Feature

A Family Inheritance

We are all wanted for adoption

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The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15

One day, at the tender age of three, our biological daughter, Averi, woke up and exclaimed, “I dreamed about my baby brother—who was brown kinda!”

The sparkle in her eye was contagious. I sat in awe as I thought of the “secret” prayers of my husband, Larry, and me about whether adoption was God’s plan for us. Looking back, we had no idea how God would turn our lives around forever by Averi’s sweet little words.

Every day for the next two years, Averi prayed for her brother without fail. After we moved to Louisiana to help after Hurricane Katrina, the Holy Spirit stirred our hearts to adopt from Vietnam. Like a whirlwind, 10 months and many miracles later, three-year-old Eliakim (meaning “he whom God would raise up”) Hien was home in our arms.

During the process, I worried that I wouldn’t have enough love in my heart to go around. Soon, I realized that I truly loved Eli and Averi in exactly the same way. Before we adopted, I often wondered how God could love us as much as He loves His only Son, Jesus. Then, after we received Eli, I could testify that this was indeed possible.

alife for a Life

Six short months after Eli came home, the Lord put another child’s name on my heart. One night, some verses in Isaiah stirred in my heart as a prayer for desolate Mongolia, where we were to go as CAMA workers in 2008: “The poor and the needy search for water, but there is none; . . . I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights . . . I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia . . . so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this” (Isa. 41:17–20; emphasis added). That night, the name “Acacia” seemed to come right off the page.

I began praying that His timing and details would be made known. We moved to Mongolia, and at first, we thought we might adopt from that country, but government restrictions prohibited it. We began to pray about Ethiopia, a place where acacia trees grow and where we discovered that the Ark of the Covenant, made from acacia wood, is an integral part of the culture.

We came back to America for a short visit in spring 2010. When we arrived at my parents’ home, an issue of Alliance Life magazine was sitting on the coffee table. As I leafed through it, an article entitled “The Father to the Fatherless” caught my eye (April 2010). It was about an Ethiopian couple called back to their homeland to open a children’s home. Excited about the idea of adopting from this orphanage, we e-mailed them. They responded, asking if we had heard of the adoption agency they were working with: Children’s Hope International.

“Have we heard of them?!” With hundreds of agencies to choose from, they were working with the one that had helped us adopt our son from Vietnam. Not only that, but the person who helped us adopt Eli had switched to the Ethiopia program. Because the agency staff knew us, they were eager to work with us despite the complications of our living abroad.

We logged on to the agency Web site right away. A lovely girl, five years old at the time, was right there waiting for us, staring back with big, sad brown eyes. The day before we saw her picture, Eli had asked me to read him the story of Deborah in the Bible. At the time it seemed like a strange request, since he usually asked me to read about David, Gideon or Samson. After finding out the girl’s birth name was Dibora (the Ethiopian version of Deborah), we knew she was meant for us!

Forever Binding

It would be another six months until we could officially choose her as our match. Then the one- to two-month wait before we could make our first trip to Ethiopia became an excruciating 12 months of uncountable delays. Many times friends reminded me that though His timing is not always ours, God is never late. Finally, after so much waiting in the literal wilderness of Mongolia, the day came for us to go to Ethiopia to meet our girl.

On that first day, she started calling us “Mommy” and “Papi.” Our kids danced around in joyous circles as we spent several weeks in Ethiopia bonding as a family. The couple we had read about in alife welcomed us with opened arms as we began the final steps of adopting our beautiful daughter, Acacia Dibora.

For almost our whole month in Ethiopia, we were fighting with the courts for approval to take this little girl who had stolen our hearts. Just hours before we had to say goodbye, we finally got the decree—signed, legal and forever binding—stating that she was officially ours. I have never experienced such joy; it must be similar to the party that takes place in heaven as He signs our names in the Lamb’s book of life!

Our month of bliss seemed to evaporate as we boarded our plane for an unknown time of separation. Now we had to wait until the U.S. Embassy processed the paperwork for our second trip to bring Acacia Dibora home.

Never have I longed for anything the way I longed for her in those five months. I will never forget the day God allowed me to yearn for her for 500 days all at once. I sobbed and heaved as it felt as though He had ripped my heart from my chest. It was just a taste of the pain He felt when He was separated from Jesus on the cross. Just a taste of how He longs for each of His children. For two years, I had prayed that I would love God wholeheartedly the way He loves me. Then, on that one day of grief, He took my heart and gave me His heart to love not only Him but also the fatherless and the forgotten.

Finally, when the waiting had passed and the heartache was over, I held my girl close, breathed her in and kissed her soft ebony skin. Mine. Forever. Period.

And for her? The inheritance of a family. And that is just the beautiful beginning to a story that is barely starting to unfold. It is what He has in store for all adopted into the unimaginable riches of His Kingdom and His grace: a future filled with promise and hope with our Father, who lavishes His love on us all!

To the Ends of the Earth

With tears in our eyes, we gathered in a great big group hug at the airport when we finally brought Acacia Dibora home on April 3, 2012. While we waited in America for paperwork before we went back to ministry in Mongolia, she had many grand adventures as she got to visit her new grandparents in Michigan and Indiana!

We have been amazed at how the Lord opens doors. We try to seize every opportunity as 1 Peter 3:15 inspires us: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” Most of our friends among the Kazakh people in Mongolia ask us why we adopt. Our answer? “Because our Father in Heaven adopted us into His family so we want to share that same love and adopt children who need families.” Please pray for more open doors and boldness to share about the Father of the fatherless!

Past Alliance Life Issues

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