Jacob and I actually met Chad when we first toured NOBTS and later met his wife, Cole, when we visited the church they were attending - where Chad is now the pastor. They've just started their journy to their son.
We are one of many families that dispel the myth that you only adopt if you can't have your "own" kids. God has blessed us with two amazing kiddos (Ava is 3 and Grayson will be 1 in December). In fact, having our kids be a part of this adoption journey has been priceless (God even used our daughter to confirm His call . . . you can read the whole story on the blog!). We talked about adoption even before we were married and continued to keep the idea in our minds as our family grew, but it wasn't until this Spring that we heard God say, "Now!"
We are currently in the "paper chasing" phase of adoption, which can be a bit overwhelming and tedious. But we're keeping the end result in mind . . . a little boy, orphaned in Ethiopia will one day be an orphan no more. He'll be Easton Gilbert . . . my son!
We have just begun this journey, but I already feel like there is much I could say about orphan care and adoption. God has taught us so much and used this process to refine us, individually and as a couple, and let me tell you . . . it has been intense! A good intense though. Intensity that I wouldn't trade because it is making us more like Christ AND we get a precious addition to our family!
Our journey started when we looked at God's heart revealed in His Word and chose not to ignore it. From beginning to end, Scripture declares God's concern for the fatherless. We had only one response to this Truth . . . to ask God, "How do you want us to demonstrate YOUR heart for the orphan?" Truth is, most followers of Jesus tend to ask God IF they should be concerned about the orphan and then don't listen for the answer. The question isn't "Should I . . .?" but "How should I?"
This question changed everything for us. We were desperate to hear God speak because we wanted to be in His will. And He did. In big, God-sized ways that only He could get the glory for! God was clear that we were to adopt a little boy from Africa. (Side note: I don't believe that every follower of Jesus is called to adopt, but we are all called to care for the orphan in some capacity. It is what our Heavenly Father is concerned about so we should be concerned too.) For us, it was adoption. For others it could be raising awareness of the plight of orphans, sponsoring an orphanage in another nation, becoming foster parents, and the list goes on. There are many ways to be involved in orphan care . . . the point is to just take the step and join the cause in some way to make God's heart known!
When I asked Chad, my husband, how he would sum up our experience so far he said, "The joy of obedience is far greater than any of the fears or hardships that the journey brings." Couldn't have said it better myself! We have great confidence, not in ourselves, not in our parenting skills, not in our fundraising abilities, not even in our love for the son we've never met, but in Christ alone. God spoke. We are obeying. We are able to experience joy in the face of many unknowns because God promises to be with us. So no matter what is ahead . . . the heartache of waiting years to hold my son, the trauma and loss that we will have to help him process, the spiritual attacks (Adoption proclaims the Gospel in a beautiful way and Satan is wholeheartedly opposed to the Gospel . . . attacks WILL come.), the cost, the fears, the twists & turns of our journey . . . we know without a doubt that we are walking in obedience to our Father and that will be enough to get us through. He is enough!
My encouragement to you, whoever you are, is to ask the question, listen for the answer, then obey. God is truly the Father to the fatherless, but He gives us the privilege of being His hands and feet to "the least of these." We don't deserve this, but in His mercy and grace, God uses our surrender to Him to mold us into the image of Christ, to bring more joy into our lives than we could ever imagine, and to give hope and love to one of His little ones.
You can follow the Gilbert's adoption journey through their blog, gilbertsforhisglory.blogspot.com. You can also read more about how and why they chose Ethiopia. It's also in my bloglist to the right! Be sure to check it at the first of every month to enter the monthly raffle and get a chance to win something way cool!