Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Sofia's Adoption Story...Putting the Pieces Together

We decided to share a little less publicly until after Sofia's adoption was final. Now that our sweet girl is home with us, I'd like to share a little more about how we were led to her. This is a little long but explains how we came to adopt Sofia and answers many questions many of you have been asking...and it's worth the read :)

In July, we learned of a little boy with Down Syndrome who lived in an orphanage in Ukraine and was in need of a family. Shawn let me know that he was feeling called to this little one, which took me quite by surprise. I was mostly surprised because Mila had only been home about 8 months at that point and our lives were just starting to settle into a new normal. We prayed and talked a bit about this prospect and were given many signs to move forward. We made a pact, a stupid "we're in control of this earthly life and we're steering our own ship" pact in that moment....we promised one another that if something didn't work out with this little boy, we'd abandon ship and pretend none of this ever happened. Before we could go public with our intent to adopt, we learned of another family who said they also hoped to adopt this little boy. They said their dossier was just about completed and translated in country and they'd be travelling soon. Since it was never our intent to choose only ONE specific orphan when there are clearly millions in need, we decided to step back and allow the other family to proceed.

We heard God asking us "are you ready to proceed with adopting ANY child of mine, or just this one?" It was tough to face that conflict within ourselves. Afterall, we had already lost another little one our hearts felt so led to....but we reminded ourselves that in that case we were blessed with Mila and we can't imagine life without her. We were very confused because we had clearly felt called to this little boy. We were saddened as we looked at the little celebratory outfit we had purchased for him. But, we also clearly felt the Lord telling us to proceed with our paperwork without having ANY CLUE if/how/when/who we could/would adopt. We later learned that the family was not really even close to being ready (paper-wise) to adopt the child, and again had some choices to make. Since the family stated they were still working toward adopting him, we did not feel it was appropriate to engage in a battle over one orphan. That is NOT why we got into adoption in the first place. I pray that his family will be there soon. That is all I'll say about that situation publicly.

Before we had committed to this little boy, I came across this picture on an advocacy site:
I was so drawn to this picture. I knew, whoever she was, she was in Mila's old orphanage. I knew this because I bought that outfit she is wearing in the photo. I didn't just pick it off the rack in a hurry....no....during the 10 day wait for Mila's adoption, I went shopping to buy clothes for the orphanage. To many people, clothes are just clothes....just a material possession. My heart was hurting so badly from seeing Mila's holey clothes and from seeing the babies with nobody to care for them. Part of caring for our children is dressing them. I take great joy in dressing my girls and prettying them up....it's one little way to show how loved and cherished and wanted they are. Sooo when I went shopping for clothes for the orphanage, I took my time picking out clothes that I would choose for my own girls. I picked this one specifically because of the cupcake and because Zoya, at the time, just loved anything with cupcakes on it. I thought to myself, "Zoya would pick something out like this for a little sister." It was also pink and green, just like Mila's bedroom. So when I saw this picture, it never even crossed my mind that I could be her mama because we had only bee home with Mila for several months at that point and according to us we were DONE adopting....I clicked out of the window with her picture, not knowing that was not the last time I'd see that picture.

Later, when we lost the little boy we hoped to adopt, I went back to the website I had seen her on to look at her picture. I sent the information to our facilitator in country and was told that she was not listed for adoption. Shawn and I continued to pray and seek out the Lord's will. At several points we thought about just stopping all of the paperwork because we literally could not see out own hands in front of our faces in such darkness. We prayed over several other children but kept hearing silence and did not feel peace about moving forward.

Fast forward to September. Another family was adopting from Mila's old orphanage. The mama had let me know about an adorable little girl with DS in her son's groupa. Immediately, I asked if she thought it could be the child in the picture above. Initially she said no because she looked much older and different...afterall there was probably only 8 months time between when that picture was taken (guessing) and when this family saw the little girl with DS at the orphanage. After this sweet mama looked at the above photo a little more she thought maybe it could be the same child. So I told her that we already knew (if it was in fact the same child) that she wasn't available for adoption because I had already asked our facilitation team some months back. She encouraged me to ask anyways, saying that this little one was so precious and would find a family soon if we could list her on Reece's Rainbow. So, I asked again, and imagine my surprise when the facilitator told me she was in fact, now available! And, that sweet picture above, you know the one where she is wearing the outfit I chose as if I were choosing an outfit for my own daughter, yep that is indeed a picture of my own daughter!

