No, I'm not pregnant, but Lord willing our family will welcome a new addition sometime early next year. Our family and some friends know the details of this journey we have started, but here is the story.
Eric and I have were introduced to the Rosenow family and The Shepherd's Crook Ministry many years ago by some friends at our church. The Shepherd's Crook is a ministry to help orphans, in particular those with special needs, be adopted into Christian families. We have for many years now set aside one night during our family worship time to pray for the specific orphans they are trying to find homes for, and have helped them financially when we are able. Late last summer we received an email from them about a little girl in Ethiopia (about 7 years old) who had a heart defect. There are no cardiac surgeons in Ethiopia and they were working with this girl's adoption agency, Gladney Center for Adoption, to find a home for her where she could receive the medical care she needs. Because of Abby, any child with a heart condition pricks my own heart and we prayed regularly for this little girl to find a family. Not us of course - Grace was only 3 months old, we were starting a new year of home school, we now had two children in college and certainly not enough money to pay for an adoption, and besides that we had like 20 other children (ok not quite that many, but many days it does feel like it!) And besides that, the emotions involved with taking on another child with a heart defect was very scary to me. Just driving by the hospital where Abby died brings on such a flood of emotions that to even think about going there and meeting with those same doctors was not something I wanted to tackle. Well the Lord answered our prayers, or so we thought, when a family stepped forward and she was dropped from the Shepherds Crook updates. Three months later we received another email saying that the family that inquired about her had backed out and she was still without a family. We prayed again for a family to step forward for her. Email after email saw no family stepping forward for her. I mentioned to Eric that maybe we should pray about adopting her. He looked at me with the same kind of look that I felt - that is that this was something neither one of us really thought we could do at this point.
On another track Eric and I have been reading through Calvin's Institutes this year. Now Calvin doesn't say anything about adopting orphans from Ethiopia, but the more we read Calvin the more we became convicted. Referring to adoption and the gospel,I read this in another book (written by a pastor that adopted):
"As soon as you peer into the truth of the one aspect, you fall headlong into the truth of the other, and vice versa. That's because it's the way the gospel is. Jesus reconciles us to God and to each other. As we love our God, we love our neighbor; as we love our neighbor, we love our God. We believe Jesus in heavenly things - our adoption in Christ so we follow him in earthly things- the adoption of children. Without the theological aspect, the emphasis on adoption too easily is seen as mere charity. Without the missional aspect, the doctrine of adoption too easily is seen as mere metaphor....The gospel of Jesus Christ means our families and our churches ought to be at the forefront of the adoption of orphans close to home and around the world. As we become more attuned to the gospel, we'll have more of a burden for orphans. As we become more adoption friendly, we'll be better able to understand the gospel."
I think that was what was happening as we read Calvin - we were becoming more attuned to the gospel, until finally one day Eric calls and says something like "look this orphan has been placed in front of us -are we going to obey God and care for her or are we going to walk away? We need to adopt her." By the way - this was a long process - it took us about 3 months to make the decision.
Thus started the paperwork - oh the paperwork. I think my pediatrician about fell out of his chair when I said I had to bring ALL of the children in for a well check-up because we were adopting! Poor guy - he had to fill out several forms for each child! We were not the most speedy with the paperwork, but we are finally finished!
During this time we were able to talk to a doctor who had brought this girl to the states for a heart surgery last summer. The defect she has is normally fixed here in the states when the child is an infant. They were not able to do the full repair because if she was never adopted they would not be able to monitor a needed shunt which she could grow out of. This doctor was very helpful in going over the diagnosis and telling us a little about this sweet girl. Of course the doctor also let us know that not only did this girl have a heart defect, but she also has severe scoliosis and significant hearing loss, although the doctor said the hearing loss was not congenital and should be able to be fixed with surgery. We were not jumping up and down with joy to hear that she had more medical issues, but now even the more anxious to get her over here.
Our dossier is completed and hopefully will be making its way to Ethiopia soon. Eric and Amy will be traveling there to pick her up. We do have some pictures, but we are not allowed to post them until the Ethiopian government actually approves us - but she is cute!
We have learned a lot through this process and are very thankful for God's faithfulness and provision for us. Every time money was due - he provided the money. We had a big chunk due this month and we last week received notice that we were awarded a grant to cover part of it. We have been encouraged to see God's working in all of this.
Everyone is anxious to get her here and I will continue to update here on our progress. We would appreciate your prayers during this time.