“Someday we’ll start that journey,” I would say. I have probably said those words a hundred times in the last decade out loud and in my head. Someday when were ready, when were not so overwhelmed, when we pay off our debt, when we finish our house projects, when we have a savings account, when we get a bigger car, when our youngest turns 5, when… Will that list ever be done? Probably not. Does it need to be? Probably not. In a very gentle way the Lord began showing me that all these “things” are about me… just me. My security, my safety, my comfort and my fears were holding us back.
There are millions of orphans in the world today, they are called “the least of these.” They are the unseen and the unheard. Not everyone is called to go across the ocean. But we as Christians do have a responsibility and a calling to care for the orphans and widows.
In January of 2020 our family decided that we are indeed called to adopt children and grow our family! And in spite of all the unknowns ahead, the doubts and fears that press in and try to delay this beautiful thing, we are no longer saying “someday,” we are saying yes “today!”
Those words were taken from my first blog post back before I truly understood what entering into the broken world of adoption would cost. We were headed to China for 18 months letting ourselves fall in love with a 4 year old little boy. Covid caused heartbreaking delays on every front especially adoption. But we pushed forward and continued to hope for open doors until an unexpected email ended our process. Our little boy had been adopted in-country. Our family was helpless to change this reality and so we grieved our loss and simultaneously praised the Lord for a home for the one little person we had chosen.
We took a step back, letting ourselves heal and pray while still not really understanding where the Lord was leading us. We had tremendous support, funding and faith to move a mountain but no child. What now Lord? An another email came in a few months later asking us if we’d consider changing programs. Would the LeMays go to Africa? It didn’t take long to recognize it was the Lord’s voice redirecting us and answering our prayers. Our family was ready to get back onboard. We were heading to Liberia with our hearts set on two little people this time. Our Liberia process took a fraction of the time that China did. We were moving forward at a very fast pace and it was exciting to feel the Lord leading us and to watch miracles once again unfold before us. We accepted our referral and almost exactly 6 months later we were invited to the Liberian Embassy in Africa.
Before we left for Liberia in March, we had been talking the talk for two and half years. It was a special journey, one that I look back at and miss some days. It was full of miracles and faithful people that committed to walking with us. We sold 1000 puzzle pieces, we collected and bagged 25,000 pairs of shoes sent to countries that needed them, we applied for 17 grants and received 16 of them, we were handed a check for $10,000, we played Bingo for a fundraiser, did garage sales, raffles and lemonade stands and we made adoption shirts. It was a blessed journey for sure.
In Africa, we lived for 28 days in a two bedroom apartment stripped of all the comforts of home, 7,000 miles from our children in Montana and utterly helpless to make anything happen on our own. The process went as expected but our expectations of what it would be like to love these two new little people was nothing like we dreamed it would be. The romanticism quickly wore off and we were in the trenches with two children that didn’t want our love, didn’t trust us and had no desire to obey us. In fact, they did the opposite and we were filled with tremendous fear. We spent hours on our knees praying and singing louder than she could scream, we held her with a strength that wasn’t our own while she fought hard. We questioned if we’d made a mistake? Did we hear the Lord? Are we going to regret this? What if this hurts our family? What if I can’t be who God is asking me to be?
As we anticipated, bringing them home has turned our life upside down and many days we still grieve the lost of our “old” life. The questions we asked in Liberia came home with us and we battled the fear on our knees.
Daily I have to eat my words… these precious scriptures written on my heart for such a time as this. They were coming alive and I am continually confronted with a decision. Am I going to humble myself and ask the Lord Almighty for help? Do I truly believe his promises and the power of His Word? Am I going to obey Him? Scripture tells me to love the unlovable, to overlook an offense, to forgive those that hurt me and reject me, to hope in the face of despair, to die to myself and my desire for obedience, to give unlimited second chances and grace to the undeserving. And most frightening and hard to admit…the realization that this hardened little girl is a picture of me in my most broken state without Jesus.
I have learned that as we wholeheartedly seek Jesus, He is faithful to meet us. He sees our desperation. He is helping us see what He sees and feel what He wants us to feel. He is replacing our tears with genuine moments of joy. He is taking our hardened hearts after a battle and making them soft again. He is our redeemer, restorer and the maker of beauty out of ashes. Over the last year, we have had the privilege of speaking life, love and purpose into our adopted children. They are softening and our hearts are slowing being knitted together one day at a time. I have never needed Jesus more in my life. Today we have more smiles than tears and for that I give all the praise and glory to Jesus!