Friday, July 17, 2009

letter to family & friends...

Dear Family and Friends ~ July 16, 2009
Unsuspecting. We were unsuspecting. Last Thursday we called friends with the intention to only make plans for dinner. We ended up with a picture of a precious 18 month old girl from China. Her name is Zhang. She is beautiful. She is very sick. She needs heart surgery. She needs a home. In a matter of days we had decided to pursue Zhang. Many of you know that for years this has been the desire of my heart. It was Rick, however, that recently reopened this door. Early this spring, Rick suggested we attend a meeting on adoption at our church. I told him to go. ”I don’t need to go…YOU do,” were my exact words. He went. Of course, I snuck in the back row and sat next to him. Was it possible that we were now on the same page? Yes. God was stirring this desire in both of our hearts. (Though I secretly believed Rick had some major catching up to do). So, we thought: We’ll pray and we’ll start investigating. Now, I am not sure exactly what that was supposed to mean…but before we could even launch our Big Investigation…God brought us a face and a name and a story. We couldn’t be more ill prepared. We didn’t have an agency, a dossier, a home study…we didn’t have one piece of paper which would suggest that we were on the path to adoption. But…we had willing hearts. Within days of discovering Zhang we have applied for her adoption. In a rush of paperwork and phone calls we submitted an online application for this child and were sort of “pre approved” last Monday. Believe it or not, as I am typing this letter, the document of approval just landed in my inbox. This week we are walking two paths. One is the path of the correct and formal adoption process – long, confusing and tedious. The second path is that of learning everything we possibly can about Zhang’s medical issues. I am one of the least medically inclined people I know. I struggle even to give my children band aids and Tylenol, And Yet have been given the assignment to learn everything I can about congenital heart disease. God, however, is a God of the “And Yet...” We know that. We have seen that. We trust that.
We have much to ask of you, friends. Though we believe that we are in so many ways the most ill prepared, we believe also we are the most well surrounded. I cannot imagine a better, stronger, more supportive group of people than the people we call friends. Sitting at the pool yesterday with my children I jotted on the back of my grocery list 26 reasons why I believe we are being lead down this path. YOU were all on that list. We couldn’t be more thankful for the community of friends and family which surround us. We need everything at this point. We are not prepared financially to take this giant step. Again, we were only thinking in terms of “investigation.” We are researching several directions for how to raise the money to adopt - an adoption in China rests somewhere around the $30,000 mark. This is daunting…However, we believe the decision to pursue Zhang cannot be a financial decision. AND, our God is, indeed, God of the daunting. Our Father has provided in the past, we are confident He will provide in our future. If you know of any grants, foundations, etc…that provide for adoption, please send them our way. We will keep you posted on that need. This is a need that is somewhat hard to share. We realize full well that our lifestyle does not reflect needy. We have a nice home, cars and kids in Christian schooling. We can only say we are grateful for these things, but that we do not operate with any excess. Rick and I have struggled with this throughout the week. The thought that ran wild in my brain yesterday was that we don’t do things like this because we have too much. We don’t have $30,000 hidden anywhere…but we do have too much. Our “Too Much” keeps us busy and distracted and even sometimes from taking these kinds of steps. It keeps us focusing on what we Want and forgetting to look to God for what we really Need.
Right now we are most in need of your prayers. We believe that we are to continue walking this path. After speaking with the pediatric cardiologist and other medical people, we know this situation is not ideal. Her heart issues are quite complex. She had open heart surgery just last week in China….and will at the very least need another major surgery in 6 months. She has not only one problem with her heart, but multiple problems. The news was discouraging….but within hours God brought us more information which has given us hope for Zhang. We don’t know what her future holds…but we do know Who holds her future and for now, that might just have to be enough.
It was just a year ago yesterday that Zhang was left in a corridor with nothing more than a note pinned to her. She was abandoned at just 6 months of age. All we have from her file is that she was wearing a yellow jump suit and wrapped in a black and white blanket. The note listed only her birthday: February 5th…the same as our oldest daughter, Emily. I write this description with tears flowing…Can you imagine being left in a corridor? Can you imagine possibly having to leave your child in a hallway? We assume her parents had no insurance and found out about the seriousness of her heart issues. This is a somewhat common occurrence in China where there is no Medicaid and no obvious solution for medical care for the poor. Zhang has spent the last year in an orphanage in Guangzhou City. Today she is alone in a hospital recovering from open heart surgery. We believe that even in the seemingly hopeless situation of this child’s life, she deserves a chance to be healed, to be healthy and to come home.
Pray that our family would listen to only God’s voice in this. We can think of 100 reasons why adopting Zhang might not be a good idea for our family of six…BUT not one of those reasons is truly significant. Pray for our discernment, obedience and courage. Please pray for Zhang. You know a little of her story now. You know that she needs an army of pray-ers around her. We are trying our best to get more detailed information from China regarding her health and her prognosis. It is a slow and frustrating process.
If all goes well, we can accomplish our paper work and finish the application process within 5 months – that is the soonest. At that point we will be able to travel to China to bring her home. She needs another surgery in six months, our prayer is that she would be in Atlanta for that one.
Where are our children in this? Overwhelmingly positive. We are so thankful. Emily’s words: “Mommy, all I know is that she doesn’t have a mom and dad and she needs one. “ Sarah Elizabeth was willing this week to pack up her stuff and move out of her room to make space for Baby Zhang. Last night Connor drew a picture to put in her care package. He drew and named all five of our pets thinking that might make her smile. (I, personally, am hoping the Chinese government doesn’t catch wind of the fact that we even have five pets). Tyler, in his quiet way, just said, “Yes, this is good.”
Friends, we don’t for one minute believe this road will be easy. Easy is sometimes so appealing…so attractive. We are content. We have plenty already on our plate. “And Yet,”….. God has chosen to add something more. We don’t know the end of this story. We only know that we are being gently instructed to keep turning the pages….and so we will. We just wanted to make sure you all had a copy.
With Joy. With Sadness. With Hope. With Fear. With Promise. With Love,
Rick and Jody
Emily, Tyler, Sarah Elizabeth and Connor

“Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young --- a place near Your altar,
O Lord Almighty, my King and my God.”
~ Psalm 84:3

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