As I mentioned yesterday, those who know us “in real life” have been somewhat surprised by yesterday’s announcement of adoption #2. We told very few people that another adoption was on our minds because, at first, we weren’t sure how we felt about it ourselves.
Shanti has been begging for a sibling since about 3 months in, but Arturo and I took a little longer to come around to the idea. We started feeling God’s call to adopt again about 2 months ago, in late June, but we were resistant at first. To be honest, my first reaction when it came up was, “You have got to be kidding me!” We are so happy as a family of three. The adoption process to bring Shanti home was a stressful nightmare. (The paperwork …. oh the paperwork!! …) But now that she’s home and we’re settling into a rhythm together and learning and growing as a family, life right now is good, really REALLY good. Why on earth would we want to change it? The first time it came up, we brushed the notion aside and moved on.
But God just didn’t let go. He didn’t stop bringing another adoption to the forefront of our minds, and He insistently kept laying it on our hearts. For a long time we kept saying “thanks, but no thanks,” rejecting the idea and trying to move on. But still, God didn’t let go.
Finally we agreed to pray about it, and we were completely blown away by the speed with which God confirmed to us, in a myriad of ways, that this was His will for our family. But still we hesitated, still we resisted. Practicality had to govern our actions, right? And practically speaking, we had no money to pay for this adoption. Shanti’s adoption used up all of the donated money and most of our savings, and buying our first house in June used up the rest of those savings. We’re at rock bottom. We committed over $15,000 of our personal savings to Shanti’s adoption. How would we make a second adoption work with none of those savings available? But still God said, “Go. This is my will for your family. Say yes, trust, and go.”
Practically speaking, we also had a major employment issue to consider. I will be starting a new job in just a few weeks, a job I am super super super excited about. It is perfect for me and for our family. I’ll be performing in schools for schoolchildren throughout Cincinnati. Because the job is working within the school system, I can still take Shanti to school every morning, pick her up every afternoon, and stay home with her all summer. Perfect for us, right? (I know, it’s perfect for me, I am SO excited.) But because I am just starting this job, I’m not eligible for FMLA, meaning I have no right to take a leave of absence for the adoption. To be eligible for FMLA, you must have worked for your employer for at least 1 year and have worked at least 1,024 hours in that year. I don’t satisfy either condition. How could we possibly adopt again and do the required adoption travel when I can’t take a leave of absence from my job?
And then God really put the pressure on. All of our considering to this point had been about a generic child, gender TBD, just “Adoption #2” in our minds. But on July 30th, we got in touch with 2 families that had both met an incredible, amazing, super awesome 10-year-old boy, named “Shiloh,” whose smile completely captured our hearts. A photo is just a photo, however, so we needed to find out more about him before we felt comfortable saying this was a child we would consider. And everything we found out from these two families during the following week confirmed over and over again that this little boy is perfect for our family. His personality, his likes and dislikes, his preferences, everything about him told us that this is the little boy God intends to be our son.
So, we thought and we prayed and we prayed and we thought. Were we ready? How could we make the finances work? What about my new job?
And still God said, “Go.”
After nearly a month, we finally settled on what we thought would be the “perfect” solution to our predicament: we would travel for the adoption at the end of May. My job winds down a few weeks before school gets out, so I wouldn’t miss any work by traveling in late May, and Shanti would be able to travel with us — bonus! Traveling in May would give us 9 months to fundraise, more than the 7 months we had for Shanti’s adoption, so surely we’d be able to manage the finances in that time, between our own savings from our monthly budget and our fundraising efforts.
We made plans to offer all kinds of services this time around as part of our fundraising, so people wouldn’t just feel like they were giving and giving without receiving anything in return. I would knit hats and scarves, Arturo would offer computer and web design services, I would reopen my craft Etsy store, we’d make and sell jar food mixes over Christmas (great for Christmas gifts!), we’d update and sell a Christmas CD we recorded a few years ago, the list went on and on. Over and over again we crunched the numbers, over and over again we considered our options, and we finally decided to say “yes” one week ago Friday, on August 22. With 9 months to fundraise, we felt we could handle the financial burden. We regretted that Shiloh would have to wait 9 months for us to come get him, but it was only 2 months longer than Shanti waited after we committed to her, and 9 months is much faster than many families can go get their children, so all things considered, we felt we had found our path forward.
And then, in a split second, everything changed, and the world shook beneath our feet. Last Thursday, August 28, we got an email from our adoption facilitator that crumbled our carefully constructed plan into tiny little bits. Due to an unusual circumstance unique to Shiloh and the orphanage where he is currently living, if we wait until May to travel to adopt him, he will no longer be available. If we want to adopt this little boy, we need to travel as soon as humanly possible, preferably before the end of 2014.
I’m not going to lie. When I saw the email, I was physically sick. The two reasons we felt comfortable saying yes to God’s call to adopt again were (1) that we found a child that we know a lot about thanks to other families who have met him and who is a great fit personality-wise for our family and for Shanti, and (2) that we had 9 months to fundraise. Thanks to the information in that email, our options for proceeding were to either choose another child and still travel in May, eliminating reason #1 we said yes, or to stick to our commitment to Shiloh and travel in December, eliminating reason #2 we said yes.
I’ll be honest. When we got the email (and after we recovered from the shock and after I recovered from getting sick), we considered saying no, stopping the adoption altogether. How could we move forward to adopt a child we knew nothing about, when choosing a child that fits well with Shanti is so important to us and is one of the two main reasons we felt comfortable saying yes? And how could we move forward to adopt a child who would be a great fit for us without the financial resources to do so? We were lost.
So, we did what we always should do when we feel adrift at sea with no reference point: we prayed. We prayed. HARD. We contacted my new boss to find out our options, and we prayed. Arturo contacted his boss (since he’d be taking two FMLA leaves within a year, not an easy thing for his employer), and we prayed. We prayed and prayed and then prayed some more. And still God said, “Go.”
Last Thursday night, I sent the following note to our adoption facilitator: “We’re going to go for it, try for Shiloh. I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared in my entire life, and it still may come down to us getting travel dates, not having the money, and having to delay anyway. But we’re going to try our hardest, do our best, and pray without ceasing.”
And then comes the part that makes me bawl like a baby. We made that decision to step forward in faith last Thursday night, and God said, “See what I will do when you say yes to my calling. See how much I’ve got this. See what will happen when you say yes to the uncomfortable, yes to the illogical, and follow my call to care for the least of these. See what I will do.”
Friday morning, I woke up to an email from someone I barely know, pledging $1,000 toward our second adoption.
Friday afternoon, two people in our adoption community who regularly hold fundraisers for adopting families offered to hold fundraisers for us. (One of those fundraisers, an Avon fundraiser, is going on right now, through Sept. 15. Click here to shop.)
Saturday afternoon, I spoke on the phone with someone who offered us a $3,000 matching grant.
Saturday evening, I was contacted by an organization offering us a $10,000 interest-free loan if we need it at the end, if it comes down to “crunch time” and we’ve not been able to fundraise all of the money needed. In accepting the loan we have to commit to fundraise for our full need and only use the loan if absolutely necessary, but that is an agreement we feel comfortable making.
Since our announcement yesterday, words and pledges of support have been flowing in from every side. I think I’ve been crying from joy more often than not in the last 24 hours!
We said yes to God, yes to Shiloh, yes to another adoption, at a time when we didn’t think we could do it. And it turns out we couldn’t. But God could, and God did, and God will.
All the time, God is good.
“Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.”
– Micah 3:10