Friday, September 30, 2011

Mountains, Mustard Seeds & Miracles

About 18 years ago, a tiny little seed had been planted in my heart when I met and became very close to a family whose child had been adopted. As I approached my mid-thirties, and still single, I knew I always wanted to be a Mom and hoped that this time for me would be coming really soon. Little did I know how God would choose for me to take the leap of faith, known as adoption, as a single! It was Mother’s Day 2006, singing in the choir at church, a baby dedication was going on. There was a beautiful single lady there dedicating her adopted daughter to the Lord. At the moment that she was reading her child’s life verse, I distinctly remember hearing an audible voice that said “You can do this too!” In fact, it was so audible that I turned to the person next to me and asked “What did you say?” But, I knew all along whose voice it was. I took two years to pray through this revelation and to get finances in order, and choosing just the right agency for me. But the whole time I was thinking that this would be the craziest thing I have ever chosen to do. I mean, who CHOOSES to be a single Mom? They have to be crazy, right?! During this time, I came to the conclusion that adoption really is at the very core of God’s heart, and that YES, He does sometimes call us to do “crazy” things, just so that HE can show us HIS faithfulness.

I chose Lifeline for a number of reasons, but primarily because of their Christian commitment. I needed to know that those who were making decisions on my behalf were indeed praying for me. When starting the process, I was told it would take about 18 months, so I went in patiently waiting and going through the process, but after the 18 months and NO child, I became very weary and worrisome of my journey. There were some really dark days, especially as I began looking at files of the special needs children from Peru. I would read a file and cry and stay awake all night for weeks on end until I agreed with God that this wasn’t the child for me. After reading the first file, I was a bit frustrated with God, why would He ask me to read the file of a sweet, precious, beautiful child and that child not be the one for me. My answer from Him… “so that you might pray for this child for her entire life.” Wow! God reminded me that I may be the only person who ever prays for this child….wow! Unfortunately, the plight of millions of orphans around the world is often misunderstood or ignored by so many. So, as I continued through the darkness, I had to remind myself daily of God’s goodness, of how God ALWAYS works thing to the good of those who love Him and are called according to HIS purpose (Romans 8:28). It was during this time that a faithful friend, who spent countless hours praying for me and encouraging me, gave me a bracelet with Matthew 17:20 on it (“...If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will be done for you”). Have you ever really seen a mustard seed? They are so, so small. Yet, God promised that if I could have even just enough faith to be the size of a mustard seed, NOTHING would be impossible. But, I had to hold onto this verse with a fierceness I have never had before and daily remind myself of HIS promise.

After a couple of months of not viewing files because they became so overwhelming for me, a name appeared on the Waiting Angels list for Peru. I didn’t want to read any more files, but I kept being drawn to this name and little girl, like a moth to a flame. Finally, after much prayer, because I couldn’t get her off of my mind, I requested to see her file. I received her file and after reading it for the first time, had this unexplainable peace. But, there were a LOT of “HUGE mountains” in her life! There were her special needs, the fact that she was part of a sibling group, and the list just went on and on and on. I even asked God if I was “crazy” thinking that this might be the child for me. I asked the Lord to reveal to me whether I should request this child or not. He just kept reminding me of Matthew 17:20. One day, after having her file for about a week, I went to a bookstore I hadn’t been to in a while. There, I saw a baby name book, and I thought, “I know what this name means in Spanish, let me look it up and find out its Christian meaning too. “ The meaning of her name is “Strong in Faith,” and the verse that went along with her name was Matthew 17:20! At the time, I could only take it as encouragement that God heard my prayers, later it became confirmation for me. I kept getting reports on her as they updated them and finally in December decided that I had to take hold of my mustard seed and trust the Lord for HIS answer. I prayed daily, that if she were not the child for me that God would close the door. I was continually reminded of the “mountains” and the little mustard seed God had given me. Finally, the matching day came, December 23rd, 2010. For the first time ever, I fell on my knees before God and said “Lord, not my will, but YOURS be done!” and I meant it. Then, no word for 24 hours... just another opportunity to hold onto that mustard seed a little tighter! Then on December 24th, Christmas Eve, my little mustard seed of faith (and literally no more than that!) made the Mountains MOVE!! What a glorious day it was! God was still in the miracle business. On this very day 2000 years before, he brought the HOPE of the world, and on this day in 2010, He moved mountains so that I and my Precious Peruvian, the child HE had chosen for me before time even began, could walk the journey of life together.

