I love how God works out the details for us. I decided to join the #write31days challenge at the end of September. It’s a challenge where you write for 31 days on a specific subject. For the last several months I feel like over and over God has been pressing on me that living out faith and walking after Him involved Doing the Hard Thing. Whether it be biting your tongue when you want to yell, or leveraging your life for the gospel, living a life of faith and following God involves lots of Doing Hard Things. So that was the subject I chose to write about. The way God has been calling me to Do Hard Things, the way I think He wants us as believers to Do Hard Things, or some of just the everyday simplicities that often seem hard. I have spent the last month writing on how we are called to Do Hard Things.
How perfect that the announcement that we are going to adopt would line up with posting about Doing Hard Things.
Yup, we are adopting. We’ve actually been discussing it for what seems like forever, but have been talking with agencies and countries for over a year now. It feels like it’s been a long time coming (although something as big as this should be approached with lots of thought, research, and prayer), but we are excited to officially be starting down the road to get our girl.
The “where” has been a big piece for us. We started looking into adoption over a year ago, and our heart was for Russia and Ukraine. Well Russia closed adoptions to the US, and Ukraine is one of the most difficult countries to adopt from…and that was before more recent current events. That was hard to let go of, as we’ve been dreaming of getting back to Ukraine since we left and have a heart for the country and people. Our heart in adoption is to bring the culture into our home and make it a part of our lives. This would have been a fairly seamless transition with Ukrainian culture as there is already a collection of Ukrainian knick knacks scattered about our home, the food is cooked regularly and the language is spoken. However God very clearly closed that door early on.
As we continued discussions with our agency, over and over China kept coming up. It seemed to be a perfect fit and everything seemed to be pointing in that direction. Still letting go of Ukraine, I started researching China…it’s culture, it’s people, it’s food (because this is how I do culture), and more. We fell in love with the country, and it’s people. It seemed everywhere we went we were running into Asian baby girls and were quite smitten. On July 22 we officially applied to adopt from China. We submitted the form, and the decent sized application fee. We were committed.
The next day we heard that we had not been accepted into the China program. Seven years ago Chris had melanoma, and despite a one time outpatient surgery being the only intervention needed, any type of cancer is not allowed in Chinese adoptions. I wasn’t ready to give up that easily though….we made some calls, had some conversations…there are always loopholes in governments, and China was no exception. We could submit a letter from a doctor that would be given to the authorities along with our application to review. We called and plead our case to the dermatologist my husband has been seeing for several years and he graciously constructed a letter deeming Chris as being of good health and worthy of adoption. We submitted the letter and waited. And prayed. And waited, and prayed. Unfortunately the answer was no, and God closed that door too.
That was really hard. Those cute little Asian babies were still everywhere. In fact one night we were getting fro-yo and a sweet Asian little girl toddled over to me in her babyGap dress. And I almost lost it. Because if you know me, babyGap dresses are kind of my thing. Grieving closed doors is a hard and painful, but necessary process.
I took this picture at Disney World.
In July the plan had been to take a picture with the family here to send out and announce we were adopting from China. Instead I took a picture to remember the grief and heartache. Tears in the most magical place on earth.
It’s hard to understand why when you are trying to do something good, God sometimes says no, but that has been something we’ve had to process a lot this year. As we continued to look into other countries, it seemed to be a stream of closed doors. We had no choice but to wait for direction, guidance and answers.
After a couple of months, we got one. Our agency sent us information about a new program…Kyrgyzstan. It’s a small country with about the same size population of the Atlanta area (where we currently reside). They had just opened up for adoption in July after previously being a closed country. It just happened to border China, and be a former soviet country…like the two countries we loved had united into one. It seemed like a door may be opening. However they had the same cancer policy as China. After messaging some officials and conversations it seemed as though it was very likely we would be put through. However, unlike China who would give you a clear yes or no up front, Kyrgyzstan would not do that. We have to submit our dossier (which would take about 6 months of paperwork, fingerprinting, home studying and about $16,500) and may still get turned down. After a lot of prayer and deliberation:
We believe that God has called us to adopt from Kyrgyzstan, and that our heart for two cultures has helped us have a heart for a country that would otherwise have seemed foreign and rural and risky.
