In the Summer of 2013, we had just moved to Alabama, and we were in the middle of updating our home study for Ethiopia, when through an interesting series of events, we felt like God was leading us to move our adoption process to Haiti. In a lot of ways, it made perfect sense. Because of some changes in the Ethiopia process, our agency had been encouraging families to consider other countries and options for a while. Our hearts had been with Haiti since the earthquake in 2010. Neal had traveled to Haiti in 2012 on a mission trip, and we (and a group of friends) had partnered with Help One Now to build two houses in Haiti in 2012 and, again, in 2013. So, when we found out that Haiti was now an option for us, it made sense that we at least consider it.
So, we prayed about it over the course of several days, and we scheduled a phone call with the person who oversees Haiti adoptions at our agency. I still remember that phone call. We had dropped our three children off at Awana, and we were sitting in the car outside one of our favorite restaurants. As we talked with the Haiti coordinator, she explained that we would be a pilot family for our agency's Haiti program, if we were accepted, because Haiti's process had recently changed. And, since we would be one of the first families to go through the "new" process, there was a lot of uncertainty about the timeline for adoptions from Haiti. She laid out the timeline as best she could, which was hard for her, and for us, not having any real reference point at that time. But, the piece of the timeline that stuck in my mind was when she told us that we would be matched with a child, and from that point, that it could be 1-2 years until we could bring him home. My heart just sank.
I remember hanging up the phone with her, and we both just looked like, "Wow. That was a lot to process." And, as we began to talk through the call, I remember that we both felt that the Haiti part just felt RIGHT. And, there came a point in our conversation when we talked about the long amount of time we would need to wait after a referral to bring our child home. And, I remember finally looking at him and saying out loud, "I just don't think I can do that." And, I will never forget when he said, "Well. I think I can. So, it's up to you." And, it just sat right there. It's up to you.
Several people have asked me along the way if Neal feels the same way about adoption as I do. And, we will both tell you that the idea of adoption started with me. God spoke very clearly to me about it first. And, when I talked to Neal about it in the early stages, he did not feel the same. And, honestly, I was really okay with that. But, I asked him to pray about it and think about it. And, he did. And, every now and then, it would come up again. And, I just always knew that if God was calling me, He would call Neal, too. And, about 3-4 months later, that's exactly what happened. Since then, every step we have made in this process has been one we made together. I really don't think you can do it any other way. If one of us was dragging the other along, it just wouldn't work. It is much too hard of a process for that.
So, when he said that it was up to me, I knew there was no pressure. He wasn't trying to manipulate me or impress his desires on me. He was just telling me where he was at, and I was telling him where I was at. But, we needed to make a decision one way or the other. And, I needed to pray about it. We will both tell you that God is the reason we decided to adopt. So, I knew that He was the One whose opinion mattered the most. I really felt like I knew that the answer was Haiti. But, we had just had our hearts ripped out not even a year before when we lost a referral, and I was still grieving that loss. I had learned the hard way that we were going to get attached to this child, once we had a referral. And, I just couldn't fathom waiting so long to get him home. It honestly sounded like a deal-breaker to me.
So, I went to God and told Him that I didn't think I could do it. And, there have been very few times in my life where I felt like I prayed, and God IMMEDIATELY responded. But, that day, He did. Immediately, I felt the Holy Spirit say, "So, is this about you? Or, is this about orphans?" And, I knew that I had my answer. It didn't matter that I didn't think I could do this. All that mattered is that I was supposed to do this.
So, we switched our process to Haiti. What I had no way of knowing then was that the sweet little boy who our family is now matched with was just a few months old and already living in an orphanage. And, for the last few months, since I have seen his name matched with ours, and seen his face, and since we have held him in our arms, I have been replaying this conversation over and over again in my head. I cannot tell you the number of times that people have heard our story, listened to how long our wait has been, or heard that we have met him and had to leave him, and they have said, "I could never do that." And, honestly, I cannot describe to you the feeling that comes over me when I hear that. Because that was almost MY answer, too.
It is heartbreaking to me because I feel like somehow I feel like I have given people the impression that I am the one doing this. And, I am not. Or, that I have some superhuman strength to withstand hard things. And, I do not. Or, that somehow that walking away from a little boy who is meant to be my son was somehow easier for me than it would have been for them. It was not.
One of the things that most frightens me about our adoption process is that people will see US and not God. There is no way in the world that we would be IN the adoption process had it not been for God. There is no way that we would have STAYED in the adoption process had it not been for God. And, there is no way that we would be sitting in another country right now, separated from a preschool-aged boy we love, if it weren't for God. I hope that we never send the message that this is US.
The other thing that frightens me is that someone else might believe the lie of "I could never do that." It frightens me to think that if I had believed that lie that we would have missed out on this little boy who I now cannot imagine life without. But, it also frightens me to think of what YOU might be missing out on if you choose to make decisions based on what you think you can and cannot do. It terrifies me to think that children may sit in orphanages all over the world because people think they cannot do this. The bottom line is this: When we make decisions based on what WE can do, then WE get the glory. When we choose to do the things that are beyond us, then HE gets the glory. That's actually the plan.
A few days ago, I was talking with a friend who has heard our whole story, and is still (miraculously) pursuing adoption. And, she said, "I just have to ask you. Knowing everything you know now, as hard as your journey has been, would you do it all over again?" And, I told her what I am telling you now. The answer is "Yes." Are there parts that I wish I could have omitted? Are there times I wish it hadn't taken 6+ years? Do I sometimes wish ours had been the story of a crazy fast process? Yes. Yes. And, yes. But, that's not our story. That's not our path. And, somehow, it all somehow has led us to the boy we think was always meant to be our son.
So, for WEEKS this post has been churning in my head. And, this is what I hope you hear from me. Don't settle for only doing the things in life that you are sure you can do. If God is calling you to step out and do something that is beyond what you think you can do, trust Him and take that step. Because that is what His callings look like. They require faith. They require trust. They will require more of you than you have to give. Please don't say no because it looks like more than your heart can handle. And, please don't ever for a second think we have done any of this on our own.