Incredibly, after 2 ½ years of journeying through the “labor” process, I was able to see my little girl for the first time (might I mention, that she is from Cusco Peru, which is right in the heart of the Andes Mountains - God made those mountains that He had moved, a very visual reminder for me, every day I was there). And God, from the beginning of time, had everything orchestrated for our meeting. Because of her special needs, they told me not to expect her to acknowledge me, not to ask for hugs or expect them either. In fact, instead of bringing her to me, they asked me if I would go in and just play with her and the other children. From the moment I entered the play room, she was eyeing me, looking at me, as if to say, ”Hey, don’t I know you?” Finally, after about a half hour, one of her care givers told her, ”Here’s Mamá!” At that moment she looked at me and said, “Mamá?” and I answered her with “Sí.” A smile came across her face and within a few minutes she was giving me kisses and hugs. She allowed me to feed her that very evening and didn’t want to go to bed and leave Mamá. Of course, not every journey happens this way, but I had prayed and held on to that mustard seed, that our attachment would be quick and solid. God showed up BIG time that day in an orphanage in Cusco, Peru, and moved even more mountains that day. There were 2 psychologists, the director of the orphanage, my social worker, and all the orphanage workers were standing in amazement at what God had just done. The psychologist and head of the Cusco SNA (adoption authority) both said, “We have NEVER seen anything like this before!” I was reminded of this other verse about the mustard seed I had been holding onto, “The Kingdom of God… is like a grain of mustard seed, which, when sown on the ground is the smallest of the seed on earth, yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes larger than all garden plants and puts out large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade,” Mark 3:31-32. Not only had God moved mountains, but He planted the seed of my prayers for attachment and then produced a large, beautiful plant, that all might see HIS mighty work!

My time in Peru was an excellent experience. The people there are very generous and very eager to help you. So many Peruvians would look at me and ask if I was taking her to the US; and upon saying yes, they would say, she is such a lucky little girl. I thought, “No, I am the BLESSED one!” There are some things that I think helped my time in Peru. I am a Spanish teacher, and already being fluent in Spanish, I found that it was very helpful, not just from the “getting around town” aspect, but because by using Spanish (even if I did make mistakes). It communicated such a sign of respect for the people there and a respect for their culture. I also believe VERY strongly that it helped immensely with the bonding with my little one. While she only said 5 words when I got her, she still had only heard Spanish her whole life, having her “heart language” spoken to her was such a comfort for her. If I could give one piece of advice for those adopting from a Latin American country, it would be to learn some functional Spanish. You don’t have to be fluent by any means, but it means so much to the people you will be working with and to your child to be able to communicate with you. I would also encourage both parents to have some knowledge of the language because the child will be most drawn to the person that he/she feels understands him or her and can fulfill his/her needs. Peru is a beautiful country, as are the others in the Latin American program! Having traveled extensively throughout Latin America, the people are just amazing.

On this side of the airport, my Precious Peruvian is doing really well. We have had our difficult moments, but they have only been moments. Many of the special needs that were listed in her file have been negated by the doctors here in the US. Does she still have special needs, YES! And there are no guarantees about what her needs will be in the future, but God has been so good. There will be more difficult days ahead because being a part of God’s healing the broken-hearted is a difficult job. But He will continue to provide everything that we need, including the wisdom to know when we need it. In adoption, there are very few “Knowns” and lots of “Unknowns.” It is best to keep this in mind as you journey to your child, but you can also KNOW that God is faithful and still makes miracles happen!

