Johnson Family Adoption

Naomi Johnson
Naomi Johnson

We would like to share with you some exciting news about a change that will soon take place in our family! There have been many things which have led us to this place, but we will share just a small piece of that for now. In the summer of 2013 Paul went on his first mission trip to Guatemala at the prompting of two of his close friends, who would not take “no” for an answer. Last summer, we were fortunate to be able to travel back to serve together. While in Guatemala we had the opportunity to get to know, hold, hug, love, and support many children who have been either removed from their homes due to abuse, been orphaned through the death of their parents, or been abandoned by their family. There is nothing that can put words to what it is like when you hold a baby or play with a child whose identity is defined by such hurt and loss.

All children desire to be loved and want to know they matter. In one orphanage, there were over 30 children with only 4 women to care for them. These women are saints on earth and have given their lives to care for, protect, and love each child. However, resources are scarce and just as there were few to care for the many, the children also wear the same uniforms with their names on them each day. You might think that a uniform with a child’s name on it would help us remember the names of the children, but you would be as mistaken as we were. It did not take long for us to realize that the names on the uniforms did not always match the child, as they were handed down from their previous owners who had grown out of the clothing or left the orphanage. The very clothing these children wore made them obscure to the point that the name represented another’s identity.

After leaving Guatemala, we quickly realized that we had been changed to our very core. As Christians we believe that we were once orphaned and that God adopted us into his family through the death of His beloved son Jesus Christ. He named us and calls us His own, and now because of that great love we have an unexplainable desire to call a child without a father and mother our own. To be their forever family in both the joyous times and the times of struggle, so that they know that they are unconditionally loved and their name matters.

The decision to adopt a child was not made lightly and we are not naïve to think it will be a process without struggle. We have already met with several challenges, the first being that because of international adoption regulations we will not be able to adopt a child from Guatemala. While this realization was disappointing, God has made another way, and we have been approved to adopt a child from the eastern Caribbean Islands. Another challenge that we are facing is the cost, which comes to roughly $30,000. This is why we are humbly asking that you consider partnering with us to meet this challenge. Our prayer is that you not feel pressured or just see this as another request for money, but rather an opportunity to help share in God’s redemptive love for orphans around the world. Also, we ask that you please pray for the care and safety of our child who we have yet to meet and the changes this will bring for all of our children.

We have partnered with Lifesong for Orphans, a non-profit organization, that underwrites all U.S. administrative and fundraising costs. That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption and will be tax deductable. Thank you so much for your support both in prayer and finances. We will continue to provide updates as we receive our official referral and more information about the newest member of the Johnson family.

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Raised to date by 14 people
 of  $10,000
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My Story

We would like to share with you some exciting news about a change that will soon take place in our family! There have been many things which have led us to this place, but we will share just a small piece of that for now. In the summer of 2013 Paul went on his first mission trip to Guatemala at the prompting of two of his close friends, who would not take “no” for an answer. Last summer, we were fortunate to be able to travel back to serve together. While in Guatemala we had the opportunity to get to know, hold, hug, love, and support many children who have been either removed from their homes due to abuse, been orphaned through the death of their parents, or been abandoned by their family. There is nothing that can put words to what it is like when you hold a baby or play with a child whose identity is defined by such hurt and loss.

All children desire to be loved and want to know they matter. In one orphanage, there were over 30 children with only 4 women to care for them. These women are saints on earth and have given their lives to care for, protect, and love each child. However, resources are scarce and just as there were few to care for the many, the children also wear the same uniforms with their names on them each day. You might think that a uniform with a child’s name on it would help us remember the names of the children, but you would be as mistaken as we were. It did not take long for us to realize that the names on the uniforms did not always match the child, as they were handed down from their previous owners who had grown out of the clothing or left the orphanage. The very clothing these children wore made them obscure to the point that the name represented another’s identity.

After leaving Guatemala, we quickly realized that we had been changed to our very core. As Christians we believe that we were once orphaned and that God adopted us into his family through the death of His beloved son Jesus Christ. He named us and calls us His own, and now because of that great love we have an unexplainable desire to call a child without a father and mother our own. To be their forever family in both the joyous times and the times of struggle, so that they know that they are unconditionally loved and their name matters.

