Monday, February 16, 2009

Adoption Update

Beth and Casey

Once we made the decision to adopt from Moldova, God provided many connections to this country. First, Andy’s law partner, Leigh O’Dell, worked with Anne Graham Lotz before returning to the legal field. She continues to help coordinate her revivals on a volunteer basis, so guess who was in Moldova last October? Leigh spent about one week there and made connections with a group of Christian ladies that we look forward to meeting. She also found a church for us to attend. She gave us a lot of information and pointers, because the revival took place in the capital city of Chisinau where we will also be staying.

Next, I began to teach conversational English at our church in Sept. Through Maxwell Air Force Base, a family was in Montgomery from Moldova. The husband was attending an officer training course for one year. The wife, Ala, has been attending English classes at our church. Her English is very good, and I have been able to get a lot of information and encouragement from her.

I learned of a family in Birmingham (less than 2 hours away) who adopted a sibling group of three in December of 07. I met with the mom, and we hit it off great! I hope to have more contact with this family. CAS also put me in touch with a family in Macon, GA that just adopted a little girl in Nov. of 08. This mom gave me so much good information and answered so many of my questions.

I am so truly grateful for these connections and for the time they have taken with me.

We also learned that there is an organization started by a member of our church that supports homes in Moldova for teenage girls. We hope to visit one of these homes when we visit.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Our Adoption Story

Our children, Dow and Beth, with Molly and Casey

Our journey began several years ago when Joy and Cole Portis adopted sweet little Samuel from China. God began to place a desire in my heart to adopt. At first I dismissed it just as a sweet idea that in theory was something to fantasize about, but the reality of it was “I” never could do it. God continued to plant this seed. Everywhere I turned, I was hearing adoption stories, facts about adoption, and pleas for help. The desire became stronger and stronger even to the point where I could just feel her at times. I felt strongly that we should adopt a little girl.

At this point, I approached Andy about the idea of adoption. While he had not felt this calling, he was open to praying about it. We shared the possibility of adopting with our two children, Dow and Beth, and asked them to join us in seeking God’s will. After two years or so, my desire was still there, but Andy nor I felt that God was giving us the go ahead. Then in April of 2008, Andy shared that if I still felt God’s guidance in this area, he felt led to begin the process. I immediately experienced peace about the decision and knew it was all in God’s perfect timing.

While I had researched agencies and countries to some extent previously, I began to pour every extra minute into online research. From the time I first had the desire to adopt, my mind immediately went to Guatemala. However, adoptions were closed with this country. I looked to China. Adopting from China would take so long, and we were not sure if we would meet all of their strict guidelines. The process for other countries seemed so difficult with requiring long in country stays or two trips. All of that just seemed so hard and of course, I was looking for “easy.” Andy had just returned from India on a mission trip in April 08. We thought surely this was where God was leading, but India wasn’t right either. Finding the right country was proving to be harder than we anticipated which was surprising.

I had read about a small Eastern European country called Moldova (never heard of it prior to this). When I discovered the adoption process would take two trips, I immediately closed that door. No way could we make two trips plus it would be so hard leaving her after the first. I was definitely looking for the “path of least resistance.” A week later, we received a letter from Anne Graham Lotz organization called AnGel Ministry. Anne was planning a Just Give Me Jesus revival in (you guessed it) Moldova! As far as I can remember, this was only the second time I had ever heard of this country. However, we sent a donation that day and failed to connect any dots.

The next day on my way home from Bible study, I received word from the Lord. In a strong but quiet voice the Lord simply said, “Moldova. No matter what it takes, I have a child for you in Moldova.” I thought my heart was going to stop. I almost pulled over right there on I-85 North! God’s direction was so clear, and I am so thankful because through a lot of doubts, I have returned to that day many times for affirmation. I didn’t get to speak with Andy until the next day about God’s directions (He was in LA with our pastor, Jay Wolf, whose daughter-in-law, Katherine, was undergoing brain surgery). When I did, he didn’t question me about the decision at all. He just trusted that I had heard from the Father!

I began to research agencies that worked with Moldova. As you can imagine, there were not a lot. I was looking at two: one in California and the other in North Carolina. After making contact with the agencies, I chose Carolina Adoption Services in NC. I spoke with the program director for Moldova and she was ready for another family. Everything began to fall into place.

Lifeline Children’s Services in Birmingham conducted our home study over the summer of 2008. While gathering information for our home study and completing forms, questions, etc. was time consuming, it is very doable. My advice is to do a little each day and stay organized. Since Moldova is a Hague Convention country, we were under new guidelines. Once our home study was completed and reviewed by Alabama State Dept. of Human Resources, we filed our I800 with NBC (National Benefits Center) in Sept. of 08. We received approval from NBC at the end of Jan. 09. We were ready for a referral!

A week after we received approval, we learned of an investigation of an official that worked in the area of international adoptions in Moldova. Due to this, international adoptions completed in the past couple of years were to be reviewed, and a temporary delay has been placed on families who are currently registered to adopt. This is an election year (elections will be held April 5th) and this may stem from a political struggle for power. At this point, we have no idea when we might get a referral. It is so reassuring to know that God is in charge of the situation, and we will adopt our daughter in His perfect timing.