We truly are a family redefined. We are husband, wife, son, daughter, step children, biological and adopted children and most importantly, Children of God.

A friend pointed out that I needed to update my blog header. After our adoption from Ethiopia, I had updated it stating how the adoption of Sara Joy completed our family. Well... the journey continues. After much prayer, we have decided to follow what we feel is God's calling for us...we went to Ghana with the intention of adopting a four year old girl, Isabella Hope. Little did we know that she would be the catalyst to bringing home not only her, but her half brother and sister. We will now be adding not only Isabella Hope to our family, but also Mary Grace (9) and Gilbert (6) who we will transition to the name Nathaniel Timothy. The shock is wearing off and the JOY and EXCITEMENT are overwhelming. Now truly, our family is complete. The great part of journeying with God, is that it's always an adventure. He knows where we are going, and for us it is all a marvelous surprise. Looking forward to sharing our family adventures as we walk daily through life and as we venture off to Ghana to bring home Mary, Nate and Isabella! It's always an adventure redefining our family!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

ABC's of My Heart: A = Adoption

John 14:18 - I will not leave you as orphans.  I will come to you.

Surprise, surprise - my "A" is for adoption :)  I'm sure most of you are not surprised by that!  I'm thrilled that this is the first letter of the alphabet, the first week of our challenge of blogging through the alphabet and I get to write about ADOPTION!!! 

I would bet that for every person that thinks about adoption, they have their own personal opinion.  Domestic, International, adopt, don't adopt, you don't know what you're getting in to, it's corrupt, it's the perfect way to build a family, why not have your own kids, will the kids know they are adopted, tell them, don't tell them, diversity in families, they need to stay with their country / race, your family will stick out.... the list is endless.

Here's what I know about adoption.  It's a calling.  No one can disagree with what it is for my life and for the life of my family.  It is what it is for us, and for us it is a calling - straight from the heart of God and supported by His word!  Beyond that (even though that's enough for our family), it's about diversity.  It's about acceptance.  It's about unconditional love.  It's about going beyond the boarders.  It's about selfless love.  It's about sacrifice.  It's about joy!  It's about compassion.  It's about overcoming fear!  It's about sharing.  It's about living out what Christ did for us!  It's about knowing and understanding adoption is not for everyone.  It's about knowing it's OUR calling.  It's about sharing it with you.

God began working with me when I was young.  Before I was even a Christian God planted that seed in my heart.  I have been fascinated with adoption since I was a small child - as long as I can remember.  I was convinced I would one day adopt a child from Asia.  When I was probably about 8, I made porcelain dolls with my mom in a class, everyone else was making little white baby dolls - not me, I made a boy and a girl, both Asian.

I'm not against building a family "the old fashioned way".  In fact, my oldest son, although he looks NOTHING like me, came to me the old fashioned way :)  I wouldn't give up that experience for anything.  I LOVED being pregnant.  In fact, I had never felt better in my life.  I'm so glad I had that experience.  

After I had Cameron, his dad and I divorced.  I wondered what life would bring my way.  I knew I was not done having children.  I still had that urge to adopt.  I was a single mom though and finances were tight.  I was living in Michigan at the time.  Through some very unique circumstances, I ended up getting a job offer here in South Carolina.  It meant a very substantial raise for me, a lower cost of living, and a career track that was much better for me and my son.  I moved to South Carolina when Cameron was three - just about to turn four.  
My Cameron!

When I moved to South Carolina, I got plugged in with a church right away.  It was just a few months later and I became a Christian.  I accepted Christ as my personal Lord and Savior and was ADOPTED into His family.  God gave me, through Jesus Christ, THE perfect example of adoption.  Jesus sacrificed for me.  God accepted me into His family, with all my sin, as His very own.  I inherit the kingdom of God because I am His child.  Forever in His family!

THEN, and ONLY THEN did the ball begin to roll on adoption.  I was baptized into my faith the day before my 31st birthday.  June 22rd, 2003.  God moved mountains and I started the process to adopt from China in July of 2003.  Unbeknownst to me, a precious little girl was born in China on September 16, 2003.....