The decision to adopt a child was not made lightly and we are not naïve to think it will be a process without struggle. We have already met with several challenges, the first being that because of international adoption regulations we will not be able to adopt a child from Guatemala. While this realization was disappointing, God has made another way, and we have been approved to adopt a child from the eastern Caribbean Islands. Another challenge that we are facing is the cost, which comes to roughly $30,000. This is why we are humbly asking that you consider partnering with us to meet this challenge. Our prayer is that you not feel pressured or just see this as another request for money, but rather an opportunity to help share in God’s redemptive love for orphans around the world. Also, we ask that you please pray for the care and safety of our child who we have yet to meet and the changes this will bring for all of our children.

We have partnered with Lifesong for Orphans, a non-profit organization, that underwrites all U.S. administrative and fundraising costs. That means 100% of your donation will go directly to the adoption and will be tax deductable. Thank you so much for your support both in prayer and finances. We will continue to provide updates as we receive our official referral and more information about the newest member of the Johnson family.

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Even Still

November 14, 2016

Paul asked me the other day about sending out an update to everyone, I admit, it has been awhile.  I have been dreading this time of writing and reflection.  It solidifies the fact that this process is taking way longer than we ever imagined or anticipated. For those of you, that just want the facts and not all of my ranting, here it is—we are STILL waiting.  We are STILL the first waiting family on our program list, anticipating the day the phone call comes and all is revealed.  All of our paperwork, home study, immigration approvals, dossier work, it’s all there ready and waiting.  Political changes within the SVG government are underway and supposedly things are slowly moving again.  So we wait.

There have been countless number of times throughout this journey that I have questioned this process.  Not just the logistics of the adoption process, but I mean ALL of it. Deep life questions. I ask myself, “how did we get here?!” In these times of waiting, there has been a lot more doubt than trust.  That’s the ugly truth of it.  To some, maybe two years doesn’t seem like a long time.  However, for us, as these months drag on into years, life doesn’t stop.  Our children change and grow older before our eyes, we grow tired and weary in the process, we witness friends on their own adoption journey expand their families. We see pictures and hear accounts of children wonderfully blessed to find their forever families.  I find myself pulling into myself because I don’t know what to “do” anymore with this adoption thing.  A certified “doer” who has zero power or influence to make anything happen.  I can’t make sense of the process, I can’t make something happen before His perfect time, I can’t know if and when we will be blessed to receive the referral of a child to our family, and what possibly scares me the most is if I will even be ready if that phone call eventually comes.

We set out on this journey almost 3 years ago, with seeds planted over two decades ago.  When we started down the path, the road was paved and clear with a multitude of signs all around directing us along the way.  Over time, the path has turned from pavement, to gravel, to dirt, and on some days, I am not even sure I see a path anymore.  I feel like I am fumbling my way through the woods at night trying to listen to the sound of someone calling me way off in the distance and mostly I can’t tell which direction it is coming from.  There are times that I can barely remember how we started on this path or how we got to where we are.  And did I mention, it is cold and lonely out here?? Plus I seem to keep stepping in thorn bushes…

I saw a verse posted by a friend tonight, Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.”  This very same friend, hugged me in church yesterday, offering me prayer and encouragement, identifying with my pain, despite her own much more difficult circumstances in life.  I don’t believe she could know what it all meant to me in those moments, offering the reassurance of Christ to someone who really is quite weak and pitiful through her love and care. She was simply responding to His promptings to love and be the arms of Jesus to me.

Even still there is GOD–that is what He is teaching me, friends.  This life is so much more about the little moments, the love that we share with one another, the valleys that we walk through (or the wandering in the woods at night!). Despite whether or not life happens the way that we envision, or plan or work for, God is faithful.  He who promised is faithful.  He did not promise that we would always get what we want.  Most times we probably won’t! He did not promise that at the end of this adoption journey we would hold a beautiful child in our arms. What He promised is that He would never leave us.  He did not leave us alone to suffer or wander aimlessly. The older that I get, the more and more that I realize how very little I know or understand about life, about Him—the creator of all life. However, I am learning, in the brambles of the woods, that this life is so much more about the journey alongside Him and not various points of arrival on the way. He is growing me and stretching me.  Most importantly, He who promised is faithful.

There is a song by, We are Messengers, called “I Look Up.”  I love the lyrics of this song because they are such a reminder that this life is so much bigger than me or anything that I could do or accomplish.  Ultimately, it is all about Him and His faithfulness. We love you, dear friends.  Thank you for your prayers and encouragement as we all journey through life and seek to respond to His calling. We will continue to cling to the promises of Christ who is faithful and love others with His help along the way!

