Monday, August 20, 2012
After feeling like God really opened our eyes to the needs of children without families, and knowing it wasn't the right time for us to adopt, we spent a whole lot of time praying and researching and praying and waiting. We figured that since this nudge to adopt had occurred while we were already expecting a baby, we'd just begin the adoption process as soon as ours was born. But we didn't know...domestic or international, private or foster care? Throughout the time I was pregnant with Ella, we prayed for two babies, the one who was growing my mid-section beyond recognition, along with the sweet babe we planned to adopt shortly there after. Our timing was grossly miscalculated (another post for that one).
As we prayed, he directed us toward this beautiful country and the agency we would use to pursue our child. At first, the research about orphans and adoption just depressed me. The statistics were shocking and the stories horrifying. I was frozen. What was I supposed to do with all of this. We are one family. Didn't God know this? What the heck!
The end of this fog began with Invisible Children. I watched and was distraught beyond belief. However, God definitely used it to stir in our hearts a burden for Africa. So, I bought merchandise that supported groups helping people in Africa like this one, www.joinred.com , and prayed for the people dying of AIDS and malaria and starvation and other preventable and/or treatable ailments. I shared with people around me my struggle with the scope of the need, all the while praying. And, wouldn't you know it, stuff started happening.
First, Rebecca, the Children's Director at our church, who knew we were researching adoption, came to me with a story. She worked a second part-time job at a local elementary school. One day some high-school students came to perform a puppet show for the little kids. They did a great job, so she pulled one of the girls aside to complement her. The girl thanked Rebecca, and told her how easy it was for her to do stuff like that since she and her family traveled to Romania every year to perform similar shows and activities for orphans there. You see, she herself had been adopted from Romania. As a result, her parents began an adoption agency, All God's Children International, to help other families do the same. She gave Rebecca the website who in turn passed it to me. I looked it up, sent for the information packet, and didn't do much more.
In the midst of this our lives turned upside down by the arrival of our Ella-girl. All self-motiviated adoption/orphan care pursuits were halted. In an effort to stay sane, I spent a lot of mornings over at a friend's house. She was a slightly more experienced new mom who understood the craziness of new parenthood. Wouldn't you know it, she and her husband likewise shared a burden for orphans, and it was through this relationship God continued his direction.
On the way home from a weekend away, this friend, Angie, and her family stopped at a rest area to let the kids play. Another family was doing the same. They got to talking, and not so coincidentally the conversation turned to adoption. This mom shared with Angie about her family's own heart for adoption, so much so that her parents adopted a baby from Romania and began an adoption agency. As soon as she told me all of this, we immediately scanned the All God's Children website only to find this same couple serving as directors of the agency. We couldn't believe it. We immediately called them up, spoke to the then Executive Director (Angie knew him as the dad from the rest stop). In a face to face meeting the next day we inquired what the local church could do to support their efforts globally. We had no idea how to start or what to do. We both had small babies and knew something corporate was all we could do. He happened to be leaving for Ethiopia to establish a new program there with a new Ethiopian born, American educated in-country director. That seemed to be a great place to fit in. We could be a part of the program from the beginning.
It made sense, first the burden for orphans, then Africa, then this direction toward Ethiopia specifically. We felt smack in the middle of God's work. And, because God is just so, so, so good to encourage us when we take even baby steps of faith, he provided an additional piece of confirmation.
Later that week, I called my college pal, Sarah, in Boston to tell her all about everything that had been going on. She was so excited with me but just kept saying how she was sure I had told her all of this before. Since our meeting at AGCI was just that week, I knew I couldn't have. Then, she paused and said "Lisa, I know Almaz." Who was Almaz? I didn't know what she was talking about. She continued to explain that the woman AGCI hired to be their in-country Ethiopia director had been living in Boston, attending my college roommate's very own church.
We were both dumb-founded. You can't make this stuff up.
This began a relationship with an agency, a country, and countless orphans world-wide. Now, almost six years later, God has used our church to serve orphans during two trips to Ethiopia, two to Haiti, provided clean water to a community without, and hand-held one little family of four through almost all of their home study paperwork to bring one precious child home.
Praise God for his faithfulness.