Invited to walk on water

Invited to walk on water
sisters and brothers waiting on one more

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hope against hope.. waiting. Kristina's prayer

Today I called our agency to confirm the arrival of our Dossier to Lesotho. We'd been told wait times are likely to be 6-12 months from arrival of the Dossier.  But it's been two whole months so, like a kid on a long trip, I asked "how long until we are there???"

Last week our agency sent a worker over to Lesotho for three weeks to begin helping orphanages get children ready.  Currently they are expecting over 12 months for a referral of children to our family simply because these precious orphaned children are not "paper ready" for referrals. Due to the frequent world-wide injustice of child trafficking - even for adoption purposes- it is vital that each child be legally cleared to be available for an adoption referral.   Praying today for miracles that workers and paperwork happen to begin getting orphaned children "paper-ready" to enter families.  Praying today for each waiting child to somehow know they are loved by God and for their waiting families wherever they are in this process to see God's hand moving mountains...because He does- even when our faith is teensy.  And for peace and patience as we do all we can and then wait...for Him.

Monday of this week, my friend called to tell me that she awoke in the middle of the night with the words "pray for Lesotho" pressing her.   She got up and began to pray.  Then the words came to her mind "pray to expedite a miracle."  So she prayed in agreement with us- for an expedited miracle for orphaned children to be quickly referred and adopted.  Im praying for two referrals for us and a referral to the other waiting family by Christmas;)  We are praying for each family in the Lesotho adoption process to have Dossiers, funding and referrals and finally adoptions in clearly MIRACULOUS times..because children need families. 

On our foster-adoption journey- and even before as my heart ACHED for YEARS to adopt, I held onto Habakkuk 2:2-3.  It is written in the context of Habakkuk questioning God about the injustic of the wicked against innocent lives.  Our first adoptions DID happen at the PERFECT time.  And OH how I treasure reflecting upon each miracle that brought them home.  If you are in the process of taking a risk for Him, I'd encourage you to write down the miracles.  There will be many- especially when your heart feels broken or failed or betrayed.  Remembering them next time will be a powerful gift.  And although we fervently pray for expediency, we also surrender...

Habakkuk 2:2 Then the Lord replied: 
"write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.
3 For the revelation awaits an appointed time;
it speaks of the end and will not prove false.  Though it seems slow, wait for it; 
it will certainly come and will not be late."

Today my heart is especially breaking for birthmothers unnecessarily dying of HIV or other treatable conditions who fear for the safety of her children after she is gone and agonizes and grieves, deeply longs to live and care for and raise her children...Lord, if she is alive, please heal her body.  LORD, send workers and medication to heal mama's from HIV and other illnesses so that they may treasure their children themselves.  For children who are orphaned, draw them into Your heart.  Be a Comfort to them in the horrible, vulnerable nights as they ache with abandonment.  Free them from INJUSTICE.  Send millions of us literally to be Your hands and feet to them- to literally be their fathers and mothers.  Send people to adopt these treasures as you have adopted us.  Break our hearts for the orphan and the widow- local and abroad... and the lame, hungry, impoverished, sick and imprisoned.  Here we are.  Send us.   

It is estimated that another child is orphaned due to AIDS every 14 seconds.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dossier complete!!!!

Tonight we mailed our Dossier!!!!
This file will be sent to Lesotho to be translated and then await a meeting where orphans are matched with families. Now the real wait begins...  

We've been told to expect a 6-12 month wait until a child or children are matched with us- and then it could take months for their paperwork to be completed.   (But, since it doesn't hurt to ask, Im praying that we have a match and pictures of their faces before Christmas...)
I told my daughter last night regarding a circumstance that she was worried about:  "Ask God for what you desire, and then trust Him with the outcome...because He knows and adores you."  Ummm. easier said than done.  Mom's turn to trust Him.  Eyes on Him...not on the waves...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Miracle trip to Tennessee update.

The "miracle" trip to Tennessee was incredible in many ways.
What a gift it was to meet a few other families who are also in the Lesotho adoption process!  There were also five families there who have already adopted children from Lesotho during the last several years. These families were each examples of perseverance and longsuffering. When I asked one family about the needs of waiting orphans, the first response was near speachless tears. One result of the prayers and fervent committment of these people to their children and over 200,000 remaining orphans in Lesotho has been a recent change in policy.  Two officials in Lesotho have been appointed over social welfare.  These two women of power are b-r-o-k-e-n hearted over each vulnerable child in need of parents.  This week they took three months off of the adoption process by allowing Dossier submission before USCIS paperwork is returned.  