Rebecca Suarez
Lifeline Mom

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Conversations with God

As I walked out of the ultrasound room, back to the waiting area of my Obstetrician’s office, I could hardly breathe. Trying so hard to keep my composure, hearing in my head over and over the words just spoken from the ultrasound technician, “There is no heartbeat, the baby stopped growing two weeks ago”. I was told to go back to see my doctor before I left. I signed in at the desk, just as I had done so many times, but this time knowing that if I as much said hello I was going to lose it. How could I love something so much that I had never seen? How could I have let myself get to such a vulnerable place? This moment took the journey that I had been going on for the past year in a new direction. You see, I had been married for 6 years, we had recently purchased our first home, and we were living the American dream and walking in blessings. So naturally, when we decided it was time to start a family, we never imaged that it would be a struggle. It took a year to get pregnant, which in my head was the longest year of my life at that point. Trying to figure out what I had done wrong and what I could do differently to deserve a child.

I have been a Christian since I was a kid. I have always said I trust God, I have always told people to trust God. So hear I am, with my feelings and my beliefs not lining up. How could I trust a God who gives me a child and takes it away? But I am supposed to trust God. “How could I not?” I would ask myself.

Three months after our loss, the doctor released us to start trying again for a baby. Remembering all the advise we had gotten, my husband being told to not to wear whitey-tightys, and for me to eat raisins, lentils, oysters and to cut caffeine, just to name a few. Month after month went by, continuing to visit Walgreen’s, CVS and Wal-Mart, to pick up my $12.99 box of pregnancy tests, continuing to get negatives. What was wrong with me? What could I do differently? God, are you there? I prayed every thing my little analytic mind could come up with. My evolving prayers went from the “begging” prayer- “God, pplleeasse let me be pregnant this month”, to

the “humble” prayer,

the “intellectual” prayer,

the “why” prayer,

the “logic” prayer,

the “enlarge my territory” prayer; and the faithful backup,

the “don’t you feel sorry for me” prayer. None of these seemed to work. So I came up with a new one. I began to ask God to take my desire away to have a child. Logically, this made sense to me. I had been doing great for years without a child, I can go back to that, right? So that was my new prayer. It seemed smart to me.

Through this journey of pain and self-discovery, I realized that I didn’t even really know what trusting in God meant. I just wanted it to be over. I began to realize that I was trusting in Him to do it my way, to bless me, after all, God is here for me, right? Well, “that’s ridiculous”, I would think, but that is how I was behaving.

As easy as it was to think, God CAN do it, and the fact that He’s not, means He’s punishing me, or doesn’t love me, or ignoring me. But I knew it wasn’t that simple. There must be something I need to learn.

“Every experience God gives us… is the perfect preparation for the future only He can see.” What beautifully profound words spoken by Corrie Ten Boom. I can hardly compare myself to someone who survived Hitler’s concentration camps, but my journey has certainly been bigger than what I thought I could handle.

So, what is it I need to learn in this wait? Trust seemed to be a major issue. In realizing I wasn’t really trusting in God, it led to several “What’s the meaning of life?” and “Why am I here?” type questions. Some questions I never thought I’d ask or didn’t know to ask. It made me ask myself, more than wanting what I want, do I want God? And if I chose myself over God, what does that mean for my life? I knew choosing myself over God was not a choice I wanted or was willing to make. So, since that was out of the question, I began to seek Him and learn what truly trusting in Him meant. Why would God want to give me something that would make me lean on it for identity?

As I began to relinquish my need to control, and allow myself to trust, God made it easier and easier to trust in Him. I thought a baby would bring the fulfillment and peace my heart desired; but peace and fulfillment came way before a baby came, through walking in trust with my God, who knows all, sees all and loves me dearly.

Before the baby loss, I was searching for “the next thing”. Continuing to set goals, small and large, and work toward them. Lots of selfish goals. This loss, trouble, has stretched me beyond what I thought life was, who I was, who God was and I’m so grateful. I have learned that Jesus is my only source for true peace and fulfillment, no matter what He does or doesn’t bless me with. As life goes on, and I’m continually faced with things outside of my control, I know that I am connected to the One who is in control, and I can trust Him completely.

Sommer Bradshaw
Reunion Counselor

Monday, September 12, 2011


This past Saturday, September 10th, Lifeline families came together for our "Adopt Without Debt" Seminar, and heard from Author and Mom, Julie Gumm, who is passionate about helping others make their dream to adopt a reality by showing families where to find extra money in their household budget, apply for grants, and fundraise in order to stay debt free.

