I was asked to speak at our church’s mother daughter banquet. I was asked to tie our adoption journey in with footprints. Here is my speech:
Billy Graham once said, “No matter where we look, we see God’s footprints.” His fottprints are all around us. “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awile and leave footprints on lur hearts. And we are never, ever the same,” (anonymous). When God place those people in our lives and makes sure that those people leave footprints on our lives, He expects us to do something with them. God is leading each of us on a journey and places the path out before us, wheter we choose to be obedient or not is up to us.
Through out the Bible there are stories about God speaking to individuals and giving them the direction and the path that they are to follow. Abram is one of the first to come to my mind. Genesis 12:1 states, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’”
I had read this verse many times, but on one particular day I read it and something stirred up inside of me. I knew that God was speaking to me. I could feel it in my heart. Have you ever heard God speak to you? It is a hard thing to explain…most unbelievers would just look at you and wonder if you were “hearing voices” and take two steps back! But on this particular day, May 2004, God wanted me to know that that particular verse was for me.
In my heart I could see certain details, but the whole thing wasn’t completely laid out. I heard Africa and children. That was it. Then underneath that verse in my bible there was a commentary. This is what it said:
“In such ordinary things comes the roar of God. The quaking world is reborn in the name of nameless people who obeyed the extraordinary claim God held on their lives. They were faithful, and in following their faithfulness they were swallowed whole by God’s blessings. Did you once hear a whisper of simplicity? Did it seem an unimportant thing? Did it seem unreasonable? Listen up! God waits to bless you. He longs to bless you. All you have to do is say, “Yes, Lord, I will!” Then act upon the whisper.”
I was ready to act!! “Yes, Lord!! I will go!!” I was so excited. I didn’t know the details, just Africa and children. I shared my excitement with Russell, needless to say, he did not share in my excitement. Actually, he put his foot down and said, I like it here. I like it where I live. I like having a roof over my head….
I have to admit, my timing was not good and I didn’t know all the details. God was just preparing my heart. Just five months prior to this, we had added to our family through the wonderful world of adoption. These were footprints that God had placed on my heart when I was just a child. Let me share with you the footprints that lead us up to this point.
I always knew that I would adopt. When I met Russell I had told him that I wanted a large family some day and that I wanted to adopt. Well, that didn’t scare him off and soon after we were married. We had three beautiful children, Anthony, Hannah, and Hailey. After Hailey was born we moved to NC and before we knew it we were taking classes through social services so taht we could start the adoption process. After we had completed our course work, we waited. The wait seemed to last forever. But then one beautiful January afternoon, I received the phone call. “We have a little girl. She is almost two. She has blue eyes, blonde hair. Very small. She is legally free and needs to be placed this week. I can email you pictures…” I didn’t need pictures. This was teh path that God had placed me on long before. These were the footprints I had been following, waiting patiently to see what would be revealed. My heart skipped a beat. I immediately fell in love. Aubrey was birthed from my heart at that very moment! I knew that God had meant her for us!
Not even three months later, Anthony was praying for a brother. I guess there were too many girls in the house! Well, one night I went to his room to do his evening devotijonal with him. I sat down beside him on the floor and God spoke loud and clear. It was almost as if He were sitting right there beside me whispering in my ear: “Your son is coming soon!” My heart skipped a beat. My eyes were flooded with tears. Anthony looked at me and asked, “Why are you crying mom?” I looked at Anthony and told him that God was preparing our hearts for his new brother.
