Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Adopted Child's Perspective on Adoption: Ksusha

From Susan Hillis:
Part I:  Here is the story that our effervescent Ksusha wrote about what being adopted was like for her, about her early roots and the memories she has before being adopted. This part ends with the story of coming home to our large family, a family being restored after she had lost her first family.  I would call this the 'I am adopted' part of the story.  Symbolically, I think of it as the "I leave Egypt" part of her story. 
Ksusha is in 10th grade. This first part of her story was written when she was 12 years old, five years after she was brought home.

Healing: A Hard Beginning And A Wonderful End
I am going to tell you a little about my life. I was born in Russia.  I had 3 sisters and one brother.  Before my mom had me, my brother Alex and my sister Anya got taken away and put in an orphanage, and I had 2 sisters left, Sveta, who was one year old and Masha, who was 4 at the time.  When I was born, Masha was like a mom to me.  She took good care of me when my mom and dad were drunk.

Ksusha's Russian birth parents
When I was 4 years old, there was a knock at the door.  One of my parents went to answer it.  When I saw it was a police, I got scared and ran and hid under my crib, but that sure wasn’t a good hiding place because they saw me and were trying to take me away.  I tried to hold on, but it didn’t work.  They picked me up and took me to the car.  Even though I was 4, I could still understand what was happening.  I screamed, cried, and tried to get out, but it didn’t work.  A couple minutes later my 2 big sisters joined me.  I was happy to see them, but I could see my dad and mom crying.  They didn’t want us to go because they already lost 2 kids and now, 3 more.

 When I got to the orphanage with my 2 sisters, we were taken to different rooms.  We were together for about one year in that orphanage when one of my sisters, Sveta got taken away to another orphanage.  So me and Masha, who still was like a mom to me, were still together.  When I was 5, we got a letter saying that my dad had died.  It was heartbreaking to both of us.

Ksusha (left) with sisters Sveta and Masha
Later on that year, I started to ride the bus with some older friends to take piano lessons.  I would do that once a week.

Two years later I was about to get ready to go to piano lessons when my boss told me that I wouldn’t be going to piano lessons today because somebody is coming to see me and Masha.  It was very shocking, but I did stay and put on a beautiful purple dress.  But the lady never came.  The people that worked at my orphanage said that the lady would not come until the next day, because she went to visit Sveta and that is why she didn’t come.

Ksusha (center), with Sveta and Alex, runs from the orphanage
into her parents' arms
So the next day came, and this lady came.  She came with her husband and a little boy.  She said that Sveta wanted her to tell us that she misses us and that she is going to see us soon.  We were to happy to hear that.  And you wouldn’t believe what she told us next.  She told us she was the mom of Alex and Anya.  Masha couldn’t stop smiling and then my brother Alex, who I had never met and who Masha had not seen for 11 years, walked in.  It was the happiest day ever.  The lady whose name was Susan Hillis, with her husband Brian, adopted us on September 11, 2001.  When we got to America we saw our new beautiful family.  And guess what?  We had more brothers and sisters!  I had 4 brothers, Trevor, Sasha, Vasya, and of course Alex, and 5 sisters, 3 that were from my Russian family, Anya, Sveta and Masha, and also one more from Russia.  Her name is Katya and she was Anya’s best friend in Russia, and my parents had one more daughter, Cristi, so now in all my parents had 10 kids.  It is just amazing what God can do.  I had a hard beginning but a wonderful end.

 Part II:  Just last week Ksusha wrote a poem about who she is now, 10 years after being adopted.  I call this the "I am an American girl, I am a believer, and I am a daughter" part of the story.  Symbolically, I think of it as "I am beginning to walk towards the Promised Land the Lord has for me."  

