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Where do the roads meet?

***They told me adoption was not for the faint of heart. And this post isn’t either. This is just my heart and where I am today. It’s not fluffy or pretty—it’s just real. It’s a part of our family’s faith journey…to look back and remember every question we asked and to later see how His perfect plan so beautifully would unfold…

Three years ago this month, the Lord led our hearts to Africa. I was sitting in Sunday school with Africa heavily on my heart. I was in the midst of a successful photography business—feeling led to do something different with the profits. And that’s when we heard Kevin share his story. Kevin had developed a friendship with a Zambian pastor years earlier when Timothy came to the US for a pastors conference and stayed in his home. During his stay–brothers were made between these two. Across the world, their friendship continued. Then one day, Timothy became very sick and died later of tuberculosis.

In Zambia, when someone dies–the community shuns the widow saying she is carrying the deceased ghost. Timothy’s family came and took everything his family owned, leaving his wife Kunda and their precious girls on the street. The Lord pressed Kevin to begin sending Kunda and her family money to live–and their live took a turn for the worse…from on the streets to abundance. She had money left over each month from what Kevin was sending her and she took that money to the compounds and began paying teachers to teach the orphans who were too poor to be schooled. This had been Timothy’s dream—and now it was going to begin through Kunda and Kevin. When Kunda told Kevin what she was doing, his curioustiy was too much and he traveled to see for himself. He took pictures and came home to tell the story…

Kunda and Kevin picture above

And that’s when we met. We heard the story, and hearts were immediately in. We started supporting Kunda’s mission—our ministry had doubled. My passion to photograph families grew as I had a new purpose. My heart began to live, eat, breath Africa—and in July 2007 Richard and I went over for ourselves to see the work. Every day 400 children were showing up to learn in old rented out mud church buildings. Rain or shine—they were there. When it did rain, the children would sit in the rain to learn. They were hungry for knowledge—for hope and a future. Approximately 100 widows showed up each day later to learn how to sew on sewing machines that had been purchased. The Lord was doing a great work…
Hope was being born in the lives of these widows and orphans–and we came home with a fire lit under our tail to build these kids what our hearts knew they deserved. A school with a roof over their heads. An opportunity to receive an education. A chance to hear the Word of God. A meal a day. We could not be quiet. The Lord raised up 3 other couples to join us. And without even going over yet–they too were in. Within just a handful of months, the money was raised–our non-profit status achieved–and we were building. It went from this…IMG_1113
To looking more like this…DSCF0658

God has been soooo good—and three years later we have TWO schools, a sponsorship program and regular trips going over FULL of people wanting to be a part of Wiphan Care Ministries! We are keeping these precious children off the streets, in their country and in many ways–helping foster families for them as they have teachers and other widows parenting them. So…with that—I come to the adoption front with a much different background. And for me, it makes some things a bit harder.

***STOP READING NOW IF YOU WANT IT TO REMAIN LIGHT, FLUFFY AND EXCITING. Oh, this part is still exciting—just depends on how you define the word. The Lord is really walking me through some things…and if you want to really know me and for this blog to be honest–well, this is part of it too. There are a couple of things that I’m not yet comfortable with–and this is what makes this adoption wait good for me (more time to process things ahead).

When we came into adoption, we had a picture in our mind what our child must look like. I say must as in—we assumed this is what every orphan “must” look like…we guessed. We pictured the double orphans (meaning no mom or dad alive) needing a home…with no family to care for them—oh but the Young’s would galliantly ride in and save a child…give him a home. And we would live happily ever after.

