Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Fear Factor

As we began to seriously consider the idea of adopting, the subject of fear came up. Here are a few common adoption fears we had to consider and a few of our own fears that we had to wrestle with.

Could we love an adopted child the same way we loved our biological children?
This is a common question for families considering adoption who already have biological children. We love our kids so deeply that the fear of being Cinderella’s evil step mother to an adopted child creeps into our head. In fact, Mary Beth Chapman Steven Curtis Chapman’s wife), lists this as her greatest fear when they adopted their first daughter from China. I read many things that offered tons of reassurance to people contemplating adoption that they would indeed love an adopted child the same way they loved their biological children. Mary Beth Chapman said this fear in her melted immediately when she took Shohannah into her arms for the first time. I asked Chris early on in this process if he feared that we would love an adopted child differently than the trio we already had. Without hesitation he said “Absolutely not.” I couldn’t have agreed more. Although this is a valid fear for some, this just wasn’t ever a fear of ours.

Isn’t adoption expensive? Are you worried about being able to pay for it?
Yes, adoption can be expensive. Adopting locally through the foster care system can be very inexpensive, but international and some domestic adoptions can really add up. International adoptions can cost anywhere from $25,000 to $55,000, depending on the country. So, are we worried about being able to pay for it? We know that we are doing what God has called us to do, so we know he will provide. He asked for our obedience and now he will supply our needs. In the Bible, God never seems to call the fully equipped instead he chooses to equip the called. In this way, the glory can be given only to him. We have seen it time and again with mission trips. People would sign onto a trip telling Chris that they weren’t sure how they were going to pay for it. God had prompted them to go and in their obedience they had signed up, praying that somehow God would work out the finances. In case after case we have seen people’s trip deficits covered by unexpected funds from unexpected sources, sometimes to the exact dollar! God funds what he favors, and his provisions never fail to amaze us. We are praying for God’s similar provisions in this adoption process. We have a bank account set up to keep track of the inflows and outflows for this adoption. The balance of that account is a far cry from the approx $25,000 - $30,000 we will need to bring our daughter home. We plan to scrimp and save as much as we can so we can boost that balance, but in the end, this is God’s deal and we know he will provide. Maybe a better question is “Are you ever tempted to worry about the finances?” Honestly, I’d have to admit that yes we still worry. We know this is God’s plan and we know this is his timing, but as we look at the timeline of when our payments/expenses are due, it’s hard to not be concerned with how it will all work out. When the worry creeps in, we do our best to refocus our energy on prayer, not panic! We remember that this little girl is God’s treasure and he loves her more than we do. He will complete the good work he has started. We welcome your prayers for God’s financial provisions in this process.

So, those are the 2 most common fears I hear about adopting. Did we have any other fears about this? Well, as a matter of fact, we did. We had 3.

First, as I stated in a prior post, we knew God had made us aware of orphans and was calling us to be a part of their care, but we weren’t sure if he was calling us to adopt or not. As we spent those 5 and half months in prayer about it, we feared we would get it wrong. We so desperately wanted to follow God’s will for our family and not our own desires. We had grown to love the idea of adding to our family through adoption, but was that what God had in mind too? It’s a difficult spot to be in to discern God’s will from our own desires. Sometimes they are the same things, but often they are not. We prayed fervently that God would make his will abundantly clear and thankfully he did.

Secondly, as we were praying about adoption, there were nights that I would go to bed so hopeful that we would one day adopt, only to wake up in a total panic that we might actually do it. So, what was this fear that would cause such a swing in me? One day it hit me – I was scared of having 4 kids! It had nothing to do with the manner in which a new child joined our family - birth or adoption. The idea of 4 kids just seemed to terrify me. We are pretty busy with the 3 we have. Could I do it? Was I up to the challenge of managing the lives of 4 little people? We had long ago abandoned man-on-man defense for a zone defense strategy and little by little we were becoming more outnumbered. I’m sure there will days that being outnumbered 2 to 1 will not be easy, but the idea of 4 kids now brings us more excitement than fear.

Lastly, there was one thing that really scared us… One evening Chris and I discussed how saying yes to adoption would change things. Obviously it would change the structure of our family, but it wasn’t just that. This was about more than a child that needed a home or the enormity of the orphan crisis. It was about a closer relationship God desired with each of us. We knew that God would use this process to pull us closer to the feet of Jesus, instead of the comfortable spectator seats we had grown accustom to occupying. The Bible uses pruning and refining silver as analogies to growing a more beautiful and productive plant or product. Pruning involves cutting off what is dead and refining requires some time in the fire. Both processes are painful, but silver wouldn’t shine brilliantly without the time in the fire, and a tree can’t produce beautiful blooms or useful fruit without cutting off the dead parts of the plant. We knew God wanted to prune/refine our family through this. It’s tough to willing let go of control, to give up the comfort that comes with our complacency. Were we up for the task of dying to ourselves more and becoming more of what God wanted us to be? In some ways it didn’t matter if we were up for it, because it was what God had already set in motion. We knew the outcome of pruning a refining would be wonderful, but we knew this turning point in our lives would start with the pain of pruning and the heat of the fire. That can be a scary position to be in. So here we go. The refining and the pruning have begun. God has started a new work in us. He assures us that his plans for us are good and to prosper us (Jer 29:11) but he never says that are without pain. We are thankful that God has chosen us for this journey – the adoption journey and the journey of drawing closer to him.

