Sunday, January 6, 2008

Our Journey to Adoption

There's going to be another little person in our family soon!

In case you haven't heard, we have decided to adopt. Some of you are probably surprised by this news, others have been hearing about it for months. We thought it might be good to catch everyone up as to how God has led us to this decision to adopt, and the process by which we decided to adopt domestically. It has been quite a journey, but we are excited to see what God is going to do in and through us in this adoption.

We have had a desire to adopt for several years now. We both love kids and hate the thought of children growing up without a family to love and protect them. We discussed adoption when we were newly married, and agreed that this was something we wanted to do someday. We were soon blessed in conceiving two wonderful sons and were planning on getting pregnant again soon, but God had different plans for us.

At church one Sunday night, we watched a video from Dennis Rainey's ministry, Family Life Today. This video was about God's call to to the church to take care of orphans (James 1:27) and encouraged churches to minister to these children by starting adoption/orphan ministries. We were both really moved by that video. We had read the Scriptures before that speak of taking care of orphans, but had never realized how strong of a command that is to Christians and the church. We also realized how adoption is such a beautiful picture of the Gospel . God adopts us (Romans 8:15) into His family as His children and He wants us to do the same with orphans. We were very convicted by these Scriptures, and began praying about when God would want us to adopt. We still desired to have biological children, but knew that God also wanted us to seriously consider adoption.

Several months passed until late Summer 2007. Due to a few different circumstances in our life, we felt very strongly that this was the right time for us to pursue adoption. We had always pictured ourselves adopting from an Asian country, and since we already had two boys and China has a great need for people to adopt girls, we started looking into a China adoption. We found a wonderful Christian adoption agency, America World, and sent in our application in August 2007. We were looking at a wait time of about two years, but we were still very excited about beginning the process.

About two weeks after we had sent in our China application, our plans were stalled. Stacie received a phone call from a family member who knew of a woman looking for a couple to adopt her baby. This really caught us off guard, but we told her we would be willing to think it over and pray about it. We spent the evening talking about it and praying over this decision. We decided we should at least offer to adopt this baby, and if it wasn't God's will for us to have him then she would choose someone else. This stalled our China adoption process, but we really felt like it was the right thing to do and we were willing to put the China adoption on hold while we waited for this woman's decision.

We waited several weeks before this mother made up her mind. Finally, she decided to go with another couple that was childless. After finding this out, we then spent a few months researching domestic adoption and comparing domestic vs. international to make sure China was the right path for us. In December 2007, we decided that China was what we should pursue and decided to proceed with the next round of paperwork. We spent one Thursday night filling out the next set of papers and writing out our first big check. This was going to be our first big financial commitment to this adoption and once we mailed it we were definitely going to move forward. We signed all the papers, wrote out the check, and packaged it all up in an envelope. We were going to mail it the next day. Stacie had two questions she wanted to ask the adoption agency before she mailed it, so she e-mailed them first thing in the morning. They never got back with her, which was very unusual. Since she also thought we were out of stamps, she didn't mail it that Friday. This was a special act of God's Providence because we learned some very important information that night. Stacie got an e-mail from someone Friday night who told her that the State Department was now saying China might be extending the wait to 3-5 years! We hadn't heard anything about this, so we didn't know whether or not to believe it at first. Luke spent the weekend researching this and found the rumor to be true. No one knows what China will do in the future, but it is rumored that the wait might get up to three years or more or that they might shut down international adoptions completely.

We were so thankful to learn this information before we mailed the check and paperwork! Had the adoption agency e-mailed Stacie back that morning we would have probably already mailed it. We didn't want to be wrapped up in an adoption process that could last several years, and we definitely didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on an adoption that may never happen. The Lord was definitely guiding our path.

After deciding against China, we started looking into adopting from Ethiopia. America World has a great program in Ethiopia, and there is a big need in that country. Currently there are over 5 million orphans in Ethiopia, mostly due to poverty. But Luke had also started reading about the huge need here in the USA for families to adopt minority infants. We knew that Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis (John Piper's church) has an adoption ministry that focuses specifically on adopting African-American and bi-racial babies to Christian families. We started reading more and more about this need and the work this church is doing. We spent a lot of time praying about this and finally decided domestic adoption was what we should pursue. We think that it makes a lot more sense for us to adopt here since there is so much need right here in our own state. With domestic adoption we also wouldn't have to travel internationally for an extended amount of time (not easy to do when you have small children). Once we made this decision everything seemed so simple. We had been going back and forth over all this for so long it was a huge relief to feel like something was finally going to happen! We are still supportive of international adoption, but domestic just made a lot more sense for us. We both feel peace that this decision is the right one for us.

Luke called the Micah Fund ministry at Bethlehem Baptist and they recommended Bethany Christian Services for an agency. Bethany has been great to work with so far. Here's the timeline and process for our adoption:

1) Pre-application (Completed and accepted!)

2) Formal application and spiritual assessment (Completed--should be accepted within 1-2 days.)

3)Begin home-study (This takes about 4-6 weeks, we should complete it sometime in Feb.)

4)Wait to be placed with a birthmother (This could happen immediately, or it could take several months.)

5)1-2 weeks after the baby is born, our agency sets a court date where the birthmother terminates her rights. After this the baby is legally in custody of our adoption agency, and we will be acting as foster parents.

6) During the next six months, our adoption agency will do a few home visits to make sure everything is going well. As long as everything is going well for us and the baby, they will set a new court date when the baby is six months old. This is when we officially become the baby's parents, and the baby's name is legally changed to what we have named him/her. We will then receive a birth certificate for the baby with our names on it, and we are completely done!

We have set up this blog to keep everyone informed of how everything is going, and specific needs you can pray for. We are so thankful for all our family and friends that have supported us so far and have prayed for us during this process. Here's some specific things you can be praying for over the next few weeks:

1) That the homestudy will go well. Thankfully, Luke doesn't start classes until the end of January so we should have extra time to work on all the papers.

2) That God will protect our baby during this whole process. It is exciting to think that our child could already be conceived and growing in the womb! Please pray for God's protection of this child and for the birthmother as she carries him/her.

3) That God will prepare us for any challenges we might face through this process.

We'll try to keep the blog updated as things progress. Please keep our family in your prayers as we begin this exciting journey!


Steve Burchett said...

Praise God for His timely and abundant grace. The privilege of not only joining you on the journey, but in God's providence shepherding you along the way, makes me well up in tears even as I type. Thank you for letting me sing with you.

"Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen" (Hebrews 13:20-21).

Jimmy Snowden said...

Luke and Stacie,
Kristal and I will definitely be praying for you. Thank you so much for exemplifying "Pure and undefiled religion."

Jimmy Snowden

Mr. Horton Sr. said...

Praise the Lord for the love He has placed in your heart to adopt. I pray the Lord's will for this situation and that He would direct your path in the decisions you all make. God Bless in Christ

Greg S. said...

Luke & Stacy,
Shawna & I rejoice with you as you truly reflect the Father's heart. If there's anything we can do to come alongside you in this endeavor, please allow us to serve you