I am from a small town near St. Petersburg, Russia

I am from a family of 12
Cristi, sasha, masha, katya, anya, alex, sveta, vasya,
Trevor, me, and my mom and dad
I am from the country
My favorite songs are
“remind me,” “Country Girl (Shake it from me)”
And “crazy girl”
I am from dirt bikes and four wheelers
Horses and trucks
I am from Jesus Christ
My favorite verse is jeremiah 29:11
I am from my mama’s cookin’
Mashed potatoes and country ham
I am from a loving family
Who always understands.
Ksusha, in her daddy's arms, then and now.

The Hillis family.

Monday, August 29, 2011


Two more weeks to register for HOPE AT HOME 2011 at the Early Bird Price! Come enjoy the encouragement and refreshing you need to parent your adoptive/foster family. Get help in how to address the tough questions your children ask about their past, how to help your child hear from God, raising children with special needs, being a single adoptive mother, fathering your adopted child, and more. 

"Susan (Hillis) and I are heading to a town on the border of Finland called Vyborg. But to tell you the truth, I just wish I could come home," I say to my husband Stephen over the long distance phone line. My first trip to Russia had overwhelmed me in every way and what I wanted most after being exposed for the first time to the little faces that represented such great need, individually and globally, was to be back home with my three girls and husband. "There are two children there that the Director of Education wants us to meet." And so begins a wonderful story of God at work in the lives of ordinary people. You may have read some of this story from the perspective of our children. You can do that by reading "Adopted Children's Perspectives" and "Biological Children's Perspectives." But as with all good stories, there is was more going on beneath the surface!

We thought I had travelled to Russia with my dear friend Susan Hillis so that we could discern God's will for us in adoption. We knew He had called us at that point, but we were unsure how to proceed-- we recently had almost adopted a brother and sister who at the last minute had been removed from the orphanage. As is always the case with our amazing God, His plans were far greater than what we understood. Yet when Susan and I travelled to Vyborg, I ended up meeting Kristina and Pasha, who not long after became Templetons. As soon as it became clear that we would adopt from the orphanage just outside Vyborg, Stephen immediately typed in the words, "Vyborg, Christian" in his computer search engine (these were pre google days!) and up came "Vyborg Christian Center." He decided then to go ahead and contact these people, just to see where it would lead. Here is the email:

We got an immediate response from a wonderful woman who has since become as family to us. I asked Judy to share:
Hello. My name is Judy Grout.  My husband , Richard and I have been working in Vyborg, Russia, for a eighteen years.  He is director of the Vyborg Christian Center, an interdenominational Christian organization which serves in several different areas--evangelism, Bible and literature distribution, and help for the needy.

We first became acquainted with the State Orphanage in Vyborg when we went to the director and asked if we could teach a Bible class in the orphanage, as we had done in other institutions. She firmly gave us a negative answer, saying that it was against the Russian law.  But a few months later we received an email from the Templetons, saying that they were planning to adopt  from this orphanage and asking if we could visit their children .  This opened a door for us to have a ministry there.  I began teaching English classes to prepare these children for adoption.  Others in the orphanage attended these classes and others were also adopted.  Then the Lord provided (through a local  factory owner) a meeting room near the orphanage where we could have Bible classes which the director allowed the children to attend.

Eleven children from this orphanage have been adopted by Christian families in America, and we have met all these families before or at the time of the adoption. We feel that it has been a great privilege to minister to these children even before they met their new families. These Christian families have also had a profound influence on the director of the State children’s home, who in her last years there as director became very appreciative of the work we were doing with the children in our Bible classes.  The songs they sang about God touched her heart.

One of the families from Atlanta to travel
to Vyborg and adopt
Judy and Richard visiting two of the children
adopted by a family in Orlando
As Susan and I drove away from the orphanage, I was filled with mixed emotions. On one hand I felt incredible joy at having met these two amazing children who I felt God calling us to adopt - I had met my son and daughter. Yet as I looked out the back window, I saw a line of other children standing at the orphanage gates, waving forlornly as we pulled away. I couldn't help wonder what would happen to them, whether they would find loving families or end up on the streets after their time in the orphanage was up. A heavy weight filled my heart as I realized I couldn't adopt all of them, couldn't give all of them the love and care that they deserved. But the beautiful thing is that God can, and has.

