The past few days I have been reminded of the truth that our journey of international adoption is far bigger than just the expansion of our family. The story God is writing in our family through adoption is joining hearts and changing lives beyond our dreams and expectations.
This past weekend, I helped lead worship at a huge retreat with hundreds of teenagers from our church. We went to an indoor water park called Kalahari. It was an awesome time of going down slides, swimming in a wave pool, and just getting away with the students. Dima had a blast. Of course, he rode every slide he was tall enough to go on (the darker and scarier the better).
The theme of the retreat was family, and on Saturday night Steve spoke on what it meant to be adopted into God's family. He shared pieces of our personal adoption journey with Dima, showing many video clips along the way.
One of the clips he showed was the one when we first met our son. When Dima walked into the room and met us for the first time, you could see the looks of fear and curiosity all across his sweet, little face. We were strangers to him. Though we already knew him, he did not know us. Though we already loved him, he did not love us. We were foreign to him.
This is such a picture of God and His love for us. Before we knew Him, He knew us. Before we loved Him, He loved us. Though He was foreign to us, we were never foreign to Him. He reached out His hand and invited us to be adopted into His family.
Steve went on to show videos of Dima now. There is such a difference. Now the looks on his face are looks of joy and love. What was the difference between the first video of Dima meeting us and the one of him years later in our home? Adoption.
Steve so beautifully spoke these words, "The ultimate expression of God's affection is adoption." Adoption transformed a lonely orphan into a loved child. Adoption transformed fear into security. Adoption transformed pain into joy. This was true in Dima's physical life. This is true in our spiritual lives when we respond to God's invitation to be adopted.
It was an incredible evening as were challenged to believe that there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from God's love. Once we are His child, there is no turning back. To quote our Russian host and dear friend Ludmilla, "Goodbye, Orphanage".
At the end of the session, Steve asked the students if there were any in the room that desired to take the step and reach out to God's outstretched hand of invitation to join His family...hands all across the room went up in response. We are all in need of adoption.
Afterwards there were a few students who came up to me and shared their stories of adoption. Would you believe that in this one room that night - EIGHT students were adopted from Russia? How incredible is that?
I had multiple conversations with different students who were so excited to have a connection with someone who had experienced their beginnings. They proudly talked about the region where they were born and some shared of their memories they still carry. Some of these memories were painful. I hugged them each and told them how loved they were, that they mattered, and that they were visible pictures for us all of God's ultimate affection through their adoption story.
When we came home, I received an email from my friend Romina. Romina is a woman I have never met face to face, but God joined our hearts through our adoption journeys. When we were in the process of adopting Dima, she stumbled across our blog, contacted me, and shared her story.
At the time, she was in the beginning stages of adopting a child from Russia as well. She and her family live in California and they sensed a strong stirring to be a mother to the motherless and a father to the fatherless. So we stayed connected and had the joy of following each other's adoption journey. We shared in each other's joys and pains, and have developed a sweet relationship, though we have never actually met.
So this morning I opened my email and received a message from Romina. She told me that a few weeks ago she and her family spent an entire day baking and selling cookies to raise money for our adoption!
Above that, she has planned a big event at her house on September 15th where they have invited everyone they know to come to their outdoor kitchen for pizza and desserts. There will be go-kart rides and train rides all intended to raise money for our adoption. Our adoption! So for all of our friends in the San Diego area, if you want to be a part of this let me know!
This dear woman is someone who has never met me or our family, but still feels compelled to be a part of our adoption story since her own heart is stirred for the orphans of the world.
Between this email from Romina and the stories of this past weekend, I have been reminded that our adoption story is much bigger than just our family. It is not just about us getting a child. It is a story about what God is doing in people everywhere, and how adoption is an example of the deep affection our Heavenly Father has for His children.
- We are almost completely done with our dossier. We are hoping there are no errors in any of our paperwork. From here, we are just waiting on U.S. Immigration to contact us to get fingerprinted. Then we are done..for now.
- We learned that this week we may hear which region of Russia our little girl is from. Exciting!
- We are praying for wisdom as they decide where our case will be best received...that God would direct them to perfect region for us. Thank you for praying with us!
- Please continue to pray for our little girl. As we watched the video this past weekend, I was reminded again to pray for her RIGHT NOW. That God would be preparing her heart for us and ours for her. That God would already begin to connect our hearts in a way we can't understand.
Thank you for being a part of this story. Thank you for your support, your prayers and your generosity. And for the teenagers at our church - thank you loving our son. The way you treat him is so beautiful. I stood in the middle of the convention center on Sunday and watched a group of 6th grade boys pushing Dima around on a chair mover cart. The entire ride he had a huge smile on his face. Thank you. I love that he has so many awesome "big guys" that he gets to look up to as he grows up.
Until next Monday, love, Kate, Steve & Dima.