The middlest

The Captain and I had multiple opportunities for international and domestic mission trips during our college years. He went to Wales, I went to Nicaragua, and we both came home turned inside out. Through all that we saw, smelled, heard, and held in those countries, God used indescribable poverty to begin to break our hearts for orphans. Nearly seven years before we would begin the process to adopt, God planted seeds in our hearts to do something for the most vulnerable in our world.

Graduation gave way to launching our careers, which turned into years of furthering our respective educations. Finally, we were ready to become parents. Funny how we thought that making that decision would somehow instantly make us pregnant. So funny.

A little infertile while later and days after we had begun to fill out our first adoption application, the Lord blessed us through an unlikely pregnancy with one of the purest miracles of our lives: our sweet Sassafras. Then one day, she turned 18 months old.

And we remembered that we still wanted to adopt.

And we knew it would take a while to complete.

And we suddenly felt that the time to begin the process was very urgently NOW.

Now, as we look back with all the facts before us, it is quite stunning to grasp that at that very moment, Pearl was conceived...both in the flesh and in our hearts.

In flawed yet impeccable harmony. 

We did our own research about all the options and at one point I had a spreadsheet comparing the requirements for 27 different countries. We weren't eligible for many of them due to income requirements, the fact that we already had a biological child, the ages of children who needed families and were eligible for adoption, and our own ages (we were too young for some). More time went into research and prayer and meetings with the agency we selected, and finally we were sure. Our daughter was in Uganda.

Our adoption process entailed mounds of paperwork, hours of adoption education seminars, at least 25 specifically intense highs and intense lows involving inter-country glitches and delays and modifications to this requirement or that new law. For a normally stoic mama, Pearl's adoption drained me of buckets of tears...but God also filled me up with chapters of Scripture and thousands of the most intense prayers I've ever experienced. Any mama who has begged for the safety and health of her child (half a world away or not) will understand.

The day we finally met our beautiful little Pearl remains one of the most intense I'll ever see this side of heaven. The day we stood in court for her and the day we got our "yes" are also on that list.

Because of what we have learned and what we have seen with our own eyes during our trip to Africa, orphan care will always be a part of who we are. Using this little spitfire of ours, God ignited a passion in us for advocating for orphans, and for families to rise up and provide a loving home for other precious Pearls around the world. Further adoptions and/or foster care are definitely in our family's future, though we will wait for God's guidance in how and when to move forward.

Remembering the way Pearl came into our family is hard but beautiful. Hard because for us to be a part of this sweet honey bun's story, we were refined in the fire but also because in order for us to be necessary in her life, Pearl's one-time status as an orphan means she has experienced loss on a level that even adults aren't emotionally equipped to handle.

Lord, help me remember.

Oh, but it is beautiful...because yes, she is now safe and happy and healthy, and for crying out loud we get to love her. Long as I live, I'll never understand how I get to be her mama.

Most of the beauty in Pearl's adoption is part of a life she hasn't even seen yet, for her earthly redemption into the family God chose for her before time existed will bridge her understanding of spiritual redemption into His.