It seems that almost every other day, I hear from someone we know (even 3 states away) that tells me how they had heard about Vanya from various blog/word-of-mouth sources, and had been praying for him to find a home, and are in utter amazement when they find out we are the family! I too, am in utter amazement that we are a part of this incredible story. I didn’t even know there was a story! But, I will be honest, there a part of me is fearful and reserved, maybe even doubting (but I really don’t want to admit that). It was a painful and grieving experience to lose a child I thought God had called us to in Haiti several years ago. I was in such a bad state that I never really thought I would ever consider adoption again. God worked on me for a long time before I would finally listen, and even then, it has been a slow process of questioning, taking a step, waiting, praying, asking again -“are you sure God”? It has been a huge faith jounrey (and admittly, not necessarily fun – I mean, who wants to willing put their heart back on the line in the unpredictable world of adoption?!)But, it was clear, and undeniably clear for both Mat and I, that we were to travel this road again – no matter what. It is the “no matter what” part that is oh so much fun to grapple with the Lord about! BTW – how we ended up in the Ukraine, will be for another blog entry .
My dear friend, April, first told me about Vanya. We were literally trying to walk out the door for spring break to N.C. It was crazy and frantic time of trying to get our 3 kids, 2 extra friends, a dog and everything we needed out the door and packed before a thunderstorm rolled in (and make sure the cats and turtle would still be alive when we arrived back home). April told me that a “paperwork ready” family was needed. Were we paperwork ready? I had no clue. I quickly looked at Vanya’s story (and only part of it) on the blog she sent me as I walked out the door. I felt the holy spirit tell me to “just take a step and ask”. So, I quickly sent an e-mail to Eli’s Project, and flew out the door. On our 4 hour trip, I constantly thought about this little boy…”what does this mean Lord”? The next few days were a whirlwind! We had spotty internet connection, and I was being asked to look at paperwork that was 4 hours away. I had my friends breaking into my house, getting me info, scanning documents, doing internet research for me – but it was starting to come together. However, two big things still had to happen – an addendum to our homestudy, and an adjustment to our current USCIS status. USCIS told me they were running about 75 days out for changes. Hmmm…not good enough…The USCIS officer told me what to do for my best chance to expedite things, but….no promises. Guess what – two days after they received our paperwork, we had a new approval! Wow God – from 75 days to 2! Now, the home study addendum was another issue- we talked to our social work on Monday, and needed the addendum in our hands by Friday to get to the Ukraine that weekend! BIG HUGE ROADBLOCK…our social worker was operating from some very outdated information about HIV and how it could be transmitted. I knew we were in trouble when her initial response to me was “it can be contracted from sharing a fork”. For days, we worked to help provide her information and education (and again working from spotty internet connection, my friends were doing research and sending it on to provide for her). First, she rejected my information, because I was sending information from “advocacy groups”. After doing her own research, she came around with the transmission issue, but then started a campaign of “what ifs”. Well, Vanya may be healthy now, but what if he doesn’t stay that way….what if he becomes a burden to you or your biological children…what if he has other issues…what if your community treats him with a social stigma….I really wanted to scream – “What if any one of us gets in a car accident tomorrow…What if any one of us gets diagnosed with a chronic illness tomorrow etc”…But, we gently explained that we don’t live our lives with “what ifs….”, and that we feel called by God to pursue this, and so these are all risks we are willing to take (the “no matter what” deal). After all, I wouldn’t even be pursing a second adoption if I lived with the “what ifs”. In the end, I believe it was a spiritual battle, and when I put the call out to “pray”, all that heard, did, and God did a mighty change of heart in our social worker in literally, a few hours time! In fact, on Thursday a.m., she was still saying “no”, but by Thursday early afternoon, she finally admitted (to her credit) that she was working off information that was not factual, and that she would write the addendum. Friday a.m., her addendum was in my hands, and all the paperwork went off the the Ukraine (hand delivered) by Sunday. God is good – and what can I say – No Matter What – God has clearly called us to pursue Vanya, and so, forward we will go….There are so many verses that God used to inspire me, but one that comes to mind (and what I’ll end with – finally) is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be Strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go”…..no matter what (my insert).