Tag Archives: Adoption

“God didn’t call us to easy” Testimony of the Knights

From our FIG Awassa Directors Greg and Charisa Knight:

The beginning: 17 years ago with a momma’s heartcry and a dad’s face to face visit with orphaned children.

The blessing: 2 crazy loved Ethiopian boys who have rocked our world and the HUGE privilege of being able to serve hand in hand with our Ethiopian brother and sisters bringing hope to children and families in Awassa through Project HOPEFUL Awassa 
There is so much more to these stories that I think I would have to have a 2 hour video. I am going to sum them up quickly with Things I Have Learned Through Adoption:


1) Don’t put God in a box.  My boxes that God busted open:
  •   We put under age 3 because I didn’t want to full with “baggage” (Ab was almost 6 when he came home to us)
  •   I am not traveling with Greg because I can’t handle it (terrified of planes!)    (God said yes, you can )
  •   I don’t want to meet or have any relationship with birth family. It’s too emotionally complex.  (We did and now have a beautiful      relationship with them and I can’t imagine not having it! I am sooo glad God busted that one!)
  •   special needs parameters.  We went from “minor correctable special needs” to wishing we had opened that up more during our    adoption to now if we were currently do an adoption would much broader and include HIV. Be sure to keep an open mind and heart for that decision.
2) Remember that God is faithful. 
When we accepted our first referral for a little guy who was 7 months old, the whole slow down in Ethiopa happened and I was a mess thinking that the our child might wait a year or more (the thinking at the time) to come home. A friend emailed and told me this “God has told me to tell you that your son will be home by the time he is 9 months old.”  Now you have to know that this friend had never told me things like this before and she is not the person to proclaim things such as this. In fact, she told me she was nervous about saying it but God clearly told her to do it.  I posted her email on my fridge and read it. over and over again.  Then the phone call came that this first little guy’s mother had taken him home to raise. (which was a good thing but my emotions were in a whirlwind!) and I promptly balled that paper up and through it in the trash in a fit of despair.


Fast forward to receiving Teshale’s referral and bring him home. At exactly 9. months. old.  Greg reminded me that MY son would come home at 9 months old. God is faithful and true to His word.  Remember that in times of doubt.


3) God did not call us to easy.  


There have been many times when I have wondered about the easier path.The paperwork and governmental hoops can just about do you in sometimes. The emotional complexities of adoption are daunting. Trauma is hard. Blending a family together takes work. Sometimes exhausting and emotionally draining work.  Is it worth it?  As I look into the faces of my kiddos…yes. yes. yes.   Is it easy?  Not at all.


 But in the words of my husband  “God didn’t call us to easy”


About to Jump…

This post is by our Waiting Child Director, Jenni Johnston:

Our home is about to be open to foster kids. I keep going back and forth between being super excited and super depressed about the whole thing. I’m so excited to see what God has in store for our family. I’m excited to see the miracles and lives changed forever because we gave God our YES.  We didn’t give God our “super pumped up, I want to change the world!!” YES. We gave him our “fine, I guess… since things didn’t play out our way” YES.

2013 has been my nightmare.

Starting in 2011, I began begging my husband and God for a little girl in Russia, who had HIV. I had seen her picture and knew she was my daughter. It took 11 months of me crying, praying, and yelling for my husband to feel the same way. Those were some bad months!  I began to see my husband as the obstacle in my way rather than the love of my life. We ended up in marital counseling… Not my best moment. The problem was, I KNEW, without a doubt, she was my daughter. I no longer could focus on anything else.

March 2012: My husband came home and said God changed his mind. We started the process and got to meet our princess on November 26, 2012. It was AMAZING.

She and Josh bonded. She was so proud of her new father!

When it was time for us to leave we promised her we would be back for court in a couple months. She cried and said she would wait for us.

By the end of December there were rumors about US/Russian adoptions being banned. As the weeks passed it became a reality. I was a wreck! There was some time where we jumped through hoops making flight arrangements, getting more medical work done for court, paying waaaaayy too much money for last minute visas, thinking, and praying that we would get special treatment and get finish our adoption because we had met our child. We fought publicly, trying to get the American people to care.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pizAaJEIt-Y

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6DYr-q-ndY

I spent the early part of 2013 so stressed that I was physically sick. Then I moved on to being angry with God. After all, HE chose when to change Josh’s mind. Why did HE wait sooooo long? During those months, when I made it to church, I would stand with my arms crossed mocking HIM, taunting HIM, and throwing temper tantrums. All the while, knowing what HE wanted me to do next… FOSTER CARE.

