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:
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!