A little girl, hopefully 2 or younger, more than likely with some minor special needs.
Well the short answer is, Jesus.
We are adopting because we feel called. We are adopting because we believe we are commanded to care for orphans, widows and the “least of these” (Matthew 18:5, 25:40, Proverbs 31:8-9, James 1:27 to name a few) and this is a tangible way we can do that. We are adopting because we believe this is what God has done for us.
“In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fulness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:5-14 ESv (emphasis mine)
We are pretty passionate about social justice issues, like the orphan crisis, modern day slavery (especially sex slavery), and poverty. While we have loved being able to contribute to and help raise awareness on all of these issues, we feel like adopting is a way we can actually DO something to help. Our daughter will be coming from one of the poorest countries in central Asia, and without our intervention would be destined to at the very least continue the cycle of poverty. The statistics linking orphans and poverty stricken children to slavery are staggering. They go hand in hand. Unfortunately Kyrgyzstan is one of the chief expeditors of women for sex slavery in the UAE, and other parts of the world. So much so, that the country actually created a law requiring all women under the age of 22 to have parental permission to travel outside of the country. The odds are that orphans in Kyrgyzstan would either continue to live in poverty, or be forced to work in slavery, more than likely in sex slavery if she’s a female.
We wanted to get some skin in the game and do something about these issues, and we feel like adoption is a way we can do that.
We are also adopting because once you have looked into the face of an orphan and seen where they live and their need for love, it’s hard to forget. We haven’t forgotten, and the desire to help be a part of a solution has stayed with us. We might not be able to solve the orphan crisis, but we can solve one orphan’s crisis.
Again, the short answer is Jesus. Because that is the only way this will happen. This adoption will cost about $50,000. Approximately $25,000 to cover all the agency fees, home study fees, and adoptive country fees. About another $25,000 for travel costs. We are required to make three trips to Kyrgyzstan, one of which we are prayerful to make as a family. We hope to be able to cut some of the hotel costs by renting a flat instead of staying in a hotel for our long trip, and be able to communicate enough to not necessitate a translator every day. However with roundtrip flights starting at $3,000, we are looking at at least $21,000 JUST for flights. While we are preparing to save, sacrifice and invest whatever personal resources are necessary, we are also trusting God to provide. He calls people to do, to give and to pray. We can do, and we are trusting that He has and will call people to give and pray.
We will be posting more information on this tomorrow.
Well, in God’s timing. (sensing a theme?) The approximate window is 18-24 months (which is a scary quick time to raise almost $50,000). However Kyrgyzstan just opened their doors to adoption this summer so there are a lot of kinks being worked out. How quickly we can get funding and forms in will play a part too. Crazy things could happen and we could have our girl in a year. And crazy things could happen and we might not have our girl in two years. Only God knows, and in this moment we are content to trust His timetable, and make sure we work hard to have everything in order from our end.
Hopefully this post provides at least an initial glimpse into this new journey we are beginning and answers some common questions that others have asked. Nevertheless we seem to have new questions ourselves each day, and would welcome you to send us an email anytime with additional questions, ideas or encouragement. We have already completed the application process, and basically signed our lives away to the agency. We are in the beginning phases of the home study and building our dossier process which involves meetings, forms, and an endless amount of paperwork. It is almost surreal to sense that things are moving forward this tangibly and this quickly – we are truly equal parts excited, overjoyed, scared, humbled by the unknown, and yet faithfully expectant in seeing what great things our God is going to do to glorify Himself and forever change the lives of our family and our new daughter.
We covet your prayers, we ask for your encouragement, and we thank you in advance for your support and partnership along the way.
The Kelly Family