I honestly don’t know how or when Josh actually agreed to fostering. It was always something we were going to do “in the future… down the road, when our kids were older, when we had a bigger house, more money and time”. But, I began taking steps to make it happen and it all just fell in to place.

We are now almost to the year mark of meeting our daughter. (We are still fighting for her.)  But now we are about to jump off a new cliff into the unknown. The scary waters where we are just saying, “Welcome!” We don’t know the age, gender, special need, or even how many. We don’t know how long they will stay or if they will be newest Johnston. We gave God our YES even though we have no clue what the heck HE is up to. We are heart broken and excited. Will I be able to handle more children on top of my three children? Can I handle more children from hard places while dealing with the one I already have and fighting for another one?

I don’t think God cares what YES you give him as long you give it.

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of each and every staff member at Project HOPEFUL.  Thank you for following along through our Adoption Awareness Month series!  For more information or if you have specific questions about any post, please reach out to us at projecthopeful@projecthopeful.org

Addicted to God Through the Orphan

This post is by our staff member, Jen Knapp:

Two years ago today, with great anticipation, I boarded a flight for Accra, Ghana. My husband stayed back with our other two daughters. I was finally going to bring Juliana home! The last six months of our second adoption had not gone at all how we expected. Not a surprise…now that we’re veterans! It was like a bad dream you couldn’t wake up from. Everything that was supposed to happen didn’t. Every promise that was made was broken. Every extra
documentation the Embassy asked for wasn’t enough.

Friends fasted. Neighbors cried. Government officials petitioned. We could not find favor in getting Juliana her Visa to come home. Thirteen weeks felt like thirteen years.

Until. God showed up.

He showed up in a very unexpected, powerful way through the organization I am writing this post for. Out of no where, I was reminded about an article I had read the previous winter. The article was in People Magazine about the founder of Project HOPEFUL. God prompted me to remember this article SO THAT I could find them at the right time. It seemed like God wanted to manifest his power and presence through the favor of this organization. And He did just that. Project HOPEFUL was used by the Lord to bring justice to a part of our adoption case that was unjust.

I was reminded again this past weekend of the responsibilities I have as a follower of Christ to grow up. To mature. The bible says in 1 Peter “like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, now that you have tasted that the Lord is good” [1 Peter 2:2-3]. Spiritual milk is supposed to be the experiences you have with God when He
shows up and makes himself known to you. Those moments you can’t deny when you got out of the way and it was all Him! Those moments that take your breath away and leave you asking “how did you just do that, Lord?”

To taste and see that the Lord is good, is drinking from that presence of God. And it leaves you wanting and craving more. To be told to crave spiritual milk, is actually a command to be addicted to God!

I’ve never experienced the real, tangible presence of God on a more consistent basis than I have with the global orphan care community. Through our two international adoptions, I’ve seen God’s power, protection, mercy and help so closely I could touch it. And the more I saw it, the more I wanted it. With Project HOPEFUL, I’ve seen babies literally given life saving surgeries in the last minute because God showed up. I’ve witnessed hundreds of complete strangers come
together and secure the funds to pay for an HIV+ woman to be transferred to a hospital that could save her life. I’ve stood in awe as I’ve watched brothers and sisters via social media sacrifice what they had to finalize the travel arrangements for a husband in Illinois to fly to Ukraine and help his weary wife bring home their newly adopted children.

Every time I’ve seen God show up on behalf of the orphan, I’ve found myself wanting more. Believing more.

Like when we find out a sibling group of three from Ethiopia needs a family and it has to happen soon because the oldest is getting close to aging out…in the past I would’ve gotten discouraged quickly thinking “alright, God, how are you going to do this?” But now! Now that I’ve seen and tasted that the Lord is good in the midst of orphan care…now I find myself saying “alright, God, here you go…show yourself off!”
And I want more. And more. And more.

Project HOPEFUL

 

 

 

So glad you’re home, sweet girl!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of each and every staff member at Project HOPEFUL.  Thank you for following along through our Adoption Awareness Month series!  For more information or if you have specific questions about any post, please reach out to us at projecthopeful@projecthopeful.org

Adoption Is Not About You

A post from our staff member, Deb Steiner

There is an article circulating on Facebook right now entitled, “Marriage is not for you.”  As a single person, I read the title and thought, “You got that right.  Apparently.”  Ha!  But then I read the article and realized that the title was just one part of what this husband was saying.  Marriage is not for you . . . it’s for family and for your spouse.  It’s laying down SELF for another person (and family) in a total and complete way.  It’s not about you.  

November is adoption awareness month, and I’m just going to say it:  Adoption is not for you.