And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call upon my name, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘They are my people’; and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’ Zechariah 13:9

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. John 15:1-2

Sunday, January 9, 2011

So What Exactly Happened on Feb 14, 2010

One big question is “What exactly happened on Feb 14, 2010?” So, as best I can, let me try to explain.

As I said in the prior post, Chris and I were happy, content, fulfilled and extremely satisfied with our 3 kids. God had blessed us with 2 great boys and fulfilled our desires by giving us a girl too - a rare treasure in the Halvorson line. It would be more than fair to say that we considered ourselves “done” with having kids.

On February 14, 2010 Chris attended our Sunday school class while I stayed home with sick kids. I was very disappointed to miss it. We knew that Doug and Cristie Martine were going to be talking about adoption and sharing the experience of adopting their daughter from China in 2006. I love hearing about adoption and find the subject quite intriguing. When Chris got home, I was anxious to hear all about it. We sat in our living room and Chris began to share their story with me. Chris couldn’t get through the story without crying. He was so moved by their experience. This was more than unusual, because Chris is just not an emotional guy! So, needless to say, my very emotionally together husband surprised us both with his emotional response to the Martine’s story. I knew my husband well enough to know that this had affected him deeply. Watching him try to relay this story to me with tears streamed down his checks was the distinct moment that I knew God was trying to get our attention.

So what next? God certainly had our attention, but what was this all about? Honestly, we weren’t sure. Was this just an emotional response to a touching story? Could God possibly be calling US to adopt? Adoption hadn’t been anywhere close to our radar screen, but here we were. We had a lot of questions, but very few answers, so we began to pray, then pray and then pray some more. I also began to research everything about adoption – domestic, international, China, Korea, Russia, Africa, various agencies, adoption tax credits, and on and on and on. I basically became an expert on the adoption process and various country requirements.

Through my “research” we became aware, and profoundly broken, for the orphan crisis around the world. We read that 163 million children around the world live without a family to love them or care for them. 163 million precious children! This reality hit me like a ton of bricks. How had I been so unaware of such a disturbing crisis going on in our world? When we would tuck the boys in bed at night I would think of the many children that didn’t have a Mommy to kiss them goodnight. When Hailey would giggle with delight I thought of the millions of sweet children that didn’t know the joy that comes from unconditional love. The thoughts of kids without parents to protect and provide for their most basic needs haunted my thoughts and kept me awake until the wee hours of the night. But still, what did this all mean? This was a question I begged God to answer. I knew one thing was certain, God had called us to help orphans in their distress (James 1:27). We had become so aware of their need and doing nothing was no longer an option. We had grown to love the idea of adding a new daughter to our family, but was adopting part of God’s plan for us or was his purpose to use us in another way? This was the question that consumed much of my prayers for more than 5 months. Then on July 31st the issue was finally settled.

On July 31st we had the privledge of being at the airport to welcome home some friends that were returning to San Antonio with their new sweet daughter from China. They have 2 other kids that stayed in San Antonio during the 2 weeks their parents traveled to China to get their new blessing. It is an amazing thing to see a family reunited and to watch a boy and girl meet their new sister for the first time. It was certainly a great afternoon! That night as Chris and I talked about the airport reunion, he looked at me and said “You know we are going to do this, right?” and I said, “Yep, I know.” And just like that, 5 and a half months of seeking God’s guidance, after countless signs (more on those later), and many prayers, God gave us the peace we needed to say YES!


Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. James 1:27

Friday, January 7, 2011

It's Official!!!

The Halvorson Family will become a family of 6! We are so excited to announce that we have filed our application to adopt a new daughter (and sister) from China!

Chris and I have always thought that adoption is a wonderful thing. In fact, we would often joke about adopting a baby girl if God blessed us with a house full of boys. But, after 2 amazing boys and the birth of our sweet (okay, sassy) baby girl we felt complete. Then on Valentine’s Day 2010 God began to reveal a different plan for our happy and content family of 5. ADOPTION! I know it seems crazy, right! We thought so too, at first, but then it became so clear that this was what God was calling us to do. The other day Chris told someone, “This wasn’t something we were looking for, but it found us.” I couldn’t have said it any better. It’s actually a great story, so check back often as I document what has already happened and what is still to come.

Our first task is to complete mountains of paperwork and track down lots of important official documents. Then we will have our home study, where a social worker will visit our home and interview us and the boys. At some point we will be matched with our sweet girl and get pictures and information about her. We expect that she will be anywhere from 12-24 months old when we bring her home. The entire process should take about a year and it will culminate in a 2 week trip to China to get our new blessing! We would love to be home with her by next Christmas!

We are on this journey to adopt a little girl whose face is known only to God. Although this feels like a new journey for us, we can see that this was God’s amazing plan for our family from the very beginning. There are many chapters that haven’t been revealed yet, but don’t be mistaken, all the chapters are written. The end is known, because the author of this story is the all knowing, all loving, King of Kings. There is no greater writer than Him! Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” In Psalm 139:16 it is written “You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.” These Scriptures are so amazing. They remind us that God already knows what is to come in our lives. What a comfort it is to know that no twist or turn in this journey will be a surprise to God.

As we begin to step out in faith to follow this call that God has placed in our hearts we earnestly seek your prayers for our family – the 5 of us here and the little one that is half way around the world waiting for her family. We know this journey will be filled with highs and lows, joy and pain, tears and laughter and lots and lots of prayers. Please pray that God with give us patience, peace, and a Heavenly perspective as we move forward.