I have debated for quite some time on whether to share this part of our story. God finally moved my heart.
I would like to introduce someone.
His name is Marquez. He is a newly turned 21 year old that aged out of foster care at age 18. Unfortunately, his whole story is not mine to share. It is his, it belongs to him. I can tell you what I know to be true. He is an amazing young man that has seen more tragedy, violence, and neglect in his life than anyone I have ever met. Despite his life experience, he has no criminal record, does not do drugs or drink alcohol (seriously), and is currently attending college. He is the first in his family to go to college and very often, he is harassed by family members for not having a felony before he turned 18. He lives life with this crazy passion and faith that I have never seen in anyone before. With the things he has seen and experienced, he has every reason to just throw his life away.
We are his family. No, we did not officially adopt him but we are his. He does not live with us. In his life, we are big brother/big sister. He calls our boys and my sister’s boys his nephews. He loves them and they love him. We are from two very different worlds, but God has brought us together. He is a little rough around the edges, but he longs for what everyone desires…unconditional love.
Let me start from the beginning…
Ryan and I are involved in orphan care. It is our passion and something that God specifically calls us to do while here on Earth. A year ago I was really struggling with what this looked like in our lives. Yes we had adopted this precious baby, but I couldn’t help but to think that God was calling us deeper. I started having these intense moments where I just felt God moving my heart. At the time, we began receiving emails about mentoring aging out foster kids. I started really feeling God tug on my heart for this. I argued…like I always do. It did not make sense….Is all of this starting to sound very familiar? (See first adoption blog post) We had just sold our house (and moving in with my parents until we found another) and we had a 6 month old and a two year old. I felt inadequate. What did we have to offer? What advice could we give when we are still trying to figure it out ourselves? And then I went “there”. I am embarrassed to say this now, but I started throwing in excuses like: What if this person robs us? What if he or she hurts my children? What if, what if, what if???? I gave God every reason possible not to do this. Still he kept on. Looking back, I think I just felt that we were completely inadequate. I felt we were not a good enough wife/husband, mother/father, Christian…God started reminding me in the MOST RANDOM ways that the Bible is full of inadequate people that he called to do his will. So, there was going to be this party for these DCS kids and mentors. We were planning on attending but NOT as mentors. We were going to serve food…ha! Leading up to the party God just kept on pulling at me. I kept saying no. The morning of the party, a lady came by our house to look at something we were selling on Craigslist. We started talking about church, which led us to talking about orphan care. She looked right at me and said “Do you know what I feel so passionate about?.....Mentoring.” I could not believe she said that. I mean, she could have said any other word possible, but Mentoring? Ryan just looked at me. He couldn’t believe it either. I went immediately wrote an email saying that we would mentor. I am pretty sure the person that received that email thought I was the absolute craziest person on the planet, rambling on and on about God and inadequacy. We went to that party as potential mentors and Ryan connected with Marquez immediately. We left with his phone number.
The rest is history. We have seen God through this in ways that we cannot explain. He has provided so many little reminders that we are right where he wants us. He is doing the very same thing with our adoption now.
So…Why am I sharing this now and what does it have to do with our adoption?
It took me a long time to share this, because Marquez is not our project. We are not here to fix him or to make him like us. We just meet him right where he is and try to provide him with a love that very few, if any, have ever given him, a love without stipulations or expectations. COMPLETELY UNCONDITIONAL. He just needed someone to give him a chance. That someone (us) needed to be patient. We did not see the amazing soul right away. We had to wait for him to peel back all of the layers that life had built up. With that said, I hate when people say that we are amazing for what we are doing. God is amazing, we are broken and sinners. It is not that we do not appreciate kind words and comments. We love the support. I hate it because God had to drag us, his very defiant children, kicking and screaming to do his will. I guarantee this relationship with Marquez is changing our lives more than it was ever meant to change his life. God has completely knocked me on my knees so many times. Like when we went trick-or-treating and Marquez recorded the whole thing because he thought it was something that only happened in movies. Or Christmas Day when he kept telling us with tears in his eyes that it was literally the best day of his life…we were just doing Christmas like all of the ones before. And the night we celebrated his 21st birthday, when he got so excited because he had never had a cake with his name on it. 21 years old and he would rather spend his Friday night with our families, blowing out a recycled birthday candle on a cake with his name on it. He asked if he could keep that candle. It all just makes my heart hurt. I have cried out to God so many times asking for forgiveness for our blindness. We live in a box…a very comfortable box. It wasn’t until Marquez entered our lives, that we realized just how backwards we were. This is real…it is out there. Why have we refused to see it?
We know the call of God. We have experienced before. With our adoption it has been a much stronger calling than the situation with Marquez. We know what God can do if we step out in faith. We are willing to go there. Just like Marquez, Slavik will need to experience a love without stipulations or expectations. The world tells us we are inadequate to raise a teenager, but God tells us that he has and will equip us with exactly what we need.
On to our exciting news….
We have been praying about Ryan’s company working with us through this adoption. Specifically we have been worried about vacation days, since we have to be gone for so long. Ryan had a conference call with the head of Human resources and his boss late Thursday afternoon. I am happy to report that they are giving him 28 paid days off and a two week paid paternity leave for when we get home. Not only that, but they also told us that we qualify for the $10,000 credit that they give to employees that adopt. How amazing is the God we serve? He takes care of all of the details! That means that as of right now, we only need about $2,000 to be COMPLETELY funded!!!!!!