 “I live my life in the valley
It keeps my eyes on you
I stay broken in the valley
Yeah that’s what valley’s do
If I wanna catch a glimpse of something bigger than me
I have to look up and when I look up

I see that love is a man hanging on a tree
With his heart poured out for me
Love is a king watching over me
And when I look up
He’s all I see

I’m tired of chasing after feelings
That are only found on mountaintops
‘Cause when I’m standing on the top of everything
I’m looking down not looking up
So if I wanna catch a glimpse of something bigger than me
I have to look up
And when I look up

I see that love is a man hanging on a tree
With his heart poured out for me
Love is a king watching over me
And when I look up
He’s all I see
So when I walk through the valley I will not be afraid

I will hold to the promise that you’re walking with me
God you lead me through waters where I lay down to rest
And I look up
Yeah when I look up

I see that love is a man who was hanging on a tree
With his heart Poured out for me
I see that love is a king watching over me
And when I look up
He’s all I see…”

Lyrics by We are Messengers

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Laying out the Fleece

July 16, 2016

Twenty-two months and counting….Waiting.  It’s a pretty boring topic to write about over and over again. I imagine everyone that reads these updates gets tired of hearing a lot of news about nothing. Believe me, these past months I have been growing tired of it.  I am not sure what sounds like less time—22 months or almost 2 years….I haven’t quite made my mind up about that because either way I look at it, it feels like the longest birth pains ever.

Paul and I have been growing restless in the waiting these past months, trying to decipher where the Lord is taking us on this adoption journey.  We had a call with our caseworker a couple weeks ago which brought discouraging news.  With new political parties and officials who took office earlier this year, adoptions have come to a grinding halt in SVG.  Our agency has seen no new referrals in the past 6 months which explains why our being number 1 on the waitlist has led to no exciting phone calls or news.  When newly elected officials take office in SVG, there is typically a slow-down period as they review the country’s current policies and procedures.  Adoption policies usually fall lower in the list of priorities.  This has happened many times before, however, to our dismay this seems to be the longest slow-down in the 18 year history that our agency can remember. Aren’t we lucky?!

It is hard not to be disillusioned by the adoption process. To know that there are hundreds, thousands, millions of children throughout the US and around the world that need a forever family, and yet government and bureaucracy have a way of overcomplicating things.  The very institutions who are to protect the best interest of children also leave them in a temporary status for far too long, bringing its own pain and hurt and prolonged damage to the vulnerable.  I, along with others weary for justice, rationalize that it is for the protection of the children in order to make ourselves feel better.  But honestly, that is not always the case.  I am not sure that is the case even half the time.  And I could rant and complain about the political issues but it doesn’t change where we are. 

In the midst of the waiting, it naturally causes us to question the path that God clearly led us down.  Despite hearing and knowing His direction two years ago and following Him along the way, it is easy to question and second guess all of it as time goes by.  Is He re-directing our paths?  Did we make the wrong decision?  Is He shutting the door?  What if the end of this journey is nothing we imagined? Believe me—we have asked all the hard questions. 

This past week, we attended a seminar sponsored by another agency on adoption from the US foster care system.  Investigating other possibilities, seeking to hear from the Lord in any way possible.  I came away from it more frustrated than ever.  The agency, the social worker, the program—all wonderful and passionate in what they seek to accomplish.  But still it did not set well with Paul or I to make a switch at this time and close the door on SVG.  God has not given us a clear leading for that decision.  I have done so much praying and crying out to God as to why He hasn’t answered me.  Wondering why He “abandoned” us here on this journey.  The night of the seminar was tough for me.  I wanted so badly to “feel” something.  To hear Christ’s voice loudly. 

I had shared with a friend earlier in the week, that as weak as I felt in doing so, I needed to “lay out my fleece” so to speak and insist that the Lord answer me.  There was nothing I needed more than to simply hear Him. For those that may not be familiar with the story in the Old Testament of Gideon who so desperately was seeking the Lord’s answer on an important decision, he laid out a fleece at night and asked the Lord to make it wet or dry while the ground around it remained the opposite.  Basically he was asking for an undeniable sign from the Lord.  He was chastised in the end because no matter how many signs the Lord gave him, Gideon still lacked faith to trust the Lord’s direction.  That story resonates with me because I am very much like Gideon even though in reading the story I easily criticize him for his lack of trust. “How much clearer can God make it?!” I would always ask myself in reading the passages.  Sadly though, I realize.  I am him.  I am faithless.  I have refused to trust Him despite the many times He has made His answer clear. Over and over again the Lord has spoken to me. Oh, I can’t deny that I have heard Him.  I have been pretending that I haven’t because down to the core, I hate His answer.  More times than I would like to admit, I am made painfully aware on my journey with Christ, that the more that I grow in Him, the more I am recognizing how hugely I am flawed and how incredibly I fall short…umm…all the time.