We are so grateful to Julie for her time with us on Saturday and have heard from many families who attended, how helpful and practical the information and stories she shared would be to their adoption process. Click here to hear more from Julie and about her time in Birmingham. Lifeline would also like to thank Alliant Bank for Sponsoring the event and to Paul Rogers of Alliant Bank who joined us and shared personally with our families. Dunkin' Donuts very generously donated breakfast for the morning, which was a big hit, and we are grateful for their continued support!

Check out this article The Southeast Outlook published on one of our families adopting from Ethiopia. The Monks have put some of the very things we learned on Saturday into action. Click here for the article.

"If finances are the biggest fear in adoption, then God’s provision might be the biggest lesson."

Krisha Yanko
Development & Marketing Coordinator

Tuesday, September 6, 2011


That seems to be the theme for my life over the past year… everything from moving to a new country, starting a new job, moving into a couple of new homes, starting a new school, and the list could go on.

As I look back on the last year my life and think of all the change, I can’t help but praise the Lord for how He provides even if it was difficult to see the good in the midst of change. I have come to the realization that we are always going to be in the midst of transition if we are allowing the Lord to move in our lives.

We are not called to be comfortable or complacent, but always moving toward the goal that has been put before us. As I keep moving forward in the unknown, the Lord is always clear that He is the same God that He was yesterday, that He is today and that He is tomorrow. As I start grad school today and lead my first trip to the Dominican Republic this weekend with (un)adopted, I can’t help but laugh because this is nothing what I thought my life would look like at this stage of life. He has exceeded my expectations. Even though a lot of unknown sits before me in the upcoming weeks, I am assured through His word that He will be with me always. I am humbled by the thought that I am never alone even when things are constantly changing. Transition doesn’t always have a good connotation but when you think of it with an eternal perspective we can find great joy in the One who loves us and the One who is always with us, even in the midst of transition. Sometimes it just takes steps of faith, even if it is one small step at a time. I love that we have the word of the Lord to look at people who have gone before us as examples of men and women who have stepped out in faith and obedience. I want to leave you with a passage from Hebrews and an example of Abraham stepping out in faith and obedience.

“ By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. By faith Sarah herself received power to conceive, even when she was past the age, since she considered him faithful who had promised. Therefore from one man, and him as good as dead, were born descendants as many as the stars of heaven and as many as the innumerable grains of sand by the seashore. These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.” Hebrews 11:8-16

Amy Floyd
(un)adopted Coordinator

Thursday, September 1, 2011

What if Your Best

Prospective adoptive couples are ever on my mind and on my heart. God brings them to mind often... so much more often than people would probably expect or even imagine. That being said, when driving one day and listening to the Moody radio program I heard a song that, of course, reminded me of our "waiting couples." The couples that God has led to Lifeline to adopt are these incredible folks that genuinely want God's will. They want God's perfect will for themselves, the birthmother, and her child. They wait. They seek we all should. Read the song below and let Him speak to you.

What If Your Best

I'm trying hard to keep from falling off this wheel
Trying hard to keep so still
As you’re shaping, and remaking
Something new is bound to surface
Something bound to bring you fame
Something sure to make you great
Something you can use
But I am only clay and clay doesn't get to choose

I want your best but what if your best is brokenness
Would I be broken?
I want your best but what if less than what I ask
And what I'm hoping?
What if your best is here in the waiting, here in the going through the motions?
I'll still be trusting all I am, and all have, and nothing less to Potter's hands

I'm trying hard to keep from giving you advice
It’s like teaching Shakespeare how to write
Or Monet, the way to paint another scene
But there's just something in this amateur that thinks
That my opinion's what you need
On how to work in me
But I am only clay, and clay probably shouldn't speak


Take my life and let it be consecrated just to thee
Take my voice and let me sing for you my King
Take my moments and my days and let them flow in ceaseless praise
For You always, for You


Only here for you to mold, I'm holding on, because I belong in Potter's hands

Renee Griffin
Domestic Social Worker