We heard the stats–145,000,000 orphans in the world—but of those approximately 100,000,000 have a mom or a dad still living. Best guess from UNICEF stats is approximately 40,000,000 double orphans out there…and we assumed ours surely must be one of those. BUT later we realized that many (maybe I’ll even say most) adoptions take place with a living parent who has given up their rights to keep their child due to poverty. Many of us want to turn our heads to the orphan crisis. But some of us also want to turn our heads to the statistic of mothers who desperately want to keep their babies, but feel they have no other choice because of their poverty. And while I can afford to adopt—A ITTY, BITTY PART OF ME WANTS TO DO THAT TOO…BUT THE LORD WON’T LET ME. And if I chose to adopt a baby with this story—I can’t NOT do something about it. It’s just not okay with me. I don’t want to just think of her every year or lose sleep over her at night. My heart wants to do more. My heart has no other choice. I can’t go to Disney world every year and smile with Mickey while someone across the world is hurting. After 3 years of learning Africa’s culture, I can’t take a baby from that either. When we chose to adopt a baby from Ethiopia–we knew it would mean more than just to dabble in the culture with fun meals and token outfits. We will make life-long commitments to in many ways to LIVE that culture. And we knew that coming in. This would mean MANY trips across the world with our baby. This would mean our family possibly learning another language. For us, this will mean a lot more than just growing our family. We having chosen to be orphan advocates–not just adoption advocates…and these are two seperate things. Some times they work together—but not always.

So…this is where I stand. Asking the Lord…”Where do the roads meet? Where does Wiphan—a ministry that keeps families together—and adoption come together for our story? The Lord continues to press on our hearts this verse: “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. I need my child to know that I not only fought for him, but I fought for EVERY avenue of him. I need him to one day read that I didn’t come in not considering EVERY avenue and praying for any other way. I have to search my heart—search my motives—and trust the Lord with what He shows me in the process. I am called to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep myself from being poluted by the world. I hear the opinions of friends. I hear the opinions of other adoption advocates. I hear the opinions of the world. But it is the Lord’s Word that matters. It is Him we as believers are called to be obedient to—no matter what. How O LORD do you want me to “look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep myself from being polluted by the world?”

So Lord…where do these roads meet? How can I make a difference in the lives of widows in Ethiopia so those who want to keep the babe of their hearts CAN? How will our adoption bring the most glory to Him? Can I really just walk away and live happily ever after? OR DO YOU WANT ME TO DO MORE??? And I don’t want to wrestle with these questions later…but I know I will. My eyes were open long ago to families like these…DSC_6244 bwAnd maybe I’m a dreamer…but Wiphan was started on a dream—and 450 orphans and 150 widows later…it is thriving…offering hundreds of children a chance to grow in their cultures and make a difference in their worlds.

I wish I knew the end of our story. And I’m sorry that you have to see the hard part too. But today this is all I got. It is for our child to read and understand why we never gave up. And how this, too, was part of our journey to him. I wish I knew how those roads meet because I can’t walk away with what I know and have lived. Maybe it’s the beginning of a new ministry in Ethiopia. Maybe it will be through our child’s birth family where a ministry is begun. Maybe it’s to have an open adoption…a crazy commitment to a family across the world to actually do life together. God made a way for Moses—and it wasn’t easy…but the Lord also made change in this way through him. Maybe it’s opening my silly eyes that know and have seen so little to understand really what God is doing. I want to be obedient whatever it is. And it probably won’t make sense to the rest of the world…because that is often how my God seems to work…at least in my life anyway.

Give us direction Lord. Courage to be obedient. Faith to follow. And help me to live for You alone.

Whenever…wherever…however…Your will be done. Thanks family, friends, readers for being here with me even for the hard stuff. Our family covets your prayers as we are on this journey to do His will. I guess when I share the hard things you (my sweet readers) just become a little more a part of our story. Our journey and where the Lord takes us…will just be all the more meaningful that you walked through every avenue with us. Thank you for being a part…for still reading…and listening. I appreciate you and your prayers. I really do. Many of you may be on your own journey to adoption…each and every journey WILL look COMPLETELY different. Just be obedient to what the LORD CALLS YOU TO—don’t look at me, to the left or to the right—keep YOUR EYES FOCUSED ON HIM and be OBEDIENT to what HE calls YOU to. Don’t give up to the race He has called you to. And remember—He is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS faithful.

