Tuesday, November 22, 2011

National Adoption Month: Interview #1

I thought it would be neat to hear from personal friends who are in the midst of their own adoption journey(s) during this National Adoption Month. I sent a list of questions to Brooke Wilkinson, who kindly responded and shared her family's story. Our paths crossed years ago in Michigan when our children attended pre-school together! During the early months of fundraising for Ian and Alec's adoption, Brooke's family purchased our Haiti to Home t-shirts and also sold our poetry books to help with the initial costs of the boys' adoption. I first posted about their family (along with the picture below) on our Haiti adoption blog in June 2008.

the Wilkinson family: pursuing domestic infant adoption (African American)

1) Tell me a little about your family.

Ryan and I have been married for 10 years. We have two sons, Steven who is 14 and Reagan who is 9. Our daughter, Ava is 6. I had Steven when I was 15, without getting into a whole side story LOL, Ryan adopted Steven when he was 6, we were hoping it would have been right after we got married, but with many bumps along the way it wasn't until then. I was raised with three younger brothers, and Ryan has one sister. Ryan's idea of having a family was two kids, mine was five, so we settled in the middle at three.

2) When did you first think about adoption?

Once Ava was one, we started talking about adoption. I always remember as a young girl playing with my babies, who were all different shades of color. To me, this was what my family would someday look like, without knowing at the time how that would be possible! Initially, I did all the research and would relay the findings onto Ryan, hoping he would be on board. Two things about Ryan and I, I am much more impulsive and figure no matter what the situation, self created or not, everything will be fine...Ryan on the other hand is very practical and reasons out how to get from point a to z in thought out steps. This is a good balance for the most part, but something that takes time to work through LOL.

So from that moment of researching, I became addicted to reading and learning and finding any scenario of adoption that I could, from all aspects of the equation.

3) What were some of your fears or concerns (if any?)

Finally, about this time last year, I approached Ryan about the possibility of seriously adopting and he being the engineer that he is could not reason out the financial difficulty an adoption would present. I really couldn't argue with that and in my mind I knew I could not let this come between us, his reasons were justified and so I decided even though I felt crushed, that I would no longer feed this desire. I decided to stop reading and involving myself with the world of adoption. Although during the whole 4 years of investigating, I would pray Lord, if this desire is not from you please take it from my heart. I cannot tell you that it ever lessened, because when Ryan was officially putting a stop to the whole idea, I was crushed, my heart hurt and I felt so confused about what the Lord was doing.

4) How did God answer those in your life?

Fast forward a couple of months to New Years Eve 2010, almost 2011! We were youth sponsors for our church at the time. We always have a New Years Eve lock-in. During that service, the youth pastor presented a challenge to the students and leaders. We were handed a post card type of paper, on one half it said a personal goal you are challenging God with and the other side said a goal for the youth group. I remember hearing him say "make it something you know only God can do, a mountain that will not move unless you rely on him." Halfheartedly, I wrote down that we would add to our family through adoption THIS YEAR. We put all of these into a locked mailbox and this year, 2012, would be opening it to see exactly where God moved. Ryan had no idea what I wrote down. Since the talk we had in the fall, adoption was no longer a conversation.

5) What finally led you to begin the adoption process?

We start each year with a fast. As we did the fast, I made the adoption a daily prayer, that Ryan's heart would be moved and he would be the one to present adoption for our family, if it was from God. It was the last week into the fast, it is the Daniel fast, so we do it for 21 days. During a Sunday night service our pastor talked about Joshua and the walls of Jericho. How his obedience, even though marching around the city to bring the walls down sounded crazy, his obedience was rewarded as the walls fell down. So at the end of the service each family sat together. Ryan, Steven and myself each prayed. Reagan and Ava were in their classrooms. As Ryan prayed he said "I believe the adventure God has for our family is adoption." This sounds terrible, but I was filled with excitement, like the realization that God "really" does exist became apparent in that moment. I controlled my reaction and remember smiling and thanking the Lord silently. Ryan said during the morning service his heart was prompted by the message that adoption is what He was calling us to, Sunday nights message was the confirmation. So about two weeks later we finally had a serious talk about adoption and I told Ryan at that time what I had wrote down and what my prayer had been during the fast!

6) Where in the adoption journey do you find yourself now?

We started out in the Ethiopia program, thinking international was the way we would go. I was uncertain how I felt about domestic adoption, I knew I had Steven when I was 15, and if I would not have had the supportive family that I did, I may have chosen adoption. But 14 years later, as my circumstances have changed, I more than likely would be filled with regret about that choice...In my own mind I thought the greater need was for the orphans and so international was the direction we headed. But in April of this year, there were many changes taking place with the adoption process in Ethiopia. It was now going to be a much longer and uncertain process than originally planned. Our caseworker called us and said, "we know you are open to race and gender, are you open to a newborn and domestic adoption?" We talked at lengths about this and for a reason I cannot explain we felt like this was God, I felt like, where there is a need we are to fill it, it is not for me to say what need is greater, because depending on the perspective the answer will vary...so we started the domestic process of an African American infant. We are just now awaiting the final approval of the home study and we should be officially waiting to be matched within the next couple of weeks.

7) Do you have a specific prayer request we can remember?

Our fear is still the finances, we have peace about God's hand in all of this and we know that whoever is supposed to be our child is who we will bring home. We are anxious to be waiting, but I keep reminding myself it is all in God's timing, just as this whole thing has been. We are specifically praying for the birth mother, whoever she may be and for our child. We are praying God's provision over the finances and we believe that that too will work out how it is supposed to. Our children are all so excited and even though there is space between each of them, the ages they are at will be great in being a real part and a real help in growing together as siblings and as a family. We have always believed that a family is not made by genetics, but by love, the same way we are part of God's family and so we embrace our differences now and we will continue too as our family grows.

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