It was almost a year ago in March 2018, that Sharon and children began talking about adopting again around the supper table. Comments like, “If we were to adopt again, this or that would have to happen.” I really thought it was just silly talk – as one of the huge adjustments for the children in coming from an orphanage is getting used to having less children around. Мне скучно (Mne skuchno) I am bored – seemed to be the most common expression spoken by all three for the first several months in our home, so much so that hearing almost had given Sharon and I a complex of inadequacy. How could they say that, much less feel it after all the fun things we were doing as a family! Our post placement worker had been quick to clarify the context of the expression being that of simply missing the sheer numbers of children. So honestly I thought this talk was just an extension of the desire to have more playmates.
My initial response had been to them that, “Once you are older and are married and if your spouse sees the merit of adoption, then at that point you can adopt all the children you want.” Sharon had obviously been won over by their longing and insistence early in the process because she began responding by telling the children, “That the only way a second adoption could happen is that dad would have to agree and feel it is the right thing for us to do as a family.” Then one evening during our family devotions Conor was praying and very spontaneously he prayed, “Dear God would you please give dad a vision like you gave mum so we can adopt more children?” My eyes flew open and I glanced over at Sharon. Her eyes were equally wide with surprise, and she was looking back at me and shaking her head as if to assure me of the absence of any collusion on her part. After that prayer I actually had made a really silly statement in reference to a sibling set that the children had known in their orphanage of origin. I had said, “If I could be guaranteed that we could bring those specific children home, then sure I would do it!” Frankly, I thought I was very safe in this comment because the Ukraine government requires with Canada that the adoptions are blind and you don’t know who you are getting until you get there, so from my perspective it was impossible and a very safe statement.
Well that certainly did not quench the desire or periodic requests to adopt again and finally I just said, “Okay, Enough! I do not want us to discuss this anymore, it is not feasible, or wise for us to attempt again.” Everyone respected my request and nothing more was said, Nothing! Except now what had been an outward struggle with family, became an inner torment, marked with waking up abruptly with thoughts of adoption, walks in our treed acreage wrestling with the Lord – “Come on Lord look at what we have done!” This struggle only intensified and really carried on for almost 6 months.
I was even gaining some support from peers with whom I confided in during this time. Support in the sense, as to why this was may not be a wise choice – though maybe a “good thing to do” – but still not wise or sensible for our family. Rationale like, “You have no idea how you might upset the children you have now, they are settling so well, and you have no idea what you might get (we did not know the first time either but no one seemed to remember that bit ). Echoes of the naysayers in the book Crazy Love come to mind.
This all finally came to a head September 30th 2018, when Pastor Garry was speaking from his sermon series Kingdom, Culture and Community. His message that morning was entitled “The Son Began to Reign.” Text Matthew 4:12-17. Garry said “He (Jesus) is King, but is He our King.” As Garry continued the Holy Spirit really began to challenge me to put my name into the statements Garry was making. Is Jesus really King of my life? – Rob’s life. Is Jesus really controlling the choices I make? Am I willing to invest into the kingdom of heaven by really allowing Jesus to be King of my life and govern the choices I make? Am I allowing Jesus to take charge of my conscience and manage my yes’s and my no’s? Am I willing to take a chance and sacrifice – a sacrifice that is not going to make sense – am I prepared to risk – it will cost me something, possibly a lot.
People around may look at me and say “what in the world has gotten in to you?” At this point it was impressed on me the need to repent of my self-control, and begin to make a conscious effort to allow Jesus to reign in my life and really govern my choices – my yes’s and my no’s – and instantly into my thoughts came these words, “Go ahead and apply for a building permit. Don’t worry about it, it will all work out.“ “What? Where is this coming from as it had nothing to do with anything that Garry was talking about and I had been listening very intently to his message! Well you see to put this in context one of my major objections I had to a second adoption, apart from the cost, is that though our home has adequate square footage, it currently did not have enough finished bedrooms. And part of our basement that stores my construction tools from a former life is supposed to be a bedroom. So to remove my tools requires storage such as a garage which we have always needed but it has never be financially feasible and certainly would not be if we were trying complete a second adoption. It was like the Lord was trying eliminate one of my objections.