When we left Mila's orphanage, we missed it a lot, strangely. We felt like we left part of our hearts there. It was different than when we left Zoya's orphanage. We could not wait to leave Zoya's orphanage and hoped to never ever return to that place again. As for Mila's orphanage, we had such a fondness for that city and talked about going back some day. We just never imagined it'd be to adopt again, and never imagined it'd be so soon! We committed to adopt this sweet little girl, cautiously, knowing that anything could happen (as evidenced by Mila's adoption and by losing the little boy we hoped to adopt). I did feel a sense of peace in my heart about moving forward for this sweet girl, known as "Zofia" on Reece's Rainbow. I felt excitement that had been missing from our process so far. I had butterflies and sleepless nights. I knew my daughter was waiting for me across the world and suddenly I felt an urgent desire to get to her! We were paper ready when we announced our intent to adopt her. Many people didn't realize the entire background of our adoption story and that we had been committed to another child, so it seemed to happen quickly to those on the outside looking in, but for us, the process up until that point had been stressful and without much joy. We were obeying the Lord's call to "just continue." We prayed continuously and specifically for wisdom on what steps to take next.

Since another family had met her, we knew her birth name, Sofia. When I looked up the meaning of "Sofia" the word "wisdom" came up. It was a clear sign and as if God's voice couldn't be any louder in my ears! Shawn and I talked a lot about a middle name. I came across this bible verse and thought "joy" would be a beautiful middle name:

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands." Isaiah 55:12

That bible verse was another clear sign to me that we were on the right path. Several hours after I read that verse, the sweet mama who had met Sofia messaged me and said, "Sofia is SO full of JOY!" She could have said full of happiness, or excitement, or life, or a million other things! Those happenings were a validation that my heart had so badly been seeking that we were going to be this child's parents. 

As we worked toward getting our invitation to Ukraine to adopt her, we were SO very excited to return to that orphanage and that city where we had adopted Mila from. One image that immediately popped into my mind (and one I had replayed quite frequently before that since adopting Mila) was of a nurse walking through the orphanage doors holding two tiny bundles wrapped in white. We were sitting in the foyer waiting to go visit Mila when this woman walked in. The two teeny tiny babies were wrapped tightly like burritos and we could barely see their faces. The large nurse was holding one baby in each arm and I thought they looked like the most beautiful gifts. It was clear they were coming from the hospital and being placed in the orphanage. My heart broke into a million pieces. I just kept staring. Anna (the other mama that was adopting at the same time as us) and I talked about grabbing those babies and running! How their lives were about to change so drastically.....suddenly they were orphans, being moved to a house where babies without parents resided. I remember the date we witnessed that.

I did let my thoughts wander and wonder if maybe, just maybe one of those babies we saw coming in could have been Sofia. As we sat at the meeting with the director, waiting to meet Sofia for the first time, getting information about Sofia's history, we heard her say, "She came to the orphanage at one month and 12 days old." Quickly, with my mind racing, I added that many days onto her birthday. I realized at that moment, sitting at that table, that we had in fact seen our baby girl being brought into the orphanage while we were there for Mila. Now, if anyone had told me I'd be back a year later for one of those little bundles I probably would have laughed really really hard. At that moment in time, our hearts were not ready to hear that we had another daughter waiting for us but we couldn't get to her yet (and there she was right before our eyes). Can you even imagine? BUT, the Lord is SO AMAZING AND GOOD that he allowed us to have that glimpse of our daughter....a picture we'll never forget, and a piece of her history we can tell her (one day) that we witnessed.  If only I could go back to that moment and know she was our daughter.....but only God knew in that moment that the little bundle would become our daughter. I imagine the JOY the Lord must have had looking down on that moment....moving our hearts for good reason.....knowing that the little baby girl bundle was in the same room with her future earthly parents! How amazing....only a story God could orchestrate, that's for sure!

You never know what inconsequential happenings might be writing your future story, so don't let a single moment pass you by without taking in all the possibilities around you!

33 comments:

  1. That is SUCH a beautiful story! Because of you, I started to believe in prayers.

    Your life is fulfilled with so many beautiful things, memories, accidents. You are so blessed!

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    1. This comment really touched my heart!!!!!! Keep believing!

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  2. What a wonderful story! He writes so wonderfully well. Prior to adopting our girls from Ukraine, our other daughter kept saying she wanted older sisters. I would always pat her on the back and smile sadly and say, "sweet girl, it just doesn't work that way". I had never known anyone who had adopted older kids and our adopted son became part of our family as a baby. So it was with great joy, and like your story, it was only a story He could write, we went to meet the girls from Ukraine who were in our area for the summer on an orphan hosting program, on our daughter's 9th birthday. Happy Birthday Nicole, please meet your two older (future) sisters! We went to meet the girls that day because that was the day the host family said we could come. :) Can you say the name of the city where your girls orphanage is? You have pictures that look like ours - we stayed in Donetsk, the girls are from Makeevka.

