Monday, October 24, 2011

Looking Back

"So, what made you guys decide to adopt?"  This is the question we get most often along with a look of shock and a breathless gasp.  You see, when your family has grown from 2 to 6 in 5 years people start gettin' concerned.  They say things like, "You know what causes this, right?" or "Surely, you guys are done now?"  Occasionally we have even gotten the "Oh, no!" response.  (You should see the scrambling to get out of that one!)  So, when you reveal that you're choosing to have more...through adoption...and you've never even mentioned it...and "how many little kids do you have, again?"... they just don't know what to do with you!

In sharing our news with others we can sometimes hear the thoughts:  "They've already got a houseful, and they are all so young!  They've already got their hands full!  Why would they need more kids?  Why would they want more kids?  How will they ever take care (and pay for) all of them?  I don't know how they will do it with the ones they've already got!"  Sometimes it's just simply, "Wow! You're adopting?  (Didn't see that one coming.)  Why?" And then there is the obvious thought: "Are they crazy?"  We've thought that one about ourselves a time or two!

So, this is a glimpse of how it all unfolded!  

We pushed the send button on our adoption application the same week we first considered adopting!  Had NO IDEA adoption was on our path.  Not a single blip on our radar.  WE NEVER SAW THIS ONE COMING!  Never even discussed it.  Never really thought about it.

One day it happened.  An advocate sent an urgent e-mail in search of a family that would step in and adopt a little girl whose adoption had fallen through.  There was urgency because of her stage in the adoption process and her age that could soon place her at risk of effectively being taken off radar for adoptive families.  The advocate was praying for a family that was willing to move quickly.

This was (and is) the only e-mail like this we have ever received!  You see, only 2 days prior to this e-mail we had received a password allowing us to view pictures of the children from this country.  Securing the password had been a chore!  Computer problems...scanner problems...redoing the process a few times over a couple of days!  We had no idea why we were even fooling with it!  It seemed like a big roadblock.  Looking back it was opposition.  If we had not been stubborn...if we had not pushed through...if we had delayed even 2 days, we would not have received that e-mail.  We would not have seen her picture.  She would not have been looking back at us.  If...

So, here's what it really looked like.  Melanie was the one really wanting to get the password, but not really even knowing why she wanted it. Will was the one fighting with the computer (his favorite pastime!). But, they got it done.  Neither was really sure why they were getting so dogged in their efforts.  Neither had a clue of what was about to go down!  Just a husband helping his wife navigate technology to get a silly password.

You see, Melanie had been stirred for several months about praying over children in different countries.  She was making it a habit, and she was looking for ways to get specific about needs and individual children.  The boys were even involved!  They were looking at websites, learning about far away countries, and realizing that many children didn't live the way they did!  It was a cool little way to pray for the world and for children and people facing challenges and conditions beyond our experience!  

Then, there were the cans!  In the months leading up to this, Melanie had been stirred about using our blessings to remember others,  using the gifts God had given us and sharing them with the world.  Melanie had the idea of saving the cans that our baby formula came in and saving money in them to give to something or someone.  We had no idea what it would be used for or where it would go.  We decorated the can and brainstormed about ways to grow the idea.  We prayed about what or who the money should be for. We listened and waited for direction, but heard nothing. So, by the backdoor it sat gathering change and few dollars as we passed it by each day.  Even the boys pitched in.  We tried to dream big of how God might use the money and the idea.  We were open to whatever He might call us to do with it.  Little did we know what His ideas were!

So, back to the e-mail.  This is how it played out.  Melanie took the password and went to the adoption website to pray over the children.  She had no idea what the marginalized and forgotten looked like, especially in this particular country.  The pictures made her sick to her stomach.  Pretty shocking.  Hard to believe.  Heartbreaking to see so many with no hope and no future and no one to choose them.  Their needs were great...overwhelming.  

The next day the e-mail arrived!  Are you kidding me?  The day after Melanie pushes back from the table of "getting more specific" a picture and an urgent request arrive.  And she is looking back at Melanie.  Sure, pictures can tug at your heart, but there was something unusual about this photo...  

So, Melanie leaves the e-mail pulled up on the desktop for the next couple of days.  Will sees the picture of the little girl and is struck.  Both look at her and pray without any discussion.  Now ya'll, this is hilarious!  Melanie can't bring herself to remove the e-mail from the screen, but the little girl is looking at her.  So, she scrolls the picture up so all she can see is the little girl's stockings! Seriously!  And you should have seen the picture!  It was GIANT!  You know, the kind when something goes wrong when a picture is embedded in an e-mail.  We're talking GIANT!  You know you're standard 15" x 9" photo!  I'm not kidding!  We think the picture was scaled to "actual size"!

