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Commencing on January 9th of this year, our church began 14 days of prayer and fasting. Among other prayer requests, I sought more discipline and intimacy in my relationship with God. Although we still have 10 children at home, for the last couple of years, I have often struggled with lack of joy and passion in my life as well as a deeper connection with the Lord that would bring refreshing. I knew it was available because other people spoke about it and I had definitely experienced it in the past. I had been to the altar on numerous occasions seeking this, but to seemingly no avail. Yet, I know that God’s timing is perfect. However, I never considered my answer to this petition to come in the form of another adoption! During these 14 days, Pastor admonished us to look for “burning bushes” in our daily lives.
After waiting three weeks for confirmation as to whether our “burning bush” was going to continue to burn, I can safely say that God has clearly spoken to us to adopt a young girl from China. To be perfectly honest, I have not been particularly excited about this. I was absolutely certain that our adopting days were over and was beginning to see the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” as the youngest seven would be graduating high school this spring.
On January 11, I casually looked through an email list (unsolicited) of focus children for the month of January; sent from a ministry that advocates for special needs children. There was no picture, only the name “Sadie” and I thought the location said East Africa, not East Asia, as I impassively perused the list and went on about my business. Several days went by and I realized “Sadie” was constantly on my mind. (This in itself should have been a clue since I don’t seem to be able to remember anything for longer than 5 minutes!) I didn’t mention “Sadie” to Garry for 10 days because I knew what his response would be and I really did not want to consider another adoption. When I did share with him, what I thought God was speaking, his answer was much as I expected; “If we have to do paperwork for one, we should do it for two.” (That’s my husband, and everyone thinks I’m the crazy one!) At that point, I contacted “Sadie’s” social worker. Pleading with her to tell me we were too old and reminding her that we had both gone through cancer treatment! Unfazed, she was very excited that we might consider adopting Sadie. The staff who had met Sadie last summer was so impressed with her and disheartened they had not yet been able to find a family for her.
During the following week, God continued to confirm this call through His Word. On an almost daily basis, the following scriptures jumped off the pages of my Bible. Acts: 9:36, which speaks of Tabitha, (often referred to as Dorcas in other versions) meaning “gazelle”, as a woman known for her kind acts. Besides being part of a dance troupe and being described as lovely, graceful, and elegant, our Tabitha is described as always willing to give a helping hand. “Tabitha” is probably not a name I would have selected but since God has always named our children, I know that Tabitha is the name He has chosen for our daughter. Then I read Psalms 10: 14 & 18, “You won’t let them down: orphans won’t be orphans forever” and “Orphans get parents, the homeless get homes.”
In the meantime, the social worker was going to contact her China counterpart to see what the chances were of them approving us. By now, I was convinced that God was speaking, but still not sure I liked what He was saying. Next, I read in Genesis 24:50, in the account of Israel’s servant being sent to find a wife for Isaac. “Laban and Bethuel answered, ‘This is totally from God. We have no say in the matter, either yes or no. Rebekah is yours. Take her and let her be the wife of your master’s son, as God has made plain.’”I could no longer deny that God had made plain what He wanted us to do and our decision was made.
On the 1st of February, we received word from the Social Worker that we had been granted “unofficial” approval from China to turn in initial paperwork, even though we are a combined twenty one years older than their stated age limits for adopting special needs children and both have disqualifying health histories. This is truly unheard of from China. The social worker stated, “So, now the ball is in your court. God has opened the door!”
A very long time ago, we told God that we would take as many children as He chose to bring home and provide for. I just honestly thought that the ark had reached capacity. We essentially have no retirement, very little money in the bank, and we know that Garry’s major contract will be up in a year. But, we also know that God has never failed to sustain us and bless us beyond what we could think or imagine. Tabitha is said to be twelve and has a repaired cleft lip/palate but will surely require several more surgeries as well as extensive orthodontic work.
I think it is also important to state that God has more than answered my prayer request made during prayer and fasting by giving me grace to exercise more physical and spiritual discipline, draw closer to Him, and experience renewed passion and joy as we anticipate adding another daughter to our family of “18 “children. I sadly confess that my early reservations were purely selfish and a concern for my own comfort. Nevertheless, whenever I would consider that God might let us off the hook by virtue of China rejecting us, Tabitha’s little face immediately appeared in my mind, as well as the thought, “but what about her? What will happen to her?” It never failed to bring tears to my eyes and shame to my heart. There is great reward in knowing that God has ordained this adoption and is giving us the privilege of parenting this special child.