In July of 2004 I received THE CALL - I received the referral of a 10 month old little girl Dong Ai Yi.  She was in an orphanage in Yangdong City, Guangdong Province, People's Republic of China.  In China, there is obviously an issue of overpopulation.  The government in China has instituted a "one child" policy.  Sadly, for most families, the desire to have a boy stems more from financial need than from a "dislike" of girls.  In China, males are typically the breadwinners.  In addition, when a man and woman marry, they separate from the woman's family, not emotionally, but when it comes to physical care of the parents, the parents are cared for by the male child and his wife.  No male child, no aged parent care.  It's sad, I know, but it's how things are in China.  I can turn my head from them and pretend that it isn't so, or I can make a difference.  Not for all, but for one!  
Anna Clare AiYi Roach

On October 8th, 2004, my life was forever changed.  I was handed a tiny bundle of beauty.  Her name was Dong AiYi.  She was abandoned for the fact that she was a girl.  She was entrusted into my care.  On October 9th, 2004 she officially became my daughter and is now my Anna Clare AiYi Roach.  Forever my daughter.  Her life forever changed.  My life forever changed.  She and I, along with her 5 year old brother and her grandparents, traveled home to the US and she became a US citizen upon landing.  She was exactly 13 months old.  Today she is 9 - anxiously awaiting her 10th birthday!  I have been blessed by adoption for that long!  I will always have a tie to the country that gave me my first adopted blessing, and my first daughter!

In 2006 Tim and I married.  Believe it or not, on our first date, I had three questions for Tim.  No sense going any further if his heart was not in the same place as mine, because I surely felt God had more in store for me, and I wasn't going to mess with God's plans that had to this point been nothing short of AWESOME.  Question 1 - Could you love my son as your own?  Question 2 - Would you be willing to adopt Anna as your own daughter?  Question 3 - Would you be open to expanding our family through another adoption?  I know.... talk about freaking a guy out!  It was important to me though.  Unless his answers were Yes, there was no need to move forward.

We moved forward, so obviously the answer was yes to all three.  In late 2006 we were married.  In June 2007 Tim adopted Anna as his daughter.  
My beautiful treasure from China!

In 2008 we began the process of another adoption - we tried to adopt from Vietnam (the country closed to US adoptions).  We moved our dossier to Kyrgyzstan (the country closed to US adoptions).  We decided to take a step back and really consider whether God was moving us in the direction of adoption.  We were confident that he was.  God loves the orphan!  In late 2009 we began the process to adopt from Ethiopia.  We didn't know it at the time, but our daughter was already born when we started the process.  In a small village in Ethiopia there was a beautiful child, left to be cared for in an orphanage at a very early age.  Little information was known about her.  Her name was Edom.  No last name - just Edom.  In late 2009 our dossier was sent to Ethiopia.  We decided that an older child - maybe a toddler was the best fit for our family.  In June 2010 we received the referral of Edom X, now our Sara Joy Edom Roach.  

Sara - our very first glimpse of her at the transition home in Ethiopia.  Wasn't she just BEAUTIFUL?

As we learned more about her story, we learned she was born to a young woman in a village near Addis Ababa.  She was very young and did not have much money.  She wanted to finish school.  She needed to make money for her family.  She left her child in the care of the orphanage and allowed her to be placed for adoption.  

In September 2010 we traveled to Ethiopia and attended court for our precious daughter.  We came back home and waited for Immigration approval.  One month later, we traveled back to Ethiopia to bring her home.  She was 19 months old when we stepped on US soil and she became a US citizen.  2 1/2 years have passed and every day is a blessing with this little girl.  We again have a tie to a country we never imagined we would.  We are forever grateful to the people of Ethiopia who entrusted us with this precious little girl.

Children in Ethiopia are in different circumstances than children in China.  Children in Ethiopia are orphaned due mainly to poverty and death of their parents due to illness.  Again, we could not help them all, but we could help one.  Forever our daughter.  No longer an orphan.  
Sara Joy Edom Roach

We thought we were done.  Our family complete.  God had other plans for our family though.  In 2011 we began to feel the call to adopt again.  We honestly thought ourselves that we were crazy.  No need to share it with others and have them tell us they thought we were crazy!  Certainly God was not talking to us, not calling us to adopt again.  We were nervous.  I was working at the time and I was working long, stressful hours.  Tim was working long, stressful hours as well.  We didn't feel like we had enough time for the kids currently in our home, let alone adding another, but the tug on our heart was clear.  We couldn't deny it.  We began thinking about countries.  We felt our best bet was an adoption from India.  We started the process and believe it or not, got scared.  Like "terrified" scared.  We lost some money, but had not gotten too far in the process when we decided we needed to wait.  We need to hear God louder (and boy was He going to speak louder to us!!!).

