Adoption: South Korea

26 08 2013

southkorea

Wow! A lot can happen in two weeks!

Many of you have been keeping up with our adoption process. Over a year ago, we made the decision to adopt internationally from Russia. Most of you know that Russia closed its adoption program to US citizens last December. After praying, we decided to switch programs to Ghana, West Africa. Shortly after joining this program, they closed as well. We were very discouraged. We were feeling like I always do when I change traffic lanes, because one lane looks faster than the other, only to come to a complete standstill and watch my previous lane speed on by. We had some good friends at that time ask us if God was maybe wanting us to adopt domestically or even if God was shutting this door completely. These were good questions, and we diligently talked about them and prayed through them. When it came to it, though, we still felt a strong calling from God on our lives to adopt internationally.

About three weeks ago, we just got desperate. I remember when we were talking about having our first biological child, and we knew that we were ready. That is how we felt. We were just ready to have our child. We began to look at other agencies, websites, and waiting lists. I was even willing to adopt a 12 year old girl at one point! (Now that’s desperation!) About two weeks ago, we were on vacation at the beach when our Ghana program director contacted us to let us know about some possible referrals from South Korea. We emailed back saying that we would be interested in taking a look at the referrals. Our social worker called us about 2 hours later, still at the beach, saying that there was a specific boy from South Korea that they wanted us to consider. We were surprised that they would give us a referral from a country program that we were not even in, but they felt like it would be a good fit. After praying for two weeks and seeking medical guidance, we felt sure that this was our baby that we have been waiting on. We knew that if we did not accept this referral, we would regret it. We can’t help but wonder if God brought us to this place of desperation, because he had this child waiting for us. If this referral had come a couple of months earlier, we might have said no to wait on the Ghana program.¬†God has definitely given us peace about this decision.

Our fourth son’s name will be Samuel. My wife, Jennifer, felt like God gave her that name, and Samuel appropriately means “God has heard.” He has just turned 10 months old, and he is a cute one. The hardest part for us is yet to come as we have to do tons of paperwork and walk through government red tape, raise the finances for this expensive process, and wait 14-18 months before we can go get him. Please be in prayer for us that everything will continue to work out. Pray that the paperwork and needed approvals from a thousand different government agencies will go smoothly. Pray that we will be able to get him sooner than expected. Pray for Samuel’s continued health, safety, and development. Pray for his foster family.

We want to thank all of you that have been praying for us and will continue to do so. We also want to thank those that have given to us financially. Being a pastor is not the most lucrative of professions, and this is a very expensive process. If you would like to help towards bringing Samuel home, we are raising funds here at Adopt Together. We would greatly appreciate any gift large or small.





Open or Closed Doors

16 05 2013

opendoors

A number of months ago, I announced here on my blog that my family and I were going to start the process of an international adoption. We began to pray about where we wanted to adopt from, and God began to soften our hearts for the orphans of Russia. Many of you know that in December of last year, the Russian government closed its adoption program to Americans. We began to pray again and felt like God was leading us to adopt from the country of Ghana in West Africa. Well, just about a week and a half ago we found out that the government of Ghana closed its adoption program completely. Basically, we are back to square one and have already spent a chunk of money. This has been a very frustrating turn of events. Our ideal situation in our own minds was to be able to adopt as quickly as possible, mainly because I am no spring chicken any more! I am guessing that God has other plans.

This brings me to my topic. I have had a number of people that I love ask me if this might be God’s way of shutting the door on adoption for us. I believe that in our situation it has certainly given us reason to pause and reflect on God’s plan for our lives. I believe that God can and does use circumstances to help guide our paths, so when He shuts down the two adoption programs that we are in, it would behoove us to stop and listen. I believe that we have done so and feel very confident that God is not closing the door of adoption for our family.

In the same way that God uses circumstances, Satan can orchestrate events that present obstacles or opportunities to keep us off track. Therefore we need to be very cautious when it comes to reading into circumstances too much. I believe that Christians too often run into a closed door, call it a door closed by God, and so stop. I see this all the time when it comes to missions. People would like to go on this trip or another, but “God” has the door closed because they don’t have enough money or time. I think that we are raising a generation of soft Christians that value comfort over anything else. As soon as an obstacle is put in our way, we back off couching it in spiritual terms to justify our disobedience. What we are doing is placing circumstances as the most important determining factor rather than the Word of God. Jesus clearly commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations, but we like to add “if” clauses to this statement, for example “…if you have enough money,” or “…if you can learn a different language.” By doing this, we prove our lack of faith in Jesus’ authority and power to accomplish what he has commanded through you.

