Wednesday, June 29, 2011

The Cost of Adoption - Part 2

Wow!  One month has passed...whew!  What a busy one!  I cannot believe how fast our summer is going.  With 3 crazy kiddos, swimming lessons, Harvest Kids Camp, trips to Madison with Gabriel, a BUSY summer work schedule for Neal, and doing our Home Study...this month has been a WILD ride!  And, this girl is TIRED.  But, I thought about it tonight, and even though Neal is still at work as we speak, and I need to be working on our Home Study paperwork (that I have already worked on for two hours today!), I just felt God nudging me toward this blog.  He still has a story to tell through this process...and I will be faithful to tell it.

Part 2 of The Cost of Adoption could be called "The Provision."  We are only about 6 months into this process (CRAZY!), and God has already shown up in so many ways!  I have honestly "seen" God more in these past six months than probably at any other time in my walk with Him.  He has been SO real to us.  He has been SO faithful.  It's hard to even explain, and I am sure I won't do it justice.

As I shared with you all in the last post, a big part of the challenge for most people, and for us, in considering adoption is finances.  And, we knew that would be a place where God would HAVE to show up for us.  And, we believed that if we had faith, that He would do just that.  And, are you ready for it?  He HAS.  :)  For us, it started with doing our taxes this year.  This year, for whatever reason, we were SO on the ball.  We did them February-ish.  That's crazy early for us.  And, even crazier, we got back more money than we ever have before.  It was a "Dave-Ramsey-would-be-so-ridiculously-mad-about-this" amount of money.  We were REALLY surprised, and yes, for the fiscally responsible of you, we made some adjustments so that we will no longer be giving the government such a big loan every month for free.  :)  Happy?  But, we, we KNEW it was a God thing.  We were a couple of weeks into the adoption process, knew we needed to start putting away as much as possible, and KNEW that was why we got that money.  So, it went into the "adoption fund." 

Now, just so you know how it works, adoption costs a lot of least in my book. And, as a good friend told me when we were starting out, almost NO ONE who is called to adopt starts out with the money.  It's just not how it works, for most of us.  It's truly just a journey of faith for most people.  That said, I want you to understand that all of that money is not due up front or even at one time.  It's kind of like installments...not regular, systematic installments, because some are small and some are HUGE, and it honestly just seems like you are always writing checks for something or other.  But, I think it's easier that way because it's not like writing one ginormous check at one time.  That said, we paid our application fee several months back and that was our first "we're committed to this" check.  :)  It honestly felt pretty good.  We were being faithful to what we know God has called us to do, and we were officially on the journey.  The second payment, for us, was mailed in with our contracts.  This was more of a "sweat-a-little-while-you-write-the-check-we-are-REALLY-doing-this" kind of feeling (me, again - not Neal - I've told isn't his hang-up!).  We didn't know the exact amount until we had our orientation phone call.  The craziest part of that was that when they told us the amount, we hung up the phone, and Neal (who is NOT the resident number-cruncher), looked at me and said, "Wasn't that almost what our tax return was?"  And, I (resident number-cruncher), said, "I can't remember....maybe???"  (FYI - that was a RARE moment for us!).  So, being the resident number-cruncher that I am, I went and looked it all up.  And, you know what?  HE WAS RIGHT.  Our tax return was a little less than $100 off what we needed for that first big payment.  It was AMAZING.  I cannot even describe to you what a faith builder that was for me.  God provided just as we knew that He was telling us He would.  But, to SEE it was AMAZING. 

