* Inviting Jesus to be part of my life and asking His forgiveness (8 years old)
* Telling Jesus that I would go wherever He wanted me to go, do whatever He wanted me to do, talk to anyone He wanted me to talk to (8th grade)
* Where I was going to go to college (Houghton)
* Who I was going to marry (Jeanne-Ann)
* What my first "real" job would be after college (youth pastor in Georgia)
* Moving to Salem, OR to take another job at another church (middle school pastor at Salem Alliance)
* Talking with Jeanne-Ann and deciding to have our first child (Kynzi)
* Having another conversation with Jeanne-Ann not long after (Karston)
* Deciding to leave my role as middle school pastor at Salem Alliance and heading to our district office to be the Director of Next Generation Ministries (December 2004 after 8 years at SAC)
These have all been major decisions in my life. We even decided that we were going to have more kids...6 years ago. We still don't have any more kids. It's weird, because almost the moment we decided to have Kynzi and Karston, Jeanne-Ann got pregnant. God has a plan. He reveals that plan little by little as we are ready.
On December 26, 2004 there was a great Tsunami that hit southeast Asia. It was devastating. We watched the videos and wept for the families who lost everything, including family members. It sparked a conversation that Jeanne-Ann had already started a couple of years prior to that. She wanted to know if we could adopt one of the many orphans that were left behind in the tsunami. I was not having anything to do with that. I would pray for them, I would even travel there to help if needed, but I could not imagine taking in another child that we didn't birth.
Don't get me wrong, I am all for adoption. I believe in it and am so thankful for the many that are willing to adopt. I just never saw it for me. Oh, I could go through a whole list of reasons why including the cost of adoption, future potential issues and starting all over (our kids are 8 and 10 and very independent). Back to diapers? I can't imagine.
Well, this summer we talked more and more about it. My sister and brother-in-law are adopting from Nepal. Then we had a serious discussion where I promised I would think about it and pray seriously about it. That night our friends Josh and Becca came over and asked us if we would be references for them as they adopt from Ethiopia. It was as if God was already speaking to my heart. I was a bit floored to say the least. Skip forward a few months and I am taking three day time to fast and pray and seek God's heart. In the midst of that fast I was asking God to give me a crazy, out of this world moment where it was so obvious that this is what God wanted. I imagined a woman walking down the street and spotting me from across the way, coming right over to me and saying, "I don't know who you are or why, but I feel like I am supposed to tell you to adopt." Well, nothing like that happened. I was bummed at first, but I was committed to journaling during this process and I read one of my entries right after I wrote it down.
In this journal entry I wrote down all my connections to Africa including: a video I saw in 8th grade with a little African boy at the end smiling and saying thank you; 2 trips to Africa in the last 7 years. My experiences there were out of this world. My heart was so drawn there. I never sensed God calling me to be a missionary to Africa, but I knew there was a connection. I also read a couple of books on adoption. One of them was a couple's journey to adopt from Ethiopia.
As I read back over the journal entry I realized that was my "woman coming across the street to me." It was almost ridiculously clear. At the end of the entry I wrote a note to Jeanne-Ann that said, "Babe, let's do this." She was shocked She didn't know what to say after so many years of hearing no from me.
Well, I drove up to Dove International the next day and dropped off our application. We are now on our way to adopt. The plan is to adopt 2 kids. We are very early in the process. The whole deal should take 10 to 16 months. It varies a lot. This blog will be the best way to stay updated, besides talking to us. I will continue to blog about other stuff, but our adoption process will all be a part of this blog. We have talked about having a separate blog just for that and it may still happen, but for this moment it will stay here. Thank you faithful readers for your prayers and support. If you want to read more about it all I have posted more info on my website www.erikwithak.com.
There you have it. One of the BIGGEST Decisions of our Lives!