I quickly brushed this foolishness aside to refocus on what Garry was saying but I wasn’t able rid myself of the thoughts of adopting again. I glanced down the row of seats beside me looking at our three lovely children Niamh, Conor and Declan . . . truly a blessing! “But Lord,” I thought, “Come on, haven’t we risked enough? Like this has been hard – like really – and to top this all off, to do this again could be the final nail in the coffin with some family relationships.” As some had not taken very kindly to the first one and to do a second certainly is not going to improve anything. Instantly the words of Luke 14:26 came to mind (bear in mind this is not a verse that I have committed to memory but all these words came to me and afterwards I had to look it up. “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters – yes even his own life – he cannot be my disciple.” It is important to understand that Jesus is speaking comparatively and is no way intending that we hate anyone, let alone members of our family. However, our love for Him (if we want to be a disciple) must be that much greater than our love for our family! WOW!!
Almost instantly my thoughts were flooded with the Lord asking me, “What have I done for you Rob – what have I done for you? Oh Lord you have given up all for me when you went you to the cross. Momentarily I let go of resistance and an overwhelming sense of peace flooded my heart with tears streaming down my cheeks, I said “Yes Lord, I will apply for the building permit and make room in the basement and You will work it all out.” But doubts and fears began to flood into my mind again with building tension, frustration and even some anger. “Lord, How can I trust You for maybe $75,000 – we still have $28,000 of additional outstanding debt of remaining expenses from the first go round that we still have not been able to deal with.” And again Garry exclaimed his closing rhetorical question, “What in the world has gotten into you?”
All this battle in my mind occurred in the last 4-5 minutes of the message. I left church that Sunday with a load lifted knowing what I needed to do – make room in my heart and home for a second sibling set. Did that mean the struggle was over? Not at all! Somehow I had to muster the courage to tell Sharon what the Lord was saying to my heart, that would be humbling. Why you ask? Because all the while I was the one who had the objections and reasons why this was not good idea. And now whose idea was it anyway? Sharon’s, no – Conor’s NO! It was and is the Lord’s!
“For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
Sharon said she knew something had changed in my heart that day. She didn’t say anything on our way home or pry for information. I have lived with my wife for enough years that she knows I will tell her when I am ready.
It would be 2 weeks before my Sunday School teaching rotation would allow me to join Sharon in our Adult Sunday School class. In the mean time we shared this new direction with our life group who were quick to come along side in prayerful support and encouragement. On October 14th 2018, as our Sunday School class facilitator was giving participants the opportunity to share prayer and praise items. I literally began to tremble in my seat being so strongly prompted to share what the Lord was speaking to our hearts. I started to share from my seat and finally had to stand in an attempt to settle my nerves as I reached out to our class to pray for confirmation of the Lord’s leading on our behalf. Interesting enough when individuals began to prayer on our behalf none of their prayers were for confirmation of direction but rather for provision and encouragement as if the course had already been set.
I began to feel strongly that we needed to get the ball rolling but to do that when it appeared that we would saddled with more debt was so unsettling! I reached out to Pastor Garry for help in my struggle and we met over lunch on Oct 30th 2018. I really cherish the insights he shared, “God would not ask us to add to our existing adopted family if such action would jeopardize the lives of Niamh, Conor and Declan, and also, that within the closed circle of our lives (Sharon and mine) discerning direction could be difficult.” The reason being that adoption of orphans is a good thing scripture makes that very clear James 1:27, but does that confirm that a second adoption; is truly God led, a mere sense of obligation, based on guilt or partner coercion? However, in the open community of our fellow church members God’s leading of others to be directly involved would be solid, irrefutable confirmation of His leading.
During my morning Bible reading following this meeting the Lord gave me a very clear image of Himself carrying the cross from Jerusalem to Calvary. It was such a very clear picture of his bruised and bloodied body as he walked for me and He said, “Rob each step was harder and not just because I knew what lay ahead, but because I was physically spent. But did I stop? No I kept going for you . . . all the way . . . for you! Finally, I stumbled and fell and the guards had to get Simon of Cyrene to carry the timbers. Yes I got up and followed, I went all the way for you Rob . . . all the way.” This personalization of Christ’s sacrifice for me was profound, convicting and motivating all at once . . . it was a message that with each step upon entering into a second adoption things will likely get harder but just as Jesus kept going for me until his work was finished . . . I want to keep going for Him until my work is finished!