We listened and He still told us adoption was in our future.  We considered domestic adoption.  We contacted agencies and even began a birthmother letter.  We followed some leads as we were open to biracial or minority adoptions... but nothing panned out like we thought.  Then we were contacted by a friend (who coincidently adopted the same time we did from Ethiopia) regarding a child in Ghana.

Ghana... really?  I never thought of adoption from Ghana.  Well, this friend was the instrument God used to pry our minds open to Ghana.  The child that was initially presented was not the one for our family due to some circumstances that we weren't prepared for in terms of the process of adopting from Ghana.  Instead we looked at some children available from an orphanage in Ghana.  I found a four year old girl - Isabella.  She was not what we had expected in terms of a child.  We were looking for a child younger than Sara who was 3 at the time - NOT older.  I knew when I saw her face though, that it was the face of my daughter.
The picture that captured my heart - I knew she was our daughter!  Our Isabella!

Isabella - our FINAL adopted treasure.  Our last ONE.  Ghana, our final country of adoption.  The end of the story was now known.  Or so we thought.... through a series of events that could have only been orchestrated by the hand of God, we learned through another adoptive family that had traveled to Isabella's foster care home just the WEEK before we were to leave to Ghana to meet her, that Isabella had an older half brother and half sister.  We wrestled with the thought.  I said no.  I'm NOT adopting three.  God laughed I'm sure :)

We decided to travel to Ghana to meet Isabella, and since the other two children were in the same foster care home, we would meet them as well.  The word "LOVE" does not express what we felt for all three of these kids.  They were ours.  They were family.  They were our treasures.  They were my son and daughters!  Ghana gave us THREE blessings.  We are currently waiting for our Mary, Nate and Isabella to come home to us.  We passed court for the three of them in Ghana in March of this year.  Due to some unforeseen delays on the Ghana side, they are not yet home, but we are preparing for their homecoming and pray that it is soon!  Ghana blessed us three times over.  Three - orphans no more!  Three children finding a forever home!
Blessed three times over with our oldest Ghanian daughter Mary, middle son Nathaniel and youngest Ghanian our Isabella!

In Ghana, as in Ethiopia, children are orphaned due mainly to poverty and death of their parents to illness.  AIDS is a common culprit.  Our childrens' parents are living.  The kids and their mom were abandoned by their father after the kids were born.   The mom tried desperately to raise the children, even asking for assistance from extended family, but eventually the children had to come back to her and she could not care for them on her own.  She made the difficult decision to place them in orphanage care and place them for adoption.  We are so thankful for the choice that she made and the people that she placed our now children with.  We will forever be grateful to Ghana for entrusting us to these three beautiful treasures.  We are forever tied to their birth country!

When you look at our family, you can't help but see diversity. There are two white parents, one half white / half Korean son, one Chinese daughter, one Ethiopian daughter and soon to be three Ghanians (one son and two daughters) at our dining room table.  In my mind, nothing could be more beautiful, with the exception of adding more diversity.  Our family is not typical, but it is beautiful.  Our family is unique. It represents LOVE though - love and acceptance for all, regardless of race, regardless of age, regardless of original expectations of what our family would look like, regardless of country of origin.... Beautiful regardless!

Did you know that there are an estimated between 132 and 142 million orphans in the world?  Look through this post... see the pictures of my children (with the exception of Cameron)?  These were the faces of orphans - ONCE orphans - five of them, but orphans no more!  Adoption is such a beautiful way to build a family.  I can't think of a way that God has blessed me more - through my own adoption into His forever family and through the blessing of adoption of five of my children into my life.

I never would have in a million years thought when that adoption seed was planted so long ago, that I'd adopt not just one but FIVE! And not just from Asia, but spanning two continents and three countries.  

There are so many questions related to adoption that families might have when thinking about the adoption process and the possibility of adoption for their family:

Will I be able to love this child like my own?  The answer to that is NO.  You will not be able to love an adopted child LIKE they are your own, because they ARE your own.  I see absolutely NO difference in my love for my adopted children and my bio child.  No difference at all.  They become yours.  They don't become "like yours".  Your heart will accept them fully.  The only example worth of giving is how Christ accepted me.  He doesn't love me "like" I'm His.  He loves me AS His.  It's a fair question though.  Many people wonder if they can love a child that is not biologically theirs as much as one that is.  I can only go from my own personal experience, and that answer is yes.  I did and I do.  No difference.