Next birthday!  I was blessed to see a special friend of mine on my birthday, and when I saw her, she handed me two cards.  Assuming they were for my birthday, I said "thank you" and threw them in my purse to read later (not my usual habit - but she gave them to me in passing, I promise!).  When I got home, I pulled them out, and that's really the first time that I realized there were two.  The first one I opened was addressed to me, and it was a birthday card.  Sweet friend!  As I looked at the second one, I noticed it wasn't addressed to me, but to our family.  As I opened the card, a check fell out.  And, as I started to read, the tears started to POUR.  My sweet friend wrote in this beautiful card about how she and her husband had received their tax return this year.  And, they went to God and prayed and asked Him what they should do with the money.  And, HE directed them to give their money to us.  I was BLOWN AWAY.  No words.  I called Neal on the phone and start reading the card to him...I was BAWLING through most of it.  Blubbering.  It was ridiculous.  He probably understood none of it.  But, it was an amazing moment for both of us, but even more so, for me.  Remember, money is MY thing.  It's MY obstacle.  And, as one of my dearest friends pointed out, He chose to show up financially on my birthday.  What a SWEET God I serve!  I am blown away not only by the generosity of my friend and her husband.  I am blown away that they got their tax return back from the government and took it and placed it in God's hands and asked HIM where HE would have them spend it.  But, here's the kicker, the part that this Dave Ramsey nerd TOTALLY got on this day was that the amount that they chose to give us was the SAME EXACT AMOUNT as our application fee.  BLOWN AWAY.  Here we are, at this point, almost one-fourth of the adoption costs have been paid, and only about $100 of what has gone out of our bank accounts was there when we started this process. 

He IS Jehovah Jireh - God the Provider.  Make no mistake about it.

Now, we are in the middle of the Home Study.  It's what our Agency Caseworker calls "the sprint."  And, I am SO not a runner.  And, NOT being a runner, that little analogy didn't sound like fun.  And, honestly, this last month has been EXHAUSTING.  I jokingly told Neal the other day that I know that a lot of people (me included) worry about the money when they are considering adoption, but if they even had a CLUE how time-intensive it was, they would run for the hills!  So, this has brought me to a new place in my dependence upon God.  Frankly, I am exhausted in almost every possible way...spiritually, emotionally, has been incredibly draining for both of us.  And, because Satan is SO sneaky like that, the "other" usual demands on our time (kids, work, church, illnesses, etc.) have intensified in the last month.  ALL three of our kids have had the strangest illnesses.  Gabriel's mostly relating to weird things going on with his procedures.  The girls have both had just really WEIRD stuff.  The kind that makes your pediatrician shake his head and say "I don't really know what it is...."  One is sick in bed right now as I type.  But you know what?  Satan LOVES distraction, and he can create plenty of them.  It's the thing I think that he does best for those of us who are committed to God.  But, what he doesn't understand and, I am sure, cannot wrap his warped little mind around is that all that he is stripping away from us and all that he is throwing at us are only INCREASING our need for God.  And, as a very wise friend reminded me the other day, in some of our hardest moments God even allows us to be stripped of our strength because by doing that, we have to DAILY depend on Him to be the strength that propels us forward.  And, while I said that if those considering adoption would run for the hills if they knew the demands on our time, I have to say that I have learned that if you are running, it's always better to be running TOWARD God than away.  THAT I know! 

I am definitely in a place where I really covet your prayers.  As soon as I am done with this blog, it's back to paperwork for me.  Neal still isn't home from work, but when he gets home, he will also have some to do before he goes to bed.  But, last week, when I was feeling SO overwhelmed and SO tired, the Holy Spirit repeatedly brought to my mind this passage in the Bible.  It's a passage where the Israelites have been attacked by the Amalekites and have gone to battle with them...

"So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.  As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.  When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it.  Aaron and Hur held his hands up -- one on one side, one on the other -- so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword."  - Exodus 17:10-13

I have shared this passage with some of you already.  Before I even finished sharing it with a friend a few days ago, she said, "I can hold up your hands, girl."  And, let me say, I share this passage not because I am ASKING you to do this.  I share it because I already FEEL you doing this.  Thank you for holding up my hands.  Thanks for praying for us.  We feel it.  Thank you so much for walking with us on this journey. 

By HIS strength,