We feel God has given us a great privilege to see some of His "behind the scenes of adoption" work through our friendship with the Grouts. Judy and Richard not only became a connector for the children who were being adopted, they also developed a truly amazing and fruitful ministry to the ones who did not get adopted. Judy shares,

All  of the children had friends who were never adopted, and we tried to continue to be friends with them even after they left the orphanage. Many continue coming to visit us, we try to celebrate their birthdays, and we have even helped some to get started in local colleges.  Several years ago we started a “homecoming dinner” on Friday evenings for these youth who had no home to go to.  This has evolved into a youth meeting that includes many  others now, but there are usually some orphans present.  These children have become like our extended family and we hope to be here for them as a witness to the power of God to guide their lives so that their children will never need to live in an orphanage.

Many of you may be aware that the statistics on children who age-out of the orphanages are very bad. Most end up on the streets, in jail, addicted to drugs, or dead. Because of the prayers and ministry through Judy, a ministry primarily of love and relationship, the young people who were in our children's groups have completely flipped those statistics around. 

Just a few months ago we travelled back to Vyborg and attended one of Judy's parties. It was very moving to see a room literally filled with young people who have moved away from the orphanage, but who were living relatively good lives. Some of them are married, quite a few have children of their own already. Our daughter Kristina's best friend, Natasha (in the photo below on the right) has a baby out of wedlock. But this baby is a son in his mother's arms. He is not in an orphanage. Judy, along with others, is helping Natasha learn how to be the mommy she never had. One of the girls, has taken art classes and works in a store. Another young man, Sasha, is working as a mechanic. And Ruslan, who was in the first English class Judy taught in the orphanage is living in Sweden with a family and studying to be a nurse. 

Our Kristina (center) with two of her friends from the orphanage on a visit in 2009
Richard takes Ruslan to the ferry that will take him to
Sweden where he begins his studies

Julia and Lena with their 2 year olds
It is clear to me that this is the case because they are shown on-going love and have true relationship with this woman of God. She knows their names. She knows their birthdays. She knows who they are. And they know they are known. They know they are prayed for. They know they are loved. Sadly, this love has not come to them through adoption into a family, but look what the Lord has done!

April, 2011 at the Vyborg Christian Center
Kalinina Reunion Party
Many of these children have received letters from pen pals that Judy has given them. All have been prayed for by name over the years. Many have become Christians. She has photo albums with pictures of them through the years. Sitting at that table, I was so struck by the life-giving ministry of someone like Judy who did not adopt, but who visited, loved and KNEW these children. This is a powerful work. All of us who have stood outside of an orphanage or courtroom, arms wide open to receive our children, know the cutting grief and sadness from leaving so many behind. 
Lana Grace, Ksusha and Alex Hillis running from the orphanage
into the arms of their parents
Many times children stand at the gates as their friends drive
away to homes they can only dream of
With one email, a door that was shut tight swung open wide. A Soviet-style director went from the forbidding of Christian ministry to the open encouragement of Bible clubs, children's art programs, church attendance, and permission to spend the night with Christian families. God's hands are never tied, and our prayers are effective, changing lives for eternity. We never know what beautiful layers of God's purposes lie beneath the surface of our obedient responses to His voice. I encourage us today to pray for the children left behind, the ones who didn't get adopted. Pray in faith. Call forth people like Judy and Richard Grout. Support those whose ministry is to the orphan. And believe for the statistics to be reversed!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


We'll be hearing from Susan Hillis at our HOPE AT HOME 2011 Conference here in Atlanta, September 23-24. Register now to take advantage of the Early Bird Fee.

Would you share HOPE AT HOME 2011 with your friends?

