"COME AND SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE!" Psalm 66:5 This adoption adventure of faith started as simply an acquaintance with the name of an orphan girl who longed for a family. But it grew into a calling that wouldn't let go of us. By the way, did you know that "VERA" means "FAITH" in Russian?
VERA'S STORY will introduce you to our adoption journey. The JOURNAL holds the record of our journey.
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We can see how God had been preparing us for this journey for a very long time. In the present, He is our constant provider, leader, and encourager. For the future, we know He is faithful. So then, our story is really His, the story of His working in ordinary lives, revealing His heart and His glory to the world.
God is always “before”, shaping our histories with His perfect wisdom. We are continually in awe; He equips us for whatever He calls us to do. “Not that we are adequate to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God.” II Corinthians 3:5. It is not we who are extraordinary, but He is! You, too, may find yourself called to some purpose you never would have dreamed.
For years, God had been training our hearts to be available to share His love with precious people who were often overlooked. My heart (Carol writing) was drawn to the elderly in the nursing home, in an Adopt-a-Grandparent program in college. And one Christmas break, at a missions conference, I was assigned to a small group with only one other native English speaker; all the others were foreign students who struggled to communicate. I admit that my heart sank, and I dreaded the “work” of attempting to communicate. But God changed my heart, as I experienced the sweet fellowship of those dear girls when I was forced to make the effort to seek to understand them and patiently speak in ways they could relate to. Some of my dearest friends over the years have been from other cultures.
As a young married couple, we thoroughly enjoyed our friendships with foreign students at the University of Iowa. Once our children were born, we were challenged to tend carefully to the needs and concerns of children with severe food allergies. Again, God used our experiences to open our eyes to needs of others who are often overlooked.
We began to see in Scripture, everywhere we looked, it seemed, how God cares so much for orphans, widows, and the aliens (foreigners). All our rituals mean nothing to Him if we don’t have mercy and compassion.
A PENPAL AND A PRAYER...
When the parents of our friend, Michelle, let her take a year off from college to teach in a Ukrainian orphanage, God alone knew the impact! Michelle saw lonely hearts and envisioned penpals surely brightening their lives. Our niece, who had the joy of Michelle’s mom for her Bible study teacher, was connected with a girl named Vera as a penpal. They told us about Vera, and asked ideas of us for gifts since Vera is about our Megan’s age. One day, after hearing that other families who had little Ukrainian penpals were asking whether adoption was an option for any of these children, we began to pray about whether God might want to add an orphan to our family. Our children ( Megan & Ben, then 12 &8) were a tremendous joy to us, and there was enough love to share with another. Megan was the first one to be convinced. Eventually, our prayer became, “Lord, we’re willing to adopt Vera, or whoever else You show us, if that’s what You want us to do.”
He called, orchestrated, and provided. We corresponded with Vera for over 1 & 1/2 years and grew to love her sweet spirit. When Michelle had first met her in 2003, Vera told her that a Mom and Dad from America were coming to adopt her. God must have placed that hope in her heart.
GOD IS FAITHFUL!
We left Feb. 5, 2006 from Chicago for Zurich, Switzerland, then flew on to Ukraine, where we spent 31 days. These were our prayer requests at the time; we keep them posted for we are still in awe of God's answers!
· God’s continued sovereign hand on the entire process—direction, protection, provision. Psalm 68:6 “The Lord makes a home for the lonely.”
· God’s enabling and comfort for our children and for us, as we were apart for about a month
· God’s strength and wisdom for Carol’s parents who stayed with Megan and Ben
· God’s hand on our growing relationship with our new daughter, Vera, and that He would draw her to Himself