Sunday, October 13, 2013

Amanda and Daniel's adoption story

The Lord began stirring our hearts many years ago when we were both teenagers, regarding the care of orphans. We knew from the first day we met each other that we wanted to be involved together with orphans, some way or another. As Christians we had been taught that would involve working in orphanages, and we thought we might eventually open an orphanage together. Through our first year of marriage, however, we felt God calling us to adoption. We were only 19 and 20 years old at the time, but felt excited and overjoyed to obey His call. Throughout the process everyone kept telling us we were crazy, to stop and enjoy life, travel, and do whatever it was young people did, but we knew God had called us to something bigger. 
We almost done the process and had only one or two visits left to complete our home study, when our social worker called us into her office. She began to explain to us that we were just too young. While she herself did not think we were too young and believed in our capability and passion, on paper, our ages stood out. She continued to tell us that matching us would prove difficult because any social worker of a child would hesitate on us do to our age. She told us we should finish our home study and then put it on hold for 2 years. We figured if God wanted us to wait for 2 years then we might as well make the best use of our time in those two years. That weekend we went home, gave notice where we were renting and bought a condo...a condo which would not be ready for 6 more months. In the meantime we made arrangements to live with my parents for the 6 months, who happened to live in a 2 bedroom townhouse with my teenage sister. We were going to get as prepared as we could to welcome a toddler into our home in 2 years.
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The next week we met with our social worker to finish off the last home study visit. When we walked into her office she had a funny look on her face and we immediately got worried. You know, that weird feeling you get when you cross an international border even though you know you haven't done anything wrong? That one. She proceeded to tell us that they had a little 2 month old baby boy whom had been proposed to three other families and they had all turned him down. They were now coming to us. We didn't even know what to say! We weren't even done our home study! We had just been told days before that we were too young! We also had been told the youngest child ever available was 3 years....this little guy was only 2 months old!! Then the kicker....we were to bring him home in 3 weeks!!! I am sure anyone who has ever been pregnant would know, you typically have several months to wrap your head around the idea of having an infant....not to mention to get your house prepared! We of course said yes and on our way home stopped and bought a copy of "What to Expect the First Year".....this book has been a life saver!!
 The next 3 weeks were crazy: getting baby things, organizing my parents tiny townhouse, and watching the foster parent like a hawk on how to change a diaper and feed a bottle. Somehow, only a short month after being told we were too young to adopt, we brought home our darling first son, whose name meant "Gift from God;" couldn't be more true! photo prestonfamily033-M-1_zpsaa0a3a00.jpg
 Through that adoption we became aware of fostering, as our son's foster parents had been Christian and had opened our eyes to the need and possibility; we knew it was something we had to do. Again, everyone said we were crazy, that we should be taking it easy and enjoying our new baby. Again they told us we should travel (never figured out why people wanted us to travel so much!) We knew otherwise, we knew there was a need, and a so a year later we opened up as a foster home. Two months after opening up we were placed with a little baby boy from the hospital who we eventually were given the amazing privilege of adopting at the age of 2. At that same time we were placed with his newborn biological sister whom we also adopted by the time she was 2. photo prestonfamily019-M_zpsc036ec2b.jpg
Once we started taking foster children in we couldn’t help but feel God call us to give many of them a forever home. We have since adopted 3 more of our foster children, and are in the process of adopting our 5th child from Honduras. This journey in itself has been a crazy experience, filled with obstacle after obstacle of people telling us our family is too big. God has performed so many miracles along the way though, and we know the testimony we will have at the end will be amazing!
 It didn’t take long into our journey of adoption before we felt God begin to stir our hearts to something even bigger. The most common comment we always heard from other people was “I could never do that! It takes a special person to adopt or foster.” We knew otherwise. We knew it didn’t take a special person, it took a special GOD! We knew everything we did was outside of ourselves, and relied entirely on our Father. We also knew, that if people could only have more information, know what God had to say, that they too would feel a desire to care for the orphan. We have since started a charity offering education, awareness and support for adoptive and foster families, and are working at opening a unique type of adoption agency focused on special needs and low fees. We hope to help advocate for the thousands of children right here in our own back yard, as well as the millions of children languishing in orphanages around the world. photo familypic_zpsd64deddc.jpg        We have been given a burden to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, to walk out our mandate of James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion is this; to care for the widow and orphan.” God has given us a passion for the orphaned children of the world, and He wants us to embrace His challenge given to us in James 1:27. God holds us, as Christians, responsible for the 163 million children in this world without a mom and dad. We have been given so much, and therefore so much is required. This is why our dream is to see every believer engaged in helping vulnerable children and I hope catching a glimpse into our lives encourages even one person to do the same! Thanks for reading!

