How We Became an Adoptive Family
Over the years, Mark and I have talked on occasion about becoming foster parents. As the parents of four biological children ranging in ages 6–18, we’ve enjoyed parenting and have a heart for raising children according to God’s truths. On occasion, we wondered what it might be like to extend that passion beyond our biological family; however, we had never considered adoption as a way of doing that.
At the end of January 2003, I went to speak at a moms’ group. In addition to my keynote message, there were also four workshops being offered for the moms to attend. I first thought I’d sit in on the adoption workshop, and then I reconsidered and decided that I didn’t want to open that door. I chose instead to attend the workshop on parenting teenagers.
After the group disbanded for the morning, I began packing away my resources. A friend, Cathy, who had attended the adoption workshop walked up to me and said, “Jill, you are pretty networked. Do you know any family who might be interested in adopting an eight-year-old little boy from Russia whose best friend was adopted by a family here in Bloomington just 18 months ago?” I glanced down at the picture and caught my breath. This little guy looked just like my boys. He looked like he belonged in our family. It was as if God gently whispered, “Oh Jill, let me introduce you to your new son!” I became emotional and quickly told my friend to please put the picture away. She asked about my response, and I told her that I couldn’t explain it but that I didn’t want to talk about it anymore. She told me that if I was that moved by it, maybe I ought to put it in my Bible and pray about it. I teasingly told her that I thought she should just go home.
Cathy tucked the picture away amidst my resources. I found it again later in the afternoon. When Mark came home unexpectedly early, I shared with him my experience earlier in the day. He, too, was moved when he saw the picture. We talked about the possibilities of our family being the right family but decided we needed to pray about it before we talked anymore. We prayed together right then.
After just a day, both of us were still very drawn to making Kolya a part of our family. We decided to discuss the possibility with our children. Unsure of the response we would get, we were thrilled when all four of them responded very positively. You see, up to this point, God had even been preparing their hearts. Our oldest, Anne, had consistently communicated to us that she didn’t think our family was complete. She’d mentioned it once or twice a year for several years, but we had dismissed her comments with an assurance that we were done having children. Our youngest, Austin, had inherited bunk beds two months before this picture was placed in my hand. Each night when we tucked him in his new bed, he would ask, “Who’s going to sleep in that other bed?” We’d answer that no one was going to sleep in it regularly; it would be used when his cousins spent the night or when he had a friend overnight. He’d respond with “No, someone’s gotta sleep in that bed!” We went through this routine each night.
When we shared with the kids about the possibility of having a new brother, Anne’s response was, “I told you our family wasn’t complete!” And Austin said, “That’s who’s supposed to sleep in my bunk bed!” After this, we knew without a doubt that Kolya was to be a part of our family. We prayed together about this opportunity and continued praying over the next week. The unity and excitement continued to grow.
We decided to pursue making Kolya a part of our family and began the adoption process in February. In April, our home study was completed, and we made our first trip to Russia. We completed the adoption with a second trip at the end of August, bringing Kolya home on September 3. Kolya and his best friend, Nadia, were reunited on September 5.
Our biggest challenge was indeed the financial piece of the picture. In February, I had lunch with a friend, sharing with her both the excitement and the fears I was experiencing. Financially, this just didn’t make sense for our family. Our oldest daughter was starting college in the fall, and we had less than $500 in our savings account — not exactly a down payment on what would be a $34,000 adoption. My friend, Julie, listened to me fret, and then she said, “Jill, our God owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Now He just needs to sell a few cows to make this happen.” Wow! What a perspective that was. Indeed, over the next nine months, we witnessed the sale of those cows, one gift at a time!
Here are the God Stories:
- Our family pulled together and created a fundraising project that brought in over $2,000.
- Our oldest daughter, Anne, created her own fundraiser she called “Cooking for Kolya” where she made an order form of freezer meals and sold them to her teachers at school. Word spread about her little business in no time. Soon she had made more than $1,000.
- We received $5,000 in donations from friends and family.
- We received a matching grant of $5,000 from Life International (now called “Lifesong for Orphans”). God was selling more cows.
- We were awarded a $2,000 grant from Shaohanna’s Hope (now called “Show Hope”). Thank you, God!
- We received another $2,000 from a family friend.
- I received an unexpected check from book sales for $2,000. Go God!
