A Long Wait
and a Big Promise
Our daughter is now eight years old and this holiday season was quick to remind me, “Papa, this is my first Christmas!” But this special little girl came into our lives a long time ago – at three months old when my wife, Amy, and I went on a mission trip to Central Asia in 2007. We had been drawn to Central Asia and specifically to Kyrgyzstan. As it happened, our church had a mission trip to this same region, so we signed up. Shortly before leaving, we began our adoption process. While in Kyrgyzstan, our lives were changed forever…
Amy and her friends visited several orphanages in Kyrgyzstan. On their last stop, they asked if they could “peek in” on the children. They were told “no” by a worker because the kids were all asleep. But they could hear one child crying so they asked again. The worker left and came back with a child. She placed her in Amy’s arms. She said in Russian that “this child is called Aidana and she is going to live in America.” Amy asked if she was going to be adopted, and the worker pointed to Amy and said, “Yes, by you!” Needless to say, this got our attention.
We couldn’t get Aidana off of our minds. As we were flying home, I looked over at Amy, deep in thought. I asked her teasingly if she had “baby fever?” She said “No, I’ve got Aidana fever.” Seven years, four months and two weeks later (not that we were counting) we brought our Kyrgyz princess home while friends and family celebrated with us at the airport. We will save our full story for another day, but we became convinced early on that Aidana was the child God had for our family. Said another way, we became convinced that Aidana was our daughter who just happened to be separated from us by a different language, culture, thousands of miles, and endless bureaucratic and political delays.
While we waited, we also became convinced that God was calling us to not only adopt a child but to help launch a ministry in Atlanta for adopting and fostering families. This ministry became Promise686, an organization that today exists to serve families and to work with churches to launch adoption and foster care ministries in congregations throughout Georgia. Looking back, we can now see the purpose in our wait – even though it was filled with hard places and many tears, setbacks and frustrations. God used our time and talents (such as they were) to write a story that was much bigger than our family – a story that has ultimately impacted hundreds of other families.
Since 2008, Promise686 has awarded $1.75 million, helping to provide more than 200 children with a forever home.
And, God used Promise686 to encourage us in our own journey. We cannot conceive how we could have persevered without this ministry that supported and prayed with and for us “without ceasing” to bring our daughter home – and even through some pretty tough times afterwards. We love the verse that inspired the name for this ministry… “God sets the lonely in families.” We’ve seen God at work throughout our long, wacky, incredible journey as HE SET Aidana in our family. While some will see our story as the power of the human spirit to overcome obstacles, the truth is quite the opposite. Ours is a story of the power of prayer and a group of people persistently pleading with God on behalf of a child – our “lost sheep.” Aidana now has a family that loves her and is blessed to share in her unrestrained joy as she experiences “first times” – her first birthday party, first trip to the beach, first Christmas… We have been immeasurably blessed through the many, many friends who walked with us on this journey and made her homecoming possible.
At the start of a new year, as you think about goals and priorities, would you consider investing in “first times” for more children? Would you prayerfully consider coming alongside families who have been called to care for these waiting children through adoption or foster care? We all know the statistics – the number of children needing families worldwide, in the US, in Georgia… In 2015, with your help, Promise686 was able to award $280,000 in matching grants to adopting families. There are many ways to be involved – praying, volunteering your time, opening your home, and giving financially. Whatever you decide, we want to thank you for partnering in this ministry. Speaking as parents of a “Promise child,” we know your support makes a huge difference!