Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The "Adoption Church"?

Several months ago a random person in the community asked one of my friends, "What is going on at Tunnel Hill First Baptist?  I heard everyone is adopting kids.  Are you adopting too?"  Through that conversation my church was some how labeled the "adoption church"!  Everyone is not adopting at Tunnel Hill First Baptist, (YET! HA!HA!).  But in our church from November 2009 to November 2010, five children were united with their Forever Families.  What in the world is going on?  Is it the latest fad?  Is it that we think adoption is a good idea?   I would say no.  I think what has happened at our church has been that we have caught a glimpse of God's heart for the orphan.  And we have also decided to say, with trembling hearts, "Ok Lord".  The story I want to share with you today is from one such family.  They are the Will's family and I am thankful to be able to post their testimony.
 We were not expecting to adopt. We hadn’t ever talked about it, I don’t think, at least not seriously. We have two wonderful children – in the order that I prayed for – we thought our little family was complete. Obviously He had other plans for us. Some people think we got the idea because of our church being so pro-adoption. That is not our case. I think God has a sense of humor and wanted to see if two 40 year olds could manage a newborn (I’m doing pretty well, but Bobby’s a year older than me and it shows). It’s awesome how God works things out.

Bobby and I were first asked on Easter Sunday, April 4th, of this year whether we would be interested in adopting a newborn. My immediate reaction was YES! Bobby’s was NO! And even though I don’t always easily lean the way Bobby does, I just let it go. He’ll tell you his story in just a few minutes, but I will say, I knew something was up because just a day or two after being approached about adoption he called me at work to ask if I’d heard anything else about the baby – the wheels were turning, and by Friday, April 9th, it was confirmed that we could indeed adopt this baby.

I believe God gives us signs. My first sign was that it was Easter Sunday when we were asked about adoption. My second sign was a picture on our church bulletin on April 11 (my 40th birthday) of a baby in an incubator holding its parent’s finger, and the verse was Matthew 15:28, “Your faith is great.” There was no special reason that I know of for that picture and verse to be on our bulletin that particular Sunday except for it to speak to us. My faith is not the strongest, in fact, it’s usually pretty weak, so I took two bulletins home and hung them in places so I would have to see them each day. I knew this baby was being placed into our family by God. Those two signs were my assurance that this definitely was a miracle from God – and maybe even a salve for the sadness still in my heart from losing two of the most precious people in my life - my Granny and my Granddaddy barely more than 6 months prior. Anna-Kate’s actual due date was Sep. 4th, one day prior to my Granny’s passing a year earlier. I don’t think Bobby saw these signs the same as I did, but God began working on his heart.

Once Bobby came around, (God got a hold of him while he was out in the pasture working. Bobby told God that he couldn’t do this adoption thing, and God replied that he (Bobby) couldn’t, but that HE (God) could!). I worried that he may find it difficult loving a child that isn’t his own, but that isn’t the case at all. You’d never know that I didn’t give birth to her. We love her exactly the same as our other kids as does the rest of our family.

I have a friend that would love to be a mother, but her husband will not consider adopting because he says he can’t love a child that isn’t his. To that I ask, “How can you not love a child who needs a family, or any child for that matter?” The Lord instructs us to care for the orphan. I never imagined that we’d actually be blessed by Him to adopt.

It’s easy to let Satan fill your head worrying about things like you’re not a good enough parent to adopt, or that the birth parents will change their minds, or that the judge will rule against you because you didn’t do everything correctly, or how can we pay for another child and another college fund! And it’s so easy to get discouraged when things get hairy. I know Satan is a liar, but I am human and I worry.

Every night before she arrived, I’d beg God to help me stay strong and faithful. When I’d get down, Bobby would say, “What about those bulletins you put up?” At night, I would cry in bed, & Whitney would hug me, remind me to pray, and tell me it was all going to work out. Every day at work I would read two verses I had taped to my computer - Rom. 12:12, “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” And Ps. 37:7, “Rest in Jehovah and wait patiently for Him. Do not fret…”

I can’t say that it’s better meeting the birth parents than not meeting them, but once we were chosen to adopt this baby we got to know each other at doctor visits. For months I was afraid for the birth mom’s health and the baby’s. And when she wanted to do everything but take care of herself and cooperate by going to the doctor, I’d pray and beg her to do the right thing for the baby.

