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When Things Don’t Make Sense…His Ways are Higher Than Our Ways {part 3}

…all the while–as they were in Ukraine…their little girl from Ukraine…was just up the street from their home…surrounded by many they also know…who were praying for a miracle…

When we decided to host in February–and we decided to host a child that was aging out…I had a feeling we’d all fall in love with her (and we did), and I was worried about what the night of her birthday would be like for her and for all of us that loved her. I prayed through the spring that the Lord would show us all clearly and bring a family if it was His will. And even before we met her at the airport–I knew we’d make the days long and full and hope for a miracle…whatever the Lord wanted we would follow.

We felt our call was to LOVE BIG…and what that was to look like we didn’t know exactly–and watching Princess T pray over us on the night of her birthday sent us all to a place that we hoped we wouldn’t be in…in complete desperation for the girl we had loved. Looking in–I know some may say, “WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING?!” But the truth was we are not called just because there is a need. Our call was to love and stand in the gap…and their call was to say yes to forever–something that would happen quickly, in faith and after a whirlwind of emotion.

I emailed the day earlier as I knew Andra, T’s new mom, through Wiphan–a ministry we both pour our hearts into. For 5 years we have served on the board and for several years Andra has been over the Zambian schools library. I knew their adoption had fallen through–and although I knew their hearts were in a whirlwind–we emailed our hearts for her. The response was one of great faith…

From the heart of T’s mom…

As it stood, we were to have our 2nd SDA appointment on Thursday (T’s birthday was on Monday). We didn’t talk much to Alex or Nastya on Monday. Everyone was worn out emotionally from our experience. Trav and I just hung around the new apartment which was so lovely and in a beautiful part of town very convenient to all the sights. Throughout the next day or so nothing much happened. All of a sudden I was getting emails from home – about a precious 16-year-old girl aging out of her orphanage. Ironically, I already knew of her because I was keeping up with the Andrea’s blog, Babe of My Heart, all summer long and knew Tetiana’s entire story. (To think I was reading this preparing for my daughter!)

The teenager Andrea’s family was hosting was in dire need of a family because, as I said, her days at her home of many years was about to change and she would be largely on her own. She was one of the children from New Horizons Hosting program and actually turned 16 her last week in the United States. Her sweet 16 birthday party was quite the event of the century, I might add. Several of my closest friends (thank you so much Nancy, Staci and Nina) reminded me that adoption is about what God wants – His Providence. And with that said, I can’t go against His plan for me and say that I am adopting to do His will. I had firmly stated that I couldn’t possibly bring home a teenager. But all that was before I knew THIS teenage girl, a beautiful girl named Tetiana. Then ~ everything changed!

I remember reading about Tetiana. I can recall the rather challenging first couple of weeks of hosting and the miracle breakthrough. What I remember most from Andrea’s blog was how Tetiana was adapting to American culture and how beautifully she got along with Andrea’s 4 little ones, how compassionate she was about those that are less fortunate (and that includes those in the animal kingdom!) and about her sense of humor and awe about her life in the Young home. Such spunk! But what touched our hearts the most, especially given the out-of-control sense of entitlement of youth today, is what happened at her sweet sixteen birthday celebration. Instead of soaking up all the attention she was receiving, she blessed everyone else at the party. To see this precious teenage girl’s faith being so strong having come out of the conditions she did ~ she puts me to shame!