Russell was late getting home that evening. I tried to figure out how I would tell him about this new path that God was taking us on. I didn’t know any details. I only knew that our son was coming soon. I chose not to say anything to Russell at the time. After all would he think I was crazy?? Hearing voices? I chose not to say anything to Russell at the time. Two weeks later I received a phone call from my aunt in NY. She called to congratulate us on Aubrey and said that she heard we were wanting to adopt again. I told her yes we were. I explained to her that we were hoping to adopt a little boy next. Anthony had really wanted a brother. My aunt replied, “That is why I am calling you!” She had a friend who was a foster care mother for a number of years and one of the girls she raised had a little boy named Austin that she was looking for a home for. Could she give them our number? Yes, of course. This would give us time to pray in between. Well, now I was really in a rut. I had to say something to Russell. I was very nervous. I was aftraid he would say no. Whe I shared everything with Russell, he was very unsure about the whole thing. Aubrey was still so new and we were still adjusting to her. I asked him if he would just pray about it and he said he would. I prayed continuously for two weeks. We had not heard anything. I felt like I was supposed to do something but didn’t know what. It was on a Saturday evening that I prayed again to God. “Lord, I just don’t feel any peace about this. I know I am supposed to do something, but don’t know what. Lord, please give me a sense of peace. If you have another family for him, that is ok. Just give me peace.” The very next day, we received a phone call from the birth mother and her foster care mother. We talked a long time. Then I got off the phone and spoke with Russell. He had more questions. So we called back and spoke with the foster care mother and she told us the birth mother’s history and what was going on in a little more detail. Russ and I talked some more and prayed. Russ had so much uncertainty. Finally, I know God had to do this if it was meant to happen. I read Hebrews 11 to Russella dn just talked to him about all the people that had to step out in faith in their walks with God. I talked to him about how clearly I had heard God’s voice. But I told him, that he was the head of the house and I would support whatever decision he made. We prayed some more and then Russ said, “We will leave tomorrow after work.” God had given me the message and Russell chose to follow the footprints taht God had laid out before him. He was uncertain of what would lie at the end, but he chose to follow.
God rewarded Russell for his obedience. Austin did not know that he was going to be adopted, but somehow, God let Austin know that when Russ walked in the room that he was his daddy. Austin took one look at Russell and immediately called him daddy. No one had prepared him or told him what was going on. When we left the next day with Austin and all his belongings, Russell looked at me and said that he could look back over the past view months and see that God had been preparing him for Austin. He was glad that he stepped out in faith even though at the time he couldn’t see the end result.
Austin arrived to his new home on April 12. Non one could believe that someone would just give up their child like Austin’s birth mother did. But they didn’t know her and they didn’t know her heart. She knew she couldn’t give him what he needed. She knew that he needed something better. God placed that on her heart. God led her to us. She is a good mother because she gave her son what she knew he needed and she couldn’t give.
This brings us up to the moment where I left off. Going to Africa. Children. On May 1, 2004, Russell lost his job. We had no income. Our family had just grown by leaps and bounds. Our business was just getting started and Sony thinks we are suppose to move to Africa!
It was after my revelation to Russell that we went to visit a friend from our church. He had someone that he wanted to pray over us and speak with us about our situation. When we were speaking she had asked if there was anything that we wanted to share. Russell looked at me and said, “Go ahead, Sonya. Tell her what God told you.” I told her about Africa and Children. Not knowing any details. She looked at Russell and told him that it didn’t mean we were going tom orrow or even next year. God was just laying out the footprints on the path for us to follow. When we were getting ready to leave, she ran up to Russell and I and said she had a verse that God wanted her to give to us. It was from Psalm 32:3, “I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will consel you and watch over you.”
Now I bring you to the present. In November of 2006, I felt God calling me to fast. I thought I was fasting for one of my children in my home, but as I was going through the process, God revealed to me that there were three children that were not yet home. You would think that I would learn that God only gives me small pieces at a time. He wants me to be patient and wait for His plan to be unveiled. Well, I went to the adopt US kids website and saw a new sibling group on there. They just happened to be a sibling group of three. So I thought I was going to Russell with all the info in hand and ready to present God’s case. When I came to Russell, he knew that I had something up my sleeve. I presented to him the three children and about how I had fasted and what God revealed to me…Well, one thing lead to another and all doors were closed on this sibling group. In a way, I think it was supposed to happen that way because God was preparing Russell’s heart for something bigger and the idea of three was placed on his heart. Both Russell and I knew that we were supposed to adopt again. We were searching for the path that God wanted to take us on. I was desperately searching for God’s footprints around me. Finally, I threw my hands up in the air. I told Russell I was going to quit searching, The desire is so heavy on my heart, I know I have more children out there, but I don’t know what to do. So I prayed to God and said, “Lord, I give all this to you. You are in control. Not me. If there are more children, you show the way.” So the idea of three was tossed aside for a little bit.