Amy @ Filled With Praise - February 19, 2010 - 9:38 am

Beautiful and so true…. Obedience and living in HIS will is truly filled with the only true beauty on this earth. Because through the good and the bad, HE remains true and will lead you exactly where He has planned for you to be.

missy - February 19, 2010 - 9:42 am

love love love this post. the ministry of wiphan care is so beautiful. i appreciate your heart so much. loved the juxtaposition of the disneyworld trip and many family trips to your child’s birth country. what is it all supposed to look like for this little family? i struggle with this so much. great question to ponder…where do the roads meet. you’ve given me much to ponder, pray about and praise god for today.

Marci - February 19, 2010 - 10:14 am

Trust and Obey. Andrea, God will make it chrystal clear His will for each of you…it is too big for man to figure out…it is truely a God situation…place All of your TRUST and OBEDIENCE in His palm and He will lift the cloud to make His will so clear in your HEART ! I know you do this …tell Satan of doubt ,the theif to destroy JOY to GO AWAY…Jesus ,the gentleman as Father Dan refers to HIM, KNOCKS at the door…open it and talk to him..tell Him to make it CLEAR !!! Be prepared for the JOYS ahead for you and your family.

Jackie - February 19, 2010 - 10:30 am

Andrea- what a wonderful ministry! I just love how it came to be, and how God tugged at your hearts as well. I have learned so much through our own adoption journey. God placed adoption on my heart in 2004, and it was 4 long years later when our adoption was finally completed. At times He seemed so silent, and at times I couldn’t even begin to see the road through all the fog. But I have learned that his timing and his plan are perfect.

As I was reading I was thinking it may even be through this child you will adopt from Ethiopia. This new babe may grow up to be the orphan and widow advocate that God intends…. I am reminded of Hannah and how she prayed for her child.

I can’t wait to see how He unfolds your adoption journey and how he grows this Wiphan ministry.

Leigh - February 19, 2010 - 10:31 am

LOVE THIS POST! it is SUCH a struggle, and almost too heartbreaking to bear most days. If we are seeking Him then He will guide us in how He wants us to raise these precious children. Your heart for your son and his birth family is beatiful and what a blessing that is going to be for him but also in the midst of this struggle it is blessing you too.

And I’m sure you hear this a lot but I have noticed how many people tell me I am going to bring so much hope to my children, I try to gently remind them that bringing them to the US is not giving them hope but pointing them to the Lord is pointing them to the only hope any of us have!

Renea - February 19, 2010 - 10:40 am

I think we must have been separated at birth!!! Oh how are hearts are equally yolked. =) This is the part I try to get my poor husband to see. When he doesn’t understand me, when he thinks I’m going crazy because I cry for no reason. I don’t just want to add to our family, I want to save them all! To restore their own families. To feed every hungry PERSON, child and adult alike. Some days my heart is so overwhelmed I feel I will never be able to do enough.

They say be careful what you wish for, and I definitely didn’t foresee what was ahead when I ask the Lord to break my heart with the things that break His. I can’t wait for you to read ‘The Hole In Our Gospel’ A quote from the book–“if Jesus was willing to die for this troubled planet, maybe I need to care about it too. Maybe I should love the people who live on it more. Maybe I have a responsibility to do my part to love the world that Jesus loves so much.” I hope you don’t buy it yet, I’m sending you my copy when I’m finished! ā™„ Thinking of you and praying for you and with you today!

Vanessa - February 19, 2010 - 11:56 am

wow. I have been STRUGGLING with this exact thing as well. Thanks for struggling right along side me!


Rebecca Harley - February 19, 2010 - 12:13 pm

so incredible that someone that I have never met in person just spoke the words of my heart perfectly! I struggle every day knowing that the daughter that I am yearning for probably still has a mother who is yearning to keep her – how do we function daily with these thoughts and feelings tugging at my heart and soul! Thank you so much for putting on “paper” what I have not been able to! Perfectly written. Know that we are praying for you all as you make this journey…

melissa - February 19, 2010 - 12:53 pm

this is so good – super encouraging. thank you for speaking truth! praying with you and your family.

JonesEthiopia - February 19, 2010 - 1:25 pm

Thank you for sharing your heart today… It is E’s birthday, and a year ago today was when we really opened our hearts to the idea of adopting an infant instead of an older child. Now she’s asleep in her crib! Adoption is amazing, but my passion doesn’t end there, either. I know my role in Ethiopia isn’t over, and I can’t wait to see what will happen next!

