Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mary & Marta

This is the story of the begining of our latest adoption adventure, and how we found Mary & Marta.

We have known for a long time that besides Joy and Song, there was at least one other girl out there that God said was ours. We believe that God has designated these kids as ours, and that we just need to seek and find them, and be obedient to act when we find them.

With that in mind, when we returned from China with Song, we immediately began to speak about finding her, and I started to look. My first impression was that she was not from China, but beyond that, we didn’t really know anything. Also my impression was that I was the one to find her.

I began to pray constantly for God to reveal her to us.

At this point my opinion was that I was open to anyplace, although Africa was not even on my radar screen. I had long held the view that there was great need there, but my passions were not for that continent. My feelings were - God bless people who are called to minister there, adopt from there, etc., but it is NOT US!

But, as I daily searched adoption boards, photo listings, agencies, etc, it slowly came onto my radar screen, and before long I really felt drawn to Africa. Then I came across AHOPE, which is an orphanage in Ethiopia, and my heart was changed forever. Very quickly we were sponsoring a number of children from there, and through AHOPE I was connected to Adoption Advocates International (AAI) and their other orphanage in Ethiopia, Layla House.

At that point (mid-April) I was very interested in Ethiopia, but Lisa was far behind me in the process, and was still thinking India was the place for us. So, I joined a couple adoption Yahoo Groups related to families who are thinking about, working on, or have adopted from Ethiopia, and posted this question as an introduction.

From: "RichLisaD"
Date: Mon May 8, 2006 11:29 am
Subject: New to group RichLisaD

Hi everyone. We are Rich & Lisa, and are new members to this group. We have 5 kids, 2 who are adopted from China. Both were older, special needs adoptions, and we are starting down the path of #3. We know that she is an older (9-10?) girl, and are just trying to figure out where she is.

We are sponsoring some kids from AHOPE, and through that connection got steered to this group. I read the previous posts this morning, and it did nothing but fan the passion we already feel for these kids.

I have a couple questions for people who have traveled to Ethiopia, and for those who have visited the orphanage. Are there any travel agents you have used to book flights that are experienced with flights to Ethiopia, or have you just gone through airlines to book flights? And more importantly, to those who have been to the orphanage, is there a file somewhere of photos of the children? We have photos of our sponsored kids (including the adorable Tarikwa, Julie - who stole my heart immediately), but would love to see more pictures besides the ones on the web site. It would also be great to talk to people who have been about specific kids they have met.

Thanks in advance for any response, and for allowing us to be a part of this group.


I got 2 replies to that post, one from Julie, in Edmonds (north of Seattle), and the other was a recommendation to contact a lady in Chicago with Chances by Choice, a small non-profit that helps with adoption issues. Here is Julie’s reply to my post.

From: Julie
Sent: Tuesday, May 09, 2006 8:25 AM
To: richlisad
Subject: This little one needs a home!


Last night I was talking with my husband, and shared about your email to the group and your family's interest in adopting an Ethiopian child.

I was recently in Addis working for AAI. I go there every few months as I work part-time developing the school program at AAI's Layla House. They have over 150 children, mainly older children who are orphaned and need homes.

Anyway, I remembered about Marta, who is 12 or 13 and her little sister. Below is a picture of her little sister, who I was told is about 5 years old. I have looked through my pictures and don't see one of Marta but I am sure that I could find one for you! Marta is a petite, beautiful child who I adore! She asked me to adopt her on my last visit. (I wish I could adopt them all, and I have made a pretty good start with 14 Ethiopian children!) I don't think that she and her sister have a family. I don't remember her sister's name. I am pretty sure this is her sister in the below picture. When I was at the orphanage visiting our soon-to-be daughter, I asked who was Marta's sister and then took a picture of her. I know that you were interested in possible adopting from Ethiopia and I wanted to share these two children with you.

You would need to go through AAI to do the adoption if you are interested as Marta is housed in AAI's orphanage. You can google them at Adoption Advocates International for more information.


Then I emailed Chances by Choice, in Chicago.

From: richlisad
Sent: Thursday, May 11, 2006 11:34 AM
To: info@chancesbychoice.org
Subject: Information Please

We are beginning to investigate the possibility of adopting a child from Ethiopia. On the Yahoo Group someone referenced Chances By Choice as a great resource for information about the process. If this is true, could you help us out? We have adopted 2 children from China before, so we are familiar with that process, but the I-601 is new to us, and the process in dealing with Ethiopian courts sounds different as well.

Any thing you can share is greatly appreciated.


Candice replied to me with the message below.