In January of 2007, I was looking on the Proverbs 31 Ministry’s website. While I was on there, I saw that Lysa TerKeurst had adopted children from Liberia. Well, I love to hear other people’s adoption stories. Well, one thing led to another and I was soon reading the story of this family in Louisville, KY who had seven biological children and had adopted six children from teh same orphanage as Lysa. Their story was great. I read it to Russell. God must have been stirring something in Russell’s heart. He wanted to know more about these Liberian Adoptions. So I researched and shared. Before we knew it an agency was asking us to fill out a questionnaire. I asked Russell if he wanted me to do this. Yes. Let’s see what we can find out. Well, before we knew it, they sent us pictures of four different sibling groups that they were referring to us. Whe I received the pictures, I looked through all of them. The last pictures were of Joel, Jeremiah and Samuel. They spoke to my heart immediately. I knew they were my missing children. I didn’t say anything to Russell. I let him look at teh pictures. The boys spoke to Russell and well. But there were three. That would put us out of our vehicle. Just like a man to be thinking in those terms! But God knew what Russell needed to hear. We prayed. I asked himn what he thought. They are beautiful. But there are three. Several days later he came home and proclaimed, “We are bringing our boys home. I can get a fourth row seat for the excursion and we can seat 12!!” God knows our hearts!
And now I take you back to that original scripture, Genesis 12:1, “The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’” You see it was back in May of 2004 that God started laying out the footprints for us to follow for this adoption. He showed us Africa! I was willing to say YES LORD at that time. I acted upon that whisper that God placed upon my heart.Charles Stanley once said, “As you walk through the valley of the unknown, you will find the footprints of Jesus both in front of you and beside you.” I can not tell you how true that is. God wants all of us to follow His footprints. He longs for us to. God will take us on journeys and not give us all the details. It may take years to complete the journey, but God will always be right beside you. God has placed this heaviness on my heart, this desire to adopt. Russell remained faithful to God because he knew God was speaking to me and not him. But both of us together have been following this path not knowing what the outcome would be. Because of this, God has blessed us greatly. Our walk with Him is closer then it has ever been. Sometimes we can get side tracked and go in the opposite direction that God wants us to, but He is quick to close the doors we are not supposed to be going into. And through it all, He receives the GLORY because it is all about Him.
God has allowed our family to make a difference in the lives of children who were born in our hearts. This path that God has taken us on has not always been an easy one. We have had some difficult times, but the good times far out number the difficult ones. Adoption is not for everyone. But that does not mean that you can’t be a part of it. Our Liberian adoption has not been about our family, it has been about this family and the community. We are all working together to make this happen. That has been what has been so exciting about it. The footprints that God laid out for us to follow have crossed paths with yours. God has blessed us so much just by seeing all of the love and support that we have had from this family of Christ. Your involvement with adoption is making a difference in Samuel, Jeremiah and Joel’s lives. God hears your prayers for them. I encourage you to pray for other orphans as well. Let God place the footprints of an orphaned child on your heart. Be an advocate for that child by praying for him or her. God may take you on a whole new adventure! God calls each of us as believers to care for the orphans. Praying for just one child can make a difference.
Each sheep is important to his shepherd. JESUS SAID: “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbours, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons, who need no repentance.”(Luke 15:4-7). God considers us His sheep. To save one life is an important life whether it is a child here in the states or a child over in Africa. We are to practice this “pure religion”. Where is God leading your heart in all of this? I pray that it is leading you to a deeper understanding of adoption and how important it is. After all, we are all adopted, each and every one of us. We are God’s adopted sons and daughters. Isn’t our goal to be more Christ-like. Shouldn’t we follow from example?I would like to close with a story by Loren Eisley entitled: “A Single Starfish”. One day an old man was walking along the beach. It was low tide, and the sand was littered with thousands of stranded starfish that had been washed ashore. The man began walking very carefully so as not to step on any of the beautiful creatures. Since the animals still seemed to be alive, he considered picking some of them up and putting them back in the water, where they could resume their lives. The man knew the starfish would die if left on the shore, but he reasoned that he could not possibly help them all, so he chose to do nothing and continued walking. Soon afterward, the man came upon a small child on the beach who was frantically throwing one starfish after another back into the sea. The old man stopped and asked the child, “what are you doing?” “I’m saving the starfish,” the child replied. “Why waste your time?… There are so many you can’t save them all so what does it matter?” argued the man. Without hesitation, the child picked up another starfish and tossed the starfish back into the water. “It matters to this one,” the child explained.
Following the banquet, a love offering was taken for the adoption. We collected around $236! Praise the Lord!!
Hannah sang a song at the banquet entitled, “When I Grow Up.” I wish I had recorded it so you could hear her beautiful voice!
Here are some pictures from the banquet:
Aubrey (face is swollen because she was bitten by an insect)Grandma, Mom and Mandy