The Beginnings of Our Adoption Journey
Ever since our marriage in 2007, we have been considering adopting children, especially since we married later in life, and also because we wanted to pass on the blessing of a close-knit family with strong Christian values just like we had experienced growing up. We believe raising a family through adoption is a beautiful picture of the way God adopts us as His children. And if God opened the door for adoption, this would be an opportunity to give a child a loving, life-long family home.
We were naturally drawn to international adoption since we had been given so many cross-cultural experiences through our extensive travel and living abroad. We also had no doubt that a child adopted internationally would be loved and welcomed into our extended family of nieces and nephews, all of which come from mixed cultures.
But our plunge into the adoption journey did not begin until after we had lived for two years in the Middle East for Jonathan’s employment as a history professor.
While visiting a Christian monastery in northern Iraq, we had a personal encounter with a family who was staying there for the weekend to give their children rest from the daily fears they faced at home in Mosul, a city in constant tension between Iraqi Arabs and Kurds.
One of the young daughters insisted we promise to come back and visit. It is heart-breaking now to think that this family may have been torn apart if not killed during the more recent turmoil in this region.
The more we got to know our Iraqi students, who were from many Middle East backgrounds, the more we heard of their traumatic stories from a not-so-distant past. Although we had come to Iraq at a time of relative peace, it became clear to us that the underlying unrest of the past could erupt at any moment. Our hearts longed to bring hope to this region, but we knew this was an ambition far beyond our capacity.
Although the university students were among the more fortunate, we knew there were scores of Iraqi orphaned children in need of a permanent family. How we would have loved to have provided for that need. But since we could not legally adopt from Iraq, we looked to adopt from other nearby countries with similar traumatic histories. We chose Armenia, a Christian nation with a rich heritage dating back to the early century church, as this fit in well with Jonathan’s professional expertise in this area, including the languages of Armenian, Syrian, Greek, and Egyptian Christians.
We had hoped to adopt a child in need from Armenia, but as we worked towards this end, we found ourselves faced with changing circumstances back home. Over the next two years, we worked through major transitions moving out of state to a new home and new jobs. During this time, the Armenian international adoption program also underwent changes, and unfortunately, could not offer the same possibilities for adoptive parents as before. So we were advised to change countries and Serbia was suggested as a good alternative and a better match for us.
It was an emotional adjustment, to say the least, when we had poured ourselves so much into adopting from Armenia, to now switch gears to a country even farther from the Middle East. But if we could pour ourselves into connecting with Armenia, there was really no reason we couldn’t do so for Serbia as well. Here was a country that also had a history of recent war, civil turmoil, intense conflict between cultures and religions, and a people group that experienced much persecution in the early 20th century. So, in time, our hearts grew.
[Feel free to scroll through photos at top of webpage, then read on – thanks!]
Once again, we took up the journey. We sent our letter of introduction to the Serbian Authority and waited. On September 24th, 2018, we received a referral for two sibling boys! Gladly and humbly, we accepted the referral, and with joy in our hearts, we gave thanks to God that we had at last been matched with, not just one child, but two children who needed a permanent, loving home. With renewed excitement, we spent the next five months gathering over twenty personal documents. At last, we submitted our dossier for review.
And now we await the official papers to be invited to Serbia to work through the formal process of adoption. Lord willing, by the end of this year, we will be traveling to meet these dear boys and immersing ourselves in their world for a brief time before bringing them to their new home in the U.S.
In the meantime, we will work on finishing our required educational preparation and begin to learn the Serbian language. We plan to apply for more grants, and to help with fundraising efforts, we will work towards completing a book we have been writing about our experiences in the Middle East!
There are still many steps to walk through and financial hurdles to cross in preparation for this adoption. The average cost of international adoption begins at $35,000. Over half of our needed funds have been met with our own funds of over $15,000, the blessing of another $1,580 donated at our benefit concert in Ohio, and $5,500 from approved adoption grants! We are truly grateful!
Now that we have been matched with specific children, we are nearing the end of the adoption process and fees will be due in shorter succession. We have about $15,000 in costs still remaining, which will cover fees for travel, international services, in-country costs, post-adoption, and medical exams, visas, and U.S. citizenship for the boys.
If you would like to be a part of our bringing these precious boys home, we would be thrilled and ever so grateful! Here’s how you can help,
PRAY …Ask God to prepare these two boys for all the changes ahead for them
…Ask God to prepare us for being the kind of parents these children need
WRITE …Encourage our hearts in this new chapter of our life’s journey. We can’t do this alone.
…Many of you have expressed interest in providing funds for us to adopt, so now, here is your opportunity! Any amount you would like to contribute is deeply appreciated.
…If for any reason your gifts are not needed for our adoption, 100% of your donated funds to Lifesong will go towards adoption costs for another child in need of adoption.
We hope you will join us in supporting this adoption, whether by prayer, encouragement, or finances, so that one day these children will come to know that they are always part of a loving community!
■ NOTE: In accordance with IRS guidelines, your donation is to the named non-profit
organization. This organization retains full discretion over its use, but intends to honor
the donor’s suggested use.
■ Individual donations of $50 or more and yearly donations totaling $250 or more will
receive a tax-deductible receipt. Receipts for donations under $50 will gladly be sent
upon request. Lifesong is a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization.