The summer of my junior year in college, I interned at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington D.C. On the lawn between the White House and the Washington Monument. It was there that I met my future husband, Joel, playing softball. The tall, blond, baby-faced Air Force Academy football player stood out immediately. Two years later I said I do to the love of my life and, at the same time, silently said I will to the Air Force. Seven moves and two children later (Kelsey and Alex), we found ourselves in small-town Idaho.
Kelsey was in Kindergarten when I became aware that one of her favorite playmates, Ava, had arrived to class with a broken arm. Ava had been the victim of child abuse, and would be in the custody of the state. I choked back my tears. I wanted to intervene, but as an experienced social worker, I knew that becoming licensed and eligible to foster Ava as a temporary Air Force family was not a possibility. The sadness tugged at my heart as I started my drive home from kindergarten that afternoon. The road we traveled upon back and forth from school was a flat, desolate, horizon-to-horizon, cow-roaming expanse. It was on that old country road that I heard God’s voice. It was loud and clear.
His words penetrated me with the precision of a surgeon’s laser. “You will adopt one of mine.”
From the day I received the calling until the day we held our youngest daughter in my arms. God’s calling never faded-it never lessened.
It took a few years for my husband to fully jump on board with the idea of adoption, and there were 2 more moves, 1 deployment and a hysterectomy along the way.
When we were finally ready to launch down the adoption path, our first step was to identify which direction to go. We weighed finances, time restrictions, the ease of each adoption route and sought a good match for our family. We landed at a choice for independent (or private) adoption.
Once our home study was complete, we began the search for our birth mom. Social media and online profiling sites allowed us to get the word out about our desire to adopt. It was just a month after we posted our profile online that we received a call from a birth mom. I got a strong feeling from that phone call that this could be our birth family. Just a few weeks later, Joel and I flew out and met our perspective birth family. We connected on the deepest level possible and solidified our adoption plan with them.
At the five-month point, I flew out again for the ultra-sound. After all my pondering, planning, praying and searching, I laid eyes on my baby. In the grasp of two women holding hands and through our tears (an equal mix of joy and heartache), God revealed His child that he called me to adopt on the old country road.
On a cold-winter morning, we traveled to Wisconsin pushing an empty stroller through the airport. (Yes, just like on the Southwest Commercial.) That very same afternoon, we were given a precious life. The place where there was a void in the was completely full in just a matter of minutes. Life changed dramatically that day.
Annika has been the love of our lives ever since. I think our ability to withstand the duration and difficulties that arose in our adoption was because we strove to put Jesus in the lead.
Like riding a tandem bike, it is hard to sit in back where the handlebars don’t turn. Trust me, there were times that I attempted to bargain with the Lord, begging him to switch seats so that I could steer for a little while. Then I was reminded of Hebrews 11:8. “By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going.” That is the crux of adoption, you have to be willing to go by faith and commit to completing the journey, even when you cannot see the destination.
Our adoption story started 10 years ago on an old country road. That nudge towards adoption landed us in rural Wisconsin 5 years later-holding our newborn baby girl. Then, three years ago I went to bed after singing “Baby Beluga” and reading “God Found Us You” to our adopted beauty, Annika. That night I had a dream that woke me and catapulted me into writing a book. At 3:00am I shuffled into the back room in our house, opened my computer and started writing.
Tandem: A Devotional for Adopting with God in the Lead was released two years later. It hit three Best Seller lists on Amazon, won “Best Parenting” book of the year (2017 Royal Dragonfly Award), and has been connecting in the lives of Christian sisters (and brothers) ever since.
The letters and messages I receive from readers touch the very core of my being. Our tears have merged into a puddle of blessings through the pages of Tandem.
In fact, the stories and sometimes pleas for professional advice and genuine adoption services, led me to want to do more. As a licensed social worker, I jumped at the chance to help those needing Home Studies. This year, my esteemed colleague (Mindy Huang) and I launched Momentum Adoptions (www.momentumcc.net). It has been such an honor to walk adoptive parents (in Arizona) through the home study process and get them certified to adopt!
I would love to ride along side you on this adoption journey! Go to www.TandemAdoption.com for how to find Tandem: A Devotional for Adopting with God in the Lead and my Christian Adoption Blog. You can also follow along @ridingtandem or on Facebook (Adoption Devotional-Tandem: A Devotional for Adopting with God in the Lead).