Welcome to our blog! I figured that I would create a blog to chronicle our adoption journey and keep everyone updated on life at the Roberts’ house. Not that we are interesting enough to be reading about every day…but maybe every other day ;)… just kidding. My first post is a background story of what led us to the decision to adopt, so it is fairly long. I promise they won’t all be this long, but I wanted to share the entire story…
This story begins about 13 years ago while David and I were making our plans to spend the rest of our lives together. He shared with me his dream of adopting a little girl from China. At the time, China’s one child policy was creating an abundance of orphaned girls and he was touched by the need there. I, of course, being a healthy, young woman only had dreams of pregnancy and labor and little children that looked exactly like their parents. But I told him that maybe after we had “our own”, we could consider adoption if God opened the doors. It’s funny to look back and remember those days when my own dreams and plans were priority and I was consistently asking God not to mess with them. Now I am so thankful that He does…
Most of you know what happened after that… two precious and nearly perfect (sorry, a little “mom indulgence” there) little boys named Jordan and Nathan Roberts. David and I had been married a short 4 years and I was the mother of two children under 3. Wow! it was a whirlwind. Jordan had been our little accessory when Nathan came along with his cleft palate woes. All of the sudden, life was not easy and my dream of a house full of children became a hope that I would ever be able to dream again at all. Sleep deprivation is no joke. This must have been hard on both of us new parents, because David put his foot down and said that two was it. And after months of struggle with Nathan in and out of surgeries, very little sleep, and a rowdy little toddler running around in all my waking moments, I was not in the mood to argue.
To be honest, I had never wanted a girl. I had prayed for boys. My own woes as a child were enough to deter me from wanting to go through that again as the parent. It wasn’t until God sent a little girl named Nicole to my Bible school class that I even considered the possibility. I knew Nicole for 3 days, but we bonded from the start. Instead of playing the games, she would sit on the bleachers and chat with me. She wore cozy sweatshirts every day (I have a thing for comfortable sweatshirts) and she didn’t seem high maintenance or insecure. By the time Bible school was over, I was thoroughly won over. I couldn’t seem to let go of the thought of adding a little girl to our family. I would pray about it and think about it almost daily (I tend to be a little obsessive when I want something :). And then on Easter Sunday morning 2004, I was sitting on my mom-in-laws front porch praying and thanking God for loving me enough to die and I saw a picture in my mind of a little girl in a beautiful dress (I would call it a vision, but some of you might freak out). I felt like God spoke to my heart and told me that one day we would have a little girl. Since that day, I have doubted many times that He promised me anything there on that porch. I like to hide from disappointment, so I tend to doubt God a lot. But He didn’t forget…
Less then a year later, I looked down at a positive pregnancy test. No, we were not trying to get pregnant again, as a matter of fact, when I told David, I thought he might jump off a bridge. Jordan and Nathan were 4 and 2. I was staying at home full time, and he had just started Ascend and was never home. We had just bailed ourselves out of personal bankruptcy by refinancing our home, and we were only hanging on by a thread financially. Our marriage was struggling under the weight of two small children, financial problems, and insane schedules, and the last thing David was thinking about was adding to that. I, on the other hand, was so sure that this was a fulfillment of God’s promise and I determined to enjoy every last nauseating moment of my pregnancy. Long story short, I was pregnant for 12 weeks before the ultrasound that determined the baby had died in utero. A good bit of inner struggle went on up to that ultrasound and as you can imagine, even more after. I didn’t just grieve a miscarriage, I grieved a promise. My faith in God took a big hit here. And looking back, this is where I went back to ground zero. I could no longer ride the coat tails of someone else’s view of God, or depend on anything I was taught when I was little. I needed to know for myself if God was real or not. I needed to know for myself why I believed what I believed. If I had to pick a crisis of faith that has determined my relationship with God up to this point. This would be it. I questioned, I cried, I doubted, I feared, I screamed, and ultimately He showed up and proved Himself, not only real, but faithful. I emerged from my darkness with a brighter Light then I thought possible.
Even though my relationship with Jesus was thriving, I was adamant about the fact that I never wanted to be pregnant again (like I said, I hate disappointment). David was quite content with that idea, especially since we couldn’t afford that desire. Unfortunately, I pulled an Abraham’s wife. What I mean is, I determined that I needed to help God with His promise. After all, He wasn’t doing so hot on His own. So I began obsessing over adoption spending a good amount of time researching and planning. China was out at the time, because both parents must be at least 30 to adopt. 30?? Seriously! That was sooo far away (I was 26 at the time, lol). So I researched all kinds of other options. I really think that this became an outlet of my grief for the disappointment of losing a child. And David knew it… he fought me all the way. Course, we didn’t have an extra dime either, so he was probably scared to death that God would actually open a door, haha. But God did not open doors and I began to tell myself that I had conjurred the whole thing up in my head. There was no promise, only a silly little girl making believe that God had planted this desire in her heart. Listen to lies and it isn’t long before you believe them… But God is faithful!
