This is the first in a series of posts about our adoption story. It’s a miraculous story and I pray God uses it to speak to other families who are considering adoption. So many boys and girls like our Vladik wait and wait for their lives to begin. Every child deserves the love of a family. Would you read with an open heart and ask God how He would have you respond?
This is a love story. For God so loved Vladik, that He preserved his life until the day his mommy and daddy would find him. For God so loved our family, that He picked us up out of our lives and dropped us across the world so that we could find our baby.
One night, in August 2010, with newborn Seth, our foster baby asleep at my side, I was browsing online. I have no idea what I was looking for, but somehow I came across the blog of a woman who had just returned from Ukraine, having adopted two little girls with Down Syndrome. Her story caught my attention and I ended up reading her whole adoption story in one evening. One blog led to another, which led to another, and pretty soon I found myself immersed in a world I had had no idea existed, the world of special needs adoption. My heart was broken in two, never to be the same.
Jed and I always knew we would adopt someday. We believed in orphan care and it was important to us. Since before we were married we had dreamed of moving overseas to care for orphans. That’s why I became a nurse! While we waited for God to send us overseas we fostered medically fragile babies. So yeah, adoption was on our radar, but not orphans with disabilities, or kids with disabilities in general. We just hadn’t thought of it. Well, maybe that’s not all true. We had thought of it, and then rejected it. “Yes, we’ll adopt- but only healthy kids. We could never raise a child that would require our hands-on care forever.” We fostered babies with special needs, but that wasn’t permanent.
A while later I came upon Julia’s blog. Julia was advocating, and still does advocate, for orphans with disabilities. Fun Fact: We have since met each other twice here in Ukraine, and Julia even got to come to Romaniv to meet our Boys! Isn’t God fun? Julia was advocating for a little guy in Ukraine with Apert Syndrome. Did you know our new son Vladik has this same syndrome? Like I said, God is fun 🙂 I had never heard of that syndrome, didn’t know anything about it, but that boy struck me. I read her post and learned that he was 4 years old and about to be transferred to a bad place- an institution. He needed to be adopted quickly. I’m telling you what, I fell for that baby hard. Jed came home one night to a red-faced, sobbing wife and was a little confused. Ha! I started rambling to him about Ukraine and orphans with disabilities and mental institutions and teenagers in cribs and “aging out” and he stood there shocked. I told him “We have to DO SOMETHING. We can’t just sit by and let this happen. We have to do something!!!” He was a little shell shocked, but agreed to pray about it and see if God laid it on his heart as well. What a guy. 🙂
In the meantime “Jonah”, the little Apert guy was constantly on my mind. His face was in my dreams. I would weep over him and all the little ones in cribs as I did the dishes. My heart ached and the ache wouldn’t stop. The Holy Spirit was at work. God was working in Jed’s heart too, and soon we were both praying about how to respond to Jonah, specifically. We prayed for many months. We sought council from our parents and our pastor. We prayed some more. Then in early 2011, after much prayer, many miracles and confirmations (SO MANY), it became abundantly clear that God was asking us to move forward to adopt Jonah.
We were so excited!!! This sweet one who had captured our hearts would be our son! Gone were the worries about raising a child who would need our care forever. We could have cared less. All of our old worries and hesitations seemed so selfish. In the light of what these babies suffer without a mommy and daddy to fight for them, in the light of what Jesus did for us…how could I be worried about losing our “empty nester” years??? Our baby needed us.
So, we sent in the initial committment paperwork and money to say to the adoption world “You don’t need to advocate for this one anymore, we’re coming for him!” In Ukraine there is no referral given to adoptive families before they travel. You can pursue the adoption of a certain child, but until you actually get to Kyiv and request their file there is no guarantee that you will actually get that child. Another family could go there first and adopt them, not knowing your intentions. You could get there and that child may not even be adoptable. There are many unknowns. We were aware of that, but when we got the email a few weeks after we had sent in our initial paperwork, letting us know that another American family who was already in Ukraine was adding our boy to their adoption, we were utterly devastated.
Shocked. Heartbroken. Confused. Happy for our Jonah, that he could have a mommy and daddy so soon, but heartsick that they were not us.
We had loved Jonah from afar for many months and now we would never even get to meet him. God had spoken so clearly. We had researched the heck out of Apert Syndrome and felt so well-equipped. Miracles had paved the way for us to begin the adoption process. God, what was that all about? What were you doing? Why?
Then God spoke again. Jed was out mowing the lawn, praying, asking God what He was up to and he felt God speak to Him so clearly,
“Jed, I am so much more interested in the process than in the end result. You have one end result in mind, but I’m taking you on a journey. I needed you to love Jonah like a father. I needed you to love him with abandon. I needed you to have that father’s heart for Jonah because I need you to love lots of little boys and girls like Jonah.”
And so it happened that a little boy with Apert Syndrome caught our hearts and led us to Ukraine. A little boy with Apert Syndrome broke our hearts for Ukrainian orphans. He helped us to fall in love with children with disabilities- so in love that we would give up everything and cross the world to touch them and smile at them and hold them in our arms. God used Jonah to start us on the best journey of our lives- the journey to our Boys and our own little treasure, our Vladik.
To be continued 🙂