Many people wonder why we are adopting…and why from Ukraine. I began traveling to Ukraine to do mission work about 6 years ago. I go 2-3 times a year so I’ve been lots of times. The very first time I went, I didn’t want to come home. The people of Ukraine stole my heart and I just couldn’t bear the thought of going home. So from that moment, God had my attention and gave me a passion to go and serve there in whatever capacity He made available.
About 3 years ago, I was coming back from Ukraine in March (now would be a good time to mention that is was FREEZING…but it has nothing to do with this post…just a fact…and that’s why I have Under Armor for our trip in February) and felt a strong call of God. I even had a “vision” of Mary and I and our future. It was cloudy but it was strong. During this trip, I had been made aware of the orphan crisis in Ukraine. That was bad enough, but when I found out what happened to kids with special needs, all I could do was weep. I sat in the kitchen of a friend in Vishneve and cried like a baby. I couldn’t even speak.
Traveling home, I had an overnight layover in England. I couldn’t wait to get home and talk to Mary so I called her long distance from my hotel room (yes…crazy, I know, but I couldn’t wait). I told her we really needed to talk when I got home…maybe not the best thing to say to a woman when you don’t intend to “spill the beans” right then. Obviously, I was unable to leave it at that and told her that it had to do with our family and Ukraine. Honestly, I was a bit worried about telling her what I thought I needed to tell her. As it turned out, there was no reason for me to worry. She responded on the phone that she felt that God was going to be making major changes in our lives and she wondered if we should adopt from Ukraine or maybe move there. God had been preparing her heart while I was away and told her the same things He had told me.
You see, my “vision” was of our family having a private home for Ukrainian orphans with Special Needs (and specifically Down syndrome). I assumed that this would be in Ukraine.
I came home and we made plans for her to return to Ukraine with me in the Summer and we could stake out a place to live and meet with people about what kind of ministry we could have there. We were met with shock and some skepticism, but people know us well enough to know that we will follow God wherever, whenever.
We had a great trip to Ukraine and really felt God’s call, specifically to Ukraine. We just didn’t know how. So since we had said yes, we knew that we must just follow and go forward until He said keep going or stop or wait. We began making plans to sell our home and find a place to rent that was much cheaper so we could pay off debt that we had from the major medical expenses from our son, Eli’s surgery when he was 3 months old and a small amount of other debt.
We were thinking that God would move us to Ukraine by the following summer. We talked to the kids and told them to pray with us about it. They were excited to be able to follow us as we followed God. We were pretty surprised by their response. We thought it would be hard for them. But it wasn’t. It amazed us and we thought, wow, this must be what God wanted from us.
We just kept going forward until one day God said, “Stop and wait on Me.” So we did. We were confused, but we trusted God and left our “Yes!” on the table. He had our answer, before we knew what He was really asking of us.
I continued to do ministry in Ukraine and Mary joined me on a couple of more trips.
FAST FORWARD…Spring of 2008. Mary and I began to have strong desires to have more kids. Some people would think that’s a bit strange since we have 5 already. We aren’t able to have children due to some medical issues. Mary even checked with her doctor to see if there was any chance and there wasn’t. I was a bit discouraged by that because we both had such a strong desire to have more children. So we waited on God.
Summer came and we had a trip to Ukraine planned. We asked God to give us an answer of some kind while we were in Ukraine and that He would give us a clearer vision. We went with the full expectation that He would answer. We were to be in country for 9 days. As day 7 rolled around, we still had nothing. We had met the purpose of our trip, but we didn’t feel that we had heard from God in regards to His call.
On our way from Pochiv region to Kiev, we decided to stop at the special needs baby home in Vorzel. Mary and I had visited it on one occasion and I had visited once on my own. We wanted to take some toys to the kids there. We had it in the back of our minds that maybe we were being called to adopt. But we didn’t see any rational way that it could happen. But during the night before the drive, many of us in the group came down with a stomach virus. Obviously, we knew that it would be wrong to go into the baby home with a stomach virus. The poor kids had enough problems without a stomach virus to pass around. We dropped the toys at the door and left. Crushed that we had been unable to visit. Wondering what God was up to. We thought He wanted us to visit, people had donated money for the toys…had we missed Him altogether?
Part Two Coming Next…