I'm single.  Does God call me to care for the orphan?  Yes.  God does not specify that you have to be married to care for the orphan.  I adopted as a single parent.  Unfortunately, while God does not limit us in our caring for the orphan as single parents, some countries do.  There are countries that will not allow adoption of children to single parents.  I was very lucky in that when I adopted Anna, China allowed adoption to single parents, although the number was limited. While China no longer allows adoption of children to single parents (except for maybe special needs children) there are many countries that do allow adoption to single parents.  You just need to dig deep into the country requirements and find the country that works for you.  It might be right here in the US!

What about finances?  Isn't adoption expensive?  How could we afford it?  It's true.  Adoption is expensive.  International adoption as well as domestic adoption can be very expensive. International adoption has an added expense of travel to / from the country of origin of the child, at least in most cases.  Some countries allow children to be escorted home.  I am not going to go into detail here regarding adoption expenses.  I typically only discuss that information with people who are seriously interested in adoption.  One thing that must be made clear - there is no "cost" associated with my child.  I did not spend any money "purchasing" my children.  Fees associated with adoption, both International and Domestic are directly related to work that is required to legally adopt children.  Attorneys are paid, Agencies that coordinate adoptions are paid.  In some cases, the legitimate expenses of the birth mother are paid.  In International adoption, overseas attorneys are paid.  Immigration fees.  Foster care fees.  I did not pay for my child.  Each child is priceless.  The adoption process is what holds the expense.  While adoption is expensive, there are ways to help off-set the cost of adoption.  Depending on financial situations, there are grants available.  Fundraisers are plentiful.  Additionally there is a federal adoption tax credit that is currently in place that is available once your adoption is complete.  Finally, in many states foster care / adoption is not nearly as expensive, most time the families only pay for the cost associated with the home study, if even that.  I've put my contact information at the end of the post if you would like to discuss the financial aspect with me further.

I wouldn't know where to begin even if I wanted to adopt!  That is where other adoptive families come in.  We can be a wealth of free information to help start your process.  Additionally, for country specific information, a reputable adoption agency will help walk you through the process required for each country.

Won't my family "stick out" if my children don't look like me?  Well, sure.  No one looks at my family and thinks, "Wow, those kids look exactly like their parents".  None of my kids look like me... even the one that is biologically mine.  I often play the game of - which one of these kids is not like the other.  It's funny the responses I get.  One lady said that Sara (my daughter from Ethiopia) looked exactly like me!  I had to laugh at that!  I was never hung up on whether my children would look like me.  First, I don't find myself super attractive where I'd want to bless my children with my physical appearance.  Second, as I said, just because a child is born to you, it doesn't mean he / she will look like you.  My family is not the typical family - and I find that beautiful.  The diversity in our family opens the door for people to ask about and for me to talk about the JOY of adoption!

I'd love to share more of my adoption journey with you.  If you are a family considering adoption and have any questions regarding it, I'd love to answer any questions you have.  I can tell you how we managed financially.  I can tell you our fears, our hopes, our desires.  I can tell you the work that goes into it and the LOVE that comes out of it.  I can tell you the pain of the process and the JOY of the journey.  Why NOT consider adoption?  Why not give a home to a child in need?  Some of the children most in need are older children, sibling groups and special needs children - even children with minor, correctable special needs.  Could you open your heart and your home to one (or more) of these kids?  

If you have any questions regarding adoption, again, please do not hesitate to contact me:  You can friend me on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/charity.roach
You can post a comment on this blog post (see comments below)
Or you can send me an e-mail directly to Charity .  I'd love to answer any questions you might have.  Nothing regarding adoption is off limits for those who are seriously interested in learning more about adoption.  

Adoption is not "second best".  Adoption is not a "last resort".  Not for our family.  For our family, adoption is nothing short of a miracle.  Each of our children have been woven into the fabric of our family creating the most unique, beautiful fabric I could ever imagine.  A is for "Adoption"!

In Christ,


TaMara Sloan said...

Your heart for adoption just shines through this post. You have truly blessed these 5 children by adding them to your family, but I'm sure that that blessing has been returned to you a hundredfold.

BTW, my A post is going live tonight at midnight so I'll link up tomorrow. :)

sarita edgerton said...

I am adopted and this will be my A for the link up! But, from the adoptee side. I cried when I read this at your heart! Beautiful! I can't wait to see a picture of your WHOLE family once your precious 3 come home!

Tara Norman said...

Beautiful!! Thank you for sharing & I can't wait to see what God with these beautiful kiddos!

TheProverbs31Mama said...

This really touched my heart! I already knew much of your story, but I was glad to be able to read the entire thing written out step-by-step. I'm praying for Mary, Nate, and Isabella to come home SOON!!!