So here it is! The story of our referral! The story of our children….
We got the phone call on Thursday, February 23. We got an email with medical files and pictures. We looked at our children’s faces for the very first time and felt our hearts sliding into love.
We are not allowed to post pictures or their names on any public forum so you will all just have to wait to see those beautiful faces until after we pass court and they are officially OUR CHILDREN. But let me tell you, you will love them too. We are keeping their Ethiopian names as their middle names. So I can tell you what you will all know them as….
Abigail (this means her father’s joy) – age 7
Micah (who is like God) – age 6
Levi (joined together) – age 4
These 3 are paper-ready and will become a part of our family soon. But here is the twist….
They have another sister.
Our adoption agency said they have never had a situation like this before. Through a long and complicated story, most of which we are not allowed to post here, the older sister is not “technically” ready or available for adoption. When we talked to our family coordinator she said to us, “What you do about the sister is completely up to you. You can just bring home these 3 children. Or you can petition the courts to let you bring home all 4.”
Complete honesty here. My first reaction was, “3 children is enough! If the sister isn’t available for adoption, then she isn’t available for adoption.” If we don’t petition the courts, then that is the end of things.
On Friday we had our friends Chris and Jessica Matos over for dinner. Well, we had our friends Chris and Jessica (and 6 of their 7 children) over for dinner. You see, the Matos family has adopted MANY children. In fact, we jokingly tell them that our adoption journey is all their fault. Adoption is contagious, you know!
As we were visiting over dinner and with the shrieks and laughter of all those children in the background, Chris talked a little about when they adopted their last 3. They already had 4 children. They had just bought their first house and while it was plenty big for a family of 6, it really wasn’t cut out to hold a family of 9. They weren’t planning on adopting any more children!
And then they got a phone call. 3 children who they had fostered and returned to the birth mother were back in the system – this time for good. Would Chris and Jessica consider adopting them? If not, they would be split up and put into other foster homes. And they had a whole weekend to make this life-changing decision! Chris said that on Saturday morning, while he was making pancakes for his brood of 4, and while he was praying, this is what he thought – no one would ever fault them for saying no. After all, they had already adopted! Their house was too small. Yes they loved the Lord and were involved in ministry (Chris is a youth pastor), but there were so many logical reasons to say no. But in his heart, he would always know that God had provided this opportunity for them and they had turned away from it.
It struck me then. No one would ever fault us for only adopting 3 children. In fact, people would probably give us all kinds of accolades. They would think we had gone half-way around the world to bring these 3 children into our family. Aren’t those Putnams just so great? Look at how the Putnam Family serves the Lord!
But we would know. In our hearts, we would know that God had provided this opportunity and we had turned away from it.
I went to bed that Friday night praying about this. It scared me! Did we really want to get involved in a whole separate court process in Ethiopia? It might affect our timelines for the first 3. It would cost more money. We wouldn’t even get to see a picture of this sister or find out anything about her until we got to Ethiopia. We wouldn’t know if she would become ours until we were already in country. But as I prayed, I felt God tugging at my heart. If I were sitting in the same room as this little girl, watching her go hungry for the second day in a row, watching her clean houses instead of go to school so she could afford to eat, watching her miss her sister and brothers, would I really just turn away and say no because it might be an inconvenience to me?
And then on Saturday morning when I got up, I found out that my husband had stayed up late to register a blog site for me. He had been encouraging me to start a blog for quite a while. And of course you know what he named this blog… Our Great 8….hmmmm. I guess he felt like we should go out and get this little girl and add her to our family. Bringing the grand total up to 8 Putnams!
And then on Sunday morning, our pastor preached a message that I am pretty sure he prepared just for us. I mean, he even used the story from Acts 8 about the Ethiopian Eunich! His main thought was this….
Always be willing to do the next thing that God is prompting you do.
We didn’t have to be ready, we just had to be willing! With God on our team, we didn’t have to worry about all the details. We could just leave those up to Him.
I will write a little more about this in my next blog because God still had some work to do on my son’s heart in convincing him that adding 4 more kids to our family was a good idea. But I do want to say one more thing. You know that crazy wonderful Matos Family? The family of 9? The family that is supported by their Dad’s job as a youth pastor (which we all know people don’t get into for the money)? The family that is trying to save up for a bigger house because God blessed them with more children than they had room for? As they left our home on that Friday night, they gave us a beautiful card filled with comments from each of their kids about our adoption. And enclosed in that card was our very first donation! And it came with hugs and tears and their commitment to invest in eternal things, not the things of this world. We used that donation that very week because we owed our adoption agency another payment upon acceptance of our referral.
And of course, we were accepting our referral. We were accepting this opportunity that God had provided for us.
So as we plan our trip to Ethiopia to bring home our babies, we are planning on returning with all 4 of them. This is completely in God’s hands. We don’t know the outcome yet, but we know that He wants us to try and that He is prompting us to take the next step. So we are!