One year ago today, we met Olivia and Nicholas for the first time. The drive to the orphanage seemed to take forever from our hotel in Silistra. I remember rounding the corner in the village of Malak Preslavets and waiting there on the road for a flock of sheep to cross. It was a beautiful memory and helped to break the tension of anticipation. A few moments later, we pulled up outside the door of the orphanage and out they ran. They had been waiting for us. Waiting for their new parents.
We spent the afternoon walking in a park along the Danube and taking lunch at a pretty café in the town where they were born. Across the river, Romania.
We walked the social worker back to her office. As we said goodbye, she took my face in both her hands, and smiling warmly, looked straight into my eyes and said, “Blagodarya “, “Thank you”. She wasn’t thanking me for lunch. She knew all too well how desperate the situation is for older kids… MUCH older kids.
Sometimes it seems a lifetime ago, sometimes it feels like yesterday.
God willing, we will return to Bulgaria within a few months to meet two new daughters – two girls for whom the future is grim without us to rescue them. If you feel moved to help bring them home, we would be so blessed. Follow this link to read more, to share, or to make a gift. We treasure your prayers!
When your almost-13-year-old son, adopted just six months ago, is heard whispering to himself a heartfelt “I love this family”. You reply, “We love you, too. And we’re so glad that you are here” and have to make up some stupid excuse to leave the room. Because all the feels.
Nicholas has blossomed here. Here, he is cherished and special. His intelligence is celebrated and nurtured. Food is varied and plentiful. He has a space all his own. Life is joyful.
When we met him, almost a year ago, he was so painfully shy. Withdrawn. He hardly spoke, wouldn’t make eye contact, would stiffly accept hugs without returning them. The only thing he said the whole week was to Brian, “Naistina li si bashta mi ?” – “Are you really my father?”. He answered, “Da” – “Yes”. That exchange produced the only smile we saw from him during that trip.
When we came home, Nicholas was that same withdrawn boy. On top of that, he was insecure and frightened. He had left everything he’d known. But slowly, he opened up. He began to relax and to play without poising himself to run. He joined in the other kids’ games, he sang, he danced. He acquired English very quickly. Joséphine hugged him faithfully – every day. She told him “I love you”.
And one morning, he hugged back. He said, “I love you, too”.
It was like watching your baby take his first steps, or say his first word. That day, he was born anew. Every day since then, he has become more and more steady on his feet. And now he can run.
Our fondest hope was that our adopted children would come to be grateful to God for the gift they’d been given. A second chance. A new life. Let me be clear: we weren’t seeking gratitude for ourselves. But to God. For in being grateful to God, there is a spring of joy. Pierce through the hardness, get beyond the pain, and joy will flood in. “I love this family.” was more than an affirmation. It was a prayer of thanksgiving.
We have taught him love. To love, and to be loved, and what love is.
This is the highest goal of adoption – at least for us. To instruct a child in love. The family is a school of love. He can not learn love anywhere else. It is why children need families of their own. All children. Babies, toddlers, and teens.
There are 150 million children waiting to enter the School of Love. Most will never be given the chance. Nearly all of them will be homeless at age 16. 60% of girls will be sold into the sex trade to be trafficked throughout Europe and the Middle East. 70% of boys will become criminals. Up to 15% will be dead from suicide by age 18. This is a pro-life issue. You can quite literally save a life, preserve future generations, make the world a better place. Not everyone is called to adopt, but we ALL are exhorted by Holy Scripture to help widows and orphans in their distress (James 1:27). You can do that by supporting a family who is adopting – with your prayers, sharing their need, and by giving materially from your time, talent and treasure.
Brian and I are returning to Eastern Europe for two teen girls. We would be blessed if you would share our current fundraiser. You can click through from the link in the sidebar or click here. If you would like to post our fundraiser in your own blog sidebar, here is the code:
For those of you with friends who are newly adoptive parents (even ones who have adopted previously):
Please remember to ask a newly adoptive parent how they are adjusting, and how their other children are adjusting as well as how the new kids are adjusting. Adjustment happens with everyone. Every single family member. And it’s hard work.