Now–I, Andrea, must chime in here! After this most precious party–on Monday…I received an email from Andra and Travis that was one of great faith. They shared how not one, not two but several people contacted them about Tetiana. One mom friend who emailed her had even had a dream about the couple and T! ALL approached Andra without knowing anyone else had–so amazing to see the Lord leading so many to affirm her parents in this step of faith. THIS–however–is what blesses and ministers to me the most in their response. They did not ask me a list of questions about her personality–or how she’d respond–or what we thought about this or that…instead their email to me said they had a SDA appointment on Thursday–so they would need her “name, birthdate, orphanage number and I don’t know what else”. Those were Andra’s exact words. She had no idea WHAT they needed–but they knew they were being led to this child and they just needed to submit her information. And with a beating heart and trembling hands–I jumped up–ran in her room (she was spending the night with her best friend) and got the information she needed. SUCH FAITH! And the story continues…

Wednesday came around and Travis and I agreed to adopt a 16-year-old girl named Tetiana. Of course we had natural wonders or reservations as anyone would, but we would not let the streets claim another child of God. And this–our Tetiana is. Raising a teen girl seemed impossible and we wondered if this would allow Travis and I the opportunity to really be parents ~ she would already be grown, wouldn’t she? We would have so little influence, wouldn’t we? And attitude ~ oh my, what would Trav do with another eye roller in the house?! So much needed to be done to transform the prepared room into our precious T’s room–a room for a teenager. Oh–my head was spinning! Doing what our Heavenly Father asks of us trumps it all. Being the hands and feet of Jesus Christ is not about bedroom décor, teen attitude (although she has far more right to have one given her life story than we do!) and what I think may be easier. It is doing what our Heavenly Father has called us to do ~ James 1:27. Ultimately, the hesitation was about one thing one thing only ~ rejection. And not hers either. Mine! What if her heart was not open to receive us? What if she didn’t like our family? Receive me as Momma? What if, what if, what if? Following Him involves risk. Always. And this precious one of God–she is worth every risk we now take and will take in the future to show her how loved she is.

When this momma makes up her mind, there is no turning back! My husband was overjoyed, and we excitedly called Andrea with the news that we were officially pursuing T’s adoption. And then we got to skype Tetiana with an interpreter. We shared a little bit of our lives, our personalities and had a sneak peek into each other’s soul. Something else funny happened that day. After one of Tetiana’s final dentist appointments in Atlanta before her return to Ukraine, she wanted to see our home. So Andrea took her by the house! Take a look below…

She is hiding behind one of my bushes near the front door. What’s funny about this you ask? There is this precious Ukrainian teenage girl in the front yard of a home in Roswell, the family is not home because they are in Ukraine pursuing HER adoption, and the family’s son is at the home sleeping and is totally unaware of the drama in the front yard! At this point, he had never even heard her name mentioned!

Andra–can I just chime in for a second and say when I saw your son’s car in the driveway I thought we’d tip toe around. I wasn’t sure how in the world I’d explain this one to him as no one knew all the craziness YET! I have to say this was ONE of the sweetest days with T! We peaked over the fence looking at your pool…and her being a FISH of course she wanted to swim in it! Can you imagine if we had;)? This day truly was so sweet–and getting to talk about you and Travis with her was so dear…truly holy moments in our home…

So everything is set to go except for coordinating everything with our facilitators ~ or so I thought! We had to postpone our Thursday SDA appointment because there was a slight glitch in Tanya’s paperwork in the database. Not a big problem but waiting til Monday would give us more time to fix it and avoid a hassle later on. We only get 3 changes at SDA, and then we would be sent home–so we wanted to be sure to leave some breathing room just in case.

We ran into a few more glitches along the way–but one by one we walked through them. And carrying us of course was His strength, BUT it also helped to have the connections we were making as we continued to Skype with Tetiana across the world. We laughed as we discovered that we had such similar interests. Truly, it was uncanny! If folks didn’t know us very well, they may have assumed Trav and I were just making it seem like we liked the same exact things! She starts out ~ likes music, likes Passion City Church, likes to swim, loves to cook, loves scrapbooking, likes books and so obviously loves being part of a family. (What about mine?!?) If she had asked us first what we liked we would have given her the SAME answers (but of course we would have to add that we are obsessed with college football too.) No problem about the football because I hear Andrea’s father has been working on that for us already. Roll Tide! We still have about 2 more weeks to get her yelling Go Jackets too!!