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  3. Your story, Sofia's story, your obedience to the Lord - even when you couldn't see... is so encouraging to me. What a wonderful God we serve!!

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  4. A beautiful story! Thank you for sharing it. I have enjoyed reading your posts as you brought your two youngest daughters home. I have been a lurker until now but I wish you and your family the best!

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  5. Thank you so much for sharing Sofia's adoption story.No one can dispute that the sweet baby in the cupcake outfit is Sofia Joy.Just think you were there when she was brought into the orphanage and you were the ones who took her to her forever home. Your readers know that Sofia has the best of the best parents.
    Again thank you for letting us know more about Sofia. Carol

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  6. Such a beautiful story! So happy for your family! Love!

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  7. BEAUTIFUL story!!!

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  8. Wow! Gave ne a chill to read this. Yes God has chosen you to be her mother!

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  9. Amazing!! That gave me chills when I read it. God knows what he's doing!!

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  10. I'm in awe! God is so wonderful at giving us glimpses of our future without us even knowing it. What an incredible story to tell Sofia when she's older. I'm so happy for you guys.

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  11. WOW! I needed a box of tissues to read this:)

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  12. Wow! What an amazing story to be able to share with Sofia one day.

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  13. Love it! God is good!

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  14. Thank you for sharing that! We've witnessed amazing Providential 'coincidences' like that before. Imagine, the Lord could have done all those things, yet never revealed them to you. What grace He has given you (and us, through your sharing) to know His sovereignty! Praise God!!

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  15. How amazing that you were there when she was brought to the orphanage! Wow! Such a special story! Thank you so much for sharing it with us readers now!

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  16. Another story of His magnificent character!!! My jaw was dropping as I read this and I just want the world to see!!! Glory be to God! I always love it when God orchestrates and our eyes are open to it. The more we give him credit for the blessings, the more he blesses!! Such a beautiful story for your precious Sofia Joy!! (((BIG HUGS)))!!!

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  17. Love Sofia's story! And the outfit......well that is just too cool for words:) Could you share the name of the advocacy site that you first saw Sofia's picture? I am very curious to visit that site:)

    Thank you so much..........................

    Susan from Boston
    susan@karalias.com

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  18. Wow and Wow! The more I think on this the more awe I feel. Basically, God allowed you to "take care" of Sofia from nearly the beginning of her life in some way. Seeing her so soon after her birth and sending out thoughts of love for her, then her being dressed and cared for with the things you bought. Things I'm sure you prayed over. Just WOW!

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  19. Such a COOL story! That is just amazing you were there when she was brought to the orphanage! I've never commented before, but I couldn't help myself about this story! One day I hope our family can be forever blessed through adoption. Thank you for sharing your family's journey!!

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  20. This is am amazing story. Truly. I'm a long-time lurker (but we talked over email a few years ago. I'm friends with Annie R. and lost a baby with DS). I also have to wonder...not knowing anything about your story other than what you've posted, if Mila's orphanage (which sounds like a much better place than Zoya's) engaged with orphans even more after people like you and Sean visited. I mean, I'm assuming you showed them pictures of Zoya and all her progress and maybe other adopting parents did something like that too. Maybe showing those workers such signs of hope encouraged them to do even more. Maybe that in some small way trickled down to Sofia's care. Small mustard seeds grown into large trees!

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  21. That is absolutely beautiful, Sarah--ty for sharing that with your readers! What amazing grace that God planned it so you were there so early on and can later share with your sweet Sofia that you caught a glimpse of her in person as a newborn and she touched your heart even then! I had no idea (obviously lol) that you guys had been praying over a little boy that Shawn had been drawn to. I pray that the little guy's family gets to him soon! And of course, I'm just so happy for you all that sweet Sofia is home with her forever family at last!

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  22. Such a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful life. What an amazing blessing she is! x

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  23. God took care of Sofia from the very beginning and you were His instrument. She was meant to be your daughter before you knew!!. Thanks for sharing the story of God's love to Sofia and what an amazing parents He chose for her.
    BTW , think Mya has found a playmate with the ball.Love the pics.
    Maria

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  24. What beautiful evidence of the tender mercies of a loving Father in Heaven who knows and cares for each of his children.

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  25. Wow. Amazing Story, I was reading it aloud to my daughter as she was eating lunch. We were both practically in tears. How awesome!

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  26. LOve your story....She was yours all along!

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  27. I had to reread this post to completely absorb the wonderful details! :) Thank you for sharing her story! I'm in awe of Gods special timing! Your family is precious and I look forward to each update!

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  28. Love this beautiful song God keeps singing over you and the girls lives. Thanks for sharing! - Erica

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  29. Wow! What an amazing story! Thank you for sharing it. Your girls are so beautiful; what amazing little blessings!

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