Ghana ~ Trip 1, Love

I have spent the last 15 years with Sam.  We’ve had rough patches, no doubt.  The valleys in our history were tumultuous and sorrowful…but they made way to the peaks.

When Sam & I were married, 12+ years ago, we discussed having children.  Being an only child, Sam was happy having just one to call our own.  We had agreed very early on that we would never seek fertility treatments or any other medical intervention if God did not bless us with children in my womb.  There are millions of children in this world in need of a family, and we never cared if children came to us the old fashioned way.  We just wanted to be a family.  Well, God did bless us with not only one, but two AMAZING “fruits of our loins.”  Both came into this world after long, complicated pregnancies.  Not both were planned by us, but they were planned by the Maker of the Universe…and we are so very thankful for that!

Even with two beautiful girls, the idea of adoption had never left my heart.  Sam, however, had no interest.  Remember, he made it very clear that ONE child was all he desired originally & we had already doubled that!  I let it go & focused on our daughters.  Thanking God each day for them.

In 2007, I had the opportunity to travel to Rwanda on a mission trip.  As part of an all-female mission team, our focus was compassionate ministry.  We did our best to be the hands and feet of Jesus…visiting widows, orphans, the terminally ill.  It was on this trip that God opened my eyes, and broke my heart for children residing in orphanages around the world.  That heartbreak planted a new seed in my heart for adoption.  Before walking through the largest orphanage in Rwanda, I had been completely sheltered from what orphan existence truly looked like.  I had never before seen children so emotionally scorn…so emotionally absent.  Silence filled the nursery that house over a dozen babies.  And then there was Maria.  Oh sweet Maria.  I have no photos of her other than the images that never leave my mind.  She was the same age as Mya…at that time, 2 years old.  She had a tattered pink dress and bare feet running across the lava rock ground that is innately Rwandan.  She held my long,brown skirt…following wherever I went…breaking my heart into a million tiny pieces each time I gazed down at her precious, fly-covered face.  Oh that face…God, let me never forget that face…for it was that tiny, gooey, dirty face that opened my heart to international adoption.  That little angel had done nothing to deserve the life she was handed.  She was abandoned alongside a road.  Someone found her & brought her to the orphanage…when they could have just let her die.  Thank God for that good samaritan!  I wish I could say there is some fabulous happy ending for Maria…and maybe there is…but I don’t know it.  I’ve tried reaching out to the orphanage, but have not had any luck finding that sweet little girl that stole my heart 4 years ago.  But it is because if her, that I sit here in Ghana, typing this blog.

When I came home from Rwanda, I was gung-ho ready to take on the world…adopting every child I could fit into our (then 850 sq ft) house…starting with Maria.  Much to my dismay, Sam was NOT on board.

Crushing blow there.

I had been praying for Sam’s heart to be open to this before I even set foot on the plane back to the States, as I knew deep within my soul that this was our future…but my timing and God’s were VASTLY different.  Sam saw no need to grow our family.

I couldn’t shake the depth of this ache, so I continued to pray…and began to research adoption.  I gathered information about foster adoption and international adoption.  We had no need for a baby.  There are thousands of parents out there longing to adopt the newborns born in the US…we (or rather I) felt called to older children…the ones considered less likely to find a home, simply because of their age.  Did you know that children are labeled SPECIAL NEEDS or HARD TO PLACE simply because they have a sibling or are over the age of 4?!  Seriously!!  In my research I learned that Rwanda was not open to international adoption.  Another crushing blow, as I wanted desperately to bring Maria out of that orphanage and into our home.  Again, God’s plan, not mine, was unfolding.

After about 6 months of zero progress in Sam’s heart, I stopped talking about it.  I stopped researching.  I stopped trying to convince him.  But I never stopped praying.  “Please God, change his heart!!” I would cry out, time and time again.  NOTHING.  Eventually, however, my prayers evolved.  The pain was unbearable some days, so I would plead with God “Please, if this desire is truly from you, change Sam’s heart to be in willingness to obey.  If this desire within me is not from you, then please change my heart and take away this pain.”  Amazing how things happen when the heart of the prayer is truly seeking God’s will and surrendering our own!  In December 2009, Sam allowed his heart to be opened and he told me he was ready to pursue adoption!!!!

THANK YOU JESUS!!!

Well, needless to say, I went into full-blown research and analysis mode.  I requested information packets from at least 30 different agencies, representing about 20 different country programs.  After learning that Rwanda had since opened to international adoption and that we met all their requirements as a prospective adoptive family, we applied to an agency & officially began our “paper chase”.  God closed that door abruptly when Rwanda suspended adoptions in August 2010, before our dossier was submitted.

More heartbreak.  Lots of tears.  NOW WHAT GOD???

More research lead us to Ghana…and our children.  We first saw their photo in February of this year.  We have been formally matched with them since March and they became legally ours on September 16th.

We arrived in Ghana, and met OUR CHILDREN on October 11th.  In the week and a half we’ve had together, I am in awe of what God can and does do for those who allow him to.  You see, as much as I love these little angels lying next to me, seeing my husband love and care for them in the same way he loves & cares for the girls we’ve birthed into our family…WOW!  I couldn’t be happier that we’ve added William Charles Schrecengost and Cora Miriam Esi Schrecengost to our family, but seeing God answer my prayers in the way He has molded my husband into the adoptive Daddy beside me is, quite possibly, the single greatest thing I could have ever wished for.

I am so in love with this man it is beyond words.  Thank you for choosing to marry me, Sammy!  Thank you for trusting God with our lives and for following HIM, even when it doesn’t make sense.  You are my everything…and I’m so glad all FOUR of our children are blessed to call you Daddy! ♥

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