Amanda and Daniel
British Columbia

Thursday, October 10, 2013

John and Mandi's adoption story

     Growing up, adoption was the last thing on my mind. I don't ever remember it coming up in conversations, or meeting anybody who was adopted, or even understanding what it even meant. I always wanted to be a mom. That was my "dream job". I was happiest when I was babysitting younger kids or snuggling babies. My heart's biggest desire was to have my own, happy family with a husband and lots of kids. I remember seeing a poster about infertility as a teenager and thinking I was thankful I didn't have to go through something like that.

     When I was almost 17, I still hadn't gotten my period so my mom took me to the doctor to have some tests run. A bunch of tests later, the doctor delivered the news that I did not have a uterus. Everything else was fine and functioning but for an unknown reason my uterus was missing. I was 2 months away from graduating high school, with plan to go to Bible college in the fall. This should have been a happy, exciting time in my life, but instead it was the worst. I became depressed, to the point of having suicidal thoughts. I didn't talk to anyone and instead kept my feelings buried deep down and only cried at night when everyone else was asleep.

      I began to talk about my experience with friends I met at Bible school and slowly began to heal. It is only by God's great grace that I am still here today, that I am sure of. As he healed my heart, he slowly began to change my heart's desires as well. I now knew the only way I would ever be a mother was through adoption. I resisted this at first. I wanted my own kids, not someone else's. God began to change my heart. As the years went on, I became more open to the idea, and even excited about it! I met my husband after finishing 3 years of Bible School. Telling him that I would never be able to give him children is the hardest thing I've ever had to do. Bless his heart, he held me as I cried and told me that nothing had changed. He still loved me and wanted to be with me.
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     We were married in November of 2010 and immediately after applied to be on the list for domestic adoption in Saskatchewan (we lived just outside Saskatoon). In February 2011 John's mom called us and said that they had met with old friends and had told them about how we were looking to adopt. Their friends said that their 20 year old daughter was pregnant and didn't want to keep the baby. They were going to tell her about us and see what happened. This was 4 months into married life for us, and John did not want a baby. I didn't know how I could say no to something like that, but marriage was tough for us that first year and I reluctantly agreed that bringing a baby into our lives at that point would probably not be a good idea. We prayed about it, then heard that the birth mom (who was due in March- sooner then we thought!) had decided to keep the baby. March rolled around and we heard through these people that she had given birth to a baby girl. I remember driving to work, praying for this baby, that no matter where she ended up that she would be loved.

     Fast forward a few months to August 2011. We again heard from the grandparents of this little girl, who was now 5 months old. Her mom had left her with another set of grandparents in Saskatoon and had moved to Regina. Again, she was thinking of giving her up for adoption as she was not caring for her the majority of the time. Again we prayed and John still said he didn't feel it was the right time. God closed the door again. We didn't hear anything else after that.

     On November 26 2011, we received a third call from the grandmother. The baby's mom finally decided to give her little girl (we found out her name was Cassidy) up for adoption and she wanted to meet us. We immediately fell to our knees in prayer. I was ready. I had been ready this whole time. It was John's call. I silently prayed to God that I wouldn't say anything or pressure him in any way. This had to be something we were both in full agreement upon. So I looked at him and hesitantly asked "What do you think?" His answer was a resounding "Yes!"
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     No hesitation, just pure excitement in his eyes. He told me then that he had been praying about it as well, and that he had asked God to give us at least a year of marriage before bringing any children into our lives. This was exactly 1 week after our 1st anniversary. We called back and said we would very much like to meet Cassidy and her mom. We met them a week later and later that evening she called us and said she would like to give us her baby!! On December 26, 2011, exactly one month after the phone call and 1 day after Christmas Cassidy came home at four days shy of 9 months. What a Christmas gift!!
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     It took us a year and a half after we brought her home to finalize the adoption, and it wasn't without it's problems but right from that very first phone call, we knew. This was God's plan. Cassidy is now 2 and a half and is the greatest joy of our lives.
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     People say all the time how much she looks like us. I always secretly mourned that I would never have a child who looked like me. Well, I do. God knew my heart and chose to bless me in that way! We are currently in the process of adopting a newborn from the United States. We can't wait to give Cassidy a sibling and open our hearts up to another child who needs a home. I am amazed when I look back at the person I was and see the person I am today.