From Susan Hillis:

A Curious Injunction

The response to orphans in the New American Standard Bible in James 1:27 always caught my attention because initially it was a curious injunction that sounded ironically misguided…visiting?--That’s enough?
This is pure and undefiled religion the life of God our Father, to visit widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.
Many of us have ‘visited’ orphans, and we have felt deeply that it is not enough. It has, to me, many times felt woefully inadequate. There are times, too, when I have felt cynically indignant and critical about do-gooders who visit to take their cute pictures and then go home with soothed consciences that they have done something important. Visiting has seemed like putting a tiny band-aid on a body covered 90% with third degree burns.

A Visiting Story

It was the year 2000, and we were in Russia in a frigid April, just as the winter ice was melting on the Neva River and many others like it.  We had gone to adopt Katya, Sasha and Vasya (then ages 10, 14, and 7), from their Soviet block orphanage in extreme disrepair. We met an unexpected heartbreak when, after being assured there were ‘only three children in this family, kind-eyed Masha introduced herself to me. 
“Hello. My name is Masha. I am Katya, Sasha and Vasya’s  ‘second sister,’ (the Russian word for ‘cousin.) I would like to go home with them and with you and your husband to America.”
The frozen Neva River, St. Petersburg, Russia
This was one of many occasions on which I felt a faith beyond me  rise up, larger than life.
“Masha, you are a precious girl and it would make me very happy to have you as my daughter.  But because you are 16 years old, it is against the law for you to be adopted by a foreign family.  Because of this, I cannot adopt you.  But I do want to tell you about our Father in heaven who can adopt you and who is ready to do it now.  If you want to ask Him to come in to your heart and to forgive you and to show you His love and His purpose for your life, He will be with you forever as that good Father, that good parent that you are so longing for.  Do you want to pray with me now and ask Jesus to come into your heart and life forever, for God to be your Father?”
Masha replied, “Yes,” without hesitation, with faint tears, more of joy than sorrow, lacing her eyes.   “Then just pray after me, like this,” I explained. So I hugged her as we prayed, and she seemed somewhat content. But I was far from content.  Here I was helping introduce a young 16 year old orphaned girl to her heavenly Father and then walking away with her three cousins to leave her there abandoned, with no other believers to help nourish her fledgling faith. As I was driving away with our three new kids, the tears filling my eyes were not from joy at the gift of our next three children, but rather deep sorrow and gnawing frustration at driving away to leave this sweet girl alone…all alone.  With more doubt than belief I prayed, “Lord, I put your Name on the line back there and that sweet girl responded to You and NOW You are leaving her all alone in that place?! I ask that you please send someone to help Masha grow in her faith.”
Brian Hillis with Katya, Sasha and Vasya
Several years later when I had the opportunity to visit this orphanage again, I would remember Masha, by now aged-out of the orphanage and living who knows where.  Dear local believers opened their home to me for the night – an older couple who told fascinating stories of the husband’s former days of ruthless cruelty as a Soviet army officer fond of vodka, before he came to faith.  Before going to sleep that Friday night, the wife said with a warm smile, “Sister Susan, tomorrow you will have to warm your own breakfast because I will leave early – I have left you fresh blinii (Russian pancakes) and caviar here in the table. Every Saturday morning I go spend with a young girl named Masha  who I am helping to grow as a believer. She used to live in the same orphanage your children are from.”
Against all hope, I asked “Can you tell me if Masha’s last name is S_______?”  
“Why yes, how did you know?”
And my eyes burned as I recounted over the lump in my throat, the story of the desperate, doubt-riddled prayer over this young girl several years before.  

When  Visiting is Enough

In Masha’s story I saw that the role I was to play in her life was simply visiting her, and offering what I did have – the gospel and prayer -- no matter how meager and inadequate it seemed at the time.  It was the truth of Acts, “Paul planted, Apollos watered, and God caused the growth.” God’s design for my role in Masha’s life was simply planting. He knew at that time, even though I did not know, who He had in mind to do the watering, and that He would be the one to cause the growth. 

