn't see how we could adopt and it just "didn't make sense" how it could happen. The same thing that they said in the dream!! Late Friday night, I got online to see postings on the Adopting From Taiwan Yahoo! group about a category 4 typhoon (Taiwan's equivalent of hurricane) due to hit Taiwan that day! I posted that I would pray for Taiwan and for those in the adoption process. Just after I posted, the dream came back to me! The HURRICANE(Typhoon) was hitting Baton Rouge (Taiwan). It didn't make any sense that particular person what we are planning to do (at this point), but we went to the hurricane location anyway following God‘s leading! I told Jarrod about it, and we both got chills. I called a friend who is very grounded in the Word to make sure that I wasn't reading too much into it. She truly felt that it was a message from the Lord about our adopting from Taiwan. I know that some of you may find this strange, but we serve an awesome God who can speak to us in any way that He chooses. Nothing in the dream seemed to go against what God says in His Word, and actually supports His views. He loves orphans and knows that we are open to His leading, so it just makes sense that He would direct us to add our next little miracle to our family through the process of adoption.

Within the next few days, one of our dear friends reminded me of how Abraham had to leave his comfort zone, all that he had ever known, in order to follow the Lord. Abraham had to take one step at a time following God daily, even if it meant leaving the familiar. She then proceeded to tell me to take each next step until God "shuts the door". The very next day I received an email from someone on one of the Yahoo! groups. It was her first email to me. She shared the following: “My local social worker has always told me to pursue until the door is closed. If the door closes, it's not in God's plan.” (Thanks, Kaye!). And there we have it; another confirmation!

OK. Not that I didn’t hear God speaking loudly, but I just want to know that I know that we are hearing from God correctly. So I continued in prayer, this time asking for a specific “sign.” I love how God has this great sense of humor with me even when I keep asking and asking. I know, I know. How much MORE clear could He be?! Well…..

Jarrod and I were starting to fill out our application, even as I continued to ask for my sign. We were on the couch and for SOME reason Jarrod decided to change the TV channel to one that we have never watched before tonight, Discovery Home. I don’t even know what the show was, but within a minute of turning the channel, I hear him say, “you are NOT going to believe what I just saw! The host of this show was standing in front of a sign that said TAIWAN!” I was a bit skeptical thinking “were his contact lenses working well this late in the evening?” I am soooooo glad that we have a DVR. I said “QUICK, REWIND IT!” He did, and there it was ON A SIGN!!! (I know that God must have been chuckling and enjoying answering me in this way!) And not only did it say Taiwan, it said TAINAN, TAIWAN! (For those of you who don’t know, that is the orphanage location that we have felt led to go, which is called St. Lucy Center). The Discovery Home program was not being filmed in Taiwan, and it appeared to be some sort of landscaping/home show. Well, HERE’s Your Sign! Now, I had no more questions for the Lord. If I didn’t get it this time, there was no hope for me! *Lol*!!

God was even gracious enough to address every concern that I had during a Bible study that I attend on Thursdays, called BSF (Bible Study Fellowship International). My three concerns were: 1) Should we begin the adoption process to Taiwan now (Obviously He has already addressed this one very well!); 2) How are we going to pay for the adoption; and 3) Will we be safe traveling so far from home? Our teaching leader spoke Thursday morning and this is what she said: “God guides, God provides, and God protects His own!” WOW! God guides: He clearly guided us to take the first step of faith to begin the adoption process. He provides: He will provide for all of our needs in the process including financially. While we can’t currently “see” how this will happen with our physical eyes, He has confirmed it to be true. She also reminded us that God delights when we turn to Him for help just as I delight to give my child all that I can when they approach me asking for my help. But, unlike my own resources, God’s resources are unlimited. God protects His own: He will keep us safe during our travels.

Now, on to the timing. When should we begin this incredible process to bring our baby home? When should we mail the application and make it official? We were hoping that our next child could be around 2 years younger than our youngest. We learned that the wait for a healthy infant boy was steadily increasing in Taiwan. Then, on September 16th shortly after Jarrod left for work, I decided to check my email. Initially to my horror, I received an email announcing that Families For Children , the adoption agency, would be accepting applications until October 15th only, at which time they would place a moratorium on new applications for at least 6 months. Jarrod and I prayed during the day. By the end of the day, we knew in our hearts that the time is now! I called to set up meetings to interview social workers for our home study. We spent the next few weeks completing the FFC application packet, which included a letter of introduction from our family to the orphanage and possibly to the child’s birth-giver. We also created duplicate scrapbooks with approximately 15 photos of our home and family activities. On October 2, 2007, we were happy to announce that the application packet was on it’s way to FFC. After a brief scare that it had been lost, Laura confirmed that it was actually received by FFC today! We are currently awaiting their official approval in order to begin our home study. We celebrated tonight as a family! We are so excited to begin this awesome journey and look forward to getting to know many of you along the way!

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