I am going to attempt to take you along our personal adoption journey. This post has been a work in progress for so long. I will begin with how God moved the hearts of my husband Matthew and I. He burdened our hearts for adoption through a picture of a Miss Corinna from Reece's Rainbow. Her beauty and the plight of the Ukrainian orphans pierced our very souls. We committed ourselves to God and answered His call to adopt. This began back in late summer/ early fall of 2009.
Along this journey, we have had the honor of meeting so many families - adopting both internationally and domestically. We began attending our local Down Syndrome Outreach Group and made several friends there who had adopted. We found an agency in Birmingham who would help us complete our home study. We then began our search for a placement agency. We learned that the Ukraine was quite concerned with the adoptive parents' mental illness history. This would prove to be a challenge as we have had some mild bouts with depression and such in our past. We were also very concerned about cost and the travel time / waiting periods that were involved in an adoption from the Ukraine. Having three children under the age of 5 at home would prove to be a difficult obstacle to travelling.
We began the daunting task of fundraising next. This was not an easy task and it would end up being a very challenging issue. Matthew and I are very independent and stubborn. We take care of our family together - most often only relying on each other for help. We do not ask for money. Period. But - as we learned, "God's Will, God's Bill." We swallowed that sinful pride, and told everyone about our desire to follow God's calling to adopt. We received a variety of responses. Some responded very warmly, some negatively, and some never replied at all. The most heartfelt responses we had were from total strangers - those adoptive families we had never even met. They embraced us and supported us both financially and through prayer and friendship.
To those of you that supported us and believed in us during this journey - we will never be able to thank you enough. Your generosity and kindness will always be remembered whenever we look at our son. You had somewhat blind faith in our family, and we will forever be in your debt. Thank you friends - we love you.
Our family worked very hard to fundraise - we sold t-shirts and children's books and coffee products. We also tried several other creative ideas. Throughout the entire adoption journey, we were concerned about travel. We always travel as an entire family but that seemed unrealistic when looking at the Ukraine. Not only did we lack a full-proof, long-term, reliable babysitter - we also were not comfortable leaving our young children for a long period of time. I believe that we began to reconsider our decision to adopt internationally during this time. We also believe that God - our Navigator - was steering us in the right direction - His direction for our family.
It boils down to this for us: all children, both domestically and abroad, are orphans if they are without a permanent family to care for them. We were never interested in adopting a "healthy, Caucasian infant" - indeed, we have 5 healthy, biological daughters. We have always been interested in adopting a child with special needs. This is what we believe God is calling us to do. For those of you who do not understand our calling to adopt, or who resent us and disagree with our calling - you are entitled to your opinions. However, please do not judge us for trying to follow God as His servants. We pray that we will be able to adopt again in the future for this has been one of the most meaningful, joyous, difficult, painful, extraordinary, blessed things we have ever done. We will always support our friends and fellow adoptive families in any way we can.
More in our next post about the specific road to our son, Braylon Matthew Stever.