Sunday, August 21, 2011


You will surely be encouraged and touched by this post by Michelle Haswell.  She is a great friend to us at Hope at Home, a constant source of wisdom and godly counsel, not to mention faithful friendship! Michelle has been married to Greg Haswell for 25 years. They have one married daughter, Nicole. Michelle has spent a number of years in education as an elementary school teacher and as head of faculty. She enjoys ministry to women, prophetic ministry and seeing lives restored to wholeness. Michelle travels with her husband Greg, ministering with him in churches around the world. Greg and Michelle currently live in Atlanta where Greg is the pastor of Northlands church.

You will have the opportunity to hear more from Michelle at Hope at Home 2011. Register HERE.

We invite you to take a moment to watch our HOPE AT HOME 2011 VIDEO. Join us in getting the word out about Hope at Home 2011 by posting this link on facebook, twitter, and your blogs. Thank You!

The Need for Restoration
The month of June held much excitement and intense emotion for our family as our daughter Nicole married our wonderful son in law, Tyler. After months of planning and working towards this day of celebration, we found ourselves rather exhausted and in need of restored strength and energy for the busy Fall lying ahead. We were able to spend a relaxing week at our favorite vacation spot.

Jeremiah 30:17 “ But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds, declares the Lord...”

Some reading this might be in need of something as simple as a vacation to refresh and restore your soul. For some there might be a much deeper need of the restoration of hope or of a broken relationship, or even faith that has been shaken because of a long and difficult season.

I decided to look at the dictionary definition of this word, RESTORE.

It means to bring back or return (someone or something) to a former condition , place or position -- to re-establish.

In Isaiah 49 :8 the Lord promises the restoration of desolate inheritances.
In Isaiah 61 :4 He promises to renew and restore places of devastation and ruin

Not Based on our Circumstances
Though vacation times are wonderful and necessary , there is a much deeper source of restoration and that is the Lord Himself. Times in His Presence enjoying worship music or remembering a promise found in a scripture verse are like a long , cold drink on a hot day.

There will be times in life where we all need to recover from times of “heat”. One of my favorite bible verses that speaks to this is found in Acts 3:19.
 “So repent ( change your mind and purpose) ....that times of refreshing (of recovering from the effects of heat, of reviving with fresh air ) may come from the presence of the Lord."

My Story
There have been times in my own life where painful circumstances have  caused me to lose my footing. Years ago I gave birth to triplets, Sheraya, Ryan and Jason. After six grueling weeks we lost them and it took time to be restored to our former condition of strength, joy and faith. I know that today we walk restored and healed only because of the love and faithfulness of our heavenly Father.

While writing this I was reminded of the story of the man with the withered hand found in the gospels.  
“Then He said to the man, 'Reach out your hand,' and the man reached it out and it was restored, as sound as the other one.” Matthew 12:23

If you are reading this, there is an invitation to you to bring the places in your life that are withered and even in ruin and to hear your heavenly Father shout “RESTORE” over your marriage, your relationship with your children, your finances, your physical body and maybe your relationship with God Himself. He longs to see you whole and full joy and He has already made provision for you to walk in restoration!

“Then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you.” Deuteronomy 30:3

Friday, August 19, 2011


Beth and her husband Stephen look forward to seeing many of  you at the HOPE AT HOME 2011 Conference in September. Register now to enjoy the Early Bird Registration break.

In the first post we wrote back in March on this blog, entitled JOYFUL PARENTING, I spoke about the desire to see our parenting reflect the Good News-- to see the truth of God's Grace worked out in our families, where the proverbial rubber meets the road. We can sit in  bible studies and go on mission trips, but if we don't flesh all of these truths out in the realities of life in our homes, with our children, then surely we are missing something. So, the issue of PARENTING IN GRACE is one of great interest and significance for us. What does it look like? Isn't the law necessary in order to keep our children safe and well-behaved? What is the role of punishment?

