After our U.S. government in their wisdom (see sarcasm) decided to close down Nepalese adoptions for an undetermined amount of time, Jessica and I felt...well, unsure. We weren't entirely certain what we should do next. But God is sovereign. God planned it so that as this fact was settling in and beginning to weigh heavy on us, we were to attend the Together for Adoption conference.
We were there by divine appointment. Along with getting to spend the weekend with some great friends (the Williams, Libby, Dr. Yeats...err, I mean John Mark), God had plans for us to hear certain things from certain people. For instance, I had no idea what "waiting" children were. Come to find out there are children in other countries waiting for parents. You may say, "Well no duh, Ryan", but only if you're a true child of the 80's. Seriously though, I thought we had to get on a waiting list to be approved and then a waiting list to be matched with kids and then wait to travel to get them. A lot of waiting. Not so. There are kids that are completely ready, waiting for parents.
I didn't want us to jump back into anything too quickly though. After all, we were just coming out of an 18 month broken relationship with Nepal. I didn't want these "waiting" children to be a rebound type of deal. We prayed and talked about whether God would have us adopt domestically, foster, foster to adopt, international, "waiting" children, or if anything at all. We were starting back at square one. After prayer and discussion we came to a decision. We still felt strongly drawn toward international adoption. And why would we get on a waiting list to adopt slightly younger children when there are children "waiting" for people to adopt them. My rational: they're waiting, we're waiting. Hmmm. Let's alleviate both our waits.
We began moving forward with the process to adopt waiting children. I say "we". Jessica did pretty much all of the work...as women should. Just kidding. The agency sent us a list (with pictures) of about 12-15 sets of siblings that were waiting in Ethiopia for parents. We looked through these pictures, asking for God's guidance. My salvation and security in Christ became more sweet (more cherished) during this process. Ephesians 1:4-6 says, "For He (the Father) chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will- to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One (Jesus) He (the Father) loves." In a nutshell God chose me! He chose to make ME His! Not because of ME, but because...well, I can't even fully express why! He chose to love me, in spite of me. Not because I'm lovable, but because He is Love.
That's all good and exciting, but now the connection. We had to choose. Jessica and I had the pleasure and the burden of choosing. Essentially by choosing one set of siblings, we didn't choose the other 20 something children that were waiting. Heartbreak. They are all so beautiful. They're kids. They're made in God's image. All of those kids need a home and a family. They all need to hear about God's love. All. Of. Them. I unapologetically hope you're kept awake at night with the burden to put actions to the faith and hope you claim. You may think me harsh for saying such things. You may say it's all well and good that y'all are doing that, but I shouldn't place my convictions on others. And to you I would remind that I can not convict. That is the Holy Spirit's work. And if you can walk away unchanged, unmoved, then okay. We can not.
James 1 tells us the religion that God deems as pure and faultless is to see after widows and orphans. There are many avenues this can be done: praying, giving, going, serving, and adopting. Across the street or across the world, we are commanded to minister to the least of these.
Now back to the program. Since we started looking at these pictures Jessica started falling in love with one particular group of siblings. I don't know exactly what she must have been thinking when she first told me she thought these were the ones. I know my first thought was: We're not adopting a sibling group, we're adopting a soccer team! I knew for certain that someone had snuck into my house at night and replaced my wife with some deranged look-a-like that was somehow a glutton for punishment and severely off her rocker. Four kids!?!? FOUR. The number has torn through my mind like a runaway train. It completely and utterly destroyed any coherent line of thought for days. And then it started to take root. And I began to consider it. And it started to sound...no, no, NO. It's crazy. There's no way. I prayed for God to protect the heart of my wife. "Lord," I said, "if You have other plans for these children and us please change her heart. Open other doors. Please don't let her be hurt again." All the while she fell more and more in love with these four children. And secretly, so did I.
On our way back from Louisiana we called our agency to ask some questions and get some clarification. Among the questions, we wanted to ask if we could know if there was anyone else interested in this particular soccer team, I mean sibling group. The words echoed in mind as she said that another family had requested them. In that moment I began to wonder how I would tell Jessica this news and I wished that I was someone else or somewhere else in the world, but I knew this was what I had to do. I had to be the one to break this heart-shattering news to my bride. As all of these things were swirling in my mind the agency worker continued. Then I realized she was saying something about having to tell the other family that she could not approve them. Something to do with income and that they already had children. My heart leapt with joy and at the same time hurt for that family's news. She said that we had already passed all the various requirements and if we were sure we wanted this set of siblings she would remove them from the website and send us their medical records and forty something pictures.
We said YES! Emphatically. Crazy. Don't know what all of this entails. Trying to grasp the concept of being parents. Mind racing. Weeping at the thought of some unforeseen thing standing in our way. Undeniably longing to get them quicker. So excited to begin this part of our lives. Grateful that God has led us to this point. Scared out of our minds. Reading everything we can get our hands on. Joyous occasion for celebration. Can't think. Can't breathe. Can't imagine how difficult the next few months of waiting will be.
She actually tried for a moment to talk us out of it. I say that tongue-in-cheek, but she did want to make sure we were aware of the difficulties involved, et cetera. I assured her that we had counted the cost and were as scared as we should be, not totally naive or overconfident, and we had in fact disposed of our rose-colored glasses back in the day. They don't go well with my red hair.
We can't disclose their names or pictures just yet, but it is one girl and three boys. Their ages range from 4-12. We should travel to Ethiopia in April for the first trip and again in (maybe) June to bring home our soccer team, OUR KIDS!
Thanks for reading.