The first time that my wife and I considered adoption was at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert in July of 2005. Chapman's family has adopted from China and are strong advocates for vulnerable children. We sensed a very clear calling at that time to grow our family through adoption but had no clear idea of the process or costs. We discussed the idea with our two biological kids, then 4 & 5 and they were excited about the idea. So we began looking for a local adoption agency. We soon learned that we did not have the finacial resources to proceed and since we weren't open to a domestic adoption at that time, our adoption dream moved to the back burner.
God is persistent, though, when He is calling you to do something. My wife and I still marvel at how often over the next several years we could hear Him reminding us that we needed to adopt. One of us would hear a commercial on the radio about adopting. The other one would drive by a billboard. Other times it was a movie, e.g. the Blind Side. We would read a book and a family would share their adoption story. Despite our lack of finances, God was still telling us that we needed to pursue an international adoption.
In 2008, while our family was living in Germany, my wife went to a women's night out and a woman shared her family's adoption story. They already had 5 biological kids at the time God prompted them and they didn't have the finances to complete their adoption either. But we serve a mighty God and he provided that family with all the money they needed to complete their adoption and their family is thrilled to have another child in their home.
Inspired by this woman's story, my wife and I began to pray again about God's plans for our family to adopt. Melissa and I made a pact that we would both pray individually for a week asking God where we should adopt from but that we would not discuss the matter at all until the week was over. The week flew by and we were both excited to discuss the matter again when the time was up. I excitedly said, "how about Poland?" I have a Polish heritage and thought that it would be neat to reach out to the culture of my familial past. Melissa immediately got chills when she realized what I had suggested. The night before she had had a dream about adopting children from Poland.
In August of 2009 our family returned to the U.S but it wasn't until January of 2011 that we discovered Saint Mary International Adoptions through a referral and got accepted as a potential adoptive family for children from Poland. Receiving that acceptance letter from St. Mary's was so exciting! We were finally making some REAL progress towards our own family's adoption. The next two years were quite the emotional roller coaster and a true test of our faith and patience. Saint Mary's was helpful and thorough in explaining all of the process steps and helping us through each phase. I would be remiss if I didn't highlight what an amazing woman my wife was throughout the entire process! She compiled three 4-inch thick binders of paperwork, put miles upon miles on our vehicles and got to know people at the federal building quite well (where everything had to be apostilled). This adoption never would have happened for our family if it hadn't been for countless hours and the tireless efforts of my beautiful wife, Melissa.
We had some ups-and-downs in our adopton process that delayed our being matched with a child. Then, so beautifully, on Christmas Eve of 2012, we received a referral and pictures of the beautiful little two-year-old girl that would become our sweet Anya! Praise God! We were so thrilled and happy! We accepted the referral and impatiently waited to learn when we could go meet her. Amazingly, my wife and I were on a plane for Poland by the 2nd week of January 2013. We did our best to learn some of the Polish language and study up on the town she lived in, Czestochowa. We couldn't believe we were finally going to meet our new daughter.
When we landed in Katowice it was cold and there was snow everywhere. Good thing we're from the Midwest and actually enjoy that kind of weather. Our taxi driver at the airport did not speak much English so we did our best to communicate in our broken Polish. He was very gracious and helped us make our way to the hotel where we would stay for our entire first visit with Anya. We arrived in Czestochowa a day earlier than required so that we could explore the town and get to know the place that our daughter lived. It was a fairly small town but contains perhaps the most famous cathedral in all of Poland, called the Jasna Goora. They have a famous relic in the church there that is believed to have miraculous power. We visited the cathedral and walked through a decent part of the town close to the church. We were thrilled to be able to experience part of her native culture.
Our first meeting with our Polish social worker was planned for the evening of our 3rd day in Poland. A taxi was to take us to the address that she had provided him and she would meet us there. Unfortunately, the taxi dropped us at the wrong address, but thankfully we managed to find our social worker and make our way to Anya's orphanage. Melissa and I were expecting to meet the director only that night. After exchanging social graces and learning as much as they were able to share about Anya, we were shocked to learn that we would actually get to meet Anya that night. We had been told that it wouldn't happen until the following day. What a wonderful surprise! A flood of emotions filled my wife and I as we prepared for them to bring her to us.
What a beautiful little girl, Anya is! Of course she was very shy initially. Her caregiver sat with her on the play mat as we brought toys to her and interacted with her as much as she would let us. As you may expect, when the caregiver left to see how Anya would do left alone with our Polish social worker, and us the tears were copious. Poor little Anya. We felt so sorry for her. I'd love to tell you that she warmed to us immediately and didn't want us to go, but reality was that we were strangers to her. As tough as it was to feel a certain amount of rejections, Melissa and I were comforted to know that Anya was obviously receiving loving care for her to cling to and prefer her caregivers over us. By the end of our first trip, Anya would let us hold her. In fact we have one of our favorite pictures of her where she fell asleep on me. Truly precious! Of course it was very painful to have to leave Anya at the orphanage at the end of our first trip but we took comfort in knowing that it wouldn't be much longer before she would join our family forever.
The next few months flew by as we eagerly awaited the finalization of our adoption. The more time that passed the more I'm sure we began to drive the nice people at Saint Mary's crazy wanting to know what was taking so long and what we could do to speed things up. Before we knew it the summer was upon us and we struggled to plan anything because we thought for sure we would get "the call" to go pick-up Anya at any moment.
In late July 2013, that call finally came. It was wonderful to see our two older kids so excited to meet their new sister. Our family spent almost 6 weeks in Poland finalizing Anya's adoption. What wonderful memories our family created together getting to know Anya's home country and bonding as a family! We were able to enjoy Czestochowa, Katowice, and Warsaw together.
Our adoption of Anya was nothing short of miraculous. There are countless stories and quips I could share about the ways that God worked out various details to allow our adoption to happen perfectly, exactly when He wanted it to. One thing that must be mentioned is the speed with which Anya adjusted to joining our family during the 2nd trip. It was a miracle how she bonded much more quickly to Melissa and me. Our family has been more blessed through our adoption than any other experience we've ever had. The way that so many people have supported us, prayed for us, even prepared Anya's room for us while we were out of the country! This has truly been the most beautiful expression of the love of Jesus that we've ever known and we're so thankful for having been part of it.
Visit the Poland Adoption Area of RainbowKids to learn more about adopting a child from Poland.
A Family Story Contributed by: Saint Mary International Adoptions