Hi everyone. Things change quickly at the Nunnally household.
Beth and I have had a love/hate relationship with adoption. We began to feel like adopting a child was the right thing for our family about three years ago. At that time we began to pursue international adoption from the nation of Rwanda (in Africa). That long and tedious process came to screeching halt in August of 2011. We were within weeks of having our documents on Rwandan soil when the Rwandan government closed the country to adoptive parents. We were devastated and struggled through two months of personal heartache. Determined to continue, we applied with the minority program at Open Door Adoption Agency in our home town. And we waited.
Due to a comedy of errors at the church I serve this past year, Beth and I found ourselves in a place once again where our chance to adopt was essentially over. It seemed like the circumstance would never line up for us to bring another child into our family. And we quickly lost hope. So much so that we packed up our adoption files and put them in a box in the attic and gave away our baby stuff. We made the announcement that we were leaving TFUMC a month ago to plant a church. Something had to give…and adoption was getting the pink slip. We informed Open Door of our changing life status and told them we would contact them soon to officially pull our names from the list of potential families. Then we forgot about it. For good. We concentrated on making contacts in our future community, finishing up at TFUMC, and transitioning the three children we already had. We began to adjust to our new reality.
Last Saturday, we received a call in the middle of dinner from the adoption agency that a birth mother has chosen our family to place her newborn son with. That wasn’t supposed to happen, you know. After all we had it on our “to do” list to swing by the agency and pull our application permanently. We just didn’t make it to the agency that week. We made arrangements for our children, dropped everything and drove several hours to the hospital. After two days of tense conversations and waiting, we brought a four day old baby boy home.
For those who know us, we talk a lot about God’s love. But rarely have I seen the power
of God’s love demonstrated to me on such a personal level. I’ve been confident to pray for God’s miraculous intervention in the lives of others. But never have I seen God display that same love for us in our deepest moment of helplessness. He did. And that gives me the strength and hope to move forward into all the other areas he’s leading me towards.Honestly, we’re still a little in shock about all of this. After all, we had completely given up on the idea of having another child through adoption. And then, with days to spare, it feels like God wrestled the entire world into submission to give us our hearts’ desire. The funny thing is, we have seen God do some really important things for us. But they were wrapped in the fact that they would benefit others also. We’ve prayed for people and watched God do some neat stuff. We’ve seen God change circumstances for us because it ultimately benefitted other people. But this one was different – it was for no one but us. And it’s become a healing agent for us in a time of struggle. I have been more at peace in the last few days than I have been in the last year.
I don’t normally use this blog to promote ministry opportunities but I’m going to make an exception here. I recently joined the board of Homes of Hope International – an organization that finds host homes for Ukrainian orphans during the Summer. The newly formed program was a tremendous blessing to those who participated last year. Simply the chance to open up a home to an orphan for a few months impacts the lives of the host family and the children in a unique way. If your church is considering an adoption initiative or foster care, please consider HoH as well.
Homes of Hope International is currently looking for churches in the Southeastern U.S. to partner with so that more children can be part of this special opportunity. Please pass this info along to your church staff if you think they may be interested. Feel free to contact me with any questions you have or contact the director, Mary Beth, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For those who have been following our adoption story (here, here and here), I wanted to update you again since many have not heard how we have “adjusted” in recent months. Initially we planned to adopt a son from Rwanda and set out on a year and half journey. With a month or two to go, Rwanda closed its doors to adoptive parents who did not have their documents on Rwandan soil. The reason for this was so Rwanda could become Hague “compliant.” You’ll be happy to know that those families who’s dossiers made it to Rwanda before the deadline are being processed quickly and that many families will see their new family members soon. We rejoice with them over this.
Beth and I spent some time soul-searching and decided to move forward with adoption through other means. We fully intend to internationally adopt a son from Rwanda. But in the meantime, we are domestically adopting a son through a local adoption agency’s minority program. We are very close to being “paper ready” to adopt (once again) but in the USA this time. This really isn’t that big of an adjustment for us – we had always hoped to adopt two boys.
Now, this becomes a new journey for us. Transracial adoption is more easily accepted when the adoption is international. When you adopt from Africa, your child looks African. But when you purposefully set out to adopt a minority child domestically, people have been known to not be as accommodating. You are specifically choosing someone outside your race and for many this crosses lines. And surprisingly, those most angered are not the ones you may expect. Here’s a link that delves into that controversy some more. So, we realize we are embarking upon a journey that has taken a different turn.
We’re are quite comfortable with that. All children need a home – those in the United States and abroad. They all need loving families. Not perfect families. Loving ones. Maybe God will speak to you the same way he has to us. Maybe the question to ask is not “Why adopt?” Maybe the question is “Why not?”
Charles Dickens was right – the best and the worst of times for the Nunnally family lately.