From: Chances By Choice
Sent: 5/11/2006 9:47:46 AM
To: richlisad
Subject: RE: Information Please

We can definitely help you out in this process. This adoption will differ from your previous ones in several ways, but the focus of what we do is mainly the I601/waiver doc (attached). As you go through the adoption process, keep us up to date and keep in touch, because US CIS and Chances by Choice are working together to make this immigration process better than it is now. I expect changes to happen in the next few months. If you are looking at adopting from Ethiopia, I can send some photos of children to you.

Best Regards,

Candice then sent us this picture of “Meklit” on 5/12/06, along with pictures of 2 other kids, a little boy and an 18-month-old girl. Due to our feelings that we were looking for an older girl, Meklit’s picture is the only one I even considered.

With these 2 pictures in hand I began to again pray to see if one of these 3 girls - Marta, little sister, or Meklit was who God had for us. As I looked at the pictures, I began to believe that they were of the same child. Different hairstyle, clothes, age, teeth, but I still felt they were the same person. I locked onto the little asymmetrical tilt to her chin, and I was convinced. Others were not with me on this belief, but I felt sure, so I called Candice from Chances by Choice, and asked what she knew about Meklit.

Candice told me that she knew and loved Meklit, and would love to be able to adopt her. She said she would be perfect for us. I told her about the picture I had from Julie in Seattle, and sent it to her. She said that she too thought it was her, but that she wasn’t aware of an older sister, and that I should contact AAI to ask about that.

I spoke with AAI, and they confirmed that Marta and Meklit (Christian name is Mary) are indeed sisters, and are actually 7 & 13. We then received this picture of Marta.

So, there we were. Presented with these 2 beautiful sisters, who were introduced to us by 2 ladies from different parts of the country as being children they loved, and who they felt we should adopt.

By this time Lisa had caught up to where I was feeling, and we were both able to ask, are these ones for us? For me, I was teetering on the edge already, and seeing the picture of Marta just gave me a big shove.

We now feel strongly that God has presented these lovely sisters to us, and that they are ours. We applied to AAI to begin the adoption process of Mary & Marta, and we could not be more certain, or excited about anything. It is not a question of is 7 too many, or is our house big enough, or do we have the money. It is only a matter of saying YES to what we believe we are called to do, and trusting that God has all of the other details worked out in advance.

I am a person of destiny and purpose. I’ve been chosen, hand picked by royalty for a job; trained and possessed by the great King to complete what I’ve been called to do. Nothing else matters. - David Hogan


I Do

As a beginning message, I thought I should start in the middle and explain the title, which also speaks of a major theme in my/our lives at this moment.

In the midst of the process of our most recent adoptions, I came to a greater understanding of obedience, and answering the call God places on our day-to-day lives. Our girls were being presented to us by God (another story), and we were confronted with a particular detail of the adoption process that could be difficult. We were asking each other whether or not we could handle it, and praying about it, and I asked, shouldn’t we count the cost? The answer I got was a resounding NO, which was not what I expected, and was not in alignment with my understanding. And then it occurred to me, we were already to have done that.

When we are first called to follow Him, we are supposed to count the cost, and then not look back. Jesus said in Luke 14
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ (NKJV)
Now I would confess that most of us (and certainly me!) don’t have the long-sightedness or maturity when we first accept Him to do this, and that it becomes part of the process of becoming His to actually count the cost. But, there comes a day when we must decide whether or not we are wholly His, and at that point the crossroad is whether or not we are going to live a life of complete obedience or not.

In worldly terms this may appear radical, or in my terms radically obedient, but I think God just sees it as obedience. We are to hear His directions for us, and then simply obey. Without weighing options, making lists of pros and cons, without discussing it with everyone we know, without worry, without getting our ducks in a row, etc. – without counting the cost! Being radical should never be a goal we strive for. Being radical brings attention to us, but being radically obedient is different, and focuses the attention on Him.

And you know what, we may be completely misunderstood, not supported, and thought to be crazy by our family, friends, neighbors, church and even our church leaders! The point is that once we have clearly heard God speak - we have to obey! We must have faith that God has the resources taken care of to accomplish what He has called us to do, and part of that is His taking care of the understanding of others. For us in this particular case it was a matter of saying yes, we were willing to lose relationship with people we love dearly to be obedient. But God changed hearts, because He is in charge of that, and the timing of that.

I liken this process to what I consider to be the closest picture of our relationship with Jesus that we see in our lives, marriage. Think of the vows we take when we are just about to be joined as one flesh with our spouse to be. We are asked if we will love, honor, cherish, etc. all the days of our lives. Even when sickness and trying times come, we tell God and family that we promise to do these things until death do us part! The vows aren’t love, honor and cherish until things get tough, and then count the cost and see what you want to do. We have to count the cost up front, say “I do”, and then DO!

To be wholly His, and live life in the fullness He has for us, there can be no more counting the cost.