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The invisible bridge... Stepping out over the precipice. Remembering financial miracles.

August 21, 2013

Today I want to tell of His faithfulness- to encourage myself and anyone else...Because He did another little miracle today.   During our first two adoption journeys, we had to trust for God's provision for finances, physical and emotional strength and wisdom.  Daily, my sister encouraged me with a mental picture- a dark, deep canyon that we've been invited to step out over.  At each step of faith, a bridge appears.  Our Shepherd is inviting us to trust and HE says to step out- over the precipice.  With the teensy, weensy, wimpy faith I had, we stepped- one step of faith at a time.  And with each step over that precipice, a bridge appeared- fully supporting the step made in faith.

Remember this from Indiana Jones- his step of faith?

So many times over the last four years, He has provided in many ways.  Yet financially is the most obvious (And the primary reason most shy away from adoption)  In 2011, We were still wading through the foster/adoption court system for Sierra and infant Alyssa.  To meet county foster adopt standards for having a new total of five children, we had to move to a larger home. (Rent for even the simplest, run down four bedroom in San Diego County is crazy high.) We needed $3800 to put down yet had nothing.  There was a time crunch to move within two weeks.  David and I decided to not tell anyone of our financial situation- not even our families.   Instead, that night we prayed and asked God to meet our need.  The next morning my iphone alerted me that a deposit had been made into our bank account. Can u guess the amount?  $3800!!!! I was confused.  WE hadn't told ANYONE.  I asked David, "Did you tell our parents?"  Once the banks were opened, I researched the source.  My grandmother had died months earlier and left an insurance account to me that no one knew of.  Her executor had discovered it and deposited it into our account- on the day we had prayed.  The bridge appeared!

Our three oldest children came to us in December of 2011 as we were waiting for a date to finalize Sierra and Alyssa's adoptions.  They had been saving their pennies and dollars for two years in hopes of buying a pony.  That morning they placed into my arms a clay pot- filled with coins and money bills.  It counted out to a few dollars over $2000.  They had reached their goal.  Ianna, the oldest (11 at the time) spoke for each of them and said "Mom, we have been talking.  All three of really want you and Dad to use our pony money to adopt again.  If we were in foster care or an orphanage, we'd want to be adopted.  Can we please use our pony fund to help our family adopt again?  Can we adopt a child that is not likely to be adopted?"  Then Liam added "Can it be a boy? and I hope he's black- blacker than Alyssa!"   What does a parent do with that?  We had it in our hearts to easily love more children, but the logistics were impossible.  David and I talked together.  I got on my knees the next morning and prayed "GOD, please honor our children's faith.  Please turn their $2000 pony fund into $30,000 to fund the adoption of child- perhaps from Africa- if this is what YOU have placed into our hearts."  Here's the first miracle and clear answer to prayer.  Two hours after that prayer my iPhone rang.  It was Family Court calling to ask if we could come in the next week and finalize Sierra and Alyssa's adoptions.  It was the LAST day to finalize adoptions in 2011.  Only in 2011, the IRS paid families cash of approximately $13,500 per child that was adopted within the year of 2011.  That was the LAST year that refundable tax credits have ever given by the IRS for child adoption.  We adopted Sierra and Alyssa and the IRS gave us over $27,000.  Since we'd already swallowed any costs of enlarging our family, that became our adoption account.  That is how we are paying for the base costs of an international adoption. 

