A Pure Change of Heart
Kirsten & Andy Stearns have been married 8 years, their son Lincoln turned 2 in January 2016, and they are in the process of adopting a special needs child, either gender, from China. They have graciously agreed to chronicle their story from the very beginning of their heart opening to adoption to "gotcha day" and perhaps beyond... Follow along and share with those who may be beginning their own story of offering a waiting child a forever family!
When we met in 2006, Andy had been on several international trips to see the work of non-profits and I was about to leave for my first mission trip. As we began to date and ultimately get married, we felt we had a secure grasp on God’s calling for our life together. We were both comfortable and energized by how we were living out our calling to serve the poor—through my career, through volunteering our time, donating financially, and through our fundraising efforts.
After a trip to Ethiopia in 2009, Andy had our favorite verse tattooed on his arm along with the design of a beautiful Coptic cross that we picked up in Ethiopia that year. We always liked this verse and Andy felt his tattoo would be a constant reminder of our call to serve the poor.
Pure religion is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress. - James 1:27
During this time, I was working for World Vision, traveling across the country and around the world regularly, and as a couple, we had sponsored at least 25 children. This was our calling - for a time. And before December of 2012, if you had asked us if we wanted a child of our own, we would have said, “Absolutely not.” Then, pretty quickly and without warning, God changed our minds and we both went from never wanting kids to a strong desire to have children of our own – we couldn’t wait to have kids!
In January of 2014 we welcomed our first son, Lincoln. He was and is amazing and perfect in our eyes! His birth had been somewhat complicated when at 38 weeks of pregnancy, I developed a complication called HELLP Syndrome, to which the only solution was delivering the baby and I was one blood draw away from needing a complete blood transfusion. Because this complication can be recurring, we decided there was no reason to risk another pregnancy. Having one child could be fun. We could still travel – we could show this little guy the world!
Sometime after Lincoln’s first birthday I took a new notice of that tattoo on Andy’s arm. "Orphans. Care for orphans." We still sponsored more than 25 children, and despite having stepped down from my job at World Vision, it suddenly didn't seem a personal enough response to James 1:27. Although Andy was hesitant to open the discussion at first, he later invited me to a Promise686 informational meeting, held at our church, about adoption. It was a fire hose of amazing and terrifying information. We began to pray.
We prayed from Psalm 37:4 - Take delight in the LORD, and He will give you your heart’s desires. “God, if this is Your will for us, You need to make it a desire of our heart. We are scared. This is a lot of unknown. This is different. This is overwhelming.”
Our typical pattern is one of decisiveness - deciding virtually in one day, after one conversation, after not wanting children for years, that we deeply desired to be parents. God clearly changed both of our hearts and neither of us felt there was much more to discuss. As we had moved 7 times in 7 years of marriage, and purchased 3 different homes, each time we made an offer on a prospective house, we made the offer on the day we saw it. We generally don't have the strength and patience required to wait, pray and discern - but this decision to adopt called for something different in us.
After several months of prayer we decided to begin the necessary research for adoption. We are not sure if we woke up and decided to move ahead on one day, or if it has been a gradual awakening. But God has indeed given us this desire and it burns so strongly now, thanks to His gracious love for us and for the child we are waiting to welcome into our home forever!
*As of early March, the Stearns' dossier is in China, has been logged into the Chinese adoption system, and they are elegible for a match! Please lift them up as they prayerfully consider the children who will be presented to them! More to come...