So it would seem all was well–and then another glitch appeared–a much bigger one this time. Although we were USCIS approved, we realized we were not approved yet for up to age 16. We had to find out what was to be done, if anything, to make this happen. Oh my, those hours on Wednesday night just about did us in. We finally got word that an addendum to the home study could be done in time! This was probably, not definitely. Once I knew there was a strong possibility that an addendum could be done and our adoption facilitator was already working on making it happen with the USCIS, I made the call. I explained the delay, the problem and the most likely resolution. It was a very rough night for us but the end result was a blessing! We would have to postpone SDA again to the NEXT Thursday in order to get the new documents, but all was well, the process was underway!!! AND this very special lady was going to be our daughter!!!

All this took place the night before the New Horizons children were to depart for Ukraine. The summer hosting was reaching an end. Between Andrea’s family and mine, not a single emotion was spared. Tears flooded our eyes from fear of losing Tetiana and then from the joy of knowing she would be in our lives permanently as we became her forever family! God is so awesome!

Wonders never cease. We were able to go to the airport in Kiev when T’s plane arrived to greet all the New Horizon children! It was not a very long meeting, and it was in the middle of chaos while all the children were being taken to their buses or trains to leave for their regions. But we savored the few moments we had. T was nervous, and I was nervous-and Travis was all smiles!

Now the wait until we see her again…but OH how worth the wait it was…

We arrived by bus in a town where our new facilitator/attorney and her interpreter would be waiting to pick us up and drive us to the city where T’s orphanage is located. We knew this was not going to be an easy drive. I can handle pot holes but this entire stretch is made up of CRATERS. That is a wonderful way this town has figured to keep outsiders from coming in! Once again we had no contact with anyone and knew everyone was on pins and needles about our first visit to the orphanage…we had no Internet connection, but we did get woken up by roosters!!! Yes, it is a very primitive place.

Can I just chime in here again Andra–and tell you that when you say we were all waiting on PINS and NEEDLES that is a bit of an understatement?! Seriously–Nancy and I were texting back and forth DYING to hear anything…for DAYS! But YOU are right–when we received this next bit in an email from you–it was SO worth the wait for us all! Please continue Momma Andra… 

We arrived Monday at T’s orphanage after taking care of business early to allow this visit to take place. I’m not gonna lie, my heart was in my stomach that things might be different and T would not receive us warmly and/or she may have changed her mind. Keep in mind the experience we just had!

Ok…..(Kleenex alert)….we walked in the orphanage (Travis and I, along with our facilitator/attorney, the Inspector and our interpreter) and we are standing outside the directors door waiting to enter. All of a sudden I peek in the restroom (door is open) and a girl is inside washing clothes in the sink. It’s Tetiana! I turned around to tell Travis and in a millisecond she noticed us, screamed, yelled, “My Momma and Poppa are here!” She ran to each of in tears, kissing and hugging us!!! Trav and I lost it! Our whole team is in tears! The inspector, not even knowing we knew each other, was in shock….it was right out of a Disney movie!

At this point I’m convinced we have a daughter!! 

The rest of the story is also amazing. Just know how blessed this adoption is! We completed all the necessary documents in 2 days which has NEVER been done in this region and the director of the orphanage says she wants to hurry the adoption along and have us get our court date (are you kidding….the director wants this for us?!)  because Tetiana will be transferred to a trade school on Sept 1 (remember she just turned 16) and none of us want her to have to make this move unnecessarily. So everything went smoothly, paperwork has been turned into the SDA to prepare for our court date which will be next week (the 30th–please pray for us!). We’ll return right after court as there is a 10 day waiting period and then we’ll return at the end of the first week of September to finish the paperwork, our embassy appointment and HEAD HOME! So much traveling! But the important thing is that Tetiana has found her forever family–and what a huge, extended family she also has. She may not make it home for the GT/Va Tech season opener Labor Day Weekend, BUT she will have many more football games ahead of her…..probably more than she wants! We can’t wait to have our sweet girl home…and we are so thankful for the prayers of His people on her behalf.

