However, due to recent happenings, we feel
Sorry to be so mysterious. Here goes…
The calling that we felt on September 16, 2009 (sidenote: the 8 hour time difference meant that it was September 17, 2009 in Ethiopia—one year to the day that Eden was born—you can’t tell me God doesn’t care about the details!) was very clear to us. Adopt an infant. Adopt internationally. Adopt right now. We based all of our decisions (what agency, what country, what age child, etc.) on those 3 things. If there was a decision we had to make that was not clear based on those 3 parameters, we prayed and researched and went with the one where we felt God’s peace.
When we first submitted our adoption application, we had to select whether or not we were open to a child with special needs. (Note that “special needs” is a broad term that covers medical needs, physical deformities, chronic diseases, etc.) Ben and I talked a lot about it and decided to say “no” and thus submitted our application for a healthy baby.
A big change: Fast forward almost one year. I (Lauren) hadn’t exactly been feeling at peace with that “healthy” selection. Through a series of things including another blog and a small group study, I felt challenged to consider adopting a child with HIV (you might need to give that a moment to sink in, but please don’t be scared!).
The discussion: Ben and I spoke about it over dinner on September 3, 2010. Ben mentioned that he could definitely see us raising a child with some sort of special medical need—he just didn’t know what kind of special need, and he didn’t anticipate it being our first child. But he said that if God was speaking something to me, he was certainly willing to listen! In order to stay true to the 3 things we felt called to, we decided that if it would delay our process at all, we wouldn’t do it this time around (because of the “adopt right now” calling). We left dinner that night feeling excited and nervous of the possibilities.
Slam dunk: God knows what He’s doing, people. His timing is perfect. And if He sees His children needing confirmation of a calling, He’ll give it to them. When we got home from dinner that night, our agency’s update email had come to our inboxes and the headline was “Introducing AGCI’s Positively Chosen Program.” There you go. Our agency had decided to have sub-program where you can adopt children who are HIV positive. The SAME day that Ben and I had our discussion. And after talking to our case manager and finding out that it certainly wouldn’t delay us—if anything, it would speed us up, that just sealed the deal.
More education and paperwork: In the following months, we completed a long list of training and eligibility requirements for the Positively Chosen program and got all of our paperwork updated to reflect our change in parameters. We had an overwhelming peace about our decision and were certain that this is what God had called us to do. We went into this knowing there would be additional challenges we would face, but firmly believing that God would provide in every way for our family.
Tough road: We only mentioned our change in parameters to immediate family members and a few very close friends. As you can imagine, HIV is a very sensitive topic that many people are scared of. In fact, you might be looking at Eden in a different light just from hearing our story thus far… Well, we encountered a couple of very tough responses regarding our change in parameters and simply prayed (and cried) to God that He would be glorified and that He would protect our child from any discrimination once he/she was home with us. It was a very tough road.
Best Christmas ever: As you know, on December 22, 2010, we got a phone call from our agency with a little girl they had in mind for us. We were told that her birth mother had HIV, Hepatitis C, and TB—the “triple crown” of infectious diseases, our pediatrician said. After that phone call, and officially accepting our referral, we were on cloud nine! Edeneku was SO precious and we couldn’t wait to share the news with our families for Christmas!
Prayer works, people! To say that we had a lot of people praying for Eden would be a drastic understatement. We were seriously SO blessed to have so many people praying for her! And let’s just say, it worked! Long story short, Eden is healthy! When we were matched with her, we knew she didn’t have TB. Before we even traveled to Ethiopia to meet her, we were told that her bloodwork came back negative for HIV. And now that we’re home, our pediatrician can’t even find anything that would lead him to believe she has Hepatitis C. He said he couldn’t explain it. We said that anything could happen through prayer—that’s explanation enough for us!
Bottom line: We love Eden no matter what her health status. We had people praying for her health in general (they had no idea of any of this) and for God to protect her. And, of course, we prayed that our child would be protected from harm of any kind and we trusted that God would take care of our family. God chose for Eden to NOT have these infectious diseases and for that we are grateful. However, please understand that health status does not define her—or anyone.
Be open! We ask you to approach this with an open mind and open heart, just as we have. If reading this made some emotions come up that you want to talk about, please reach out to us. We have a TON of great resources on HIV and how it is and isn’t transmitted (if you think you know, you’re probably in for a surprise). This 3.5 minute YouTube video and the Project Hopeful site it mentions are our favorite—check them out! And obviously, this blog is a very short version of the entire story, so let us know if you have questions, comments, concerns, etc.
Give God complete control,
be obedient to what He says,
allow Him to show off, and
give Him the glory!
Oh, and pray with persistence and confidence!
Here's an example of the blessing that came from our obedience in this situation...