No Longer Sin-Conscious
The Gospel is about relationship, not rules. So, our parenting needs to be about relationship, not rules! I don't believe there is a place for punishment in parenting because I see that Jesus bore the punishment of each of us on the cross. He has saved us from it, at the same time imputing His righteousness to us. As we raise our children, year after year exposing the devastation of neglect and rejection to the healing of God's mighty love, we have the freedom no longer to be sin-conscious, but rather righteousness-conscious, that is--Jesus-conscious.
"through the law we become conscious of our sin." (Romans 3:20)
 No longer focused on behavior (what was done, what should be done, what shouldn't be done), but rather, we focus on what Jesus has already done for our child. 
"For our sake He made Christ to be sin who knew no sin, so that in and through Him we might become [endued with, viewed as being in, and examples of] the righteousness of God [what we ought to be, approved and acceptable and in right relationship with Him by His goodness.]" 2 Corinthians 5:21
But if we don't punish, what do we do? How do we respond to sinful behavior in our children? 

The Training that is Needed
Have you ever thought about the fact that no one has ever needed to train a child to be selfish or to take a toy that doesn't belong to her, or to hit when he is angry, or to cheat at a game, or to lie, fly into a rage, or steal.....? There is no training needed for that! But there is, no doubt, a training needed! 2 Timothy 3:16 speaks of  "training for righteousness." This kind of training is ours to do as parents. And we know that no training happens incidentally. The word "training" implies some labor on our part. As with any athlete in training, or musician, there is a plan, a goal--time is required, work is demanded. 
"Everyone who competes in the games goes into a strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever." 1 Corinthians 9:25

"...train yourself to be godly (discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness). For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come." 1 Timothy 4:7-8

The Problem with Punishment
Note the difference between Punishment and Training-- it is key as we raise our children. Punishment is backward looking, focused on the payment for a behavior or offense. It seeks to correct by exacting payment and is powerless to impart identity. (We spoke about identity in a previous post, PARENTING IN GRACE: IDENTITY.) Neither punishment, nor shame, it's close companion, are the stuff of Christian parenting. These are not tools for us any longer.

On the other hand, training is forward-looking, focused on the future, in preparation for and in anticipation of God's purposes and plans. Training and discipline exist for the purpose of serving the identity of your child-- an identity already imparted by Grace. It is our joy and privilege to disciple our children in Grace!
"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

God Parents Us as We Parent Our Children
Stephen and I have had to make many adjustments in our parenting over the years. Like many of you, adoption has shaken up our parenting greatly! And of course, the more we receive God's love for us and allow Him to parent us as His beloved children, the more we have had to adjust the way we parent our children. I encourage you today that there is no punishment or payment to be exacted from you as a parent. I imagine that, like me, you have not parented perfectly. Have you lost your temper, punished in anger or frustration, failed to take the time and effort required to train out of fatigue or even exhaustion? We have a gracious God who has given us His righteousness in Christ and who no longer counts our sins against us. Let us not look back to what we have done wrong as parents, but rather heed the Call of GRACE and HOPE, looking forward with expectation of God's goodness to be manifest our family.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011


Register now to  in enjoy the benefit of our Early Bird Registration for HOPE AT HOME 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. You have three more weeks to enjoy this price break of $100 per couple and $60 per individual. Early Bird Registration ends September 9th.

We have some experienced and faith-filled speakers committed to share the HOPE that we have in our amazing God as we partner with Him to raise our children. We will be refreshed and equipped as we encounter the Father's heart for our adoptive and foster families.