I am a huge advocate for adoption in those cases where a child is truly in need of a family (more on that in another post).  My brothers were adopted; my three children were adopted; I have supported countless friends in their adoptions.  It would be crazy to think I’m anything other than an {huge} adoption advocate.

And yet . . .

I don’t want you to adopt.  I don’t want you to adopt if you think it’s a fad.  I don’t want you to adopt if you are doing it for your ego or to receive accolades from people you do and don’t know.  I don’t want you to adopt if you have a savior complex.  I don’t want you to adopt if you are filling a God-sized hole in your heart.  I don’t want you to adopt if you intend to treat your children who were adopted differently than your biological children.  {This seems painfully obvious.}  I don’t want you to adopt if you think you have to.  I don’t want you to adopt if you can’t say now that it’s FOREVER.  Please, don’t adopt.

Over the last couple of years we have seen the disruption rate of adoptions continue to increase.  This saddens my heart. Children who are already hurt are getting hurt again.  By us, Church.  Let’s enter adoption with the same prayerful, submissive, heart-ready heart that we enter all big decisions as believers in Christ.  Let’s not be rash; let’s be thoughtful.  Let us pray and seek wisdom.  Let us worship God with our hearts, souls and minds.

Do I think there are times when disruption is warranted and even necessary?  Of course I do.  {I put that in bold to avert any hate mail.  Please.}  But I also think those situations are in the minority and not the norm.  As parents who are considering and then proceeding to adopt children from hard places, it is our responsibility to be ready for, and dare I say embrace, the “hard” that it brings.  Be ready for your young, post-institutional daughter to behave like a cling-on spider monkey to any nice grown up that comes her way.  Be ready for your teenagers to rage.  Be ready for your special-needs child to smear poop on the walls.  Be ready for extra doctor appointments, therapies, interventions, respite options, surgeries, IEPs, and hard, hard work.  Just be ready!

Because at the end of the day, adoption is not about you.  It’s about HIM.  His perfect plans for our lives and for the lives of the children who we step out in faith to love.  God’s plans for our families and for the children He will lovingly place into our arms whether by birth or through the miracle of adoption.

So, while adoption is not for you, it is beautiful and awesome and redemptive and amazing and I pray that you will consider it.

it’s not about me.  –Deb Steiner

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of each and every staff member at Project HOPEFUL.  Thank you for following along through our Adoption Awareness Month series!  For more information or if you have specific questions about any post, please reach out to us at projecthopeful@projecthopeful.org

Pearls, anyone?

A post by our FIG director, Traci Heim:

I’ve been thinking about orphans lately.
Shocking, I know.
I talk often with people about all aspects of adoption, and cost is something that always comes up.

Always.

So today I’m thinking about orphans and cost.

I will tell you that cost is a widely misunderstood concept; most often because its scope has been minimized to something as inconsequential as dollars and cents.

As in: How much does the typical adoption cost?

In monetary terms, one could say that the average eastern European adoption of an HIV+ child lands right around $24,000 to $27,000.

Is that it?
Is that the cost in its entirety?

I recently heard a TV evangelist caution people considering adoption to “count the cost.”
He eluded to mental illness, sexual abuse, and behavioral issues as things to very carefully consider. It was clear that he considered it far to high a price to pay; the underlying message was that in his mind, these children weren’t worth the cost.

Here’s the thing.
He wasn’t wrong to identify those areas as areas that cost something.
They do.
Where he was absolutely wrong was in assuming that the price was too high.

The true answer to what an adoption costs is:

IT COSTS EVERYTHING.

IT COSTS YOUR LIFE.

IT IS WORTH IT.

What we all need to understand is that every person,
every child,
every orphan
is worthy of the cost.

We know this because Jesus paid for our salvation with his life.
How can the redemption of someone else not cost us the same?

He died to redeem us.

In adoption, we live to redeem them.

Matthew 13:45
The kingdom if Heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all he had and bought it.

Matthew 19:14
But Jesus said suffer little children, and forbid them not to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 6:33
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.

Matthew 6:21
Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

When considering the cost of adoption, it’s not:
How can I ever pay it?

It’s:
How can I not?

 

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of each and every staff member at Project HOPEFUL.  Thank you for following along through our Adoption Awareness Month series!  For more information or if you have specific questions about any post, please reach out to us at projecthopeful@projecthopeful.org

Not Impressed.

A post from Tesney Davis:

Rescue those unjustly sentenced to die. Don’t hesitate to step in and help. If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business.” Will that get you off the hook? God knows what you know. He’s not impressed with weak excuses. –Proverbs 24:11-12, NLT & The Message mash-up

Since God first wrecked our lives in a most excellent (and most difficult) way through adoption, I’ve gone back and forth, to and from extremes. At first I was all “full throttle ahead, everyone should adopt, and why aren’t they” with my approach.

