When our youngest child turned 18, my husband, Greg, thought that we could relax, enjoy our grandchildren, and just “grow old together.” But in my heart I knew that we weren’t complete … I wanted to adopt. Greg did not feel the same way.
I literally wept and prayed, “God, you either have to change my heart or my husband’s heart. Would You put something in front of Greg that will help him see Your will concerning this?”
Since I was a teenager I believed that someday I would adopt. My grandmother, Louella, had been adopted, so I knew that it was possible to love someone else’s child just as much as if they had been born to you.
When Louella first arrived at her new home, she was wearing beautiful gold-pierced earrings. Later she gave those earrings to my mother, and when I was a little girl I would peer inside Mother’s dark green jewelry box and think about my grandmother wearing those earrings as a small child. Although I never knew my grandmother Louella, her story touched something deep inside me.
Decades later, some of Greg and my friends adopted a Belarusian girl named Natasha. Then we met Natasha’s best friend from the same orphan’s home, Ludmilla. Although there was something that called me to this 15-year-old girl, Greg felt differently. He thought adopting was for exceptional people who were much better equipped than we were. And he thought that my desire to adopt was an unrealistic whim and that we should just concentrate on our family. That’s when I asked God to either change Greg’s heart or mine.
When I actually left my desire to adopt in God’s hands, I felt a great peace. Little did I know that He would prompt my husband to tune into “FamilyLife Today.” Greg heard the interviews of Mary Beth and Steven Curtis Chapman about adoption—their words changed our lives forever.
Several days after hearing the “FamilyLife Today” broadcasts, Greg sat next to me and said, “I have had a change of heart. I believe that we are supposed to adopt Ludmilla.” He explained that he had heard the Chapmans’ story and that it struck him that they weren’t all that different from us. Yes, they had gifts and strengths, but they also had human weaknesses.
Greg realized that the Chapmans didn’t have everything figured out and under control when they adopted—that they were just committed to doing what God is always doing—helping the helpless. Listening to the program helped Greg establish God’s priorities for our life. It centered him on what God’s Word said about adoption and helped him see that he was not alone in his doubts and concerns.
During our next conversation with Ludmilla, we discovered that she had a younger sister named Luboff (age 14 at the time) who was at a different orphan's home. My husband's heart had been so completely changed that he immediately accepted the idea of adopting two Belarusian teenagers.
We flew to Belarus (a country near Moscow) in May 2005, to bring the girls home. We were interviewed there on national television because Ludmilla was the oldest orphan from Belarus ever adopted. The media wanted to know why anyone would want to adopt a teenager.
During the interview the young woman asked, “Are you doing this because you don't want to have an empty nest? Are you afraid of being alone?” I started to laugh and replied, “It would be wonderful to have the house to ourselves, to have time for ourselves. However, God has called us to do this and I know that even though it may be difficult, I am doing what He wants me to do.”
When Greg I were in Belarus, we spent some time at the orphan's boarding school. We had a chance to see what life was like for these kids. My daughters have told me of the day that they watched one of their teachers getting stabbed in the classroom. They talked about the pain, the hunger, the filth, and the fear that little girls have of going anywhere by themselves.
The reason I mention this is that one of the hardest things I have ever done was to walk out of that school with only two orphans. When we left with our two new daughters dressed in the nice clothes we had bought for them, the other children lined up to watch us go. The look on their faces clearly said, “Why not me? Why did you choose them?”
Many couples are afraid to adopt older children as we did. I would never lie and say it has been easy. I will say that by following God's will for us and being faithful to keep loving these girls, we have learned more about ourselves, God's faithfulness, and the real meaning of unconditional love than we ever could have without them. They have taught us far more than we could ever teach them. I can't imagine my life without them now, any more than I could imagine not having one of my four biological children.
My husband and I are praying about whether or not we should adopt again. We still don't know, but we do know that God has called us to be involved in adoption advocacy. All of our four biological children have felt a call to adopt. One of our daughters is in the process now.
God used “FamilyLife Today” to change my husband’s heart and the lives of two teenage girls. I hope that more Christians hear His call to adopt and follow.
Reprinted with permission from The Family Room. You can receive the free e-zine by e-mail every month.
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Walt and Ann Bealke have been married for a long time, just not to each other. They are now 5 years into their marriage (the third for each of them), and are seeing God redeem their pasts and build a Gospel-centered marriage.
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