Before we got around to adopting there were so many changes that happened in our lives and hearts. Initially I began to feel very uncomfortable with being so comfortable. I recognized this as God stirring in me, and waited for Him to reveal His plan not knowing how big exactly His ideas were. I felt Him begin to challenge me in my thinking and priorities. Where was my identity? In my beautiful home? My family, My garden?
Some of the flowers in my garden.
In my abilities? A career in Nursing that I’ve wanted since I was four years old? A husband who, to all intents and purposes, thought the sun shone out of my ears? (okay , so the last one may be a bit of an exaggeration).
Yes, I claimed to be following Jesus but what use was that if my relationship with Him didn’t make a difference in my life, let alone in the world? Where was I keeping the ‘treasure‘ that the Bible talks about ? I became restless and dissatisfied. This prepared my heart for the revelation that His plan was for us to adopt.
Rob has spoken a lot about how we came to adopt. I think he left off somewhere in November 2015 so I’m going to tell you some of what happened next.
I was driving to work in the Emergency Room one Sunday afternoon, listening to CHVN, our local radio station, playing quietly in the background. Praying, as I drove along the country roads to the hospital.
‘Jesus if this adoption is from You, I want You to bless it. If it is only our idea, I don’t want anything to do with it’. This is what I remember saying as I looked out through my windshield at the beautiful wintry sky with the sun streaming through the clouds. Right then a song started playing on the radio. I’d never heard it before but the words just burned into my heart, so relevant to our situation it felt chosen for that moment in time and my searching. I quickly grabbed my phone and pressed record as I was driving, I wanted to get a part of the words so I could look for it later on the internet. I didn’t know who the artist was or what the song was called, but the words had a profound effect on me. I started to cry as I was filled with a deep sense of worship and praise, and a total love for Jesus. How He cares for the least of these and I knew He was trusting us to do the same.
I couldn’t wait for my shift to end so I could get home to share this with Rob! I shared these lyrics with him: ‘He’s waiting on the doors of your hearts and homes to open’ and ‘Boys will be kings, Girls will be queens, wrapped in Your majesty, when we love the least of these’! God used these words to confirm His calling in our lives. I was going to be obedient whatever the cost!. This song by Audio Adrenaline ‘Kings and Queens’ became ‘our song’ throughout our whole adoption journey and beyond. On ‘bad’ days it helped refresh our spirits and center us again.
Even though this song came out after the Haiti disaster, I’d never heard it before that day. I believe God protected me from hearing it. He wanted it to be fresh and meaningful when I heard it for the first time: when He knew this daughter of His would be searching. When I asked Him: “‘Jesus if this adoption is from You, I want You to bless it’. My heart was open and prepared for His answer. I heard the lyrics for the first time at exactly the right time, when He knew that I would ask that very question on that very day and He could give me the answer in a way that would be heard.
Our initial thought on Adoption Volume. 1, was to adopt an older teen as we understood that they are the ones that are the most vulnerable and we really wanted another child. Our research had revealed that orphans ‘age out’ of the orphanage between 15 and 18 years of age, that coupled with less interest from adopting families (most families desire infants or young children) means that they are at highest risk of landing on the street. In the Ukraine that means these children without money, skills, homes or prospects are vulnerable to drug and sex trafficking. As we still had an 18-year-old still living at home, we also felt an older child might transition better and “fit” or feel attachment more easily. At that time siblings were not on our radar.
One day in late November, I said to Rob that if we could be done with a financial commitment he had for many years, we could do a sibling adoption. Later that week while sitting in church, I felt God prodding me again about adopting more than one child and I said to Rob on the way home that I think we are going about this the wrong way, that we need to step out in faith and trust God. To ‘step out of the boat’ so to speak. Rob listened and agreed. So we told our agency that siblings were now on our list. Three days later we picked up our mail in town and there was a letter confirming that the payment we had been making for almost 14 years no longer existed! The file was closed! Praise Jesus!! I repeated this over and over, while my husband sat in the driver’s seat and wept, tears falling down over the steering wheel and onto his lap as he sat there, unable to speak.