So, God is working on Will and Melanie separately. Neither remember the words of their first conversation about the possiblilty of adoption, but it went something like this: "You thinkin' what I'm thinkin'?  Is He really asking us to do this?"  That was it.  Two people who had been skating at different speeds in the months preceeding found themselves in the same place.  Both had been haunted by the picture.  Both were getting His endorsement everywhere they turned.   God had placed His stamp on what they were to do.  Looking back...its hard to remember every detail, but His presence was unmistakeable.  

So, the next e-mail read, "My husband and I have been praying about this little girl. What can you tell me about her status right now?"  That was it.  This was 6 days after getting the password to look at the children awaiting adoption and 4 days after receiving the e-mail about this little girl.  The next e-mail said this: "Will and I believe that God has given us the direction to choose this little girl!"  That was the same day.  That night the application was sent.  Looking back...what a week!  

Some reflections:  "...that [our] faith should not rest on the wisdom of man, but on the power of God." 1 COR 2:5  That sums it up!  Not our wisdom, but His.  That we might be able to hear and be quick and steady to respond when He beckons.  That we might share with the world all that He has done and is doing... not keep a lid on his glory!  That we might praise Him loudly and boldly for choosing to use His redeemed ragamuffins to go out into the world and share His love that He has so richly blessed us with!  That we might praise Him for His wisdom with families. He knows best what our family should look like!
"Lord, command what you will, and give what you command."  Augustine


How did you decide on an adoption agency?  We didn't.  They found us.  Or more correctly, God decided!

How did you choose this little girl {in order to protect her privacy, we are going to call her by her initial, S}?  We didn't.  She found us.  Or more correctly, the Lord chose us to choose her!

How long did you spend researching and investigating and praying about adopting before you knew it was the right thing for you and your family?  4 days

How do you know God was behind all this?  The timing.  The preparation and stirrings in the months prior.  Every time we opened our Bibles, God's stamp was all over it.  The Holy Spirit and an undeniable and unshakeable sense that the decision was already made.  It was just up to us to respond and obey and do it right away!

Did you wrestle with the decision?  Melanie wrestled intensely for the first month and received that amazing peace that only comes from Him.  Lots of prayer and time in the Word with lots more endorsement from above.  Will tried, but couldn't come up with ONE  good reason not to!  Seriously, every reason he thought about couldn't hold water.  Both of us knew, God was inviting us on an adventure.  Both of us knew that our obedience was urgent.  Both of us experienced the fact that obedience often precedes understanding.  Both of us know Him and His heart better now.

Aren't you fearful?  Yep.  We have NO IDEA what this will look like.  Trying to have no expectations.  All we know is that our Lord is able to heal her completely but that her needs could be such that she is always with us.  Somewhere in the middle is where we are likely to end up.  God knows what is best for our family.  We remind ourselves of this fact often when our minds wander with fears and worries.  He knows what He is doing!

Where are you in the process?  Waiting on immigration approval and our first visit.  (Bulgaria requires the adoptive family take 2 trips). Hoping and praying that we'll get to go before Christmas.  It's iffy.  Pray.

Why are you adopting?  He said so.  And we can't wait!

Looking back...  
God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.  
Glory to God in the church! 
Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus!
Glory down all the generations!
Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
Ephesians 3:20-21, The Message



  1. I am THRILLED for your family! I cannot wait to hear how God works through you guys in the coming months. And I cannot wait to meet that precious, little girl! God is so good!!!

  2. S Carpenter
    I am crying!!! This is such an amazing blessing for me to read! Thank you Melanie and Will for listening to the LORD and not letting anything stand in the way...with all my love! Can't wait for Brian to read your blog!


  3. We are the family that had stepped out of your daughters adoption. A number of things had led to our decision to pull out, namely that God wasn't giving us a peace, our families were unsupportive and we weren't being blessed in our efforts to raise the money we needed to get her. We prayed and wept over our decision and I was praying she would quickly be snatched up by the godly family God had designed just for her. In our family she was going to be named "Alice" and I haven't stopped praying!!! I Googled her birth date along with Bulgaria adoption to find you and just wanted to let you know that we will continue to pray for you and your daughter and ALL that God has in store for you!! God BLESS you, truly!