I'm so thankful to have a place to write down my thoughts about this. I'm not much of a journal-er, and this blog is motivating me to write! I love thinking that our children will have this to read someday. It's important for them to have the musings and thoughts of their mother as she was traveling this road to adoption.
A sweet woman from my Bible study asked me one evening how this process of wanting to adopt began. I was about to tell her about the recent events that led us to this point, but as I thought about it I realized that it started much earlier than March of 2010. When I was in college, I had the opportunity to travel to Tirana, Albania just after communism fell in that country. Tirana is a bustling city with narrow streets and hundreds of cars with EXTREMELY fast drivers behind the wheel. Think about the old "Frogger" game and you've got a fairly realistic picture of what it was like! To get to where our mission team needed to go everyday, we had to walk on the sidewalk next to this crazy-scary street. And at the intersection of this street with another very busy street, a baby sat on the sidewalk. She couldn't have been more than a year old, but there she sat, from morning to evening, on a dirty blanket. Her mother put her there so that passers-by would take pity on her and throw loose change on the blanket. This is how her family survived. My team felt sorry for her; I wanted to pack her into my suitcase and take her home. I think that is the day that the Lord began to break my heart for orphans and their families. I began to wonder if He would ever allow me the opportunity to do this; whether or not the man I married (because at this point I was single!) would want to adopt. I prayed about it and put it into His very capable hands. If He wanted my future family to adopt, then we would. And that was that.
As it turns out, I married a wonderful man, one who loves and seeks the Lord Jesus. We got married in December of 1995 and a new branch of the Travis family started to grow. Our first child, Emma, was born in 1999; our son, Eli, came in 2000. Then came our daughter, Leah, in 2002, and our baby, Kristen in 2004. Our lives were full, fun, chaotic, and sometimes stressful, but we loved it. Four children in 5 years was a blessing beyond anything we had imagined, but truly, it felt as though someone was missing. I shoved that thought to the back of mind, thinking that the minimal working braincells I had at that point must be misfiring!! It was just a couple of years after Kristen's birth that we met a family who had adopted from Guatemala. She was a friend of a friend, and my friend had asked me to pray for her family during their adoption process. I found myself praying for this dear family to get their sweet little boy and bring him home. We got to meet Corbin a number of months later. As Jessica placed him in my arms, he wrapped his tiny arms around my neck and his little legs around my middle and squeezed. The nearest thing I can liken it to is what it might be like to hold a chimpanzee! My heart didn't just melt; it broke a little bit more. And when Aaron held him, the Lord started to break his heart for children without forever, loving families.
From there, we began to pray...not fervently, mind you. We just asked Him what He thought. He answered in not-so-subtle ways. We heard in sermons that there are 143 million orphans in the world as we speak. Africa has the greatest proportion of children who are orphans. Every minute, some 20 children die around the world from poverty, easily preventable diseases, hunger, and illness. That is equivalent to 1 child dying every 4 seconds. I cried my way through most of that sermon and God had Aaron's attention during it as well. I remember coming home and standing in the kitchen talking these statistics over with Aaron. I distinctly remember him saying, "How can we do nothing? We have to do something!" I love Helen Keller's quote that says, "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the somthing I can do." We're just one family, but God can do the impossible in and through weak little jars of clay like ours...like yours. That is one of the many beautiful things about being in a relationship with Him. You find yourself doing things that you know beyond a shadow of a doubt would be impossible on your own. I love that He takes us on adventures with Him. This is our biggest yet, so we'll just trust Him and hold on tight to Him with both hands.