We officially decided to adopt internationally in April of 2006. We knew from a young age that we wanted to adopt and while we were dating discussed how we were both drawn to International adoption. (You can read more about our personal decision to adopt here.) We sent off for many adoption packets to get more information about adoption but we still had not yet decided on a specific country to adopt from. After much prayer and speaking with others who had rave reviews about their agency, we chose the same Christian adoption agency. At the time, the agency only served a few countries and we had the daunting task of choosing a country where our child would be waiting for us. For many reasons, we excitedly decided on China!
First of all, Brad had been able to travel to Asia many times for business and also for a mission trip. During his travels, he developed a great love and respect for the Asian culture and hardworking people. We also had spoken to our children’s pediatrician who was in the process of adopting from China and she spoke of the inexpensive cost of China as well as the very stable process they provided for adoptive families. Many years prior to our decision to adopt, we had attended a Family Life seminar with Steven Curtis Chapman. He spoke about his decision to adopt and his ministry called Shaohannah’s Hope. As he shared about adopting several times through China, his testimony pierced our hearts and the desire to adopt resurfaced and began stirring in our hearts. As we tearfully watched his video, “When Love Takes You In”, the realization of adopting a child who may not physically look like us began to biblically resonate how we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27). We left the seminar with packets full of information on adoption and our hearts full of anticipation of the Lord’s future plans for our lives! This experience, along with many others made a lasting impression on us as well as thrusting China to the forefront of our minds.
Shortly after this conference, we began the process for our adoption. We were informed that it would probably be around 10-12 months after we completed our paperwork when we would receive our child. Yet, as the months went on, that length became greater and greater. By the spring of this year, we were told that it would be three years or more until we would receive our daughter. At this point, we began discussing and praying about other possibilities. It was our desire that our adopted children be close in age to our biological children for obvious reasons. Thus, after this very difficult period of time, we decided that we needed switch our agency to Gladney to allow us follow our hearts to a newly opened country: Ethiopia.
This rather “sudden” change has caused several family members and friends to ask, “Why did you change to Ethiopia? I thought God called you to adopt from China.” This type of question certainly deserves a proper response: one that is logical; yet, most importantly biblical.
As we sought to answer these questions, we were, once again assured of the sufficiency of God’s Word. It seemed as though when our loved ones asked these questions, they were expecting a response that included signs, wonders or dreams. And, although God can most certainly do whatever He chooses, it remains clear to us today that He speaks through His Word and the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, just as we could not “pin-point” a place in Scripture that said, “Go to China!” so we could not find a place that said, “Now, go to Ethiopia!”
What we realize, however, is that God has sufficiently revealed His will to us in the Word of God; and where His Word is silent, we are free to act (so long as our actions do not contradict His revealed Word). This concept of our freedom in Christ is something that a friend of ours impressed upon our hearts several years ago, and it is now a principle that we live by. In other words, God has said, “I love adoption, I love the nations, you are free to act accordingly.”
God has told us to care for the widows and orphans. How we chose to fulfill this command is within the realm of our Christian liberty; however, we have chosen to fulfill it through adoption. Some Christians volunteer at Nursing Homes. Others given money to international orphanages. Still others participate in short-term mission trips in order to work with the fatherless and the widowed. Each of these examples certainly fulfills the commands of the Scriptures. However, none of these are explicitly stated in Scripture.
Therefore, as the wait time for international adoption from China kept increasing, we realized that we should at least consider the possibility of changing countries. Then, once we looked into Ethiopian adoption, we fell in love with the people of this ancient land.
We are very well aware of the racial tension and race issues that may surface with our decision to adopt internationally; however, we cannot be swayed by the societal norms that are sadly unbiblical. We must follow the calling upon our lives and be obedient to our Lord and Savior even though we know we might face storms that rage ahead of us. We are confident in our Heavenly Father’s guidance who assures us in Deuteronomy 1:30, “The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you....”. All of our children are bathed in prayer and we will teach them the precepts in God’s word, so they will have a strong foundation, a clear understanding that they were created in God’s image and the promise of eternity with Him so long as they follow Him and Him alone. The Lord calls us to follow Him, but He does not say we will not endure hardships. “In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.” (2 Timothy 3:12) Interestingly enough, I came across an old African proverb that so perfectly states:
“Smooth seas do not make skilled sailors”
We have certainly not “abandoned” China as some have suggested. However, we realize that given the changes in circumstances, China was no longer a feasible option for us. It is possible that we may return to adopt from China some time in the future, but as of now, we are confident that God is pleased, and will be ultimately glorified, in our decision to adopt from Ethiopia.