It all started for us about 10 years ago (2001) on a trip to RUSSIA. A time when we left our comfort zone to journey around the world to have our eyes opened to another culture. As we traveled around Russia our eyes were opened to the needs of so many children that had a bleak future. On one occasion, we sat with a group of orphan girls in their early teens and in the conversation we asked them what they wanted to do with their life…silence. They were unable to imagine a future outside of the orphanage. Our interpreter went on to explain that most of the girls that are eventually released from the orphanage end up on the streets in a life of prostitution. At another center for children, Andy met a boy named Yuri and Alicia met a little girl, Natasha, that touched both of our hearts. If we had been able to bring her home we would have. Who would have thought at that time, that it was just the first of little seeds that God was planting on our hearts.
In 2003, we joined a team from the church to work on a church in Mexico. On this trip, we enjoyed the people of Latin America. We worked side by side with people from the church and we experienced their love for the Lord and their generosity toward us. The Lord used this trip to continue to open our eyes to the poverty around us. We have been to Mexico since that trip and our love for the Latin American people has continued to grow. The Lord began to speak through his word about our treatment of the poor. In Matthew 25, Jesus speaks about the expected actions of His followers. He commends His followers (the sheep) for caring for the sick, poor and imprisoned. They reply that they don’t know when they served Him in such a way. He replies, `I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.' (Mt. 25:40)
The Lord began to use friends to speak to our hearts about the needs of orphans and our need to act. At church, Rick & Kris Lutz went to China on two separate occasions to adopt Kaitlyn and then, Makenzie.
Dan & Diane Ruch traveled to Guatemala to adopt Sofia. We had the privilege of going to the courthouse with Dan & Diane as they finalized the adoption of Sofia. As Dan sat before the judge and was asked specific questions about bringing Sofia into their family and providing her with all the rights of one of his children, even extending to her the full rights of inheritance…we were struck by the picture of adoption used in Scripture to describe our relationship to God through Jesus Christ. In Ephesians we read that we were chosen by God to be adopted as his children through Christ (Eph 1:5). In 1 John 3:1, we read about the love of God that has been lavished upon us that we might be called children of God. And in Romans 8, we read about the fact that in Christ, we are co-heirs with Christ. If God sacrificed so much to rescue us from a hopeless eternity, and in Christ adopt us as His own children…what are we doing to change the hopeless future of children around the world? At the time, the problem was too large, and we found many reasons not to adopt.
In 2009, at the Ladies retreat for our church, Alicia began to wrestle seriously with the issue of adoption. Kris Lutz shared about a boy in china that was a close friend of Makenzie who was eligible for adoption. Alicia had a long conversation with Diane Ruch about adoption and upon returning home from the retreat, we talked about the possibility of adoption. Although Alicia was leaning toward adoption, Andy was able to come up with a number of reasons not to adopt. This topic was dropped for a while.
In 2010, when a severe earthquake devastated Haiti, our hearts were drawn to the need of so many who were hurt and homeless, and again the plight of the orphan was before us. A passage of Scripture that began to resound in our hearts was James 1:27, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” The Lord began to work on our daughter’s heart through this tragedy in Haiti. Ariana began to be concerned for the orphans in Haiti and around the world. The topic of adoption did not come up, but the Lord was at work in all of our hearts in different ways.
For Christmas, Andy had asked for the book “Radical” by David Platt. Alexa bought her daddy the book without realizing that this book would be the final push that would change our family. The book laid out a clear challenge to examine our “American Christianity” and the way that we seek security and safety. Andy began to realize that God was calling him to examine his reasons for not sacrificing self in order to give a home and a family to one child that was facing a “hopeless” future. Every reason he came up with seemed to be very selfish, so he brought up the issue of adoption with Alicia. Within a few days, we were moving quickly toward the conclusion that this was the right action for our family. We decided to talk with Ariana first…at hearing the news, her excitement was not able to be contained. She quickly crossed the kitchen to the computer to show us a project she was working on for school…a poem about poverty, orphans and the need for people to reach out and help. Here is the poem that Ariana had written for her project:
LOVE, PEACE and HAPPINESS
What is love?
What is peace?
What is happiness?
Do people know
What these words
Children grow up
Abandoned and rejected.
They grow up
And other crimes.
What will they do
When they get older?
Only what they
If we all help
Life will be better
You have a life
Choose to use it
The right way.
Alexa was also ready and excited about the possibility of adoption. As a family, we began to pray and discuss the reasons to adopt and how adoption will affect our family. With each day, the decision to adopt seemed to become more and more of a reality for our family.
Alicia contacted Diane Ruch and Kris Lutz to get their counsel. We began to share with our family and close friends for their counsel and prayers. Everyone was supportive, and some shared that they were not surprised. We are excited as we continue our journey to adopt, yet now as the process begins in earnest, we know that there will be many ups and downs.
Our hope and prayer, as you read this, is that you will be able to join us along on our journey and that this will be a reminder to you all to be praying for us. That God would be going before us in this journey and through all of it we will be giving Him the glory! Thank you for praying for us.