The Best: after working throughout my doctoral studies as well as the last two years, Beth resigned her position to come be with our three daughters this past month. Is she excited? Yep. Probably a little afraid? Yep. But it seems to be the best choice for our family. It allows us to be around our children more and also frees me to be a little more flexible with my ministry schedule. Now, I’m gonna brag on my wife a bit. Beth is a really amazing person. Really, she is. She is a great mother and has always desired to be with our kids. When circumstances made that difficult, she easily shifted back to work. She made a personal sacrifice for our family. But here’s the thing: she didn’t just collect a paycheck – Beth excelled at what she did. Now that’s something totally different. It speaks to her internal drive that says “I will be excellent at anything I attempt.” That motivation made her a great stay-at-home mom and it made her a great regional director. The job really was inconsequential. I hope I can be like that, too. Beth not only has my love. She has my respect. Every spouse needs both.
The Worst: I have very sad news about our Rwandan adoption. We found this out about a month ago but honestly haven’t known how to tell people about it. So now that the initial grief is over, we feel like we can share. Due to a recent decision to become Hague Convention compliant, Rwanda closed its doors to all adoptive parents on August 31st. Those who had already filed their dossiers with the Rwandan government are still considered in process. However, those who had not quite gotten theirs in yet (like us) are completely out of luck. Compliance usually takes a good while to achieve - somewhere between a year to three depending of the speed of the government. We were eight weeks from having our dossier filed. We were devastated. The girls were listening to African music at bedtime and we were tossing around names and thinking about how to rearrange the furniture. Kinda like a miscarriage at 6 months or something. We still plan to adopt…we just need some time to regroup.
I’ve spent lots of time thinking about what’s happened so allow me to ”theologize” for a moment about this. Many people have told me that this is for some unforeseen reason. That the answer will become clear. That somehow God was looking out for us and that God has a special child picked out just for us. People mean well and I feel their sympathy for us. And maybe they are right. But here’s what I think: God has called all of us to live out the gospel in various ways of our own initiation. One of the ways we felt God leading us was to adopt. But I don’t think the Rwandan government’s choice to become Hague compliant has anything to do with God one way or the other. It was simply a legislative decision to better protect children. And as for the particular child God has ordained for us? Tell that to the millions of orphans waiting for a home. If I could I would adopt every one…because they all deserve a parent’s love.
The truth is we had time to file our dossier. We had done 95% of the paperwork and simply needed authentication from the State. God did not stall us to bring us something better. We did other things instead. Play practice. Doctor’s appointments. Air conditioning repair. You name it – it came up. And so we made the conscientious choice to deal with the immediate issues rather than fight for the most important. Everybody has the choice to determine what’s important for their family. We’re not angry at ourselves – we’re human and became distracted. And we’ve learned this lesson as a couple before…but this time the pain associated with our lack of prioritization will stick with us.
Give God a break – he’s not the author of our heartache. His heart aches for our loss and the orphans who are left waiting. There are millions of other children who need a home. We’re not done with adoption yet. But you can bet we’ll be more diligent this time around.
Happy belated Father’s Day!
Many of you know that we are in the middle of a journey to adopt our fourth child – an infant son from Rwanda. Of course, this will bring a dynamic to our family that is rare. Adoption is one thing. Transracial adoption is another thing altogether. Yet, we’re confident in our decision and look forward to our adventure together as a family.
We’ve been attempting to incorporate adoption into conversations with our children in ways that will reach them. Adults want to sit down and slowly discuss the parameters of a decision and how it may impact us. Kids don’t do this for two main reasons: 1) they don’t sit down and 2) they live in the present. That may be why they are happier than most adults (but that’s for another post, isn’t it?). So, Beth and I have been trying to come up with unconventional ways to talk with the kids about adoption. Now, one thing we don’t spend a ton of time on is telling just how different their brother will look from them. They already know that and are making that adjustment in their own way. We address it when they bring it up. We also don’t spend any time relaying any spiritual implications. What’s the point? We want them to love their brother for who he is, not what he may “represent” to other Christians.
On the way to work the other day, Beth called me and mentioned how pertinent the lyrics to Michael Bublé’s song “Haven’t Met You Yet” were to adoption. So we decided to play it for our children and talk about how much it reminded us of their baby brother-to-be. Here are some of the lyrics:
I might have to wait, I’ll never give up
I guess it’s half timing and the other half’s luck
Wherever you are, whenever it’s right
You’ll come outta nowhere and into my life
And I know that we can be so amazing
And baby your love is gonna change me
And now I can see every possibility
Somehow I know that it’ll all turn out
You’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
I promise you kid I’ll give so much more than I get
I just haven’t met you yet
They say all’s fair in love and war
But I won’t need to fight it
We’ll get it right and we’ll be united
Oh you know it’ll all turn out
And you’ll make me work so we can work to work it out
I promise you kid to give so much more than I get yeah
I just haven’t met you yet
So we dance around the house to this video at least once a week and remind them of why it means something special to us as a family. I guess the point in all of this is to find what speaks to the heart of a child. They spend hours each day reaching up to the expectations of adults. But its’s much more rewarding to watch their faces light up when you dance around the room while easing them into a new paradigm…