During this period of time we had began communicating with our adoption agency getting some current pricing to begin budgeting. To start the process would require $1700 dollars up front application fee. I had repeatedly suggested to Sharon that we attempt to have the fee split with post-dated checks but she was resistant to such an idea. So November 4th 2018, I encouraged her to schedule our first meeting and the appointment was set for Friday November 16th 2018 from 0930 – 1130. Now that an official appointment had been scheduled, I felt now was the time to ask our Sunday School class to pray as Pastor Garry had suggested. On November 12th 2018, I asked the group to pray seeking the Lord’s direction in their own lives, to ask the Lord if He would be leading them to become involved in a second adoption, whether it be via prayer, financially or encouragement. I shared that we had our first appointment scheduled for Ukrainian Adoption Volume 2, and you know it was exactly 3 years and 3 weeks after initiating volume 1!
Talk about rallying the troops! Following that Sunday School class Sharon and I were inundated with individuals vying to assist – and a fundraising committee began to emerge with prompting only from the Lord and not from us. It was absolutely amazing!
In the days following I continued to suggest that we ask if we could pay the initial $1700 application fee in installments with post dated checks, called “nagging.” “No,” Sharon said “That looks bad, I don’t feel comfortable doing it that way.” “But where will the money come from?” I insisted. Sharon said she would pick up a couple of extra shifts over the next week or two.
It was about this time that I came across Francis Chan’s YouTube video of a rope illustration on a message from Phil 3:12-14. What a powerful illustration of prioritizing my life for what is important . . . what is really important. Jesus used this video as a further confirmation of the merit and need for me to focus on what is eternal and rather than on what is temporal. “. . . Forgetting what lies behind and forging ahead to lay hold of the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus,” Phil 3:14. Ukrainian Adoption Volume 2 is just that forging ahead – forgetting the mistakes of my past (all already forgiven by Jesus) and really making a concerted effort for eternity!
On the Wednesday November 14th 2018, just 2 days before our Friday appointment, I received a phone call to my office from Sharon. She usually calls me before she goes to work to say hi, bye and provide instruction for me, if needed. “I just picked up the mail,” she told me. “Well that’s good dear,” I said in a rather distracted manner – as I am guilty of trying carry on my work when Sharon calls. I thought I detected a note of excitement in her voice. “Guess what we got in the mail today?” I was puzzled but I don’t play guessing games very well. “I have no idea dear, why don’t you go ahead and tell me. I have another patient arriving shortly and I need to finish making notes on the one who just left.”
“Rob,” Sharon said as if speaking to a small child who was having trouble listening or maybe comprehending, “We got a cheque in the mail today for $1800! That’s the application fee, gas money to and from our appointment (before the recent hike in gas prices caused by the new carbon tax) and money for a lunch date! Let’s go for fish and chips after our appointment?” Wow! We were not expecting a check. Not at all. It seemed that God wanted to show us that He had this. Sure we could have spent it elsewhere, paying a bill, fixing something but to use it anywhere else would have been disobedient. We accepted it as a gift from a gracious and loving Savior and went to our appointment with the money safely in hand to pay our initial application fee.
The meeting with our agent went amazingly well and we had our fish and chip date and were just home in time to see the kids coming up the lane from getting off the school bus. I had asked Sharon if we could finish supper before discussing the outcome of, the meeting with the adoption agency. After the food was eaten and we were still sitting around the table, the kids couldn’t wait any longer. ‘Ok” I began, I’ve always been a bit long-winded as my wife and older kids often tease me about this failing, but on this occasion I got right to the point. ‘The meeting went well and we are adopting again!” Conor was sitting beside me and he just laid his head on my shoulder and started to cry, deep heart wrenching sobs! I gathered him unto my knee and held him close. Sharon was looking at me as if to say “Is he not happy about this? Has he changed his mind?” “What’s the matter Conor?” I asked, lifting up his chin and looking into his tear filled eyes “Are you not happy that we are doing this? I thought you wanted this too. Tell me what’s bothering you?” He hiccupped and sobbed and finally he was coherent enough to say “Why did God choose us first and not the others to be adopted?”
Wow! I wasn’t expecting that! I may not have had an answer to that question either if we hadn’t had a meeting earlier with our agent because one of the questions he asked was “How do your children feel about a second adoption?” It turns out that many adopted children, now that they have found a family, are not that keen to share mom and dad with more siblings, but our children know what it’s like to not have a mom and dad and they wanted to share that blessing with others. Our children have big hearts, huge hearts and they have a love for Jesus that is expressed in positive actions. Whose idea was it anyway . . . it is His . . . Jesus idea!
Random pictures of our youngest children.
If you would like to help us with Adoption Volume 2, to provide a forever family for some more Ukrainian Orphans, click on the preceding link.