Then I felt The Lord pressing me to be a little more graceful. I felt him nudging me to be quiet for a while, to listen, offer support, and to let him change hearts. I started learning more about adoption. I visited other countries and saw first-hand how family preservation is so much better IF it’s feasible. I got in touch with Kirill’s birth mom, learned his birth story from her perspective, and realized that family of origin is always the best option. But it isn’t always an available option. 
For Kirill, and most orphaned children with intensive special needs, adoption is probably the only solution. This is where my passion has been re-ignited over the past few months. I’ve felt God telling me it’s time to speak up again. Maybe a little more boldly than ever on behalf of orphaned children with special needs.
Orphaned children with special needs. Let’s talk about that. Let’s allow the reality of their situations to sink in for a moment. A child with special needs with a loving, nurturing family will have some obstacles to overcome. A child with special needswithout a family…well, their obstacles are almost insurmountable. Depending on the country, they are turned out onto the streets, placed in mental institutions, or turned over to nursing homes…obstacles that are impossible to overcome because they don’t have a voice or a family to advocate for them.
Now, think about this for a moment. God tells us repeatedly that the least of these are our responsibility as Jesus-followers. WE are the ones sentencing them to an unfair death by doing nothing.
It is our business. 
 
God is not impressed with weak excuses. 
 
Now, let’s all together say our excuses for not doing something out loud. I will start.
Our plate is full with Kirill. (Feel free to insert your own plate-filling child’s name).
 
Well, it is pretty full. I work. Greg works. We have two kids and one of them has intensive special needs. But the reality is I work primarily from home so I have 6 hours a day alone while my children are at school. We have an extra bedroom. We have food to spare. Honestly, there is room for more from us. Imagine telling Jesus your weak excuse. Would he be impressed? For us, it has become clear that cannot check “special needs adoption” off a list and rest on our laurels for the rest of our lives.
Frankly speaking, it’s not about us. When we shift our focus to the children who need families, and we make it about their needs, everything changes. Our excuses are LAME-O.
So today, on Orphan Sunday, let’s all do better. Let’s start examining excuses. Pray your excuses to God and see how he answers. Adoption is one answer…and for many it is the only answer. But there are eleventy billion other answers he may give you. The 90-year old home bound grandmother may be moved to pray for adopting families and their children. The tween aged crowd may organize a fundraiser for sponsoring a family preservation program. The young married couple may offer respite care for tired adoptive parents. He may tell you to mentor teen moms. We can probably all think of a family in our own community who needs help staying together. Why don’t we come alongside those families and support them instead of judging them? There is plenty we can all do together. Let’s just do something and stop with the excuses. God isn’t impressed.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the view of each and every staff member at Project HOPEFUL.  Thank you for following along through our Adoption Awareness Month series!  For more information or if you have specific questions about any post, please reach out to us at projecthopeful@projecthopeful.org

Adopting from Russia: The Davis Family Story

A Guest Post by Tesney Davis~

Two and a half years ago, my husband, Greg, and I began praying for God to do whatever he wanted with our lives. Adoption became something that he was showing us he wanted for our family. We began to pray about adopting a child with special needs. Greg and I have a lot of experience with children who have special needs. It seemed like a natural fit for our family. As we prayed, God opened our eyes to children with disabilities in orphanages across the ocean in Russia. We started our adoption journey of a child with Down Syndrome. We were given a referral for a child in Russia and awaited our invitation to go meet him.

Eight months later, as we neared the finish line of our adoption, one of the family members in Russia stepped forward to adopt the child for which we had been given a referral. We were devastated when we received the news that the child we had planned to bring into our family was no longer available for adoption. We grieved hard. Although heartbroken for our own loss, but God showed us that we were following him, and his ways are perfect. We knew we still wanted to adopt.

Shortly after losing our original referral, we received a new referral for a four-year-old boy with Down Syndrome named Kirill. We were more guarded with our emotions this time, but we had no doubts that we should commit to this child. We had to re-file a lot of our paperwork because of the change in referrals and regions of Russia, but our commitment to this child was not something we took lightly and we gladly did whatever it took to bring him into our family.

Then another piece of devastating news arrived from our adoption agency: a tragic story of an adoptive mother sending her child back to his country alone on a plane with a note pinned to his shirt had hit the media…and the child was from Russia. We were told this was not good and that our adoption could be delayed indefinitely. Adoptions in Russia came to a screeching halt. Kirill’s region stopped processing adoptions for eight long months. The judge refused to accept any Amercian adoption cases until an official treaty was signed between the United States and Russia.

