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Sharon and I began a journey to provide a forever family, for orphan children of the Ukraine, 3 years ago. Not because we don’t have children of our own, because we do; 9 in fact, plus their 8 wonderful partners and 11 grandchildren.
Yes we are grandparents and we have recently adopted 3 lovely children from the Ukraine.
Here is how it happened. A story that Sharon and I were inspired to live out as a result of:
- Jesus’ relentless love,
- A desire to increase our family by adoption
- a book authored by Francis Chan entitled, “Crazy Love,”
- an adoption story video, in which 3 young Ukrainian boys shared what it meant to them, to have a forever family,
- and Ukrainian orphan statistics that will break your heart:
1. There are over 100,000 orphans in Ukraine.
2. The older an orphan gets, the chances for his/her adoption drastically decrease.
3. Each year many orphans between 15 to 18-years-old leave the orphanages.
4. Most of these orphans have no one to turn to for help.
5. 10% of them will commit suicide after leaving the orphanage before their eighteenth birthday.
6. 60% of the girls will end up being trafficked into prostitution
7. 70% of the boys will enter a life of crime
8. Only 27% of these youth will find work
It was a typical cold January in Manitoba 2015, and our Care Group was deliberating on what direction to take next having just completed a series prior to Christmas. The study “Crazy Love” authored by Francis Chan was suggested – it was a unanimous YES – Who was Francis Chan and ‘Crazy Love’ sounded a little too loose for my liking. Seriously I thought my fellow Bible study folk were suffering cerebral frost bite.
My views quickly changed when Sharon and I bought our personal copy of the book. Francis challenges the reader to move beyond being merely lukewarm or living in mediocrity in the Christian faith. Francis’ premise is that believers should truly be ‘overwhelmed by the love lavished upon them by a relentless God,’ and respond to Him with the same relentless devotion. The study provoked considerable discussion and challenged our hearts. With the coming of summer our study group recessed only part way through the book.
Summer came on with its usual hectic pace. I was renovating the last 2 bedrooms on the second floor of our home in off time – a project that seemed to never end. At the end of August we ventured to Alberta to visit family. While there my sister Debbie showed us a video of a family who had adopted Ukrainian siblings. We were both touched deeply by the risk taken by the family to step out in faith to adopt. The testimony of the children sharing how much adoption meant to them brought us both to tears! We traveled home to Manitoba deeply moved – We had talked about adoption before, on and off over the years, but it seemed a rather remote and not a very likely possibility.
As our group resumed meeting in the fall of 2015 we continued through the topical study of “Crazy Love.” We arrived at chapter 8 where Francis initiates a discussion regarding the ‘The Profile of the Obsessed.’ The focus is being obsessed with Jesus – obsession Francis defines as ‘having the mind exclusively preoccupied with a single emotion or topic.‘ He teaches that the believer needs to be obsessed with Christ and to faithfully live out His words through; love for the kingdom, being risk takers for the kingdom, friends of all for the kingdom, crazy ones for the kingdom and his list goes on to encompass 12 separate facets.
The section “Crazy Ones” spoke profoundly to us as Francis shared about his burden to downsize and live simpler so he could spend less on himself and more on others – action motivated by a trip, Francis had taken to some impoverished regions in Africa. He noted that fellow believers and friends accused him of not being rational or fair to his family. Not one believer endorsed his actions or encouraged his attempt to minimize his attachment to this world and enhance his investment in the next.
It was at this point the person leading the study one evening challenged us with the question, “Has anyone here ever attempted something or thought of attempting something crazy for the Lord.” Sharon without hesitation blurted out, “Adopt an Orphan!” I was shocked at her public outburst but attempted to be supportive in the moment without displaying my surprise. Later that evening I responded to her spontaneity, “You are really serious about adopting aren’t you?” “Yes I am,” Sharon replied.
I was left pondering and sorting through the pieces of “Crazy Love”, the adoption video we viewed at my sisters earlier in the fall, and past discussions we had regarding adoption. I resolved that the adoption of an orphan is good thing, the apostle James writes, ‘Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress . . . ‘James 1:27. The apostle Paul refers to our relationship to Christ’s kingdom of one of “adoption.” Romans 3:23, Ephesians 1:5.
Though I was quite overwhelmed with what lay ahead I knew clearly that if this was really the direction the Lord would have us go, who was I to stand in the way (over the course of the next several months the Lord confirmed his calling to adopt repeatedly to me) and if it was not of the Lord it simply would not happen. It was only a few days later when I returned from work that I asked Sharon if she had contacted the adoption agency. She replied that she had not – at that point I simply encouraged her to make the initial appointment. Needless to say, Sharon did not need any further encouragement. From that day everything began to happen in a flurry! Oct 28th, 2015 was then our first meeting with our agency and initial adoption fees being paid! Deja vu, nearly 3 years later and we are here again . . . oops that slipped out.
From there mountains of paperwork needed completion including biographies, references, a home study with a social worker, police checks, immigration applications, medical examinations and adoption classes.
Sharon suggested that we do fund raising for our first adoption but at that time I felt strongly that if the Lord was asking us to pick up the yoke at this time then it was up to us to pick it up – so we did! At this the course was set. Sharon has some very amazing experiences to share with our readers and will do so in the days ahead.