Stay tuned as we will be posting breakout session options for attendees soon. You will not want to miss some of these topics! Here a few you can look forward to.
  • Answering the Tough Questions
  • Creating a Culture of Honor in Your Home: Sibling Relationships in the Adoptive/Foster Family
  • Establishing Peace in Your Home: Dealing with Anger, in You and in Your Child
  • Fathering Your Adopted/Foster Child
  • Strengthening Yourself in the Lord
  • Partnering with God to Transform Orphans into Sons and Daughters
  • Parenting Your Adopted Child as A Single Mother
  • Marriage: Finding Intimacy Amidst Competing Demands
Would you help us get the word out by posting on Facebook and Twitter?

Monday, August 15, 2011


We are pleased to hear from our friend Jessica. She has 2 kids 5 and under who spend their days dressing up animals, throwing dance parties, and building caves. My (very good looking) husband keeps me grounded and present while I rearrange the house multiple times a year. I spend the majority of my days running Noonday Collection, a business born out of this adoption process that creates sustainable income opportunities for vulnerable populations and hopefully prevents some of the root causes of the orphan crisis. Through Noonday Collection, I get to help women feel beautiful every day and enable families to raise some money for their adoption process. It is a dream so amazing I could have never thought it up myself.

"You are NOT allowed to take him"

One year ago, I found my then 2-year-old son floating face down in the middle of a large swimming pool. I scooped up his lifeless body. His face was blue, lips purple, and there were no signs of breathing. He was dead. As I began CPR on him, I just kept yelling out, “In the name of Jesus, in the name of Jesus,” while inside crying out “You are not allowed to take him."  After a few minutes, he began to cough and was back to his normal joyful self within the hour.

I had thought about that moment so often: Would I turn from Jesus or to Him in the face of a severe tragedy?  I experienced both on that hot summer day. On one hand, crying out to the only One who could save Him while also withholding my heart from the only One who could take him.

"I Can Rescue Your Next Son."
One month later, we were in the very final stages of finishing our dossier to adopt a child from Rwanda. We received a phone call from our power of attorney saying Rwanda was closing its doors to any new dossiers within 24  hours. The likelihood of us being able to get all the final signatures, fly to Washington DC to get the documents authenticated, and then finally submitted to the Rwandan embassy seemed impossible. But I heard that still, small voice say, “I rescued your first son and I can rescue your next son.”

Every Step of the Way, There was God!
Jessica at the Rwandan Embassy
Within a few hours, I was on a plane to Washington DC where an old friend from my Food for the Hungry days picked me up at 12am. She lived 10 minutes from the airport. The next morning on the subway, a girl standing next to me heard me saying, “I am nervous because I don’t know where this place is.” 
“Excuse me,” she said, “I work there and can walk you to the office.” 
Every step of the way, there was God; with me and for me.

I spent some time after these two “close calls” praying and asking God to show me Himself in those times. I learned that God’s faithfulness to me is not dependent upon my emotional response to Him. Anger,threats, even turning away from Him does not turn Him away from me. He has promised to be with me always. Emmanuel. That revelation has enabled a new grace to steer my faith and triumph over my fears.

I Rest in His Word
There have been times during this wait when I cry myself to sleep because I long to feel his head against mine. There have been times when I felt jealous that other parents seemed to get their kids before us. And there have been many times where I wondered if it would actually happen at all. All of these experiences lead me to exercise faith like never before. I always go back to the last place that God spoke and rest in His word. If you are also a waiting parent, I hope these words from Exodus encourage you like they have me during these last 2 years, 
“The Lord will fight for you. You need only be still.” (Exodus 14:14) 
Rest in Him while he fights for your child. 

In a couple of months, we will fly to Rwanda to meet our son. A 2 year old who has only known the walls of an orphanage. God’s promise of being with me through this new parenting process is what now guides my hope.

"Teaching them to observe everything that I have commanded you, and behold, I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion) to the very close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be.)"

You can follow Jessica's journey, among other things, here

Friends, we'd love for you to join our FACEBOOK community, so come on over and Like us! It's a great place to receive daily encouragement in the Lord for your adoption and parenting journey.