Joe Miller is mission’s pastor at Maple City Chapel in Goshen, Indiana.
I am the impatient type. I simply don’t enjoy waiting. Kris and I have three young children, and sometimes I think the kids show more stamina and patience than their father. I don’t behave childishly about it, but I will instinctively avoid any amount of waiting within my control. Maybe I’m a product of our culture. We tend to be accustomed to TV On Demand, live news from around the world, Amazon Prime’s free, two-day shipping, Jimmy John’s freaky fast service and the pizza on your doorstep in 30 minutes or less. You can even get on your smartphone and check-in at Great Clips so you don’t have to wait in line to get a haircut.
Nobody likes to wait. Patience does not come naturally. But don’t you find it interesting that “patience” is listed in the fruit of the Spirit right after love, joy and peace? Patience is listed before kindness as evidence that the Spirit of God is alive in you. Let that sink in for a moment.
If our God wants children who have achieved a measurable level of patience, then it would be reasonable to believe God will intentionally lead us through periods of waiting for the purpose of becoming patient. James goes as far as to say, “Let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing” (1:4). We can agree that perseverance (endurance, waiting, long-suffering) is a necessary part of any Christian’s development toward maturity.
Our recent journey with endurance began around a dinner table. We joined some friends for an evening meal, and after the kids ran off to play, we enjoyed some “adult conversation.” This is a precious gift for those of us with young children. These dear friends asked us a simple question: “Have you ever considered adopting? You would make great adoptive parents.”
I believe Kris responded first, saying she had often considered adoption but didn’t expect her husband would want to. I almost interrupted her in mid-sentence to say the same thing. We sounded like two children fighting over a toy. “No, I asked for it first.” “No I saw it first.” Obviously it wasn’t something we had openly discussed in our marriage. What seemed like a divided conversation led to one of the most unified decisions we’ve ever made.
You see, Kris and I are very different people. She is organized and thoughtful, I am scattered and emotional. She is truth, and I am mercy. We complement each other well but never seem to begin a major decision from the same position. Typically we start from our polarized views and work toward compromise and mutual satisfaction. And in many ways we do this well. But we never begin such a life-altering decision by finishing each other’s sentences in this way.
Immediately we were drawn to pursue international adoption from Haiti, as I grew to love Haiti while visiting my missionary grandparents as a child. We spent a few days praying before seeking out an agency to lead us through the complicated process. There it was. Decision made. We were about to start a journey that would lead to growing our family through adoption.
So in November 2011, we began like many important journeys begin: We googled it. We quickly found four or five seemingly reputable agencies who foster adoptions from Haiti. We applied to two of them and ended up choosing a fantastic organization out of Colorado. Step one complete.
Over the next few months, we experienced a flurry of activity that kept us motivated. We prepared our adoption dossier. We needed physicals, blood tests, local and state police background checks, financial records, including a letter from the bank, tax returns, a copy of our marriage certificate, and even a psych evaluation. And yes, a trained psychologist found that Joe and Kris Miller are in sound mind and body.
We then met with a social worker in our home to do the home study. All these documents had to be notarized, certified and translated. Four months and $4,600 later, our paperwork was ready to go to Haiti. At this point, we were funding our adoption by ourselves. We willingly drained a small retirement portfolio and started pinching pennies, and at times we borrowed money to get ourselves and our paperwork ready. This is where Kris’ personality shines. Had I coordinated these events, we would have spent a year in preparation.
Then, one day, our liaison, Patrick, at the agency in Colorado, sent us an email with some photos of a child who was eligible for adoption. I remember sitting at the west end of our dining table just staring at the photos. The documents gave meager details of the child’s background. She had been delivered to the orphanage when she was a few weeks old by her aunt. There we sat, looking at her little face. The document read, “Fanie (known affectionately as Manuchka at Lifeline) is a healthy, chunky and happy baby girl. Fanie has thrived while receiving good care at the orphanage. She has a healthy appetite and loves to be held and loved on by staff and the other children at the orphanage.”
We delicately pored over every word. We sat breathless for a moment. The agency wanted to know if we wanted to “accept” the match or if we wanted to see another file. But this wasn’t a “file”; she was our daughter. The question felt reprehensible. How could we see this child and ask to see another, like we were shopping on Amazon? After a few moments, we looked at each other and wondered if it was too early to accept. Is it too soon? Will they think we aren’t taking this decision seriously enough?
We were five months into the process, and it all became so tangible. Many people don’t understand, but in many ways we birthed a child that day. We made a heart connection with a child who would change us. We simply had no idea at the time that we would wait an additional three years two months and 17 days before she would come into our home.
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