Christmas came and went and we welcomed 2016 with great excitement and anticipation and a little fear also. Our Home Study was set to start in late January and we hadn’t met our social worker yet. I made the mistake of looking up things like ‘What to expect in a home study’ on the internet. It’s a bit like what we jokingly refer to at work as ‘Google Nurse’, where someone comes to the ER thinking they have some awful disease because all their symptoms ‘match’ what they found online. This method of “home-diagnosing” unnecessarily creates much anxiety. What I found on my Google search, was enough to do the same. I’m sure there is some really good information out there but I didn’t find it on that first go around.
I was scared that our social worker would judge us for our faults and pick apart our lives. When we met her, (who I will call ‘M’), she was nothing like I imagined. She was gentle, honest, direct and fair. When we got to the talking and the difficult questions she said it was not so much about difficult and maybe even painful situations in our lives but how we came through them and out the other side. How we coped. I guess they want to know how a person handles the major stresses in life and to see how resilient one is before adding a potentially stressful adoption (which let’s face it, all adoptions are one way or another, even raising our own children was stressful at times, that’s reality). I guess God can even use our messes to His glory.
Throughout our Adoption Journey Volume. 1, I kept what I refer to as a ‘Prayer Journal’. In it I recorded my thoughts, what I felt God was speaking to me about, whether that was in the form of devotional readings, verses of scripture, visions or songs. Prayers and the answers to those prayers. Many of these journal entries are personal glimpses into my life. Please, as you read them, treat them with respect and dignity.
February 11th 2016 we met with Pastor Garry again and I was encouraged by that. He blessed us with saying that he noticed the spiritual growth in our lives. He said he sees us walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Not that we are in any way perfect, I hasten to add, and I don’t want to sound ‘preachy’ but Christianity is striving towards a goal. It’s a relationship with Jesus and a desire to follow Him in all walks of life. Another meeting with our social worker today too, and this was a difficult visit for me that brought back many painful memories and hard topics as I sought honesty and clarity about my life.
Here is an excerpt from my journal for this day, February 11th 2016…
Rob and I went for breakfast this morning in GT, a beggar stopped us in the street and asked for money, we walked on and ignored him. Seconds later God convicted me ‘If you won’t do this for the least of these’ ‘When I was hungry, did you feed Me?’ God please forgive me! I was wrong! This was my hearts cry! God did forgive me and give me another opportunity to reach out to that person. I went outside and offered to buy him breakfast.
Later that evening Rob expressed frustration with one of our older kids for taking one of his electrical cords and then leaving it outside in the snow, not returning it to the shed. Praise God for these things! He is preparing us for the difficult times with our new kids! Though a misplaced cord may be minor compared with what may come, I pray for my husband and encourage him. I told him the cord was a ‘thing’ and we need to see ‘things’ in the light of eternity. People as way more important… end of journal entry…
Another journal entry for February 22nd 2016…
I was praying tonight while in bed about something total unrelated to our adoption, when into my mind came like a video playing. I saw a young girl running up the stairs from our basement. As she ran past me she was laughing, and I stood in amazement by the island in our kitchen, as she ran to the stove. I knew it was present time as the stove was not our old junky white one but my stainless steel one that we’d just bought last October on sale. I couldn’t see her face but she had blond hair cut straight across at her shoulders. Her dress was baggy and looked too big for her. She looked about 8 or 9 years old. It was so real! She had stick thin arms and legs and was wearing sandals. There was more laughter in the basement and I thought it may have been Peter but I don’t know for sure as there sounded like more than one person down there…end of journal entry… Now here’s the crazy part!
The first time we saw our daughter Niamh was when we saw her picture above at the SDA office in Kyiv on December 5th 2016. See any similarities from what I’d written almost 10 months earlier?
