Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Surprise for Us, but Not for God

From the very beginning of our adoption journey, we have been in awe of how God has spoken to us.  The God of the universe, the Great I Am, the Holy One . . . He has spoken in very clear and specific ways to guide us each step of the way.

We started with a blank slate, laying every question before Him, and begging for His will to be made known.  We (meaning me) could walk in the ways that seemed best to us or we could wait for His Will to be revealed and follow that alone.  We chose the latter.

This road has lead us to the process of adopting a son from Ethiopia.  We've had confirmations and an unwavering peace that this is God's path for us.

But another part of our call hasn't been as clear.  We both also felt a desire to adopt a child with special needs.  We just had no idea what that would mean.

In your adoption education you have the excruciating task of going through a list of every disorder, disability, and disease you can think of and literally checking Yes, No, or Maybe on whether you would be open to a child with this condition.  Honestly, it just felt wrong.  You don't choose with a biological child and so it was really weird to consider what we would or would not be comfortable with.  (Chad actually said that we were burning those pages when we got our workbook back!)  So we decided to be open to most disabilities and really only said no to things like TB or HIV that we felt would endanger Ava and Grayson.

We've continued to wonder for the last 5 months whether we would in fact be referred a child with special needs or whether God just wanted our "Yes" to special needs.  Little did we know that God would end up asking us 2 months ago to adopt and love a child that we had deemed "off limits."

With joy, we'd like to share that God is leading us to adopt a little boy who will be HIV positive and we are choosing to walk in obedience.

Shocked?  We were too!  Just like us a few months ago, you probably have a lot of thoughts/fears/questions going through your mind right now.  I want to tell you how this all came about and try to answer some of the questions you probably have.

Two months ago I had a friend in my adoption facebook group post current information about HIV.  She felt the Spirit leading her to share and she will forever be a part of Easton's story because of her obedience!  (Never underestimate the power of obedience or the cost of disobedience . . . that moment forever changed my life!)  I normally would have scrolled right past it, but I really felt like I should read the information.  I was shocked!  I realized immediately that I was so uneducated about HIV, had many misconceptions, and that my fears were simply not valid.  I couldn't get it off my mind and spent two days researching information, reading blogs, and looking up resources about HIV.  At that time, I didn't necessarily feel that God was telling me this is what we needed to do, but I felt like Chad and I needed to make an informed decision instead of a decision based on fear and old information like we had 5 months ago. 

Two days later, I shared all of the info I had learned with Chad.  The thing that made my stomach sink (and felt like God's nudging) was this statistic . . .

"HIV medications available in the West have made this a manageable chronic illness, but in poor countries, 50% of children who are undiagnosed and/or untreated will die by the age of 2 yrs." 

HIV is literally a death sentence to children in countries such as Ethiopia where medication isn't available or affordable. 

I wasn't sure how Chad would react to all this info.  Like I said, we were unified when we said no months ago and our decision was in the name of protecting Ava and Grayson whom we dearly love.  He listened quietly as I poured out all the facts and statistics.  I finally quit talking and waited for his reaction.

His exact words were, "I'm in.  How could we not?"

I love that man more than words can express.  Our hearts were again unified, but this time on a journey that we never expected.  I can't even describe the peace that flooded in and the joy that we have had from walking in obedience.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing, better than hearing your Father speak and following after Him.

We have come to realize that the road and the destination aren't as important as the One you are following.  He makes all the difference.  He gives peace on a road full of unknowns.  He gives joy on a road sure to be full of heartache.  He gives strength on a road tough to travel.  He is enough.

We continued to pray for confirmation that this was the road God was calling us to walk.  Confirmation came.  Then we began to tell those closest to us and asked them to pray with us.

We shared the news with our social worker who actually said that she almost mentioned HIV as she did our homestudy, so she wasn't surprised at all by our news.  I'm so thankful that she didn't mention it then.  We weren't ready (obviously) 5 months ago to say yes.  I look back at my blog posts over the last few months and now it all makes sense.  God has been transforming our hearts by His Word so that in His perfect timing, we would be ready to obey.

I've talked about how blessed I am to have Lisa as my best friend . . . this moment was no exception!  She didn't spend one moment asking about the "What Ifs," but immediately said, "Do it.  We'll walk with you."  I can't tell you how much I needed that confidence and encouragement!

We told our parents and close friends, which made me a little nervous (I knew there was no way for them to expect what we were about to throw at them!).  Some were understandably concerned, but supportive and encouraging, especially after we shared current HIV information that alleviated their fears.

We have gotten a tremendous amount of support so far and our hearts have been so encouraged by family and friends willing to face fears, let go of misconceptions, and choose to walk this journey with us!  We realize that this decision doesn't just affect us.  It affects everyone involved in our life.  So the support we have received is a blessing that we don't take for granted.