I graduated with a degree in coaching. I love sports. I now have three boys that are playing on three different baseball teams in three different leagues. Needless to say, my family and I are living at the ballparks this summer. If you asked any of my boys, especially the two older ones, what the most important thing for them to do is, they would say, “Be aggressive.” As a coach, I understand that talent and ability makes a difference, but I love those kids more that try hard. I would rather have a team with no talent but gave 110% every play, than a team full of talent that didn’t care. When I coach a team, I tell my players that I would rather them be aggressive and make mistakes, than be afraid to make a mistake and so hold back. Maybe it’s just my personality, but I would rather make mistakes or fail God falling forward. So when it comes to missions or adoption, which are both close to the heart of God, my tendency is to blow through the closed doors. I think that this should be our leaning rather than the other way. I realize that in the book of Acts, God closed a door for Paul to go to an area. When God closed this door on Paul, he didn’t tuck tail and quit the mission. He simply went to another place. In another instance, Paul was stoned until people thought he was dead, but he got up and went back into the city. We would be screaming at Paul that it was a closed door, but Paul would be shaking his head at the lostness of the city.

This is a tricky topic, because ultimately we all must hear from the Holy Spirit personally and should not judge someone’s decision when they feel a distinct call from Him. My point is that when faced with a closed door, we don’t automatically shut that direction down until it is also confirmed by God’s Word either through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, or other Godly people.





Why Adopt?

9 11 2012

My family and I have made the decision to adopt. We are going to be adopting a little boy from the country of Russia.

Since our church, Grand Avenue Baptist Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas, began talking about adoption almost a year ago, we have received many questions. Last year, on Orphan Sunday, we began a six month long emphasis on orphan care and adoption, which ended on Mother’s Day of this year with us unveiling the Grand Family Adoption Fund and our pastor, Jeff Crawford, announcing that their family was in the process of an international adoption. This coming Sunday marks Orphan Sunday again for us. It is amazing what has happened in our church in this one year. The amount of people that are talking about and supporting adoption has grown exponentially. The number of people who are actually adopting has grown in number. But with all of this has come a lot of questions. I will attempt to answer some here, but I have to say that some of these questions that people have asked reveal a heart that will not be satisfied with any answer. Some questions can only be answered by saying that God is leading, and, sadly, this is not a good enough answer for some.

  • Why adopt at all? – I am still blown away when I hear a believer ask this question. In the book of James, it says, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to look after orphans…” It is obvious that the best way “to look after orphans” would be to bring them into your home. Now, I don’t believe that adoption is for everyone, but I do believe that it is for a lot more people than those that actually follow through. I also believe that if you are not one that feels called by God to adopt, you are still obligated scripturally to help and support in some way. Another basic reason for adoption is that it is a beautiful picture of what God did for us. God adopted us into his family, although we did not deserve it. When we adopt, we are showing a living example of the gospel.
  • You already have 3 biological sons. Why adopt another? – Adoption is not just for those couples who go through the heartbreak of not being able to have their own children. Of course, that is a wonderful option for those struggling to have their own children, but for those that already have children it is a wonderful opportunity to expand the family and teach your existing children incredibly valuable lessons. We have three boys (pictured above). They are awesome, and I would live fulfilled if they were all I had. When we told our boys about our decision to adopt, they were immediately excited. The first time that I heard them pray for their little brother confirmed for me that the decision we made to adopt was a good one.
  • Why adopt internationally when there are so many children here in America that need forever homes? – This is, essentially, the same question I get when I talk about international missions. People ask me why we go to the ends of the earth when we have lost people right next door. The very asking of this question tells a lot about a person, but I am not going to go there. If I were to sit two little girls in front of you – one that was dressed well, chubby, and sitting there with a full plate of food and the other with rags for clothes, skinny, and an empty plate AND both of them complaining about hunger – which one would you feed first? Both of them might very well be hungry, but we see that the first girl has the opportunity to eat the food on the plate in front of her, so, obviously, we give our food first to the other little girl that is literally starving. The reason that we do missions internationally and adopt internationally is because in many countries there is absolutely no hope. Your neighbor might be just as lost as the tribal Indian on the Amazon River, but how many churches will your neighbor pass by on his way to work today? At least he has a neighbor that is a believer. Your neighbor has a much better chance of hearing the gospel than most people in the world. The argument for international adoption is the same. As bad as the foster care system is here in America, it would be like heaven compared to an orphanage in Russia or Ethiopia.
  • Why spend the $45,000 it takes to adopt from Russia? – Believe me when I say that I have asked this question over and over again. Russia is the most expensive program in the world. We could have chosen a least expensive route (probably as much as half as much). We came to two conclusions. First, if God called us to do this, which we believe He has, then He is big enough to provide. Second, no matter the amount of money spent, and I literally type this with tears in my eyes, it is nothing compared to the life of my child. My son has probably been born and is living in a Russian orphanage right now, and I will do anything that I can to get him, even spend $45,000 and even ask you to help me. Adoption is not some process of picking a beautiful child out of a catalog and trying to get the best deal. Adoption, for us, is the birthing process of getting our son. It is messy, expensive, and requires sacrifice.
  • Why ask other people to help you with the finances? – God could, if He wanted to, drop a big bag of money from the sky into our laps, but for some reason He chooses to use people. We are asking for financial help, because we don’t have that amount of money sitting around, and we are desperate to get our son. I deal with this question all the time when I am working on planning mission trips. I always encourage our team members to send out letters to ask for financial support even if they don’t need it. The reason for this is that some people are called to go, some are called to pray, and some are called to give. If giving is a valid way to participate in missions, then we need to give people the chance to give so that they can be blessed and be involved in missions. In the same way, many people are not called to adopt, but their way of “looking after orphans” might be to give to support someone that is adopting. By not asking for help, we may be depriving someone of an incredible blessing.