Journal entry for February 23rd 2016…
‘He who brings out the starry host one by one and calls them each by name. Not one of them is missing… Isaiah 40 verse 26. In my devotions, God reminds me that His time and the way He looks at time is very different from mine. Why should we not proceed quickly with this adoption?. People got baptized immediately after believing in Jesus.
end of journal entry…
All of my devotions around this time seemed to be speaking about adoption to my heart. Its like God is pouring and bathing my heart in His word and His love for orphans.
Journal entry for March 3rd 2016…Thursday…
‘Lift up your eyes to the hills and look around you. Your sons gather and come to you. As surely as I live, declares the Lord, you will wear them all as ornaments. You will put them on as a bride’ Isaiah chapter 49 v.18.
end of journal entry…
Journal entry for March 14th 2016…Monday…
Another appointment with our social worker today. This time Rob was in the hot seat. I felt the meeting went well. It’s so hard to talk about failures. I know, I’d been in that same seat just a couple of weeks earlier. It’s difficult to continue to be honest and hope she won’t think bad of you. ‘M’ seemed really understanding. I guess she gets good at reading people in her job. I did feel frustrated though, she said we would need to re-do our criminal and police checks as it will probably take over a year yet. I know we still have lots to do in the house but I had hoped it would be sooner than that. Another year still just seems so long! I need to remember that – and this is difficult for me if I’m really trusting the Lord, then His timing will be perfect. Today we talked about ages and we said we would be ok with 5 years old to 15 years old as our age range. Hope that is wise? Last night in my devotions:
‘If you spend yourself on behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, them your light will rise in the darkness and your night become like the noon day. The Lord will guide you always, He will satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well watered garden, like a people whose waters never fail’… Isaiah chapter 58 verses 9-11.
WOW! Do I believe this? Really believe this?
end of journal entry…
Journal entry for March 15th 2016.
Yesterday the Dossier documents arrived and I printed them. It helps to be doing something. I find it difficult to be inactive. For the ‘Real Estate’ one I immediately thought of John G. I went in to the city this am and called ahead on my cell. He wasn’t in the office but he called me right back. He arranged a meeting at 1:00 pm. We met at his office and I explained what we needed and how it was to be worded. I was very sure that he was the person I needed to talk to. He is also an adoptive parent, a fact I didn’t know until we spoke. He told me that even though it will be hard, some days even difficult, some days even impossible, don’t give up! He also encouraged us that he would be praying for us! Isaiah 60 verse 4 says: ‘Lift up your eyes and look about you. All assemble and come to you, your sons come from afar and your daughters are carried on your arm. Then you will look and be radiant. Your heart will throb and swell with joy!
Tonight I started assembling the completed documents. Still need to get the second set of police checks done as the ones we have are only valid for six months. The just the blood work results and our tax assessments and then it will be ready to go!
end of Journal entry…
Journal entries for March 29th 2016-March 31st 2016.
Today was a bad day for me. I felt really stressed and discouraged. I thought I had all the paperwork almost completed for our dossier and now today, the 29th, I find out I need to have two of the letters re done. The wording is not quite correct for translation. It already took me a few days to get the bank and employer appointments set up. Don’t know why it should bother me, it’s only a minor delay in the whole scheme of things but it did. Maybe I’m just tired?
Today is Thursday and I feel better rested. We had the doctors visit on Tuesday past and it went well. Got the new bank letters yesterday and ordered the document we need from Land Titles. Met one of our daughters in town and she wants to come help us get the house finished. So many small things to do in regard to our renovations but we are getting there. I keep thinking of the words in the song, ‘Sin was strong but Jesus is stronger, Come let us worship Him’. Maybe I need to get myself refocused? Jesus orientated, not task orientated. This week has been busy! So much paperwork and outside influences pushing in and a very painful ear as well! I am reminded that He knows all my anxious thoughts, all the doubts, all the longings, all the plans.
end of journal entry… And End of Sharon’s Story Part One.