The next miracle we needed was a larger home.  San Diego Foster Adoption requires a home that is large enough for their standard of no more than two children per bedroom.  Down on my knees again in the dark of the morning in the spring of 2012, I prayed "God, either take this adoption desire out of our hearts or please provide a home large enough to adopt at least two MORE children- a home that we can FILL UP with children."  There were three obstacles.  We needed 5 bedroom home that was $200K below market value.  We also had over $200K of unresolved debt from the short-sale of our home in 2008.  Our credit was ruined.    I prayed for it to be $200K below market with at least 5 bedrooms to satisfy county restrictions (and hard floors that kids couldn't destroy.)  In my heart I felt that this miracle would happen in May.  Knowing this could be my imagination, I tucked that away in my heart and life moved on.  IN the last week of May I looked again on Zillow.  There it was...a 6 bedroom home priced nearly $300K below market value.    I called our realtor and said "I think I see the miracle house on Zillow...Find out what's wrong with it!"  He called me back shortly and said "you are not going to believe this..." Within hours we drove up to the home.  I'd prayed for a miracle and was enthusiastic about a large double wide or destroyed fixer upper.  However, I was not prepared for this type of miracle.  The home was beautiful- a work of Art.  And somehow I knew it was Him at work.  I didn't feel worthy to be stepping into such a beautiful building- we could not afford this.
The owners came to the door.  Penny is my size and has red hair like mine!   Her husband, Chris is looked and muscular with a kind face.  They'd heard of our story and began to tell theirs.  They were moving to Costa Rica to rescue children out of human trafficking.   They'd prayed their home would be bought by a family with a heart for orphans.  Chris told of his childhood as an orphan in Germany.  With tears in his masculine, kind eyes, he recalled the pain of feeling desperate, unwanted and excruciatingly lonely as a child.  A tall stone church tower blocks from the iron bars of the orphanage that imprisoned him would ring loud bell chimes of hope.  Years later as a successful mason in the United States, Chris learned of the love of Jesus.  Chris became an adopted child of our Heavenly Father.  In response, he built this home with a stone turret at the center to symbolize Hope to the fatherless.  The turret was designed after the in Germany that had echoed hope into his aching, orphaned heart many years ago.  By the end of his story, all four of us had tears.  In the Center of this home's majestic stone tower, we all held hands and dedicated it to God and asked HIM to bring children near and far to learn of the love of our Father.  We prayed for Penny and Chris and their ministry SEEDS OF HOPE.   Then we waited to see miracles unfold.  Within one week, Bank of American forgave our short sale debt and another bank gave us a mortgage loan on this miracle home.  Another unexpected inheritance had been given to us that exactly covered the minimum amount to put down.  The Bridge appeared.
The Stone Turret built by Chris 

Chris and Penny are now living in Costa Rica.  MANY girls have been redeemed and are learning of the love of our Heavenly Father!  Here is a link to Seeds of Hope

This first winter in our miracle home the heater broke.  We found a used wood burning stove insert on craigslist for $1200 but did not have the $.  Again, we prayed.  A check from the IRS came the next day to refund us for paying too much property taxes?!!  Guess the amount?  $1400.  David and I paid cash for that stove and for the $200 of supplies needed to install it.  Neighbors dropped wood off at our home because they had "too much."  They did not know of our need.  The bridge appeared.

Our car battery was old and worn out this winter.  I needed to charge it before leaving home each day.  We were left stranded in a parking lot.  AAA came to charge the battery.  When they checked our history we were told it was still covered by warranty and we got a brand new battery for NO CHARGE.  The bridge appeared.

Our cat was sick.  On the drive to the veterinarian's offfice, I prayed out loud with the kids "God, please let this visit be under $200 because we want to use all we can to adopt another."  After the vet checked the  cat she gave us a treatment plan and then said "there will be no charge for this visit." (!!!)  She had no idea of our circumstances or prayer.  The bridge appeared.

There have been many more miracles of provision than I'm not taking the space to list. He is FAITHFUL.  The Bridge has appeared after each step of faith.  He promises that even if we do make a mistake, He will hold us....Psalm 37:24 "though he stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand. (Here's an example of when our attempts failed- yet he was still faithful- Even in Failure.)

With such a FAITHFUL GOD, HOW DARE I FREAK OUT AND PANIC when I look at the precipice ahead?  Without excuse, I still panic...and have sleepless nights...I am SO WEAK!!!  Yet, HE is full of Grace.  GRACE and MERCY and LOVINGKINDNESS.  I addressed this adoption blog "laughing on the water"--- because He is faithful to support our steps when He invites us to follow Him- even when I'm freaking out in fear or discouragement.  Here is the latest miracle:

Last week our agency requested that David and I fly out to Tennessee to meet with two visiting goverment officials from Lesotho who are over child welfare and adoptions.  The airfare and hotel cost came to $1200.  In faith, we made reservations.  This weekend a Good Samaratin- one who we have never met- even from another state- a stranger- but a neighbor in His Eyes- delivered our miracle.  This Good Samaritin bought $200 of "Owwie Pets" and booties from Ianna's Etsy store.  Then, she donated another $1000.  The total of $1200 perfectly covered the cost of our latest step.  The bridge appeared.  Again!

Has He put a desire into your heart to step over a precipice?  We can't walk on water unless we step out of the boat.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


The finalized home study came today!!
Here's what our social worker approved us for:

David and Christy Stinson are recommended and approved to adopt two children, boy or girl, in the Kingdom of Lesotho, who are healthy, with correctable medical conditions or with special needs that can include a child who is HIV positive.  It is also recommended that they be approved to adopt twins, a sibling set or two children who are non-related.

So, our journey continues... 

Now we start jumping thru the next long list long list of hoops (more fingerprints, letters, dr visits......) for the file that is called the Dossier. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Fundraiser by Ianna "Owwie Pets!"

This week Ianna (our oldest- age 12) worked so very hard and designed these precious, whimsical "Owwie Pets!" as a new way to help pay for us to adopt two children from Lesotho and the travel costs of all five kids to go with us to get them.  She did this all herself- sewing, painting the faces, creating tags, and photographs and even the wording on our Etsy store-(link)

"Owwie Pets!" are 2.5" mini cold packs to soothe little owies.  Ianna made them out of antique sugar sacks (1934) or colorful printed cotton fabrics.  Each one is unique and comes with a paper "adoption" tag with its own name.  No two are alike... 

Purchase from our Etsy store.   Or purchase by using the donation button on this blog.  Suggested donation amount: $30. 

Sunday, June 9, 2013

First homestudy visit.

In my younger years- risk and adventure appealed to me.  I recall the first time (and last) that I went skydiving- standing at the edge of the airplane door- looking thousands of feet to the ground below- preparing to jump.  It seemed crazy- absolutely crazy- to let go.  I was S-C-A-R-E-D.  Yet, in pure faith that the parachute would open- I managed to let go and jump....
Adoption sometimes feels to me much like that moment... International adoption with it's financial and legal obstacles even more so...and to pursue special needs children in a third world country makes this little airplane seem another 10,000 ft up above the ground.  Yet, when I look at HIM and His love for the orphan, fear shrinks.  This time, I feel driven. Children are suffering as I sit here feeling intimidated by risk.  Compared to their suffering, the risks are no excuse- especially knowing that for this jump, we are strapped to Him- the One who speaks and the wind and waves obey- The One who died for my own adoption- The One whose heart is broken for those who suffer without His comfort...

The homestudy interviews with our social worker to adopt from Lesotho went amazingly well.  His name is Joe.  Next Thursday, June 13, he will return to complete our interviews.  From there, he will write up our family report and await all of our documents to come in.  Then we submit our Homestudy and begin working on the next long list of legal docs called the Dossier.  The normal international adoption process takes about 18-24 months.

We mentioned to Joe our interest in adopting an special needs child such as HIV+ or other need.  He was incredibly encouraging and had numerous stories of children who were dying in Africa due to HIV+ status and other preventable terminal medical conditions who are now thriving here with medical intervention. As programs are being sought to get medications and intervention to the millions who need them, time is ticking for thousands of children who are dying before solutions are implemented.  Adoption is NOT the overall answer.  However, adoption does help one child at a time.  Joe is approving us for one or two children with any special need.  Our heart is for children who will not live unless they are adopted.  In Lesotho, this is likely HIV+.  However, we are open to anything He directs us to.  
Loving this jump...!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Here we GO!

Our application was accepted by the Lesotho adoption program!!!
As the doors to county foster/adoption continue to close, a door to adopting from Africa is beginning to open.  Sending in our application was the first step out of our familiar little boat into the unfamiliar world of pursuing a child from Africa.   In December of 2011 our children brought us their pony fund.  This consisted of every penny they had saved for two years toward their goal of buying a pony.  "Mom and Dad, we've been talking a lot and we all want you to use our pony fund to adopt again."  Liam had an additional desire that we adopt a little brother who looks African. That's a specific desire.  We believe God places this specific desires into our hearts.  Our children have been asking, praying and saving every dollar they can earn for us to adopt a little brother from Africa.  Expect mountains to move when children pray and take steps of faith...
Here we GO!!!   