- In the fall of 2003, I had an article on financing adoption printed in “Money Matters” magazine. Within a few days of the article’s printing, I received an email from a man in Alabama. He and his wife had read the article and found it very encouraging. They had also adopted just two years earlier. He shared about the adoption and then asked, “Have you and your husband completely paid for your adoption?” I was a little uncomfortable writing him back and saying that while God had provided in so many ways, indeed we still had $15,000 of expenses we were paying on. He asked for a phone call, and we had a nice chat. He then indicated that he felt led to help us in some way. He would pray over the weekend and let us know. We didn’t hear from him for several weeks, but then came an envelope in the mail. In it was one check for $15,000 and a note that said, “Please tell your family that a bunch of old country folks in Alabama send Christ’s love.” Wow. God sold a whole herd of cows!
Kolya is now 16 years old. He has been a part of our family for over seven years. It has not always been an easy road, but it has definitely been a journey of faith for our family.
It made no sense, but God’s ways are not our ways. He is our great Provider. We saw Him work in ways we never could have imagined.
Our God is a mighty God!
Thanks for sharing Jill! What a beautiful momlife story about obedience and provision – lessons learned by your entire family! Sweet! Blessings to you! Tracey
What a wonderful and inspiring story Jill! I have goosebumps!
Just this past summer we were awarded custody of my sons very good friend. We felt led to care for him for years prior to the actual legal change of custody. One of the biggest concerns for us was financial. We are a one income home and had 3 children of our own. All I knew was that this was what we were suppose to do and by owning that, everything else would fall into place.
Sure, it's been a bit of an adjustment but miraculously each and every month, bills get paid that we had no idea how we were going to pay, items get bought when really we shouldn't have had the money to buy them and best of all… our family has grown when it couldn't have naturally. I always wanted more children and hopefully we aren't done yet!
Thank you so much for your story.
Thanks for sharing your story! We also have four children aging 5-14 and have been knocking on some doors to adopt–one just hasn't opened up yet for us. God will guide us as we seek Him in adopting a boy and a girl. We are waiting on a specific boy, but wonder if we are not lost in all the paperwork somewhere since there is not much communication/clear communication. Waiting to hear when a meeting will be set to determine this little guys family and no date except to say after the new year. That's when I know we have done all we can and it is all in God's hands. It will definitely be a miracle of God! Thankful for this journey He has us on even when those around us think we are crazy 😀
WOW!!! What an inspiring, God-glorifying story! It's very timely for me, too. My husband and I have three biological children. He has been open to adopting since we decided two years ago that we were finished having our own. I, on the other hand, haven't shared his enthusiasm, mostly due to fear of the many unknowns involved with adoption. But recently, I've sensed that God is working on my heart in this area. It's good for me to read stories like yours as I pray for discernment. Thank you for sharing!
Like many others I find your story wonderful and inspiring and like many others I too share in an adoption story of my own son Gabriel. Happy family day!!! An FYI went to Family Christian Bookstore today and their is a wonderful display for the new movie Dandelion Dust and it had cards for Family Day and what we call our day Gotcha Day. It made me smile. Wanted to share.
Thank you for sharing your family's beautiful story. It is ironically similar to ours. I'm typing this comment while sitting in Sumy, Ukraine as we await the end of our adoption of a 16 yr. old son. God brought him into our lives in an unplanned way. But we are so blessed to be chosen by God to parent him. Where God guides, He truly provides!
Thank you for sharing your story. I love to be reminded how God will provide.
I, too, have had that moment when I looked at a picture and heard the whisper, "This is your son. He is supposed to be a part of your family and I am giving him to you." The picture was of a baby boy in Africa who was sucking his two middle fingers, just like our youngest does. It plucks the heartstrings reading your testimony, realizing it is so much like my own…to that point. I am in that "Wait." period. My husband did not see this child as I did right away. We have talked about adoption, he even believes adoption will be in our "future," but not now. It's ok, though…God has continued to confirm that whisper, guide our decisions, and prepare our hearts. To the point that, we were able to go on a mission trip a month ago and SEE this baby boy and his older brother who we now sponsor. Small steps. We were able to pay off one of my husband's student loans (getting out of debt!) as soon as we got back from Africa, too. I don't like the wait, but I am SO excited about the testimony God is beautifully weaving for our family during this time. He is good, all the time. Thanks for sharing!