Pure Religion and Cold, Hard Cash

Adoption and the Blessings of God

For five days in September 2006, I saw the keen blade of SharperIron being used, not to draw blood (however beneficial bloodletting can be) but to pluck fruit that will last a lifetime. We were about $7,000 short of a $13,000 fee that would allow us to kids1.jpgbring home our daughter, Chloe Jane, from Korea. The agency had given us great leeway, but time was running out. We were on the verge of saying, “No, I’m sorry. Here’s her file back.”

In one sense, the adoption process began in March 2006 when we first inquired about her. But it really began in 1999 when I saw an ABC news piece about Russian orphans. The sorrow I felt at seeing those little ones who could not stand up or walk due to a lack of adult interaction sent me to my computer to learn about adoption. For four years, that was all I could do—research adoption. Part of that time was spent discerning whether Mick, my husband, and I were on the same page about adoption. The rest was spent praying for the money to adopt. Our church could not help. (RIGHT: Chloe, David, and Bailey)

I looked at page after page of children’s faces and checked out country requirements for adopting couples—Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Romania, and more. I called agencies for information packets, attended informational meetings, and even selected the agency I would use, if we were ever able to adopt. My husband insisted that we should have the money in hand before we started the process; but looking at our finances, we realized this condition was an impossible dream, apart from an outright miracle. We pursued a couple of domestic opportunities, but they fell through.

In 2001, I saw two faces on a photo listing—a brother and sister in Cambodia. I called the agency about them. The children were available, and we were interested—so interested, in fact, that we swallowed our considerable pride and asked others for the money to adopt them. The situation sounds simple now, but I would rather apply rubbing alcohol to a large wound than do it again. The donors said “yes,” and we hit the ground running. We’d built up a head of steam in four years, and we zoomed through the hefty forms, fingerprinting, home study visits, and applications as fast as possible.

In February of 2002, we anticipated having the children home by May or June. Then we received bad news: Cambodia’s adoption program had been shut down (it still is), and we were stuck in the pipeline of adoptions in process. Angelina Jolie squeaked through, and most families eventually got their children through extensive lobbying. We would have waited it out, but the children’s birthmother retrieved them from the orphanage. Our hopes of adoption were over. One can become very attached to a picture…

God pointed us toward Korea, and we switched our immigration forms to reflect the change. Our baby girl was born in April, and we had her by August. We became parents, and Bailey changed our lives forever. All of the previous delays brought the exact child God wanted us to have at the exact right time, and she is still worth the wait.

Fast forward a year later, to November of 2003, and we were bringing home our three-year-old son, Andrew, who had been waiting in an orphanage following two different foster homes. Our social worker wasn’t sure that adopting out of birth order was a good idea, but we did it anyway. Again, money was lacking, but a grant from one organization and a fee reduction from the agency helped. We took out a line of credit on our home for the rest. Andrew was listed as “special needs” due to a brain anomaly (and had a heart murmur, as it turned out) but has done very well. Another family had been interested in him, but we were ahead of them in our paperwork, so we were allowed to proceed.
chloe.jpgThe next fall, we inquired about another little guy from the orphanage, and this same family was interested in him as well. This time, they had the money, but we didn’t, so they began the process. I mentally took my hands off the situation, knowing that if they were not meant to have him, the process would stall. For months, they pursued this adoption but kept running into brick walls. In February, I emailed the lady (she was on my adoption forum) and asked how the process was going. On my birthday, she told me the family could not proceed. So we began the process for David.

Still, we didn’t have the money, but we got another grant and a fee reduction, which got us part of the way. When we ran out of money, it came from an unexpected source: the family who had been pursuing the adoption gave us $8,000 because they felt led to do so and because they felt badly about keeping him from the family he was supposed to have. I am still awed by this act of love.

David had a history of hydrocephalus, but he is doing well. He has not needed medical attention to this point for the condition.

Last March, I found Chloe Jane and asked about her. The agency said she was “developmentally delayed” but not autistic. We were cautiously interested, but as we prayed about her, we became certain she was our child, even if she were mentally deficient. (LEFT: Chloe Jane at the orphanage)

We went into this adoption more or less on faith, unlike the first adoption, which was a “not until we have the money” situation. We determined together through prayer that we would not go into debt for this adoption, even if it meant the process was halted. God would have to do this one, or it would not happen.

Our resolve was soon tested. We began the process in May, and nothing could have been smoother or faster until we ran out of money. Nothing we tried worked: asking people, applying for grants, or fundraising. Mick’s company was supposed to be sold, and he was expecting about $7,000 from the sale. The sale never happened. All summer we prayed, thinking we’d be traveling soon if we only had the money. The agency checked back with us—we kept having hopeful things almost happen, so we persevered, and they let us keep going.

By fall, we were exhausted and discouraged. I was so tired of the tension of waiting without hope that I wanted to quit so the pain would stop. But whenever I wanted to quit, Mick did not; and whenever he was down, I was determined. We believed this was our child, and we prayed with our other kids for her to come home soon.

Toward the end, I felt there was some sort of spiritual warfare preventing us from accomplishing this adoption, and this belief revitalized me. I began fasting and asking God in a different kind of way: expecting a “yes” answer instead of “if it’s your will.”

As time ran out, we had a final minuscule burst of optimism: my sister knew about a group of singles who sometimes helped in these situations. It was last-ditch, and sure enough, she told me they were in transition and did not have the funds at this time. But somehow, Joy McCarnan and Global Grace caught the vision and with no momentum whatsoever jumpstarted a donation drive using their websites and blogs, along with Shannon Brown’s remarkable site, www.youbelong.net.
kids2.jpgOur friend Chris Anderson saw Joy’s blog and featured us on his blog, as did Bob Bixby, Dan Burrell, and a couple of others. Then SharperIron got involved. When Greg Linscott featured us on the Filings page, I was pleased and surprised. But then Jason sent out his plea, and the donations slowly started coming in over the traditionally slow blog weekend, rising to a crescendo by Wednesday, when around $4,000 had been given or pledged—enough to show the agency we could proceed. Mick asked his boss for permission to work overtime for extra pay, and over a hundred hours of overtime helped provide the rest. (RIGHT: Our family)

What an absolute blessing it was to see a group of people we did not even know, in most cases, come together for that most pure of religious activities—helping the fatherless! The rancor and debates were set aside for a time, and love prevailed. If I had not been focusing on the big picture and the tremendous blessings, I would make a bit of mischief by pointing out which of Joel’s three types were the most likely to give, but I’ll resist.

As usual, God’s timing and ways have been perfect. As I type this, I have four beautiful children sleeping in their beds just a few yards away from me. God put them there. He used God’s people to bring them into my life, and I pray He blesses everyone who had a part, whether in prayer, in giving, in spreading the word, or in technical support. I cannot possibly mention everyone, but God knows. Thank you with all of my heart for being part of something that will have eternal impact. Our two sons have trusted Christ, and we pray our girls will do so as well. I can only imagine what God has in mind for their service to Him in the future.

I also hope that more believers will catch the vision to care for a vulnerable portion of the world’s population. What is your church doing to care for the fatherless and the widows? Is there room in your home for another child?

beth.jpgBeth Murschell is married to Mick, a computer programmer, and they live in Bradenton, Florida. Her master’s degree is in music education, but her past work experience includes industrial cleaning, childcare, bumper factory, fast food, camp work (three different camps), music team, telemarketer, media center, music educator, sixth-grade teacher, maid, retail, writer, and now mother of four. She has lived in Panama City, Louisville, Greenville, Miami, Brevard, Quakertown, and Bradenton.
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