So this week, in His patience, Christ spoke to me again.  He answered me, responded to the fleece, my desperate plea.  He didn’t speak the words I wanted to hear, but He took off the veil so that I couldn’t question Him any longer.  “Wait on me. Just wait.” He gave me a peace which I have not experienced in a long time.  A peace in the surrendering to Him whatever the outcome of this journey will be.  I cannot adequately communicate the joy and the relief I have had this week. As a borderline type A person, a task driven person for sure, I have been trying so desperately to “make” this happen. Or at least frustrated knowing that I can’t make this happen.  This week, Christ revealed Himself in a tender way to me, in all my ugliness and frustration.  Learning to wait on Him has been a struggle for me. I am a point A to point B person, and I don’t have time for the in-between.  But God is showing me in fresh ways, that it is the walking in between that holds the beauty.  He calls me to rest in Him and that is all.    I can truly say there is a reassurance in being right where He wants you, even if it is not the place you want to be.  It’s in the surrender to Him that we can find our rest.

 

Love you all.  Thank you for your continued prayers for movement in the Caribbean, and for peace and rest in between.

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The Unseen

April 29, 2016

I have found in the midst of the craziness of life, writing and journaling can be cathartic for me.  I am beginning to understand, just a little, my blogger friends who have the gift of expressing their thoughts and sharing openly their feelings and struggles, high points and lows. It brings release and also a sense of perspective to things that so easily manage to absorb us.  I write a lot of things in private that I don’t share because sometimes my own thoughts scare me. I am ashamed of them, they are so raw most of the time, I really am not sure it would benefit anyone to see their authenticity. I say that as I share these next few thoughts because nothing would be more alarming to me than for someone conclude that I pretend in anyway have it all together or have a direct line to understanding life and its complexities. To know me, is to realize how far from truth that is.

There is no other way to say, it has been a rough couple years.  Since we started this adoption process, and I look back on where the Lord has taken us, I reflect on how difficult it has been since we started down this path.  Waiting certainly is hard and a continual challenge, but there has been so much more.  Career struggles, health issues, extended family concerns, growing financial pressures….Life.  Life has gotten really hard.  The waiting for God to fulfill His promises in this journey compounds the struggle, loneliness and the deep aching reality of this world and its imperfections. Even in this I hesitate, because perspective calls me to question the validity of my complaints. In my hardest moments, someone else has it much worse and in that, I never want to lose sight.

I have felt God’s silence this year.  Sometimes I am not sure what is worse than God’s silence. I have felt an emptiness and a questioning that has taken me to dark places.  There is a piece of me that blames the Lord and His lack of action.  I know that’s unfair of me, maybe considered deeply shameful.  If so, I own that shame.  I have tried shutting Him out, my adult way of throwing a temper tantrum for not fulfilling my expectations.  Even in my extreme ugliness, these past couple of weeks He has been meeting me in my brokenness. I have been slowly trying to surrender my stubbornness and selfishness to Him.   It’s really hard.  A place I haven’t been before, nor do I want to be. In His faithfulness, not mine, He meets me.

I steal a few moments when possible in our sunroom.  It’s my favorite place in the house, with a view out to the back yard, there is peace there.  I hide in the corner of the room, in the quietness, a couple mornings a week, to watch the sunrise, to read the Bible, pray and journal.  I can’t miss the maple tree that fills the back yard.  It has grown to a huge beast of a tree since we have lived here.  One thing that struck me about it, was that this maple is on a completely different cycle than almost every other tree in our yard.  The redbud, the cherry, the pear, the forsythia….all of them have sprouted and blossomed with gorgeous flowers.  They are the representatives of spring in all their glory.  At the same time, this king sized maple tree looks dead.  Brown branches seemingly stuck in the ugliness of winter.  Every time I look on it, I can’t help but wonder, “What is wrong with this thing? It’s a dud so out of sync.  What is taking this tree so long? It’s almost May, doesn’t it know spring has come already?” 

Just now, there are small green leaves beginning to emerge.  They are tiny, almost too difficult to see unless you look closely.  It is slow.  But it is life springing forth.  In time this tree will be home to families of birds that will take shelter in it once again.  Its growth cannot be rushed.  This beautiful maple cannot will itself to emerge before the right moment has come.  However in time, it will become what it was intended to be… what God created it to be. 

