Tuesday, February 4, 2014

This time it's forever.

Setting foot on that first international flight on my way to meet Samantha, I couldn't help but reminisce about all of the places I’ve followed the Lord in the last decade. Sweet memories came rushing in like a flood, reminding me of all He has brought me through and grown in me each time I’ve stepped out in faith, and each time I’ve crossed the ocean. This trip was different, though, I suddenly realized. This time, I was doing something permanent. I’d signed my name on the dotted line for a mission that would last the rest of my life. 

Walking up the stairs of the orphanage just 3 days later, I suddenly began to experience doubt. It was fierce. And though it literally lasted for only a moment, I knew it was coming from someplace evil. Someone evil. A voice in my head called me out. Called me names. Questioned my ability. My motives.

“You idiot.” 

I remember it so clearly. 

“Who do you think you are?” 

I panicked. Maybe I was making the biggest mistake of my life.

I kept walking. Through the door, into the lobby. Down the stairs to a tiny, dreary room. Time stood still as I stood there waiting, waiting, waiting. And then...

I saw her.

I don't have pictures of that first meeting. They weren't allowed. But this photo gives you an idea. This was our last visit, right after saying goodbye. 

Tiny. Vulnerable.

A woman in a white coat with a stern face carried her in much the same way a toddler might carry a rag doll. Her clothes were filthy, ill-fitting, meant for a boy. It was all too clear hers was not a life that had been valued. 

And yet.

When the stern-faced woman handed that rag doll baby to me, I was overcome. 

I know it doesn’t happen this way for everyone, so I don’t take it for granted that right in that moment, she felt nothing but mine. 

All doubt washed away. 

That doesn’t mean I was delusional about how hard it would be. Because actually I was just beginning to understand. It just meant that I was finally feeling that “thing” that parents have, rising up inside of me. I knew in that moment where the gumption to care for her was going to come from. It wasn’t something I was going to have to conjure up. God gave me an  unstoppable, unconditional love for Samantha that day. The same kind of love I imagine I’d have felt if I’d given birth to her.

Now, as I await travel dates for those first visits with Tony, I long for the peace God gave so generously as Sam and I became family that day. And I wonder what it will be like to touch him. Let alone be in the same room with him. Will he feel mine?

I’m prepared this time around (or trying to be so) that things will not be easy. Tony’s lived in Pleven twice as long as Sam did. He’s gone 14 years without a mom or a sister, and this whole transition may come as an unwelcome shock for him. He may truly grieve for the home he’s always known. And he may not be grateful to me for taking him out of it.

But, regardless of how I feel or how he feels, we’re in this for the long hall. Tony, Sam, and me. This is permanent. I’ve signed my name on the dotted line. And along with that contract comes a promise. Where the Lord leads, there He will be present. Right there with us.

I’ll aim to remember that in these last days of waiting. He is enough. I'll rest in that.

If you'd love to pray for us in these days and weeks leading up to our meeting, I would love prayers for:

  • Wisdom and focus as I make preparations for the big trip. Especially as I prepare my wonderful team of loved ones here at home to care for Samantha in my absence.
  • For Sam's heart and our attachment as I am away. Sam and I are a duo, we do everything together and go everywhere together. I fear it may be a shock to her little system when I go. (You could also pray for my heart, because I already miss her and I haven't even left yet.)
  • For Tony's heart. That God will prepare him to meet his mom, and that even if he doesn't understand exactly what is happening, that he will have some sense of what God is doing, and that we will make good memories together that will last until I can go back and spring him out of there forever. 
  • Please, please pray for the other children who remain living in the Pleven orphanage. For those who are still young enough, that all barriers would be removed and that they could be adopted. For those who have aged out, that help would come quickly to lessen their burden.
  • That God will raise up all needed support as He sends me off. Specifically that He would raise up many people to pray for the needs listed here and that he would raise up the remainder of Tony's ransom. We are getting close. Depending on the cost of airfare, its looking like we need somewhere between $9,000 and $10,000 to be fully funded. (Thank you to all who have given so generously and sacrificially.) 

Please, if you are in need of prayer, leave a comment or an email address where I can contact you. I would love to be in prayer for you, as well.

Lots of love to all of you.

Ps. I expect I’ll be back to share good news of travel dates any day now!


  1. I am definitely PRAYING FOR YOU!! Praying God's peace.... praying for safety... praying for provision... praying!!!

    1. Julia, thank you. You are a constant encouragement and inspiration.

  2. What is the BEST way to give funds for Tony's ransom right now? Is it through Reece's Rainbow or some other method? Perhaps even just a check in the mail?

    1. Hi there, Lauren, thank you for asking! I think the best way to give would be to send a check in the mail. That way no percentage is taken off the top, and it can be applied to adoption expenses immediately. God's blessings to you!

    2. Thank you! Can I have your address? I believe my e-mail address is connected to my comments (I'm hoping!), so you can e-mail me there. If not, let me know!

    3. Hi Lauren! I can't see your email address…but here's mine…grayc77@gmail.com

      Thank you!