     God has taken me on an incredible journey and I am so thankful he chose adoption to be a part of my story. I am blogging about our second adoption journey at www.journeytobabyl.blogspot.com.

Thanks for reading our story!
John and Mandi
Saskatchewan

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Elisabeth and Danny's adoption story

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When we started our journey to our daughter Faith we had three bio children ages 10 8 and 1. I had been praying for several years to be able to adopt and one day my hubby said yes!  

We felt called to China to a little girl on the special needs list. We did not have the money to pay for the adoption, God brought in the entire amount through fundraising and donations! Lots of selling of donated items on local garage sale type online sites and selling handmade bracelets.  

Our daughter was 20 months old when we got the referral and in Jiangxi province, she was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy, one of the very few things on our list we had said no to. We didn't know much about it and it was scary. The day of the referral I felt the Lord whispering to me that she was on the "special needs" list because she was ours and that is the list we were adopting from, but that she did not actually have this diagnosis. He told me to step out in faith, and so we did. Fast forward to her adoption day and the guide on my trip told me that she did not act like she had any medical issues. God is so good!
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The best part about that is not that she was medically healthy, although we praised God for that, the best part about that was how God used her to open our hearts to one more diagnosis on our checklist (maybe for a future adoption? who knows!) and to our beautiful waiting daughter. If you are on the fence about adoption, don't be afraid, take the leap!
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God is faithful to guide your steps.

Elisabeth and Danny
Quebec

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mike and Sara's adoption story

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Many years ago we signed up to be foster parents with a private agency that specializes in places children with special needs in therapeutic foster homes.  About 4 months after we came home from Ukraine with our oldest daughter, we called our agency to let them know that things were going well, and that we were ready to consider placements if they had any referrals come through the office that may be a good fit for our home.  About a month and a half later we received a phone call about an infant who was finally ready to be discharged from the hospital, and would we be willing to bring her home?  All 4 of us traveled about 2 1/2 hours away to meet her that very night.  She was home by the end of the week.
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Her family had made an adoption plan for her, so we knew right from the beginning that the agency was looking for a forever family for her.  We also knew that given her diagnosis, it would be harder for them to find a family for her despite her very young age.  They asked us to consider adopting her after she had been with us for about 2 months.  Initially we said "No".  We felt like we had just completed our daughter's adoption, and we not ready to commit to a third child at that moment.  Also, the baby was so young still, there were MANY unknowns about her future.  She was such a miserable little thing, she never stopped crying, and demanded to be held 24/7, and had some major feeding issues that we were working through.

Fast forward one year.  I KNEW in my heart that she was OURS, and I knew that my husband felt the same way.  Christmas was fast approaching, and I figured that I would wait until the spring (2 years home with our oldest) to approach him with the adoption discussion.  Then I received a phone call from the baby`s social worker letting me know that there was an interested, homestudy ready family who was sounded promising interested in being considered to be her family.  My whole world STOPPED.  The rest of that day was a fog.  I walked around lost, and missed most of what happened and what was said while I fought with the grief that threatened to take over as the possibility of my baby no longer being my baby wreaked havoc on my life.  I called my husband to let him know about the interested family.  I had planned to plead my case for adoption to him after dinner that night.  There was no need.  He called me back in less then an hour and said "Call them back and let them know that she's ours.  She can't go anywhere.  I hope we're not too late."  I said nothing other then a mumbled agreement, as I started typing up an email as I hung up the phone.  
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Luckily we were not too late.  We started our homestudy update right away.  Also luckily we were now just one month past our 18 month province imposed time-line for adding a new member to our family, so that wouldn't be an issue.  We never imagined that it was be so simple, smooth, and quick, but it was.  We are honored, blessed, and thankful not only to/by our baby's birth parents, but also by her placing agency.

Mike and Sara
Ontario

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Kevin and Jessica's adoption story

Psalm 68:6a God sets the lonely in families
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Our Adoption Journey…

Sometimes, we do not realize what an amazing journey God has led us through…until we look back and see His Grace filled in every corner of our lives.

Kevin and I have been married almost 17 years…we have 5 beautiful, wonderfully made children who have all taught us different things about God’s love and grace.

Our adoption journey began without us even realizing it at the time... it was born out of the birth of our ten year old son Micah. Micah came into this world, on a rainy April day in 2002, struggling from the moment of his arrival. By the time Micah was 2 months old we knew he was blind… and by our first Christmas of that year… our little boy was unable to move his body well, unable to eat well and was failing to thrive. My heart grieved for our son….I begged God to heal him….and questioned His love for me, when I felt my prayers went unanswered. With a broken heart, I really had no joy in Christmas shopping that year…you realize how worthless material things are in the moment of brokenness…so, as a gift, in Kevin’s name I donated money for a cleft lip/cleft palate surgery for a child in a third world country.