Please pray for T and her family next Thursday, the 30th! Mark your calendars and join us praying for a smooth court appointment–and for protection over T in the days that follow until they bring her home forever…should be the 3rd week of September. We can’t WAIT to see her thrive in her forever family (get ready for Christy Nockels being played really loud…and maybe even Brittany Spears here and there. I hope you and Trav love to dance!) We love your family to pieces–and can’t wait to watch the rest of the story unfold!!!

Natalie - August 23, 2012 - 9:52 am

Oh my word… God is SO GOOD! I am in tears for T and her Momma and Poppa! I am in tears for you and your family and all those that had the chance to love her BIG this summer! I am in tears at just how gracious and powerful and merciful and loving our God really and truly is. What a miracle! I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to pray for all of you. Thank you.

Natalie - August 23, 2012 - 9:53 am

And I almost forgot… GO JACKETS!

Katie - August 23, 2012 - 11:02 am

I have loved walking through this with your family via the blog!! Praying for smooth transitions and sweet moments and praising God for how His plans are so perfect!

Candy - August 23, 2012 - 1:27 pm

Do I foresee T’s story in book form to raise funds for your ministry?

contess - August 23, 2012 - 1:30 pm

Amazing…simply amazing. Wish I could share this story with the world!

Alison - August 23, 2012 - 3:03 pm

I can’t read any of your posts anymore without crying!!! God is so good, and His plans for T and her family (and your family) are so perfect! Praising Him for His goodness and faithfulness!!!

Sonya - August 23, 2012 - 3:10 pm

This has been an AMAZING blog to follow, and the story of Tetianya has been giving me goosebumps all summer. I’m so, so excited to see the work of God through people who are willing to follow Him. It’s always so encouraging, so thank you. Incidentally, I wonder if you would identify closely with the following post from Jen Hatmaker? based on some comments you’ve made throughout your blogging about adopting. I hold on to the truth-telling desperately as we are on the cusp of beginning foster care. Scared out of my ever-loving mind, when I hear the truth and see how God has worked in it, I feel more grounded to see exactly how He faithfully provides in every. single. situation. Thank you so much!

Lauren - August 23, 2012 - 10:01 pm

Just keeps getting more and more wonderfully bizarre! I love this story because watching God pursue T has been such a reminder that He pursues me too. He lavishes love on us for no reason other than He delights in us. Can’t wait to hear more : )

TiffanyF - August 23, 2012 - 10:26 pm

No one writes a better story than God!!! Thank you for documenting this MIRACLE! I’ve read every word about this sweet girl and am jumping for JOY! God is so good! One of my dearest friends is adopting “Dz” and that’s how I found your blog. My husband & I are hoping to host in the future and we have a heart for these older children. Thanks for sharing your life and your little birds!!

Corinne - August 24, 2012 - 5:32 am

Wow. I have followed T’s story and fell in love with this precious daughter of the King. To see His miraculous plan unfold for her life brings me to tears. God is going to use this special girl…His hand is upon her life…no doubt about it!

Christina - August 25, 2012 - 12:59 pm

Oh my glory, Andrea! (I’ve been itching to write that :)) I was looking forward to following your story day by day this summer but we had a bunch of curve balls thrown in our lives and I didn’t end up with much computer time. I’ve seen snippits and hints here and there and was thankful to finally have a chance to catch up. I spent a good part of last night and this morning reading your blog. Andrea, I’ve laughed and I’ve cried and I’m sitting here with goosebumps as I see how God used you and blesssed you and how God’s plan for T and Andra and Travis unfolding. One of y’all needs to write a book! What a testimony of obedience and God’s faithfulness and goodness! Will definitely be praying this week. Love you and your precious family–and have fallen in love with T, too! xoxo

Lisa - August 28, 2012 - 11:13 am

Goosebumps!!! I have so enjoyed following your summer with T and am amazed at what is happening with her adoption!! Yahoo!!!!!!