In 2011, my husband came home from a year-long deployment. We were so excited to learn a month later that we were expecting our fifth child. A few weeks later, however, we would lose her to a devastating miscarriage. I had no idea that this would be the journey God would have us travel, as we never had problems getting pregnant or delivering healthy babies before or after. We were crushed. A few months later though, in God’s amazing kindness, we would get pregnant again and deliver a very healthy and beautiful baby girl.
Though we were completely shattered by the loss our precious baby, God had another blessing waiting for us who would prove to be such an incredible addition to our lives. We will always grieve our sweet baby that we lost, always think of her and remember. And yet, we are beyond grateful for our daughter that we do have – who would not be here had our miscarriage not happened. Beauty out of ashes.
I read early on in our adoption decision that adoption can often be the hardest journey of your life. I thought that was a wee bit dramatic of a concept – how blissfully ignorant I can be. As I have shared before, we fell in love with a sibling group of four, an older girl, and another girl – these six comprising the group we are pursuing for adoption. Bridges of Faith – the amazing organization that hosts Ukrainian orphans, where we met these incredible children and began this journey – has a strict rule that because they are not an adoption agency, we are not allowed to speak about adoption and (very strictly) not allowed to mention adoption to the children.
So while we may form strong bonds with the children, we may not officially share with them our intention to adopt them. The children we are pursuing for adoption do not know officially that we are pursuing them. In fact, in a usual Ukrainian adoption, a family would not know who they are adopting until they are in Ukraine to finalize the adoption. You would complete all the paperwork and travel to Ukraine, you would tell them the specifics of who you would like to adopt (sex, age, health status), and they would give you the file of a child matching your specifics.
Another fact of Ukraine adoptions is that the child has full control of their future. They are the ones who have to tell the court that they specifically want to be adopted by you. Children can spend time with you in their orphanage (per the rules) and want you to adopt them, and then change their mind and deny you in court. So you can see how this can provide a level of anxiety in the process and the potential of utter heartbreak.
We have now experienced our first heartbreak in this process.
We lost her. Her. This incredible teenage girl who would run up to us as soon as we came onto the campground. Her. This young woman who we already planned out her bedroom and what her life would look like in our home. This young woman who my youngest child would hold his arms out for and cling to when she would pick him up every time we were together. Her. This beautiful soul who wrote, “We love you,” in the dust on the back of our vehicle and would tell me she loves me when we would embrace. This young woman who would be the force behind our urgency in this adoption as she was soon turning 16 and would become ineligible for international adoption – basically sealing her dark fate.
We lost her. But, as it turns out, she was never really ours. We would learn upon her return to Ukraine that there was already a family deeply invested in her who was pursuing her for adoption. This orphan, was not an orphan after all, but a deeply loved daughter of a beautiful family.
We cried. Cried for days. How could this happen? How could this be? She was our daughter – we felt it in our bones – our whole family knew she was our daughter, our sister, our grandchild. Devastated. We lost her. This adoption process has felt like a pregnancy, and this loss … it felt like a miscarriage. Losing a daughter, losing the hope of a future we were already dreaming about.
Hope. Hope has returned. This gracious, gracious family who is adopting her has exchanged contact information and we are following them on social media to get to be a small part of her journey and possibly visit her at some point in the future. We are so excited for her and this new step in her life. She has been chosen, pursued, loved and cherished. We praise God that she is no longer an orphan, but a daughter. God is good.
This. This is love. Love is knowing it may hurt. Love is knowing there can be loss. Love is passionately pursuing, regardless if the love is matched in the end.
So what does this mean for our journey? Well, to be honest, we are not sure. The other children who were with the group at Bridges of Faith all have siblings, so that is not possible for us to take on more than six. It is possible for us to meet a child when we are visiting the orphanage in January/February and we will make them our sixth. Or we may only come home with five. In the end, we just want to be like the Father – we want to rescue. Rescued people rescue people.
The kicker. Each child has to choose us – so at any point we could lose another or all of the children we are pursuing. But. We are resolved to pursue six orphans, regardless of their name – whether they were here for Bridges of Faith or not. It is entirely possible that these children were who God used to open the door for others we have yet to meet.
Faith. This is a Moses faith journey, as I like to call it. This journey that can be met with great triumph, joy, victory and love … may also provide us with fear, frustration, loss and defeat. This is why we remain desperate for your prayers. Desperate. Prayers not only for the material needs that we have in this ($55,000 for the adoption, a 15 passenger van, furniture and clothing for the children), but even greater for our spiritual needs. Prayers that we will remain resolved to stay the course to the end of this process – regardless of the loss and frustration we may face. Prayers that we will stay close to Christ as He develops us and prepares us for the future and all the changes ahead. Prayers for the process to go smoothly and the timing to work out right. Prayers for these precious orphans and our biological children as we adjust to life as one family.
Thank you again for keeping up with our journey. We are so excited to share each step with you, each lesson learned, each movement of God on our behalf – to provide hope to others, to provide inspiration for others to start their own adoption journey, to shine a light on the amazing ministry – Bridges of Faith, and to bring glory to God as we dedicate our lives to be a voice for orphans around the world. God bless you.