Adopted & Appointed is being created so that we can "proclaim from the housetops", those things that the Lord "has whispered in our ears" (Matthew 10:27) over these last years as we have been on our adoption journey. I've thought and prayed about how best to begin this blog and it seems that the email I sent to our family and friends recently sums it up best.
In the days and weeks to come, I will go into more detail of the story, but for now, here is the "big picture."
Family and dear friends!
We have exciting news! On the Tuesday morning of April 21st (2010) our adoption agency emailed us 6 pictures and the medical information on a little girl they matched to us! They believe she was born Oct. 7, 2009, so she is 7 months old. She has a chubby little face and lots of dark hair (of course!).
Some of you know, but some of you do not, that about a year ago the Lord laid on our hearts that we were to request a child with a special need. Healthy children in China have a high likelihood of being adopted. A child with special needs, however, is frequently abandoned in China with little hope for adoption (most families want one healthy boy). Because people with special needs are frequently stigmatized, their hopes for what we would deem a normal life are slim. Sadly, much of what is considered a special need in China is not here (birthmarks) or is medically correctable or treatable in the US offering a full life. The cost to do this for the average Chinese family is prohibitive and, again, they often choose abandonment.
Knowing all this, the Lord placed a burning in our hearts for these orphans. Initially, we sponsored a boy with club feet in response to this burden. This did not quench the fire in our hearts for these orphans, instead we became more educated and drawn. After prayer and research, the Lord directed us to the special needs He was specifically calling us to and we submitted what is called a "medical checksheet" specifying the needs we felt called to. All along, we felt strongly that our little one would have a missing limb, even though we were open to several other special needs. Li Ji Han, as she is called in the Welfare Institute (orphanage), is missing her lower left leg (about the knee down) and has 2 birth marks. She is beautiful!
I'd like to share one last thing with you who have been standing with us and supporting us these last 3 1/2 years (some of my sisters know it truly has been much longer in my heart!). It is a testimony to our faithful and deliberate God.
Adoption has been on my heart for almost exactly 13 years. During our first miscarriage, 3 months before I found out I was pregnant with Emma, I remember thinking and then verbalizing to my mom that if we couldn't have any more biological children, I thought we would adopt a little girl from China. Despite having 3 more biological children, the desire to adopt from China only grew stronger with each addition to our family. After Ally was born, the burden was almost painful! Kevin was fully aware of my desire, but was not in the same place. Some time not too long after Ally was born, I went to the Lord in prayer. I was at a turning point. I needed to know whether this desire to adopt was of Him or of me. I told Him that if it was not of Him, that was fine...I would take the thoughts captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Cor. 10:5) and move on. If it was of Him I would continue praying. I told Him (and meant it!) that I didn't care what the answer was, I just needed to know so I could be in His will. And our faithful, prayer hearing, prayer answering God answered me in my heart.
Here is what He said: "Mandy, you will adopt and her name will be Lily Rose, but you must be quiet. You may not speak of it to Kevin anymore, because you will manipulate him into this and you don't want this that way. Know I will let you manipulate him, and it will work, but that is not what you want."
I cried back to the Lord: "How long, Lord? How long must I wait? (meaning for her)"
And the Lord said, "Are you willing to wait five years?"
I said, "No, Lord, I'm not...but You are God and You are going to do what You want anyway [knowing He's perfect!], so yes, I will wait."
Now over the last several years since that conversation, the Lord dramatically changed Kevin's heart at the earliest possible moment. I had not known that we had been too young to adopt from China and short of income (among a couple of other disqualifiers)! It was only right when the Lord suddenly and dramatically changed Kevin's heart that we were qualified by China's standards to adopt! God knew this and we did not, but we then we understood His timing!
So, then, the nagging question in my mind had been: what did God mean by 5 years? I had truly hoped it was a metaphorical 5 years for "wait a while." You see, Aaron & Emma are 5 years apart in age and Emma & Anna Grace are 5 years apart. Anna Grace & Ally are only 17 months apart and at the time I really liked their closeness in age. I didn't want a big spacing again. To me, 5 years was representative of "a while"...I prayed the wait wouldn't literally be 5 years!
Well, over the last several months to a year, the Lord has impressed upon my heart that His timing is always exact and precise. He has set His kingdom calendar exactly and that whenever He mentions a time frame He fulfills it...exactly. Around this time, He gave me Habakkuk 2: 3:
For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end
and will not prove false.
Though it linger, wait for it;
it will certainly come and will not delay.
So, understanding that 5 years meant 5 years, I asked, "5 years from what, Lord?" From the conversation He and I had confirming we would adopt? I don't even know specifically when that was (trust me I've searched my journals to find the specific day!)! I knew God knew that date, but that wasn't measurable from a human perspective. Five years from when we started the paperwork? What?
Over the last few months, Anna Grace & Ally began pre-planning their birthday parties (months in advance!) as little girls do. One time Ally confirmed with me that she would indeed turn 6 this year. When I answered her that 'yes, she would turn six years old on October 26,' a light bulb went on in my heart. Could it be that the 5 years was 5 years from Ally in age? That was measurable! That made sense in the context of the dateless conversation the Lord and I had had. As the thought didn't go away, I took it to the Lord in prayer. The more I prayed about it, the more this thought kept seeming possible. It fit with the intensity our family had had on our hearts for her...because if this was true, then Lily was alive as I was having these thoughts! All of us have had such a fervency of thought and planning for her over the last several months. She was a topic of conversation almost daily. Friends were asking with increasing frequency.
The answer to whether that was what He meant by 5 years I knew would be answered on the day our agency told us they had a match. It was a 'we'll have to wait and see' thing. So while I waited I calculated. If it were to be 5 years in age from Ally, Lily would have to be born in Oct. 2009. In my mind, that meant that the earliest we would receive a match would be this summer (although babies are matched as early as 5/6 months, I thought that was unlikely in the Waiting Child program). We had indicated we were open to a girl as old as 36 months, so I knew the match day could be much further away than this summer, too. But, honestly, the fervency in my heart suggested sooner. So, I had myself set to not hear anything earlier than June. Some of you may call that a lack of faith...those of you who have been through an adoption journey know that is not true!
As you know from the beginning of the email, on April 21, 2010, our agency emailed us the file of a precious little girl born on....drumroll please!....October 7, 2009! Five years. Five years! Five years! We knew that just because the agency sent us a file, did not mean that that child was the one God had planned for us. But on April 21st, the baby looking at us from across the computer screen was ours and the Lord confirmed it with her birthdate...October 7, 2009. Five years in age from Ally! He is so faithful to do exactly as He says He will do so that we can say "Amen!" For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 1:20