There is a unique process when adopting from Ukraine. You must go through the entire adoption process of being approved from America and Ukraine without knowing the child you are adopting. Once you get to Ukraine you look through files of children that fall within your home study approved specifics of gender, age, and level of health of the child you hope to adopt. Upon choosing a child from the files, you will then visit their orphanage and spend time with this child to see if this is a child you want to adopt and if the child wants to join your family.
For our family, however, this process is very different. We were blessed to serve in a ministry called Bridges of Faith, where we met the children we are currently pursuing for adoption. The detailed version of our story is laid out in previous blog post, Long Story Long. Because we have met these children, we are allowed to request their files by name. This is wonderful, right? Well, while we do get the blessing of already knowing our children and watching them interact with our biological children, some agonizing situations have presented themselves because of our different process.
When you serve with Bridges of Faith, you are not permitted to speak about adoption to the children. This is a strict rule. There is an agreement between Ukraine and this ministry that it is absolutely not an adoption agency, but simply a foreign exchange program. Children in orphanages are sent to many countries for these types of programs during the summer and winter months. The underlining hope at Bridges of Faith, however, is that as children get exposure to families, they will feel drawn to pursue the children for adoption. While you may know that you desire to adopt a child you have met through Bridges of Faith, you may not discuss this with the child.
Once the children return to Ukraine, you are still advised to not discuss adoption with the child. There is wisdom in this regulation for various reasons. They have found that if the children know they are being adopted, then they may lose respect for their teachers/orphanage and this can get them into trouble. It is also true that sometimes the timeline does not happen as expected, which can make the children feel that their parents have lied or are not coming at all. You are still welcome to interact with the children through social media, but you may not discuss the adoption decision or process.
Some families will still choose to share with their child that they are pursuing them for adoption without incident. Of course, for our family this is not the case. Our specific orphanage director is a fierce proponent of this regulation. I used to be very frustrated by this, but I have recently realized that maybe she is actually being a fierce protector of these children after having to deal with brokenhearted children because of empty promises and mamas that never show up. I have grown to respect her choice, but it is not without great heartache.
You see, one of the precious children we are pursuing is in daily contact with our family. We exchange messages of “I love you” and “I miss you.” We also ask questions of each other, trying to get to know one another better. At the beginning of April, our sweet girl shared that she wants to be our forever daughter! Oh my word, I cannot begin to express how much that meant to our family. Our world stopped in that moment and we cried happy tears, rejoicing to know she indeed wants to be a part of our family! A few minutes later, however, our stomachs dropped when we realized we are not allowed to speak of such things.
I contacted our facilitator, who strictly expressed that we were to not reply at all to this beautiful message. Minutes later, our sweet girl would write a message asking, “You do not want to take me on forever?” Our happy tears quickly came rushing through with tears of agony. This is my daughter and I cannot comfort her with the truth that we love her, we are fighting to bring her home, and we are so happy that she wants to join our family. Our facilitator called and shared with us that another family adopting from the same orphanage told their child and the orphanage director threated to report the family to the SDA in Ukraine, which could shut down their adoption in its tracks. We were helpless to comfort our daughter, because we have protect our process so we could bring her home. We were physically upset for days.
Our sweet girl is now asking if we are hosting anyone for the summer. Bridges of Faith not only brings ten Ukrainian orphans to their camp for one month, they will also bring former children who have visited the camp to be hosted privately in approved homes. The concept is that families will meet children at Bridges of Faith, decide to privately host them in the following season, and then decide to adopt them. Because we feel led to adopt six children, we decided to forgo the home hosting and just begin the adoption process right away. Home hosting costs $2,500 per child, which is half the cost of the fees to adopt the additional children after we pay the $30,000 for the first child (the post Long Story Long also breaks down the financial aspects of our adoption with greater depth). I know our sweet girl is asking about home hosting to try to see if we are home hosting her for the summer – again trying to find out if we are adopting her. Once again, per our facilitator’s guidance, we must not reply.
I got really upset about this season yesterday. This precious child is desperate for affirmation and hope that we are not just interacting with her to be nice, but that we are coming to get her and bring her home. Though she desires to know and have her heart put to peace, she cannot know now. Though she sits with wonder and desire to know, we are actively working out the end of her story, already working to bring her home. As I was conversing with a friend, God shed a HUGE light on our journey. You see, we are also in a fog of waiting and not knowing. When we began this journey, we knew that we would be able to care for six additional children on the day to day, but did not have the upfront funds for the $55,000 in adoption fees that we would need to bring the children home. From the very beginning, we prayed and told God that we want Him to provide in such a way as to show the whole world that when He calls you to something big and scary, He will provide in big and mighty ways. I promised Him that He would receive all the glory and praise throughout our adoption and that we would share this journey and what He has done.
So far, through savings, tax return and generous donations, God has provided over $30,000 for our adoption. This translates as us currently having enough to adopt our first child (our sweet girl I have been sharing about in this post) and just over half for a second child. This is terrifying for me. The questions come in tsunami waves and spiral our thoughts out of control.
“Is God going to come through?”
“Maybe I am not doing enough to bring in funds?”
“Maybe He never intended for us to adopt six children?”
Where there is lack of funds coming through at the rate I had hoped for, there is a developing doubt as to how many children God would have us pursue – apart from the original leading to adopt six. So we sit with confusion and heartache, begging God for affirmation and direction. I see how the enemy has started to twist my questions from honest inquiry to doubting the call and ourselves.
So it hit me! Our assumed lack of information from God and desire of affirmation parallels our sweet girl’s lack of information from us and her desire of affirmation! So, I believe, God opened my eyes that just as we are working hard to bring our daughter home but it is not time for her to know yet, God could also be working hard to provide provision and direction for us in this adoption, but it is not time for us to know yet! HUGE ‘aha’ moment. So as I hope that our sweet girl will have peace in her heart and trust that we are working for her good – I must also hold onto God’s peace in my heart and trust that God is working for our good.
Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
This adoption is God’s design for our family, not a pursuit that we conjured up on our own. He will meet and exceed our needs – I know it. He is able. He is sufficient. He will be our Peace and our Sustainer as we wait on His provision and direction. He is good and He has never failed us. Never. He will not start now. Glory to God! So once again we ask for your prayers, for your encouragement and for your financial support as you are able and moved by God to do so. We are all called to care for orphans – though we may not all be called to adopt – you can support orphans by helping us bring these sweethearts home. Thank you so much for following our journey. God is good!