Through my research, I learned that most people's thoughts about HIV are based on the information available in 1987 . . . a lot has changed in 25 years!  My eyes were opened and my fears washed away when I learned the current facts about HIV.  I desperately want the same for you!

The truth is that the stigma and fears that still exist because of incorrect information are what make living with HIV so hard.  FACTS can stop this!

Here are some main points for you to know about HIV . . . 

(This information is from credible sources such as,,

  • HIV is not AIDS.  It can lead to AIDS if left untreated, but with treatment people can live their whole life without developing AIDS. 
  • HIV is now considered a manageable chronic illness instead of a terminal disease.  People with treatment can get married, have HIV negative babies (with treatment) and live a normal lifespan.  
  • There is still no cure for HIV, but the medications are highly effective and can reduce the amount of virus in the blood to undetectable levels!
  • HIV is transmitted through adult behaviors . . . unprotected sex, sharing needles, childbirth and breastfeeding.
  • The virus is transmitted through blood, semen, vaginal fluid, and breastmilk.
  • The virus is NOT transmitted by saliva, tears, sweat, vomit, urine, feces or snot.
  • You CANNOT get HIV from hugging, kissing, touching, changing a diaper, drinking from the same cup, from a toilet, from a water fountain, coughing, sneezing, bathing, swimming, or from mosquitoes.  
  • Since the medications were introduced in 1995, there have been NO documented cases of HIV being transmitted through normal living conditions in a household, educational, or childcare setting.
  • People with HIV aren't required to tell anyone about their positive status . . . not a school, not a coach, not an employer.  There isn't a risk of transmission so no one has to know!  This privacy is protected by law in the US.  Without knowing it, you probably come in contact with people who are HIV positive quite often since there are 1.2 million Americans living with HIV.

If you are like we were 2 months ago, then much of this is new information.  It just isn't talked about a lot and even when it is, incorrect information is often given.

Which is why I'm going to do a series of posts in the next week or two with more information about HIV.

Part 1:  Transmission (I know this is what everyone wants to know!)
Part 2:  Disclosure
Part 3:  How HIV Works
Part 4:  Life with HIV
Part 5:  History of the HIV/AIDS Epidemic

Please know that we are open and welcoming to discussing HIV and answering any questions that you may have!  Don't be afraid to ask.  It will not offend us at all for you to share your concerns.  And chances are someone else has the same question and would benefit from the answer as well.

We understand that this is scary . . . we said no to it just 5 months ago.  We get it.  But we also know that the fears about transmission are not in proportion to the actual risk.  Truth can alleviate fears and current information is crucial as we work to fight the social stigma that still exists.  Please share this information . . . join with us in spreading the truth about HIV!

As I said earlier, no one has to share their HIV status.   I'll share more about why we are disclosing in the series, but we are choosing to share so that fear and shame can be eliminated and the Gospel can be proclaimed.

I've reflected deeply on my adoption by God over the last couple of months . . . I was an orphan, with the terminal disease of sin, with no hope of saving myself, with nothing to offer, and the cost was high and painful for my adoption.  But God did it . . . out of love and for His glory.  God has poured out His grace in my spiritual adoption and we see His calling for us to adopt Easton as just more of His grace!

We've held to John 9:1-3 as we've prayed for Easton.  The disciples ask Jesus if a man's blindness was because of his sin or his parents' sin.  Jesus says that it is neither, but so that the works of God might be displayed in his life.

We are clinging to God's sovereignty and praying that His works truly will be displayed in our family and in Easton's life! 

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  1. I love it! Thank you for your honesty and I look forward to learning more! Praise God for your obedience!

  2. So wee spoken! Thankful for this adoption journey and how the Lord is using you to share TRUTH!!!! Looking forward to the series!

  3. This is beautiful. "Do it. We'll walk with you." May those words ring out across the world as we embrace the children God has for us. Hugs.

  4. This is so exciting, Cole!! One of the things that God has brought up time and time again for both Kelli and I is the truth that our obedience (or disobedience) not only affects us, but those around us, just as you said. Know that yours and Chad's obedience to the Lord is such an encouragement and amazing testimony to me. I'm going to share this with Kelli as well so we can both continue to pray for y'all. Love y'all so much!!

  5. Thanks for the encouragement ladies! We feel so blessed to share what God is doing in our lives through this adoption!

  6. So beautifully said, Cole. Your obedience is inspiring and I am so excited to walk with you on this journey!!

  7. We're with you! And I so needed to read that second paragraph.

  8. Thanks for the post Cole. It is so true about HIV and fear. I work with men who are HIV positive and won't seek treatment because of their own denial and concerns how they will be treated by others.
    NO AIDS Task Force does a yearly symposium every fall on HIV/AIDS education/policy, free and open to the public.

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