On the 17th of February, we received the official preapproval from China allowing us to actively pursue Tabitha’s adoption which is estimated to cost $25,000. Although this seems like a staggering amount of money, almost none of which we have, we have watched God miraculously provide nearly every dollar needed for our last eight adoptions as He has worked through the hearts of His people to rescue one more orphan child from a life of hopeless abandonment. We rest in the belief that we will witness this miracle once again. As a former Sunday School teacher once said, “God always pays for what He orders!” We covet your prayers as we watch and wait for God to supply the funds to bring Tabitha home and we tackle an almost insurmountable quantity of paperwork.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27 NIV
Thirty six years ago, to most onlookers, Garry, and I married on the rebound. We had both experienced infidelities in our first marriages and I had a two year old son, Erich. Having been raised in Central Ohio, a move to Atlanta took us to the Bible belt. Agreeing that we needed God in our new marriage, we immediately began attending a local church and Bible Study and were soon born-again. Our lives changed dramatically. Our daughter, Jennifer, was born on our first anniversary and shortly after, Garry sheepishly asked what I thought about adoption. Although this had always been a childhood dream of mine, we had never discussed it during our whirlwind courtship! Obviously, adoption, for us, would not be out of necessity to build our family, but rather a calling by God to build His family.
Our first three adoptions were from our local state agency where we adopted, Cary Paul, a seventeen month old little boy, with medical challenges, and David and Sharon, an eleven and nine year old brother and sister. We were thrilled the next year to add another biological son, Jeremiah, giving us six children by our 5th anniversary! Luke, was born five years later during which time, God had continued to bring children into our home for various reasons and lengths of time, but none to stay. Then he sent us Arunee, a lovely young Thai girl who needed a family. Believing our adopting days were behind us (eight was surely enough!), a “random” brochure in the mail made us aware of Vietnamese orphans. Thus, began our sojourn into international adoption as we brought home eight year old Bethany and six year old Benjamin, From day one, these children were a delight and a blessing and we were convinced that God had brought them to us as the “joy of our old age!” Little did we know that they were the “end of the beginning!”
Eight years later, in 2002, God renewed the call of adoption on our lives when we learned of two Vietnamese sisters whose opportunity for adoption would be gone forever, when the older sister turned fourteen. While we had always recognized God’s provision in our lives, it was at this point that His provision turned to the miraculous. Just prior to this, the purchasing company of our small and profitable vegetative management company went bankrupt taking our profits and employment with it. We had depleted our savings and were going into debt. Feeling as old as Abraham and Sarah, we were starting over. Yet, God confirmed this call for adoption through Exodus 3:11-12a, where Moses says to God, “’…who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?’ And God said, ‘certainly I will be with you.’” We chose to believe God and watched Him supernaturally bring in $38,000 in less than six months time to pay for Rachel and Rebekah’s adoptions. Subsequently, while our personal finances gradually improved, we could never have paid for six more adoptions, including two boys, Joshua and Caleb, from China, and Hannah, Abigail, Noah, and Nathaniel from Ethiopia, which brought our total number to eighteen. (The youngest seven are now seniors in HS.) A book could be written about the amazing ways in which God funded each of these adoptions and provided two separate additions to our home. We followed the principles George Muller set forth in his autobiography and put our total faith and trust in Him and not in natural circumstances. We believed we were not to borrow money nor solicit funds. In making God the source of our supply, we avoided the disappointment of unmet expectations and placed no person in an obligatory position. It also gave us “front row seats” to watch God move!
Garry and I have found that parenting is what gives us the most joy and fulfillment in life although we realize we have forfeited any “retirement,” financial or otherwise. We consider the satisfaction we receive through watching these children grow and fulfill their God-given potential an adequate reward. However, we do believe the “ark” has reached capacity! We never could have said that prior to the last four coming home, but God has been faithful to “give us the desires of our heart,” and we know that we can rely on His leading. We are humbled to be used in the lives of these children and to exhibit to the world God’s awesome power and faithfulness when we simply “trust and obey.”