Sunday, September 29, 2013

An Open Letter to our Adopted Child

To our adopted child…

We have wanted you for ages. In fact for years before you were born, we wanted you. God has been preparing us for you for a long time.

Maybe it’s better if I start back at the beginning. When I was a child I remember being drawn by the idea of adoption. I pretended that I had ‘adopted’ my stuffed animals. When I saw news stories about kids without parents, it broke my heart. I remember watching movies like Disney’s Rescuers and Annie, and my emotions were tugged. TV shows like Different Strokes highlighted adoption while embracing the different colors of God’s children. As I grew older and I saw movies about the defenseless, the fatherless, and the lonely being protected, I was inspired. God was preparing me for you.

I know your mom played with dolls growing up, caring for them, loving them, teaching them and feeding them. Some of her favorite movies were about orphans….and singing (Annie and the Sound of Music). She watched shows like Little House on the Prairie which showed her a story of adoption. They had a home daycare where even as a young teen your mom got to love on real babies, playing with them, caring for them and feeding them. God was preparing her for you.

When your mom and I started dating we shared our desires to adopt. The idea had grown in each of us before we met and now we shared something special in God’s heart. We discussed our shared desire to adopt teens. Our dating years came and went. They flashed by as we finished High School and started college. Yet, God gave us many opportunities for practice and training with our nephews and nieces. We had no idea what God had in store, but know this…He was preparing us for you.

We married while attending a Christian college and soon after we started supporting a child from Compassion International. This was a small way to help a child in need. We prayed for and invested in the life of that child. Our classes taught us more about God’s love. God was preparing us for you.

After a couple more years at college, we joined a team of church planting missionaries going to Ancona, Italy. We experienced highs and lows on the mission field, but through it all we saw God’s plan for Italy and our lives. During our time in Italy, we once again thought of adoption. Our normal travel schedule was that we would be in Italy for two years and back in the states for six months. We found that Italy wouldn’t allow foreigners to adopt Italian children and there were hurdles with adopting children in America while we were living abroad. We remembered an orphanage that we knew in an Asian country and sent them an email. We heard nothing. We looked at other opportunities, but didn’t really get anywhere. Months later, God led us to move to another city in Italy and help lead a church plant there. We were packing our things in Italy and coming back to the states to raise awareness and a team when we received the apology email from the orphanage. They had received our email but it went to their junk mail folder. They told us they were happy to help us adopt, but because of the move it wasn’t the right time. It seemed God was still working through us and preparing us for you.

While we were in the states preparing ourselves and our new team, we took a training course called Perspectives. The course looked at God’s heart for the nations. The presenters would often give us suggestions of events and opportunities that helped us keep a heart open to the nations. We went to a few of the events. One event was at a church that was hosting a group of orphans from Russia. There were teens and older children that spoke and sang in a choir. Their stories and the stories of other children like them shook us. We felt the increased pull of adoption, but not at that time. God wasn’t ready for us to adopt at that time, but He used their stories to continue molding our hearts. God was preparing us for you.

At a Christian concert in late 2008, we heard two different pleas. One was for Compassion International and the other was for an international adoption agency. We were still preparing to return to Italy, and while we talked seriously about the adoption challenge, we felt that that at that time God was wanting us to get back involved with Compassion International after a few years absence. Again, we provided financial resources for food and Bible training for a child around the world. Again we were praying and loving a new child, even if it was “long distance”. God was preparing us for you.

After almost two years of preparation, God sent us back to Italy – to the city of Verona. Three months after barely settling in, we received the kind of phone call you would never want to receive. My brother was in a terrible car accident and we needed to return to America. We came back to help our broken hurting family even while we also were broken and hurting. It would take God the next few years to heal our brokenness. However, through this tragedy God transformed us from an Aunt and an Uncle to substitute parents of our niece and nephews in the place of my brother. Their ages ranged from 14 to 21. Looking back, we realize God had been preparing us for this. And through this too God was preparing us for you.

In 2010, our church showed a video from the 111Project. This project has brought attention to the need of churches to see how they could make an impact in the foster system. This pulled at our hearts and brought to mind how God had given us a desire to adopt. Since my brother’s accident we had been taking care of him at home. We were still figuring out how this worked and what a normal life looked like for us. Yet the thought of being there for a child in need hit us hard, yet we waited as God healed our hearts. God was still preparing us for you.

In 2012, life seemed to turn a corner. I became an elder at our church and we began to become more involved in local ministry again, even as we continued to take care of my brother and his kids. Later that year, I would even become the Youth Minister at this same church. Throughout the year, close friends of ours waded through the waters of local adoption through DHS and it seemed to be less difficult than we imagined. We saw once more that children needed forever families, but this time we saw it in Oklahoma. God was preparing us for you.

In November, right after Thanksgiving in 2012, we were watching news that had been recorded on our DVR. We rarely watch the news, but this time we had seen something that drew our interest. While watching, a segment for “Waiting Child” came on. Waiting Child shows an interview with a child that is waiting to have a forever family. Your mom and I both remember seeing these interviews on TV when we were kids. So because of a bit of nostalgia and actual interest we watched. And after watching it, we looked at each other and rewound it to watch it again. Reality hit again that there truly were kids out there, teens that were longing to have a family that loved them and right here in the same state! We spent the next several days talking about it. God was preparing us for you.

We decided to move forward and find out more about local adoption, then start the process. That is how we got to this point of meeting you. We cannot wait to meet you, hold you, love you and guide in a knowledge that honors God and brings others to Him. God has prepared us for you.

You will be part of a family that loves the Lord, likes to laugh, enjoys games together, celebrates life joyfully, comes together in difficult times, knows the importance of praying together and longs to tell others about Jesus. God has prepared us for you.

And I want to tell you something, you are God’s child. And you are made in His image. This is something that we believe fully. And you are made with a purpose. God wants to use you in His kingdom, to use you in His story. You will be magnificent in the adventure that God has planned for you, if you choose to follow Him. God has prepared you for Him.

We already love you and that love will only continue to grow. We look forward to being together as a family just as God has prepared.

Your Dad and Mom