Monday, April 28, 2014

A Journey To and Through Adoption

-This is a post written by my cousin and dear friend.  It's such a powerful example of God's real and powerful presence in our lives that I just have to share her story.  Hope you enjoy!
I was alone for a moment with my baby in a large Chinese city.  A thick haze from pollution and the tall buildings blocked my view of the sky as I sat on a curb watching the people shuffle past.  Most of the women on the street would stop to smile and speak to my baby.  The sights around me confirmed that I was farther away from home than I had ever been, but I felt peaceful. 
Anyone who knows me knows I am afraid of pretty much everything.  So for me to feel peace thousands of miles away from home meant that God was there with us.  It was not going to matter how scared I was or how many obstacles there were; my husband and I were going to get our daughter home.
I trace my desire to adopt back to high school when I learned about China’s one-child policy and the consequences of that policy—thousands of abandoned children.  I knew that someday I would help in some way.  I just didn’t know how.  My husband also felt a tug on his heart regarding orphans while he was in school.  It is amazing that God was preparing our hearts even when our immature minds were full of the frivolity of youth.
Many years and two biological children later, my husband and I revisited our feelings and thoughts on adoption and felt as if God was saying, “Now is the time!”
We were confident that we wanted this adoption to be led by God.  He showed us that a Chinese daughter with special needs was right for our family.  The adoption process is a long and often tedious “paper pregnancy.”  I procrastinated on paperwork and felt disconnected with the process in its early stages.  Our family was not matched with a specific child, so it was difficult to see the finish line.  But God was there tugging us along and helping us make all the deadlines.
The first page of my adoption journal reads, “To our precious child who we haven’t met or seen, yet have an overflowing love for.”  I wondered as I wrote these words who this little one was and how long would it be until I would see her face.  The adoption agency told us that after all of our paperwork was approved that it could take up to eight months or more to find our daughter.  God had different plans.
It was 11 o’clock at night when the phone rang.  I was asleep.  I never expected a call this early—we had only been waiting two months.  My husband rushed into the bedroom with the phone.  Our adoption manager, Liz, in Seattle was on the other end of the call.  “We think we have found your daughter, and she is beautiful.  We are emailing her file to you right now!”
First picture we saw of our sweet girl
I was excited but also apprehensive.  Would I be able to handle and adapt to her special need?  Would she love me?  Would she get along with my two biological daughters, ages eight and five?  How in the world was I going to fly on a plane for 24 hours?  Was I ready for a toddler in the house again?  A hundred questions and concerns were circling in my head.  But God took my concerns and refocused my heart.  After a time of prayer, God gave me this verse in Zephaniah:

“I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. 
 I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame. 
 At that time I will gather you; at that time I will bring you home.
I will give you honor and praise among all the peoples of the earth
 when I restore your fortunes before your very eyes, says the Lord.”
You see our daughter was abandoned in a shopping mall at one week old.  God was asking me to forget all of my concerns and selfishness and focus on our daughter.  She was scattered and needed a home.  God was going to use our family to restore her.
Our family and friends surrounded us with love, support and prayer as we prepared to make the trip to China.  When the day finally came, we were excited and nervous.
Sometimes figuring out God’s will for our lives can be tricky, and we are not sure which way to turn. However, there are times when you are resting in God’s will and you feel a peace that you are right where God wants you.  The latter is where my husband and I were the day we stepped on the plane for China.  We knew that God had prepared our daughter in our hearts, and we knew we had to gather her and bring her home.
We had decided to give our daughter an English name from our family.  We met her on January 20, 2014.  She was scared but brave.  She didn’t even cry.  After a good night’s rest and a big breakfast, she started to warm up to us.  Our daughter started smiling and becoming more animated on day two.  I knew that God was allowing her to open up to us. 
Our last day in China
China was a challenge for me.  I do not embrace new experiences.  The trip highlighted many of my weaknesses:  air travel, crowded stores (you can’t imagine the craziness of the Chinese Walmart), lack of sleep, having my patience stretched thin, public toilets with sanitation you’d never find in America, and being Hangry (a combination of hungry and angry).
But China gave us many new adoptive friends, and we had begun the process of bonding with our daughter.
As we arrived home with our baby girl amidst a record breaking ice storm, our hearts melted as we hugged all three of our girls at the same time.

The past few months have been both challenging and amazing.  I have watched as God has smoothed out the details in ways I could have never imagined.  I have watched with excitement as our new daughter has started to walk and learn to communicate.  
But most importantly, God seamlessly made us into a family, a true miracle.
My challenge for anyone reading this post:  
Ask yourself:  What is tugging at your heartstrings?  What is God asking you to do today?

God Bless!

A prayer for today-
Dear God,
Thank You for making me a part of Your family through Christ, my Lord and Savior.  I am so grateful for all the ways You work all things for good and Your glory and guide me with tugs on my heartstrings. 
Help me to know You and the plans You have for me this day and always.  I trust You to take care of all the details.  Show me exactly who You need me to love and how to do it in just the right ways. 
I pray for this precious family and all those touched by adoption.  May Your love continue to bless them with grace and peace that passes all understanding.  
In Jesus' name I pray,

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