On August 13, three weeks and 1 day before her due date, we were blessed to be in the delivery room when Anna-Kate was born. I cried just like I did when my other two were born, and Bobby teared up too. I got to cut the cord, hold her first, and room-in with her just like it was us having her. She is named Anna after my Granny, Barbara Anna, Bobby loves Kate as well as I do, and Evelyn was my Great-grandmother Williams’ first name.

Our family and friends have supported up wholeheartedly throughout our adoption, and we are so blessed to have such a wonderful church family, and a support group like the Levi Circle. Thanks to everyone who has prayed for us throughout these months!

Our journey with domestic adoption has been a heart-wrenching, emotional, happy one-day, sad the next, drama-filled, faith-testing battle that has ended in victory only by the grace of God. Because we didn’t say a whole lot about it, most everyone thought that once we made it past the 10 days the birth parents have to change their minds that things were final – but that’s far from the case. We didn’t go to court until Nov. 9th, a long way from the 3rd week of August when the birth parent’s rights were surrendered. It’s a very emotional and nerve-wracking journey.

My boss tells me all the time, “No good deed goes unpunished.” We had a hurdle to cross that most couples would not have had because we did what we thought was right, and went above and beyond to help the birth parents when they were in a dire situation, not knowing that it could cause us to lose our baby because of Georgia’s adoption laws. But again, God worked everything out. We didn’t have the crazy paperwork and other struggles that go along with trying to adopt internationally or through the DFACS system, but our journey was just as difficult; however, the reward is so worth all the struggle, worry, and tears. It reminds me of how God went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that we get to spend eternity with Him in heaven.

In my opinion, God could not have chosen a more precious baby than Anna-Kate to complete our family. We are truly blessed and give God all the praise.

Welcome Home Miss Anna-Kate!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Old Faithful


Psalm 57:10  For great is Your love, reaching to the heavens; Your FAITHFULNESS stretches to the sky!

Back in July we took a family road trip out west.  One of our stops was to see Old Faithful.  Did you know how that geiser got it's name?  It is very consistent.  It shoots scalding water 60-100ft in the air, every thirty minutes, faithfully!  It truly is amazing.  It is a testament to the unbelievable creation of our Lord, but what happened while we visited Old Faithful is even more miraculous.

In April 2010, we had revival at our church.  My precious sister-in-law sat in the back of the service.  She said she was praying and telling the Lord, "I know you want me to take care of orphans Lord.  I will do what you want me to.  I will adopt as many as you tell me to, but you will have to drop them in my lap". (Keep in mind she has three biological sons; Griffin 14, Stanton 11, and Lawson 9). I love the way she prayed.  Little did she know that the very next day, the answer to that prayer would be "dropped in her lap".  One on her friends is a foster parent.  They were fostering a little girl.  She called Mandi that very next morning and said that she knew who needed to adopt the little girl.  Mandi having no idea what was about to happen said, "Who?"  Her friend then proceeded to tell her that the Lord had put it on her heart, just the night before, that Mandi needed to adopt the little girl!  Mandi said ok!  She then called my brother-in-law, who was completely unaware about the prayer she had prayed.  She told him about the phone call.  He asked her if she wanted to adopt the little girl.  Mandi said yes.  And my dear brother-in-law said then do everything you can to get her!

Since the little girl was in foster care and Mandi and Davy weren't on a waiting list, they were told the only way they could adopt, would be if the mom signed her rights over directly to them.  Considering the mom was on the run, her own family didn't know where she was, and DFACS couldn't find her, we thought all hope was lost.  The biological grandmother left voice mails for the mother.  She told her to be at the lawyers office to sign the adoption papers.  No one knew if she received the messages, much less if she would show up.

Right after we witnessed the eruption of Old Faithful, we got a phone call from Mandi.  The biological mother showed up at the lawyers office, (from Texas), and signed the papers!  I could not control my emotions!  Ren's forever family day is August 25 and Milli Gaile Davis was added to our family, six days later.  So now we have two little girls running around!  We are overwhelmed by the Lord's love that reaches to the heavens and His faithfulness that stretches to the skies!

