“Are you getting a baby?” That seems to be another popular question. No, we’re not adopting a baby. It’s not that we don’t love babies; I mean there’s nothing better than snuggling with a sweet baby and watching them fall asleep in your arms, but we knew immediately that a baby was not part of our adoption plan. We are adopting an older child. Older children are often the forgotten ones.

When we officially began this process our youngest had just turned 9, and the oldest was 22, and there were 3 more in the middle. We thought about our kids and the beautiful way God has brought redemption over their lives, and we thought about the challenges they’ve experienced and how hard life would be if they didn’t have a family. And we knew that we could be “that” family for another child.

The statistics are startling. Seventy five percent of children waiting around the world are over age 5, and the reality for orphans in many countries is grim. They live on the streets at age 15, as orphan care ends in the middle of the teen years. This pierced my heart as I considered my 3 teenagers and tried to imagine them living on their own with no one to help them, no one to encourage them to pursue their dreams, no one to tell them that they are capable of greatness. How would they survive with no one empowering them to live the love of family, and to know the love of God?

My kids have enough trouble getting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher without a reminder!

And we knew that we could do something for this child. We knew that somewhere, potentially far across the globe, God had a child destined for our family. But we didn’t just settle in on an older child. We were lead to go one step further. In working with Bethany Christian Services, we discovered that they had a waiting list of children, a campaign of 400 special children, and we knew our child was on that list. These children are predominantly “older” and have some kind of special need. “Special need” is a broad category. Sometimes this simply means that the child is 5 years of age or older, because that, in and of itself is a special need. It could also mean that they have medical, emotional or behavioral need. Many conditions that are difficult to treat in foreign countries are easily manageable in the United States. You can discover more about Bethany Christian Services and These 400 here.  All of these things reinforced our decision to begin our international adoption.

We submitted our application in July 2014, but did not specify a particular country. We knew that each country had its own set of parameters. Some countries would disqualify us because we already had 4 children at home, since Dan is 11 years older than me, some would disqualify us based on his age. We told Bethany Christian that we were open to the countries that would consider us to be favorable candidates for adoption.

A few weeks later we received an exciting email—we had 3 choices: Hong Kong, Bulgaria and South Africa. Our family was secretly hoping to adopt from an African nation (let me just say our kids were very vocal about this), so it was an easy choice: South Africa!

And with this one decision our hearts were knit to a nation we did not yet know, to a child we have not met, but to one who already has captured our affection.

I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness.  Jeremiah 31:3