One morning, John and Amy Hinz, my friend Aimee and I, were at the orphanage visiting our four kids. All of the sudden this cute, little, pixie looking girl came running down the hallway from out of her room and into the area where we were playing. At first, she was running around and flitting like she wasn't sure what she was going to do with this freedom she just acquired. At this point, she does not interact with us....she was like a bird who just got let out of a cage. She was on the go, but with no direction. We all just sat there snickering about the fact that she escaped from her nannies and wondered how long it was going to take them to figure out she was on the loose. We certainly weren't going to say anything. Our plan was just to keep an eye on her and let her have a little fun. After all, this was probably the highlight of her day! Eventually, she did come to see what we had to play with, but still did not sit in one place for very long. She was continually off to the next toy. Maybe she had done this before and knew she only had a short period of time before she was caught and taken back to her room? Or maybe it was simply sensory overload? Either way, it was obvious she wanted to make the most of it!! We all thought she was adorable and that the whole situation was very funny. None of us knew who this little girl was or even recognized her as one of the children listed on Reece's Rainbow. All of about 5 or 10 minutes went by and one of the nannies finally came running out and carried her back to her room. For the rest of time there, I never saw her again. Julia was in a different room from Marina and Aaron lived a different building.
|Aimee got this picture of her, as the nanny carried her back to her room.|
Fast forward to January 1, 2012. Eight months had gone by. A little boy from Julia's room was in a terrible situation. His name is Valentin. I met him when I was there. I did not get to spend a lot of time in Julia's room, so I only saw him briefly. He is 6 years old, diagnosed with cerebral palsy and is declining rapidly from the life of being confined in a crib. A family that was to adopt him, met him, and felt that they were not equipped to handle what they experienced and decided they could not adopt him. Heartbreaking, most definitely. But God always has a plan to bring good out of the most dire of circumstances. He would use me to rally the troops for this poor little boy. I sat down for a couple of hours on the evening of New Year's Day and wrote this post. And that night, I prayed very hard that the Lord would move someone to read it, fall in love with him and KNOW that he was theirs!! My prayer was answered. The Ashton family got in contact with me after having read my post. They wanted to know everything about him. It reminded me of when I read the post Adeye had written about Julia. I just had to talk to the person who had met Julia and yearned to know everything about this sweet girl, her orphanage, the conditions, the country, the experience. I knew I was going to get her. I could tell by talking with Jamie Ashton that they were going to get Valentin, even before they officially committed to him. Praise God, they are well on their way to rescuing him. God has moved mountains for Valentin, just as he did with Julia. It is simply amazing and humbling to watch this happen again.....all for His glory and honor.
But little did I know that God was working another plan, intertwined in all of this. Because of this experience of advocating for a child who needed a voice, it got me thinking about whether it was in God's plan for us to adopt again. I knew that Valentin was not meant for us, even though the thought crossed my mind. It was clear I was to do something, but it was not to rescue him ourselves. But were we to consider another? Should we be praying for God to lead us to a child? It couldn't hurt......so I did....and God answered.......
In just four short days, I was compiling pictures to put in this blog post introducing Valentin's family. I went to Reece's Rainbow (RR) to grab the picture of Valentin. While on Valentin's write up and picture, I scrolled down a little just to peruse the pictures of the other kids from this same region. The picture below Valentin's was Marina's. I knew I had seen her picture before. Something looked familiar, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I read her description. I felt some emotional stirrings and I started considering the possibility. I remember when I first read about Julia, I felt like the "considering the possibility" was really more like a "done deal." It is a nervous, excited, warm feeling that makes you go from just looking at a picture of a little child to instantly knowing you are looking at a picture of your child. If you've experienced this, you know what I am talking about. It's difficult to describe in words.
But this time, as compared to when I first learned of Julia, I didn't have someone to call that had just been there to fill me in on every detail. I had even better. I had been following the Eubanks' family blog and their progress of adopting two girls from this orphanage. They were there making daily visits to the orphanage and so I decided to send Carrie Eubanks a Facebook message and see what she could tell me about Marina. What's really funny at this point, is that I still haven't put together that the picture of Marina on RR is the same girl that I met when I was there. The picture of her on RR is very outdated and she looks much younger.
|Reece's Rainbow picture of Marina|
So when Carrie responded to me about Marina, one of the things she mentioned was that she is always escaping out of her room to come play with them during their visits. I instantly know who this little girl is now. And within a few days, Carrie had sent me a new picture of her.
|Thanks Carrie for taking this picture for me!|
Before I go any further, I need to bring my wonderful husband into this unfolding story. Ever since this started with Valentin, I had been sharing everything with him. And although he had not said anything to me prior to this, he now tells me that before I had even mentioned we consider adopting Marina, he had been feeling nudgings that we should consider another child. The only reason he had not mentioned this to me yet was because he wasn't sure whether I would be open to having a 7th child so soon after going from 4 to 6 kids. He felt that with my being a stay at home mom, carrying the bulk of the work that comes with raising 6 children, his one and only factor in this decision is whether or not I was up for it. And I will let you all know that he does not give himself enough credit. Yes, I am a stay at home, homeschooling mom.....but I could not acccomplish half of what I do without him. Even though the process and the adjustment of bringing Julia and Aaron home has at times been difficult, hectic and trying, it has also been fulfilling, wonderful, and rewarding. Going through the rough spots has brought Steve and I closer together in our marriage. More than ever, we work as a team, complimenting each other in our strengths and weaknesses. Julia and Aaron have been an incredible blessing to our whole family and we cannot imagine life without them.
So now that we have made the connection between the picture of Marina on RR and the little girl I met in the orphanage, we both felt even more drawn to her. Over the next few days we continued to pray about it, mentioned it to the kids, and discussed our desire to adopt Marina with our family and friends. Will they think we are crazy? Will we have the same support we did with Julia and Aaron? Amazingly, and not surprisingly, YES!! The only thing left now is for us to again, say "yes, we will go" and make the official commitment. On a Sunday morning at church, we shared with John and Amy Hinz of our plans to commit to Marina. They remembered this little girl as well. They were very happy for us and Amy mentioned to me that she would look and see if she had taken any pictures of her. Later that night, as Steve and I were turning in, we were chatting about this big decision. At one point, I noticed my phone started blinking letting me know I had a new message. It was an email from Amy Hinz. She had sent me a picture that she had taken of Marina the day she played with us. When I opened the picture, my heart stopped. It was a picture of Marina on my lap!
|Marina and her soon to be mommy|
I had not specificly remembered that she had stopped to sit with me and blow bubbles. I was amazed to think that back then, God knew! And He knew what it would mean to us to see this picture at the point where we were deciding on taking this leap of faith. It was all we needed to know that this was right.....that she was meant to be a part of us. We trust that it is His plan to wholeheartedly welcome into our family, the blessing of another fatherless child. With His guidance and provision, Marina will no longer live without the love, security, and warmth of a family.
And as an added bonus, Tatiana, our lawyer/facilitator for adoptions in the region, also sent me two more pictures of Marina. Thanks Tatiana!!
As I wrap up this post, we would like to thank each and every one of you for all of the support that was provided throughout Julia and Aaron's adoption process. Thank you for all of your kind, encouraging and uplifting words and prayers over the last 10 months that they have been home. We sincerely appreciate and rely on them. We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers as we embark on this new journey. We look forward to sharing it again.