Milli and Mommy

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

How much did she cost?????

You would not believe how often I get this question.  Some people reading this may think that this question is offensive, but it has never offended me.  In fact, I love this question because the answer always points to the miraculous hand of our Lord.

First, let me answer this question from a practical and/or spiritual point of view.  How much did Ren cost?  She cost the same thing all my other kids have cost.  She cost time, effort, sleep, tears, and more than anything, she cost me my own selfishness.  What a small price to pay to be the mother of a little Chinese princess.  I heard a preacher on Moody Radio say that God's answer for selfishness, is to give us children.  I agree with that statement 100%.  I never knew how self centered my world was until Ty Griffin was born.  I am still amazed with every additional child, how much selfishness still remains in me.  I praise the Lord for all of my children and could never repay Him for the joy they bring.

Ok, now for the answer people really want.  How much did Ren cost????  Before I tell you, you have to watch the following video clip or you won't get part of my story.

When Tyson and I first began our adoption journey, we both held to the personal conviction that our adoption would be debt free.  We were determined that we would not get a loan, borrow money from our families, or use credit cards.  It is not that we think any of those things are wrong.  It was our way of saying, "Ok Lord, if this is what you want us to do, You will have to provide the money!"  Our very first payment was $500.  We paid that.  Our next payment was $6000.  We stopped.  We didn't have it. Please keep in mind that this was years before we were matched with Ren.  This was just the beginning of the paper work.  We told our social worker that when we had the money, we would pay.  She was aware of our debt free commitment.  Out of the blue, our social worker called and told us that she had an anonymous donor that wanted to pay $3000 of our payment.  She asked us if we would accept that?!@  We were blown away.  And if that wasn't enough, she called the next day and said the donor had decided to give us $4000.  Would that be ok?  Would that be ok??????? So, we made our first payment.  Over the next few years we had various payments and the money was always available. 

Fast forward to January 2010.  We were matched with our precious Ren.  Which meant we owed China about $9000 and it would be about $10000 to travel.  Of course we had been saving but we did not have $19000.  We had seen the video  'Miracle in Franklin" and we always teased each other and said, "Where are our tramploline people?"  Well, we don't have trampoline people, but we do have Rook people!  One night we were playing Rook with another couple.  In the middle of the Rook game the wife just stopped and said, "Ok.  We have been saving for two years for something.  We did not know what the Lord wanted us to use it for, but now we know.  The money is for you guys to bring your baby home!''  Even typing those words, I am still blown away.  A few days later, we received a check for $10000.  In the memo line they had written, "For God's Plan"!  I don't even know what else to say..... but God is faithful even to unfaithful people like me.

So, Ren "cost" about $30000.  But if we had been detered by the cost, we would have never experienced the unbelievable, miraculous hand of our Heavenly Father and not to mention being the parents of one little,  sassy Chinese girl!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

It was a Merry Christmas!

* To hear the music on the video, just scroll down and push pause on my play list.
* Also, you should know that every time Ren watches this video she claps and says "Yay!"  Precious!
About three years ago Third Day came out with the song Merry Christmas.  It is a song being sung from the perspective of adoptive parents waiting for their child.  I remember being at a Thirday Chrstmas concert, very pregnant with Henry P., (could be one reason he is our little musician).  When they sang that song I just wept for the little girl who would not be home with us for Christmas that year... Little did I know that it would be three more years before she would be home.  The beginning of the song says, There's a little girl trembling on a cold December morn, crying for mama's arms....  Our little Ren was found on a cold morning in December wrapped in a floral blanket outside of a medical building!  I am sure she was crying for her mama's arms.  And believe me that little girl is still crying for mama's arms.  That little bundle doesn't want me out of her sight.  She grabs my face and makes me look at her.  She kisses me and two days ago, she said, "I love you", which sounds like, "I uh oo".  And the most amazing thing about that was she told me first! 

If you haven't already seen this video, I hope you enjoy it.  It is just a summary of the last few months with Ren.  And I will leave you with a couple of pics of our "not so" snow angel!