Today I’m back at work. Fortunately, I’m still ahead of schedule, so I’m taking care of some side projects. I got a fun email:

 “WOW !!!  You guys work really fast !!!!   I have approved your formal application … if you are still interested in attending November 4th’s Orientation, please submit your formal application fee of $550.00 by tomorrow and you will be fully registered !!!”

My dad, who also works at LifeWay, just came by my office to drop off a check for $500.

-B

We woke up about 7am this morning, got dressed, and got ready to take our preliminary application to Bethany. I brewed some coffee, grabbed a banana, then checked and re-checked to make sure we had everything. EJ was happy and ready to go as we piled into the car and headed out.

We made it to the office about 9am and met briefly with Charlie, who checked over our application and said she’d approve it today and email our login information for the online portal. Then we’d be able to complete our formal application electronically and submit it for approval by Friday in order to make the orientation class next week. We chatted a bit, gave EJ a lollipop, and headed back home.

After several errands, we got home and KJ headed back out with some friends to plan our joint village (small group) Fall party while I ate lunch and took care of some work and homework. About 1:20pm, Patty pulled up and we headed to Murfreesboro for another police training session at a conference. We talked about adoption the whole way, about a half-hour trip. We had another encouraging talk about missional living on the way home.

I got back at about 5pm and we all had breakfast for dinner. We played with EJ a bit and started working on our formal application. This one had fewer “essay questions” than the preliminary application and was more informational, but we had to make formal decisions like what special needs we feel we can properly care for and who to use as references. We spent a few hours contacting potential references for permission and addresses and aggregating information about our employment histories and past income. Let me say: I’m very thankful for the Internet. This must have been much harder to do a decade ago. We also disclosed how much money we currently have in our savings and checking accounts, and it looks like a joke considering what we’re about to get ourselves into. But we know God is good. Really good. Case in point: today we also found out that we are actually half-way there already: someone is giving us $7,000! This someone, whose identity will remain secret, saw this coming and has been saving it for us until this very time.

Sometimes (and really all the time depending on your perspective), God has already provided before you even know about it. Worry is stupid.

-B

 

You might know that KJ and I have been dreaming about adoption for years. For at least as long as we’ve been married, we have purposed to adopt “one day”, but haven’t had a planned timeframe. Our desire to adopt has grown since our daughter was born and we’ve realized what a blessing children really are. We got more serious about making a plan earlier this year, but that consideration was put on hold for a number of reasons. This Spring, our church hosted Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University course, designed to teach individuals and families about wise financial decisions and planning, including: debt elimination, self-insuring, saving, investing, and budgeting. To make a long story short, we learned a lot from FPU and decided to apply many of those principles to our family. We paid off our debts, got rid of our credit lines, and began purposefully saving toward our next “baby step”: a 3-6 month emergency fund.

Then God blessed us with the conception of Charity Kay. He chose to use us to give her life, but not for us to steward and raise her. For His own purposes and glory, for our deeper understanding of grace and His goodness, and for Charity’s eternal bliss and avoidance of sin and suffering, God took her home and we miscarried. That was difficult for us, but God gave us peace through it all and eventually gave us the understanding we urgently longed for. There is certainly still mystery surrounding that loss – and the death of all babies – but we do know that Charity was conceived into sinful flesh (evidenced by her death, a result of sin), but will never have to be a willful offender and enemy of God or to deal with the consequences of such. She will never feel disappointed in herself, never be rejected, never be hurt, never know loss, never be bullied, and never feel the weight of dishonoring her parents or God. It was in an act of sovereign grace – as it is with all of us saved sinners – that Jesus took His creation home.

We also came to understand that this world is a very dark place for children who are born, and that some of those children are not wanted. There are also children whose parents cannot bear the burden or responsibility of raising them and are thus looking for a couple who can best steward their child. In time, we made the decision to start the adoption process … but next year. We determined it would be wisest and most prudent to wait until we were “financially stable” enough to begin that process. Before making such an investment, we wanted to at least complete our 3-6 month emergency fund. We knew we could not afford an adoption on our own anyway, and that God would provide the funds, but we did think we should have our bases covered and wait for His “go”.

On Sunday, October 16, our friend David spoke at our church. David has recently returned from a 6-month stint in Togo, where he is helping to build a local pastor’s ministry in the middle of nowhere. Needless to say, David shared some fresh perspective — the sorts of things you dwell upon when living outside under the African sun with no modern amenities for half a year. It is one of the best and most challenging sermons I’ve ever heard. I don’t say that lightly. It’s honest, brutal, rough, offensive, and encouraging. I highly recommend for any Christian reading this to give it a listen. You’ll be glad you did.

One particular part of David’s message hit me hard. He pointed out that, after Jesus gave Simon and his friends a miraculous and overwhelming catch (Luke 5:6-11), He called for them to drop everything and follow Him. They did. I’ve heard that message before. But what he said next convicted me. Simon did not say, “Alright, Jesus, I will! Just let me take this catch you gave me – since it’s obviously a blessing you wanted me to have – and cash it in to create a nest egg for my family to take care of them while I’m away.”

He just dropped it all and followed.

In that moment, I realized I was that latter hypothetical Simon. God did charge me with following through with our FPU plans in faithful diligence; however, I had come to trust those plans rather than God Himself. He was saying, “follow me. Trust me. Do it”. I knew He was talking about adoption.

On the ride home from church, I discussed the message and my conviction about adoption with KJ. She was on the same page (actually, I write this blog post with words like “we” and “us”, but she had been waiting for me to come around to this point for some time).

We immediately started researching agencies, domestic versus international adoptions, etc. That night we told our revelation and resolution to our small group and families.

On Monday, I attended the “Get Motivated” conference (conveniently down the street from my office), which confirmed many of my convictions and challenges. You can read about that more specifically here. That night at home, I called to set up an appointment for an informational meeting at Bethany Christian Services (their last session of the year).  It was all happening so fast!

I had the following day off work to train officers at the Spring Hill Police Department on human trafficking recognition and response (for a volunteer organization with which I work called End Slavery TN). Also present at this training was a young lady from one of our other volunteer groups, who works at a shelter and resource center for abused women. She told me that they use Bethany Christian Services – surprise! Immediately following this training, KJ picked me up and we headed to the meeting.

We learned much about adoption and Bethany’s mission, philosophy, and operations. We decided that we like them, and were also surprised to learn that our fees for a domestic adoption would total about $14,000 (much less than we had expected). We also learned that their last orientation meeting and training sessions for the year started the following Friday. To enroll, we had to turn in our preliminary application with $50, wait for approval, and then receive and return our formal application with $550 by this Friday. We took the paperwork home and stayed up late filling it out. Guess what? We had $50 for the application in our adoption jar.

-B