I can’t adequately explain hearing the Lord in this.  But I do know He spoke loud and clear to me.  I couldn’t miss His voice, especially when I have been sitting in silence with my back to him Him for so long.  When He speaks, you hear it, especially in brokenness.  What hope we have in God’s perfect timing?!  We can rest in His promises and know that what appears dead and dormant on the outside is being prepared for maturity and growth just below the surface.  Preparation is being done in the unseen.  It cannot be rushed or even comprehended the majority of the time. 

Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God, His way is perfect.  All the Lord’s promises prove true.  He is a shield for all who look to Him for protection.”  My prayer is that you would find encouragement in this.  No matter what you are facing or struggling with.  His ways are perfect and His promises prove true, even though right now, we cannot begin to understand them. In time, all will be revealed.

 

Thank you for continued prayers and support and for listening to me just a little.  J You are much loved in more ways than I could begin to put words to.  Adoption updates will follow, I am sure of it. Right now there is much being done in the unseen.  xoxo Naomi

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2015–A Year Has Come and Gone

February 3, 2016

2015 has come and gone.  And still we wait.  The realization of how long this adoption process can be has hit me hard lately.  I have been disheartened by it, I have been frustrated over it and asked lots of questions to God about it.  I know He understands my frustration.  I know He is not surprised by it. We are coming to the point now of waiting for our precious referral much longer than anticipated. Initially, because we are waiting for a child considered to be “older”, the impression was that we would likely have our referral within a year’s time.  2015 was supposed to be that year.   Disappointment and unmet expectations.  As this month of February is already upon us, we have begun to re-do paperwork that was done 15 months ago….

It is hard to to see God’s hand at work in the silence, in the waiting.  It is much easier to reach the end and look back and see Him so clearly.  But in the waiting there is an emptiness, a feeling of endless wandering. But still we trust.  We hold to His promises and His goodness and His plan, knowing that His way is better.  This is not for our lives.  This is for the little one that He holds close in a country far from us.  This is for the one that hurts in ways that we cannot see.  This is to bring glory to Christ as our heavenly Father, as the one who brings reconciliation and healing.

Despite the timeline being different than we anticipated, we are excited about this coming year.  Yes, we start the year waiting.  But we are waiting expectantly in first place on a list to receive our referral. We are anxious to see how things will develop this year and most importantly we are excited to meet this little one who will at some point be entrusted to our care.  We are so grateful for those of you who continue to support us in so many ways, financially, but also in prayer and emotional support.  It means more to us than we could ever adequately share and we appreciate you waiting in the silence right along with us. Thank you for entering into this journey with us, however long it may be.  We know this waiting is only the beginning of a journey that lasts a lifetime!  My prayer is that the next update we have to share, will bring good news, but if it doesn’t we will continue to trust and perservere, knowing that He will accomplish His work in His perfect time. xoxo- Naomi

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Waiting in the Journey

November 13, 2015

We wanted to continue to thank you all for your prayers and support of us during this LONG adoption journey.  The waiting has been long and some days it is easier than others.  We get caught up in the busyness of life and adoption seems like a far away object that we know is out there but just never seem to get close enough to touch. The reality more about what we cannot see.  It is in this waiting that the Lord is working on us, on our family, on our child to be, preparing all of us for life long changes that will come sooner than we realize.  It is hard to rest in His faithfulness sometimes.  It is a daily acceptance that only Christ is sovereign, only His plans are perfect and timely.

The exciting news is that we have moved into the first place on our referral waitlist for a little girl between the ages of 4 and 7 years of age.  Yay!!  We are now in first place to wait!  We joke about it, but it is progress and it is encouragement to us.  While we had one timeline mapped out in our heads, God has another, and we truly are glad that He is in control and not us. 

We continue to covet your prayers and support.  As always, your financial gifts are still very much needed, but we trust that the Lord will provide in all ways and know that it is only in Him that this is possible.  Thank you for your love and walking alongside us in this!    We hope to have even more exciting news and a name and a face to share very soon!

Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a hope and a future. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me.”

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Jun 20, 2016

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Kevin and Amy

Mar 6, 2016

“Love you guys!”

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Mark

Feb 26, 2016

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Michael & Becky

Feb 25, 2016

“Paul and Naomi - thanks for faith and obedience, knowing that God's hand is present through this adoption process. We look forward to future news and meeting your little girl. The Rogalski's”

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Kevin

Feb 4, 2016

“It is a wonderful thing you are doing. We had similar feelings when we got back from Guatemala last year.”

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