Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Did I ever tell you...

Did I ever tell you how we became the Ellerbee Eight?
How God chose these children for us?

I have wanted to adopt for many, many years. I don't know if it's because I myself am adopted, or just that I always wanted a big family. My mom once told me that my favorite nursery rhyme as a child was the "old woman in the shoe with so many children, she didn't know what to do"... well that kind of sums it up, doesn't it? My desire to adopt came and went for many years. I spent many hours on the internet, scouring agencies, countries; soaking up as much information as I possibly could. I printed off and filled out papers for local foster to adopt at least a dozen times. I agonized over waiting children. I had chosen two older children from Russia - Ivan and Eugenia many years ago. God knew it wasn't the right time for us. The finances weren't there. Our children were too young. It just wasn't the right time for us. Jeff wasn't on board with the idea. But I never gave up hope.

The last few years we kept saying that we would look into it. Jeff was at least open to the idea. I heard through the grapevine that an acquaintance from church was adopting. Julie was someone who I knew and would have said hi to if I saw her at church, but we didn't really have a relationship. She brought her baby home in June of 2007. I picked up a local parent magazine in July of last year and read an article about several families who had adopted recently. Julie and her husband were one of those families. The article had some information about what local agency they used. Once I read that, I felt like I had a starting point. I knew they hadn't gotten ripped off. They had their baby. I saw her picture. That same day I looked up the agency and called about their next informational meeting. Well it just so happened that it was the next day! Talk about God's intervention.

We went to the informational meeting the next day with the intent of getting information only. We still didn't have financing. We were just in a seeking mode. Information only. Oh, yeah... and we were planning on getting a baby boy. One. One baby boy.

Once the meeting started and basic information was given out, Crystal, who works for the agency and actually helped facilitate our adoption, began to tell us about her recent trip to Ethiopia. She began to tell us about the orphanage and specifically about two kids who were 8 and 10. They had been there longer than the others. They were sweet and wonderful. She told us of a family who recently went to Ethiopia and absolutely fell in love with these children. They were heartbroken to leave these children there.

Jeff and I started writing notes to each other. We hadn't even considered two children, much less two children basically the same age as our kids. I was there for a baby boy. It was as if God actually tapped us on the shoulder at the exact same time. We had goose bumps. We weren't even listening to what she said for the rest of the night. We wrote notes. We looked at each other like we were crazy. At the end of the night, we told Crystal we wanted more information about those two specific children. We also told her that we knew Julie and her family, and that was how we had heard of their agency. Crystal gasped and said "Those are the people who fell in love with those kids and wanted to bring them home."

Wow. What now? We talked and talked and talked, but honestly it was like God had already laid the answer on our hearts. We knew we were adopting those two kids... we just didn't know how. The next day, I called Julie and asked if we could get together to get more information about those kids and their entire adoption process. She immediately started crying and said "We have been praying since we got home for those kids to be adopted." I'm not quite sure why, but we were all amazed at the sense of humor God showed us by not only answering her prayer, but by answering her prayer with a family who went to their church and lived 5 minutes away. It still makes me giggle to think about God's hand in answering prayer; not only answering it, but slam dunking it. I imagined Him laughing and saying, "You silly child, did you ever doubt what I could do?"

And so we found financing and began our paperwork pregnancy. We started officially in August. The adoption was finalized December 26th, and we picked up the kids February 4th. When I was going through the rough patches, I found it very helpful to share this story as a reminder that THESE were the kids for me. It was predestined by God as much as if they shared our DNA. There was never another option. And now that things are better, I still like to share this story as a perfect example of what our God can do. He can bring families together from across the world.

Julie and her family have become invaluable to us. Our families have become one. I not only gained 2 children, but 5 more children in another house and the best friends we have ever had. What a gift God gave us when he bound two families together from so far away.


Amy said...

This is an amazing story! The obvious love and passion you have for all your children brings me to tears. What precious pictures!

Rebecca said...

Girl, you have me in tears...seriously. Your story is so similar to our story. Another child...different country...not God's timing. Ava....definitely God's timing...his perfect gift for us. Thank you for putting it into words for us!

Jim & Laurel said...

I can't believe how similar our story is ...

Woman from our church went to Ghana last May. Fell in love with 3 other children (besides 2 she was adopting). We found out about the children in June, immediately knew they were God's chosen for our family. Started process in July. Adoption finalized in December. Flew to Ghana and picked up children Feb. 4th. Crazy!

After we started the process, 3 more families from church jumped on board also. So, 5 families from our church have gotten 10 children from the same orphanage. And, an hour away, at a similar church, are 4 more families in process of bringing children home from the same orphanage. Wow! God is doing a mighty work!

Laurel :)

Chris said...

Gina, I am crying as if I was reading my own story to Sof and Helen. I can so relate! God definitely has a sense of humor and we are all the more blessed because of it.
I love your posts! They are so delightful and insightful. Thank you for sharing it all with us!!