Even though we wouldn’t be able to finalize the adoption in court until the treaty was signed, we were allowed to go visit Kirill and sign our official petition to adopt him in August 2010. We fell in love with him during our visits. This was our son.

During that time, we were told by our in-country facilitator that Kirill would be the first child from his region EVER to be adopted with Down Syndrome. A birth mother keeping her child with Down Syndrome is unheard of in this area of the world. Adoptions of children with Down Syndrome just don’t happen there, these children are literally hidden away from society in orphanages and mental institutions. As our process continued, it became apparent that Kirill would be a pioneer. If our adoption was approved, it would pave the way for other children with special needs to be adopted from this region.

Then, a miracle happened around Christmas and the judge in this region suddenly changed her mind and began processing American adoptions again. We were elated.  Could this be the light at the end of a very long tunnel? We were finally granted a court date-March 17, 2011. St. Patrick’s Day…a lucky day! Our son was coming home!

March 17th arrived, and as we sat in the courtroom and suffered through five agonizing hours of difficult questioning, we were not prepared for anything but an approval of our case by the judge. Two doctors, two social workers, and the Minister of Children’s Services all made very strong statements on our behalf. They fought for us and for our son, Kirill.

But when the ruling was read, the judge said, “Your application to adopt is rejected.” The basis given was that Kirill was “not socially adaptable” due to his “medical condition” and he was better off in an institution than in a home with a family. As the judge read her ruling, she stated several times that we were a good family, that we met all the criteria to adopt a child, but that she would not approve our adoption because Kirill had Down Syndrome and his “level of backwardness” made him unfit for any family. She told us that we could adopt another child, because legally our application had no problems according to Russian adoption law. She said she would approve our adoption for a “typical” child, but not this child. Why? The only reason? Because he has Down Syndrome. Even though we were approved by our home study agency and by the USCIS to adopt a child with special needs. It made no sense whatsoever. Denying a child a family because he has Down Syndrome is a violation of human rights at its most basic level!

We appealed to the Russian Supreme Court in Moscow. Within two months, we received our Supreme Court date to appeal our regional judge’s decision. May 24, 2011, we stood before a panel of three Supreme Court judges and argued our case. We were told by our lawyer prior to our hearing to expect the worst. The best case scenario was that they would allow us another hearing with a different judge in our region, but that they would not overturn our original judge’s ruling. That meant we would have to wait for yet another court date.

But God is still a God of miracles. As the prosecutor in our hearing stood and read his opinion, that we should not be allowed to adopt Kirill, my heart sank. I just knew it was the end for our hopes of Kirill becoming a part of our family. Then a miracle happened: the head judge stood up and read his ruling. “the decision of the regional judge is OVERTURNED by the Supreme Court of Russia”. I didn’t hear much after that except that Kirill’s name was legally changed to “Gregory Kirill Davis”. I was too overwhelmed with emotions as I thanked God and started hugging everyone in the courtroom. We had been told to keep our composure because the Russian Supreme Court was very formal and serious; emotional outbursts would be perceived as weakness and we couldn’t show our feelings. That went out the window when the ruling was read and we celebrated in a flurry of tears and thanks to God for the miracle he had just performed.

We have been home almost 19 months with our son. I still get overwhelmed with emotions when I think about the miracle God performed. Kirill is thriving. He weighed only 19 pounds at five years old when we arrived home in June 2011. Now, he weighs 45 pounds and has grown 19 inches. He had severe problems with his sight and hearing; both have been corrected. He had numerous infections and gastrointestinal parasites. Those have all been treated and he’s healthy and happy. He goes to school, has friends, and we love him with all of our hearts. We cannot imagine our family without him. He brings us great joy and we are so proud to call him our son!NewKirillBeforeAfter

We love the people of Russia and it breaks our hearts to hear of the recent move to ban adoptions of Russian orphans by U.S. citizens. I am a member of several adoption groups and have a large network of fellow adoptive parents who have adopted children from Russia. Every single family I know LOVE and CHERISH their children from Russia.

Although there have been cases of abuse and neglect of children adopted from Russia, this is an exceptionally rare occurrence. These people are not the norm and they should be punished for their crimes.

To deny children the opportunity to have a loving family is a violation of human rights and a horrible crime against humanity. Thousands of children will face a lifetime in an institution instead of loving families if this law is passed. Please stand with us and contact your government officials to voice your opposition to the ban on Russian adoptions by Americans.

Join Project HOPEFUL’s staff in signing this petition to oppose the ban on Russian adoptions HERE. To read more on this story see this BBC News story