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

In over our heads

What risk has He put into your heart?  For us, it's a passion to adopt. Today, someone casually warned me about taking on more children- especially special needs children- and also gently mentioned that God does not give us more than we can handle.   All I could reply is "God DOES give us more than we can handle- because then it's HIS strength that gets us through."  And Yes,  I am in WAYYY over my head and pursuing more children IS taking on too much.  Isn't it always this way when He put's a risky desire within our hearts? People speak doubt out of concern for us. Yet, He invites us to walk on water...
It's true- I am weak, and frail and prone to anxiety and fear.  We are getting older and our finances are too tight.  Our hearts could get broken....the list is long.  The list is always long when it comes to reasons to stay in our safe little boat-  It's okay to stay there where we feel safe.  But OH WHAT A GIFT it is to follow Him out of our safety zone.  Because, in brokenness, He is CLOSE and in these very weaknesses, HIS strength is shown.  Always.  When Peter stepped out of the boat - onto the water towards Jesus- He was waaay in over his head.  And he DID panic, stumble and sink.  Then, Jesus DID catch him and they walked on water TOGETHER back to the boat.  Peter's faith and trust and closeness to Jesus must have grown that day- especially after he stumbled!  Jesus was actually closest to Peter once he sank.  Any risk He puts into your heart is likely to feel like stepping out of a boat onto raging waters.  For us, this risk is the desire to adopt and advocate for orphans.  Isn't my discomfort ridiculous compared to the suffering of orphaned children who are left behind because we "are in over our heads?"  Looking ahead at the risks and challenges is daunting.  However, through the "hard" times, we've started to learn of His faithfulness and to not fear the loud, raging storms that are ahead-  He will be there.  He is faithful.  When we begin to fall- we will experience the closeness of HIM lifting us up! I can HARDLY wait to see what He does next-  Just when I think we are drowning, His presence draws close, He picks us up and miracles happen.  Every time.  Oh I can hardly wait...
 What risk has He put into your heart?  Stepping out of the boat is an incredible adventure.  

Lesotho, South Africa?

May, 15, 2013

A change in direction? 
Is this an answer to our children's prayers for a little brother from Africa?  Since last summer we have been waiting on a foster/adoptive placement.  Due to the need, we requested a waiver to adopt a sibling group.  For months we have called, emailed and waited for an answer.  Last month I surrendered this in prayer and asked God to open or close the door to the county foster adopt system as well as our heart for international adoption- "Thy will, not mine be done."   Twenty minutes after that prayer, the county licensing worker called me and told me that they will not grant us a waiver to adopt more than one child.  She also said that we can no longer be licensed for "Options" (special needs) foster or foster to adopt children because we have more than four children already in our home.   Had it not been for the timing of that phone call, my heart would have been beyond exasperated because sib groups and special needs children wait.  This time, I will surrender.  

So as we wait on the county and pray for direction, and while our hearts are broken for foster children all around us, our hearts also feel pulled to other nations- where children literally are dying due to their orphan status-

We'd never even heard of Lesotho (pronounced Le soo too) until this March.  It is a tiny, land-locked country in the Republic of South Africa.  After researching this country we have learned that it has a beautiful history of peace and is rich in culture and meaningful traditions. Lesotho is a mountain kingdom. Like every country it also has desperate social needs and as is always the case in such situations, children suffer. My heart breaks knowing that daily mothers who live in poverty die from preventable and manageable diseases while grieving that at her death her precious children will be left without her. That desperate mama could be me.  That could be my child- if I'd been born in a different situation.  After much prayer and discussion for the last three weeks, our family mailed in our application last night to an adoption agency with a Lesotho program.  
This is the first step of a long journey towards adopting from Africa- the request and prayer of our children for the last two years.  For two years they've saved every penny they can earn towards this prayer.  LOOK OUT when children pray and take steps of faith!   
We are still waiting on a county adoptive placement here in the USA.  The need is great both here in the USA and across the world.  Thank you for your prayers as we seek direction.  There are so many hurting parents and children- if only they could all be treasured.  Though, thousands around the world are rising up on their behalf in countless ways!  People really are being moved to care for these treasures.