On the mission field, we were very isolated. Our closest American neighbors were three hours away. Our children didn’t get to see their biological grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, etc., but our missionary families did get to come by from time to time. I loved the opportunity to get to go see our friends that lived on the coast. To their children, my name was Uncle Scott, and to my children they were Uncle Paul and Aunt Lana. They were our family, because as believers, we are all apart of the family of God. Our people at church need to not hide the fact that they are adopting. We need to celebrate it, and we need other “uncles” and “aunts” and “grandparents” to step up and pray for the difficult process and even pitch in financially if there is a need.

I know that some of you who read this will not agree with me, and that’s fine. I believe that when we all get to heaven, we will find out that we were all wrong about a lot of things.

If you would like to help us out financially to get our son from Russia, you can go to this website to donate… www.adopttogether.org/wardfamily.





Grand Family Adoption Fund

14 05 2012

It was a very exciting day at church yesterday. As a part of our Mother’s Day celebration, we launched the Grand Family Adoption Fund. This fund is designed to financially help those of our church membership that would like to adopt domestically or internationally. Our Lead Pastor, Jeff Crawford, along with the testimony of his wife, Julie, preached a message on adoption in which they announced their intention to adopt internationally from the country of Colombia. Jeff just posted on his blog his list of reasons why he chose to adopt. I highly recommend jumping over there to read it.

My prayer through all of this – my wife and I deciding to adopt, our student pastor and wife announcing their decision to adopt, our pastor and his wife deciding to adopt, and the launch of the adoption fund – is that we will encourage and inspire others to adopt as well. Our pastor yesterday asked everyone to stand up that has been directly touched by adoption, and I was blown away by the amount of people. God is doing an incredible thing in our church. It is not happening because it is en vogue to adopt. It is happening because the Spirit of God is doing a gospel-centered, Great Commission work on our congregation right now.

We have also launched this fund, because we want everyone to be apart of the adoption process. Too many times, adoption is done in privacy. I acknowledge the fact that sometimes it should be done in such a manner, but I think the majority of the time it could be done with the full support of the church. When my family and I served on the mission field, the other missionary kids called me Uncle Scott and my wife was Aunt Jennifer. My boys called the other missionaries aunts and uncles, too. This is how it should be in our churches. We need to see that it does not just take a great set of parents to raise a child, but a whole church. This can be a beautiful thing when done with the process of adoption.

There are many members of our church, maybe even you as you read this, that are teetering on the edge of whether to adopt or not. My challenge to you is to quit asking the question, “Why?” and start asking the question, “Why not?” Instead of waiting for some mystical sign or audible voice from God to adopt, seek His Word which is written in black and white and available right now. Come at it from a different angle. Quit starting with, “I’m saying no until God tells me otherwise.” Start with, “I’m saying yes, until God shuts that door.”





Adoption

7 05 2012

I have to brag. I am so proud of my church. We are launching this Sunday, Mother’s Day, the Grand Family Adoption Fund. We have decided that adoption is not only Biblical, but a valid and practical way of reaching the world for Christ. I am excited to be apart of a church that is actually doing something about the issue of adoption and orphan care. This fund that we are starting will provide qualified members of our church the opportunity to obtain a no-interest loan to finance their national or international adoption.

My wife and I have talked about adoption since we first got married, and we are getting close to actually starting the process. It is an extremely daunting process with lots of paperwork and lots of waiting. The thing that holds a lot of people up is the finances. We looked at adopting from the country of Russia. It is one of the more expensive countries to adopt from, being over $30,000. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of money sitting around. The other day, my wife and I began looking at minivans, and they are priced at over $30,000 for a new one. That is a lot of money, but the websites do a great sales job of breaking it down into manageable monthly payments. If we can do this for prospective adoptive parents, it would be a huge step in getting people to proceed with something maybe they have only been thinking about for years.

It is time for our churches to step up to the plate on all kinds of social issues. I think it is sinful for us to bury our heads in the sand and do nothing. Thank you Grand Avenue Baptist Church for stepping up. May we be an example to many other churches out there!








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