I had given up, but God never does when He has promised something. Time went on as it does. I turned 30 with fleeting thoughts of China in the back of my mind. “Nah, let it go, Candace. You have a beautiful, healthy family. Why push it? Why be disappointed again? Let it go.” So I did. It’s easy to believe and follow after a lie when it keeps you in your comfort zone. I think God knew it would take a lot to jolt me out of my dreamless sleep. And it did. In 2008, I became pregnant again. Not only was this unexpected, but it was also very scary to me. I wasn’t ready to start over. Nathan had just turned 7 and Jordan was 9. They slept all night, they made their own meals sometimes, they went in the potty, they got out of the car by themselves, and I didn’t have to carry a 20 lb bag around with every possible thing I might somehow need when I went to the grocery store. I was scared to death. To compound matters, this pregnancy wasn’t normal from the beginning and after many weeks of being bed-ridden sick and waiting for answers, we found out there was no baby at all. Only a perfectly formed sac, no baby in it. An empty promise? or a sign of things to come? It didn’t matter at the time because my miscarriage was filled with trauma and horrer. To this day, I don’t know why God allowed it to be so difficult, but it did guarantee David’s vasectomy and my absolute certainty that we were done with pregnancy. I was done period. Done hoping for a promise that was not going to happen. I didn’t think God lied, I just thought that I had missed it.
Now I know this is long, but stay with me, because we have gotten to the best part. Last year, we were riding along in the car and David asked me, “Have you thought any more about adoption?” I turned to him and honestly said, “Not a bit. I think we are done.” We dropped the subject. That Sunday at church, our pastor preached on “Hope that does not disappoint.” Oh my. I still have the Scripture he used for his message posted on my fridge. “And so, after waiting patiently, Abraham received the promise.” Whoa… I still wasn’t sure if God was talking or if I was just making stuff up again, so when I got home, I started to pray. God reminded me of a journal that I had started back when I was obsessed with adoption. I pulled it out and started reading. I had written about my “vision”. It stirred things in my heart… I told David I thought that we should look into adoption again, and he agreed. I wrote in my journal, ” ‘Start the process’ and with these three words from David, it begins…” I was frustrated by the time frames on international adoptions since the Hauge Treaty in 2007. For China, the wait times were 4-5 years. Other countries were just as bad. I started looking at domestic adoptions and came across an agency in Thomasville, GA that specializes in birthmother semi-open adoptions. The name of the agency, “Open Door Adoptions”, of course. I put in a request for information, but a month later had still not heard back from them. I was looking at several other agencies as well, but hitting brick walls at every turn. God was reminding me to hope, but doubt was creeping in. One night a short while ago, I texted one of my dear friends and asked her to pray with me. She was one of the only ones who knew what we were considering. I asked her to pray that if God wanted us to let this desire and dream go, that He would show us now so that we could just move on with life and not waste more precious time on something that wasn’t going to happen. The next day I got an email from…wait for it… “Open Door Adoptions”. Jane Gilbert profusely apologized that she had missed my email and asked me to call her to discuss our options. I called her and was relieved to hear that there were options, some that we hadn’t considered yet. I wanted David to be on the same page, so I asked him to call her. Now I don’t know if any of you know where Thomasville is, but it is about 4 hours away from Loganville on the Florida/Georgia border in the middle of nowhere. David calls this woman and calls me back and tells me that he already has a meeting scheduled with a company whose headquarters are in Thomasville and it is 10 minutes from this agency. He set up a meeting with Jane for the same day that he would be down there and he wanted me to come too. Whoa… and I am still not done… almost, but not quite.
So we travel down to Thomasville with literally, the sun rising on one side of our car and a full moon setting on the other while listening to Chris Tomlin’s Awakening. Whoa! We get to the agency and have a really nice conversation with the director of both the international and domestic programs, and the international director recommends that we try to get into the China special needs program as there are an abundance of children in it and it cuts the adoption time frame in China from 4-5 years to 1 year. We can specify the special needs that we are willing to accept and they include things from large birthmarks, to cleft palate, to anemia, to short stature. The program is so full that referrals are coming in 2-3 weeks after China has approved your paperwork to adopt. The children are between 1-3 which was our ideal age. And they are mostly girls. Whoa! You know that moment at the end of “Facing the Giants” where the coach has just found out he is going to be a father and he says “God, I’m overwhelmed”? I think we both felt just about like that as we walked out of that sweet place.
Last week as we talked with the woman who heads up the China program for the agency, God just kept confirming this open door… this dream that started 13 years ago… and this promise that was given 7 years ago. The woman, at the very end of the conversation, suggested that after we adopt this first time, we consider adding to our family again from China as it helps in building our adopted child’s identity. David and I had already been tossing back and forth the idea of bringing back 2 children at the same time, so David asks about this and Emily tells us that China has just, 4 months ago, started allowing families to adopt 2 children at the same time and it is about 1/3 of the cost of starting all over. Whoa!
So yes, I know there are many more hurdles to pass. Yes, there is much paperwork to be done. And yes, we may have to go sell some body parts to pay for this thing, but can you imagine me doubting such a faithful God right now? This week we named our girls Sydney Grace and Katherine Hope. We know how way ahead of ourselves we are, but we also know how big our God is!