Waiting and Remembering

January 1, 2013

Remembering miracles and treasures...The day we met Sierra:
One of the most difficult parts of any adoption journey seems to be the waiting- After jumping through seemingly hundreds of hoops, any tasks that could bring a sense of control are complete and there is nothing left to do but WAIT and PRAY and TRUST that God will move mountains on behalf of suffering children.  Psalm 77 encourages us to overcome discouragement by REMEMBERING what He has done before.  So today, as waiting for an adoptive placement seems endless, I will remember our first adoption journey.  Perhaps it will encourage others too ...

I had prayed for 10 years to adopt a child.  Circumstances said "wait."  Then, in 2009, my husband, David, came to me and said "I can think of no reason not to adopt that is not selfish.  Sign us up for the classes."  Tears flowed as this first obstacle was moved.  One year later, in January of 2010, our home-study was complete and we were WAITING on a placement.  The social worker had said it could be two years- even though we had agreed to either gender, any disability or ethnicity.  I was DISCOURAGED. This was the scripture God took me to that morning as obstacles again seemed impossible to move:

Psalm 77:19
Your road led through the sea
Your path through the mighty waters...
a pathway no one knew was there.... 

And then Psalm 66:5-6 Come and see what our God has done, what miracles He performs for His people!  He made a dry path through the Red Sea, and His people went across on foot.  There we rejoiced in Him. 

On Feb 20, 2010, the phone rang.  Our social worker's voice seemed surreal..."we have a match for you...."  Here is the first picture we ever saw of Sierra-  The social worker emailed it to us after we said "yes!" to her referral... We saw this treasured picture of her for the first time on my phone while sitting in the car...In tears we stared and laughed and cried.  It's like our first ultrasound picture of her.  It felt like we were watching God part the Red Sea...

 Here is David treasuring her in front of the foster home where we met her for the first time.  (Her first word came 2 months later "Dada!)  

Finally, we brought her home on March 8, 2010.  Here she is on our first night together- listening to bedtime Bible stories with Ianna, Leora and Liam who had prayed for her for months...

And seven months later on October 29, 2010- We were beyond surprised with another priceless treasure.  Sweet Alyssa, Sierra's biological sister, was entrusted to us.  Here is the FIRST time Sierra saw and held Alyssa.  Our precious daughters have changed us forever... 

We praise God daily that Sierra and Alyssa have each other-  and we have them.  

It was all so worth the wait for HIS TIMING.  It was worth every tear on the journey- and there were many.  Oh praise God that He allowed us to not "play it safe."  In a perfect world, adoption, foster care and orphan care would not be necessary.  But, this world is far from perfect.  Yet, today I look at my beyond-precious-daughters and R-E-M-E-M-B-E-R.   HE IS FAITHFUL!!!  

Isaiah 43:19 "For I am about to do something new.  See, I have already begun!  Do you not see it?  I will make a pathway through the wilderness.  I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."

And He did.  And He Does.  And He will.

So the wait continues for more children. And along with many other waiting families, we will savor the wait and try not to obsess over when that phone will ring...

Expecting again!!

November 9, 2012

Our family is celebrating tonight!  David put a beautiful fire in the fireplace.  We have decided to adopt again!  Our county adoption social worker finished our last interviews today to re-open our adoption file.  We will wait for an adoptive placement through the county for two or three children while praying fervently for His direction.  

Here is the rainbow that showed up outside our home just after our social worker left. It's presence felt strongly like God's love and promises represented... It's incredible when I think of all the miracles that have brought us up to this day and His promise to sustain us in the journey to come.

Dear LORD, thank you for Your faithfulness.  Again.  Thank You for being seen. Again. 

Our First Adoption Journey

January 11, 2012

My name is Christy.  David and I have 5 children.  He works as an engineer while I stay home with our five incredible children- Ianna age 11, Leora, age 9, Liam age 8, Sierra age 2 and Alyssa age 1.  We live in San Diego, California.  My American parents raised me and my sister in Saudi Arabia where we vacationed often in third world countries.  We were not sheltered from seeing deplorable suffering that results from extreme poverty.  Up until five years ago, I worked as an international adoption social worker.  Such work further broke my heart over seemingly needless suffering of countless orphans in need of loving homes.  Each night, David and I prayed with our three young children that we could do something for children in need of homes.  Each night our little ones  would pray "God, please give mommies and daddies to children who have no mommies and daddies..." 