God took a hurting husband and wife…clearly carried them those next few years and taught them that His Good is better than any earthly good we pray for. He taught us that miracles happen every day, and that He answers all prayer. To Kevin and I, every special needs child in orphanages was our son, our son without a family, our son without love, our son without support, our son. God used the very pain we once felt for good, His good. Our eyes were opened to all the Micah’s of the world who are seen as “worthless”, “imperfect”, or “unadoptable.” But, we know all of His children are worth more than silver and gold, perfect in His image, and every one adoptable, just as every Christian has been adopted by the blood of Christ.
In March of 2012 we brought home our beautiful Noah from Henan, China. Noah was a cleft lip and palate baby. 9 years after that Christmas gift was given, God had given us Noah.

Kevin and I have applied to adopt from China again, a boy around 3 or 4 years old. We know that this little guy with his “special needs” will bring our family great joy.

Kevin and Jessica Leicht
Alberta
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 (Micah is now a ten year old guy. Although Micah is non-verbal he communicates in many other ways. His vision currently is 20/20 corrected with glasses J, he is looking forward to being a big brother again…shouting two when we asked if he wanted a brother…indeed he does…two brothers would be just perfect) Proverbs 31:8 Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Shawn and Lanaya's adoption story

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     We are a family from Alberta , Canada . We began the journey of adoption in March 2011 when we read Crazy Love by Francis Chan with our Bible Study group. We felt very called by God to begin a family through international adoption. We chose to work with Christian Adoption Services here in Alberta . We spent roughly a year researching, reading, taking classes, self assessing, home assessing, editing, praying and waiting before our dossier was completed. I, Lanaya, told my mom at one point that it would be sort of interesting when we finally were parents since the whole journey up to that point was a lot of paperwork! These were the first things God had called us to: saving money, self evaluation and growing a heart for adoption. The beginning of adoption really has little to do with parenting, but as a life surrendered to God always is, it was more about heart change. 

    So, after a year of adoption preparation we had decided to adopt from the United States , and chose an agency called Adoption Advocates Inc. based in Largo , Florida . They had a short waiting period compared to other agencies, and we were rewarded when we received a proposal in September 2012, just five months after sending our dossier to the agency. The baby was due on December 21, 2012 and we eagerly began preparing for the arrival of our first child!

    Surprise, surprise she came early. Seven weeks early. Within 22 hours of her birth, I, Lanaya, was at All Children's Hospital, in St. Petersburg, Florida waiting to meet our baby girl whom we had named Lucy June. She had a tough start in life due to her preterm delivery as well as some drug use by her birth mom. The hospital specialized in caring for babies like Lucy and the doctors, nurses and practitioners were absolutely wonderful. We didn't know how long Lucy would be in hospital, but the estimate was that she would still be there through Christmas because she would be put on morphine for withdrawal.

    That never happened. 26 days after birth, Lucy was discharged in perfect health much to the amazement of the hospital staff. Shawn then flew down to meet his daughter in person at last. It was such a wonderful moment for our family of three to be together for the first time.

    We stayed in Florida for another four weeks waiting for the paperwork to be completed so we could get a passport for Lucy and fly home. We arrived home on December 20, 2012. Coming home was an amazing day. I can honestly say it was the most wonderful day of all in the entire exciting and stressful journey. Many prayers and tears had brought us to this day. We had several unexpected delays with the paperwork, and were so scared that we would be delayed even longer with all the offices being closed over Christmas. But again, God brought us through in the nick of time just to show that he was still in control. We had Lucy's last court hearing to finalize her adoption into our family on Wednesday,  March 6th 2013. It was so exiting and, although we never considered that it would not be granted, it was an odd relief. We completed the citizenship application in May 2013 and are waiting for approval.  

    Lucy is now 9 months old at the writing of this post, and we are starting to research our next adoption- we are not sure if that is where God has our next child waiting. I, Lanaya, am choosing to stay home with our daughter and work only one day a week beginning in the fall. We are researching other options and would love to hear from other families adopting babies and toddlers. We are interested in what countries are working well for Albertans. Please feel free to contact us if you have questions about time, cost, paperwork etc. our adoption from Florida, we love to help other people on their journey and we know that sometimes getting information is the hardest part in the whole process! 

Shawn and Lanaya
Alberta, Canada

For more information visit: www.abbacanada.com/project.aspx?asset=315