Courtney - February 19, 2010 - 1:59 pm

thanks for sharing and for being real. don’t apologize! my heart feels the same way on this “adoption journey” and i get to the point some days where i will get so worked up…but then i have to give it to HIM…HE is the Father to ALL the children in the world…and He will show you and me how to help Him care for them…

Kimberly - February 19, 2010 - 4:03 pm

So true, this is something we have discussed and struggled with as well. With my husband and I both having multiple trips to Africa you are ‘ruined for the ordinary’ and that constant prodding from the Holy Spirit reminds us that we can’t just settle into life here and be OK with that. 5 years ago we looked at a ministry in Uganda to work with over there, and God didn’t open those doors. But we’re reminded that just becuase that wasn’t His plan, it doesn’t mean that something like that won’t happen in the future. We are called to walk with faith – waiting to see how and where God will lead us. For now, adoption is in His plan, maybe another time – we’re running an orphanage or living there doing some other ministry. Either place we are – we are to follow – through the good times and bad, and those tough thoughts that don’t allow us to become complacent.

Dawn - February 19, 2010 - 5:00 pm

So very true….that is something we have really learned. It seems so distant and hard, but in the end it is God’s Story. That is why it is sooo important for all to know that AGCI offers them a chance to keep a child if all they need is monetary support. Makes my soul rested to know this fact.

I think God works sooo deeply in our hearts on this journey that there is no real way to describe it. There is no “easy” adoption. There is no way we can be left unchanged. It amazes me that through all of our very dark tunnels as we have been through the adoption process 7 and now on our 8th time…..that God has changed our hearts in tooo many ways to even begin to describe in a comment.

Praise God for your journey. Praise God for changing our hearts to live radical lives! Praise God that HE ALONE GETS THE GLORY for our lives. May we really see what HE IS DOING….not just what number we are on the waitlist. Praise God!

Vanessa - February 19, 2010 - 10:26 pm

Thanks for sharing your heart! You are such a gifted writer and such an inspiration. I just love your spirit!!!

Kim - February 19, 2010 - 10:42 pm

Oh thank you for putting words to all that is on MY heart as well!
Love & Blessings from Hong Kong,

Jennifer - February 19, 2010 - 10:50 pm

I totally understand and have the same thoughts. It is my drive to continue with our orphan care ministry as well! We were told that we would not get any info. on our child…just the way the country works. Ended up getting WAY MORE than I thought and it was quite a process for me working through our little girl’s story, understanding the culture, mindsets, etc. Also opened my eyes to organizations like Smile Train and how a $250 surgery can change a life and the families’ living conditions (families with a CL/CP child are basically shunned in the village). God is good and I believe with all my heart that God has chosen Abby to be in our family for the call He has on her life!

Sarah - February 19, 2010 - 10:52 pm

Thank you for this post Andrea! Ever since we started our adoption journey, we have prayed and prayed that the Lord would direct us in how we can help children who have living relatives keep them instead of having to make the heartbreaking decision to relinquish them for adoption. I can’t wait to see what he has in store for our family and yours!!! I pray that the Lord will use each of our adopted children as emissaries to draw attention to the great need and bring help to the children and families of their beautiful birth country.

Praying for you!!!


Jenn - February 19, 2010 - 11:16 pm

This road we are on is definitely a hard one. I’m so glad that God is in control of all the details…I certainly can’t handle the pressure alone! Glad for friends who are like minded and trudging through the hard stuff with us!


kristi johnson - February 20, 2010 - 12:50 am

Awesome post…and that is exactly WHY i’m still at it and can’t STOP!!! I know God is asking MORE of us!! I can’t wait to see HOW that plays out šŸ™‚ kj

wiphan care ministries « love is spoken here - February 21, 2010 - 2:38 pm

[…] in the middle),Ā is on the boardĀ for anĀ organization called wiphan…you can read about it here and hereĀ on andrea’s […]