Ianna, Leora and Liam in 2009...

In April 2009, David agreed that we could together attend an orientation given by San Diego County Child Welfare on Foster care and adoption.  By December we had been approved to foster/adopt up to two children under the age of two- any disability, any race, either gender.  Ianna, Leora and Liam prayed each night for the protection of their new little sister or brother.  As a family, we decided to be willing to open our hearts to a child who had not yet been freed for adoption.  This decision was made with the knowledge that our family may grieve at the potential loss of a child.  God loves birthmothers in a special way.  We began to pray for the mother of any child God brought to our family.  We chose to love with an open hand.  This decision was scary for me- I did not want to be hurt and certainly did not want our three children to suffer unnecessary grief.  However, we decided that the grief we may experience was nothing compared to the pain experienced by children and birthmothers in need of Jesus' love.  In February 2010 our social worker, Lesley, called.  "You've been matched with an 8 month old girl."  Precious Sierra had been born in June of 2009.  She was in a special needs foster home due to the challenges imposed upon her little body.  On March 8, 2010, we brought Sierra home.  She was 9 months old.  She was God's precious baby, placed in our arms.  Each one of us loved and treasured Sierra as if she had always been with us.  The journey that followed over the next year was far more trecherous than I could have predicted.  As a social worker, I had felt prepared for the risks and potential losses and challenges ahead.  However, the reality of loving a child as my own while knowing she could easily be taken away to a life where we could not protect her was far more difficult than I could have imagined-- I was blindsided, broken and brought to my knees like never before.  Sleep seemed impossible as fear roared loud.  Depression crept in and seemed to suffocate who I was.  Slowly, love replaced fear as I learned to embrace pain instead of running from it. 
 My love for a God who chose to suffer and die in order to adopt us became more real than ever.

Here is David with Sierra just before bringing her home.  I call this picture "No Longer Fatherless"

Sierra's first word at 11 months old was "DADAAA!!"
Ten days after the courts decided allow our family to eventually adopt Sierra, we received a call from the county...Sierra's precious, suffering birthmother had another baby.  Alyssa was two days old and waiting for us at the hospital.  In a daze, David and I prayed and decided that depression and anxiety and possible grief of our family were no excuse to turn away from Sierra's sister and her biological mother.  Ianna, Leora and Liam also were adamant too that they wanted to love a new baby- even if they would loose her.  Friends came and watched the four children while another friend met us half way to the hospital with a clothes, bottles and formula from Target.  We walked into the NICU and saw Alyssa for the first time.  This beautiful daughter was 7 lbs, 12 oz.  What a strange feeling to walk out of the hospital with her that night... No labor, no physical pain... it almost seamed wrong- we walked out carrying a priceless child without earning her.  I will never underestimate the loss that our girls' birthmother has had. We chose to be her birthmother's arms of love for Alyssa until she would be able to bring her home.  That day never came.  A day has not passed that we have not prayed for her.
Early in the dark of the next morning I was up feeding precious newborn Alyssa and I poured my heart out to God..."LORD, I am so very weak and broken from the journey of nearly loosing precious Sierra.  Our family has suffered.  How can I do this again??! I am too broken!!"  Into my mind came a picture of black darkness.  In the darkness were numerous clay pots.  Within each pot was God's light.  Yet only the broken pots allowed the light to shine out- dispelling darkness.  The more broken the pot, the more light shone out of it.  Along with this mental image came so much peace.  For the first time, it was like I was healed from a fear of pain- through a realization that pain and brokenness are not to be feared.  Truly broken people are who God uses.  That day my prayer changed from "protect my heart" to "Here I am, Lord, break me, shine through into this dark and suffering world."  The next several months were very difficult.  However, I was willing to be broken.  Our children also were willing to be broken.  They told me numerous times "Mom, dont worry, if God let's Alyssa stay here, it's good.  If He let's her go somewhere else, it's good- even if it hurts. Whatever He does is good."  They grew so much this last year.  We all did.

Several weeks after Alyssa came home in November 2010...

Sierra and Alyssa's adoption was finalized on December 14, 2011.  Here is our family...