Today marks an anniversary in our family. It's the day, twelve years ago that I stood before my friends and family, before the Lord, and committed to love and cherish, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. Little did I know on that day where the next twelve years would take us.
I had no idea that in our lifetime we would go from praying to God to let us have a baby to something totally different. At a time in my married life, I wanted nothing more than to birth my own children. To know what a part of me and part of him would look like. (Dear goodness, I prayed that the child would not come out hairy like my husband!) I had no idea that God would lead us through sadness when after trying for months, my sister announced she was pregnant. It shattered me. And then, God led us towards an open window. Hosting--an orphan from far away. Six weeks. Show him love. Teach him grace. Keep a correspondence with him after he returns home to his country. I had no idea the love I would feel for this little boy who spoke very little of my language and I of his. I had no idea how hard it would be to put him back on a plane-- the first time, second, third, forth, and fifth time.
I had no idea that God would lead us to him. For God to lead us to a foreign land, then in the last hour, close a door right in front of us. I had no idea how I would possibly go on. How could I love another? I remember laying in his bed, crying out to God for clarity. Why? I have no idea how we pulled ourselves together and went to another country. It was by the grace of God. Someone once said to me- "Your son lead you to Ukraine. Maybe God used him to be a messenger." I had no idea that five years into our marriage, I would fall in love with a little girl who was not of my own flesh, and never again regret not birthing our own children. I saw a need she had-- a family, someone to love and care for her. She saw my need--my brokenness, someone needing love. A perfect match.
I had no idea that after being home for six months with Hannah, I would be ready to adopt again. I had no idea, that once again, the child that we thought would be our child, God had different plans-- a different country. We had no idea what we had gotten ourselves into when we first met Mila in Serbia that June day in 2009. We thought she would be much like Hannah. I had no idea that mountains she had to climb. I had no idea that God would trust me with such a precious, needy one. He thought I could handle this one?!?
I had no idea, that though God had lead us through such heartache with Max in 2007, that two years later, just weeks before traveling to adopt Mila, we would learn he was back in an orphanage. I had no idea what this meant for our family. We had always prayed that someday, somehow, God would lead us back to him. And here was our opportunity.
I had no idea what it would be like to have two young daughters and a much older son in our home. He had seen some much turmoil in his life. I needed reassurance that everyone would get along. And so, in 2010; eight years into our marriage, we hosted our son, once again. He got along famously with Hannah and Mila. And so, before he even left the states, we had papers in hand to begin another adoption.
I had no idea that God would lay on my heart to adopt two at once. And though I should have learned from previous adoptions, that God's plan is better than mine. The child that I thought would be ours, was adopted by a Ukrainian family. I had no idea that for us, the number 42 is magic in Ukraine. 42 days in the country, both in 2007 to adopt Hannah, and in 2011 for the first trip to adopt the boys. I have no idea where the money continued to come from as the adoption costs continued to add up for the boys adoptions, yet we always had just the right amount.
I had no idea, standing in church on that July day in 2002 (after one of the groomsmen passed out...) where the next years would lead us. And I'm glad I didn't. God had, and continues to have a great plan for our lives. Twelve years, countless stamps in our passports from various countries, and empty wallets from bringing our children home. I am abundantly blessed with a husband who loves God, orphans in countries far and wide with varying abilities, as well as our children at home. We make a great team. I have four great, and wonderfully abled children that God has blessed us with.
An anniversary is a great time to reflect on where you've come from and where you're headed. It's time to establish goals for the coming year/s ahead. As I look at our family, I hope in the coming year to instill the love of acceptance in our children. We have all come from different pasts. We all carry different burdens, both visible and unseen. Rather than judge, we need to accept and love the best we know how. And as for acceptance, I hope to encourage my children to continue accepting themselves. They are each beatifically made. God had a reason for making him/her the way they are. I know how painful that has been lately for our daughters--to be so different from others. I hope that one day they learn to accept that God is using their story for HIS glory.
Another goal I have for our family is to make life more accessible for all our children. I look at our current housing now and as I carry Mila up and down the stairs and bathe her in the tub, I am reminded that there will come a day when I can no longer carry her up the stairs or lift her out of the tub. I would love to have a house with no limits for Mila. For her to feel free in her own home. And with this goal of accessibility for our children, I would hope that they learn to appreciate what they have. There are many others, both in our country, and countries around the world who do not have the same opportunities that they have. We are blessed with so much. It may not be sparkly and new, but there is a roof over our head, food in our bellies, warm water to bathe in, and a safe bed to sleep in at night. They have the love of a family and the love of a Heavenly father.