And if you feel moved, offer help. Real help. Don’t say “is there anything we can do for you?” because adoptive parents are exhausted and can’t even answer whether or not they want a cup of coffee. Instead say “I want to do the grocery shopping for you. I’ll be by later (or tomorrow)”, then come pick up the list and their credit card and do that shopping, or just offer to pick up some essentials. If you’re going to bring a meal (please offer to do that), make sure you know about food sensitivities or restrictions, plan to drop it off, give them a hug and a kiss, let them know you’re keeping them in prayer, and then leave them to it. And if you’re going to want to do something around the house, like laundry, dishes, cooking, baby cuddling, read alouds, that’s fantastic. Those are all excellent ways to help. I promise that your friend is more grateful than they even have the ability to express at this moment. Visitors are super stressful when they’re trying to acclimate new children, trying to form safe attachments.
If you haven’t seen your friend in quite awhile, you want to wait a bit before reuniting with them. They want to really enjoy that time, and so do you. There is a good chance that they are in such a funk that they won’t remember much of that time with you.
Please don’t ask them to do anything extra. They can’t do committee right now, or counsel anyone (they could probably use some wise counsel themselves). They can’t help plan a fundraiser or party, or even go to a party. I’m sure that they appreciate the invitation, but they are in full-on survival mode. Getting dressed up and socializing (and answering many, many questions by sweet people who are genuinely interested in their adoption), is more than they can reasonably handle. They would probably appreciate a really trustworthy babysitter or two to watch the kids so that they can have a quiet dinner at the local burger joint or pizza parlor, however. Or maybe they want to go make a holy hour together and grab a cup of coffee.
Adopting a child can be an even more difficult adjustment than welcoming a newborn.
We’re doing OK, but we’ve never been more exhausted in our lives. We’re struggling to keep up with our normal routine, and to shoulder the necessary work to help our new kids get integrated. Brian missed two weeks of work for which he was not paid. We didn’t get that covered with our fundraisers. We’re way behind on bills, and Christmas is a little uncertain. But we have our kids safely home and that is what is most important. God never promised that life in His service would be easy.
Posted with love and immense gratitude for all of the love poured out for our family during this time. We treasure your prayers.
We’re home with Nicholas and Olivia! It has been quite a couple of weeks, learning about each other. It wasn’t very long after we picked them up that it became clear that the information we received about their education levels was wrong. Both of our kids are bright, but neither of them has anything like a 4th or 5th grade education. Our kids have achieved about a preschool and kindergarten level equivalent, respectively. They are capable of learning, but will need an awful lot of help to catch up. We need to do about 5 years of intensive remedial work with them to bring them up to a level near what they should be for their ages.
In order to do that, I’m going to need some materials that will help them to learn and practice. I have made Montessori materials at home for many years, but our needs are more urgent than I can meet by making them myself now. I’m going to need to purchase materials so that we can get the kids started right away.
Because our previous giveaways have been so much fun and so successful, we are going to do another one!
An Apple for the Teacher
For every 100 apples claimed, we will give away one Apple Watch. And this time every gift is the same amount: $25.
Claim as many apples as you want. The more apples you claim, the greater your chance of winning.
To claim your apples, send your gift of $25 per apple through PayPal to nissa_@_gadboisfamily_._com
We will draw a winner (or winners) on Sunday, December 6th – St Nicholas Day. Please help us spread the word! We’re sure that lots of people will want a chance at an Apple Watch right before Christmas!
Whatever we raise in excess of our needs for materials will be put toward other projects here at the house: completion of the permanent schoolroom, completion of the third floor bedrooms for our adult children and guests, an office for our ministry, workspaces for making candles, soaps, and sewn items for our shop, a room to be used as photography studio – all in support of our ministry.
*No purchase necessary, click here for details. Void where prohibited.
Twenty one years ago, we met with a social worker in the living room of our little apartment in Belleville, Illinois. We wanted to talk to her about adopting. She showed us pages and pages of available children. Beautiful little boys and girls, some just tiny babies. Almost every one of them was African American. And she told us that we could absolutely start the process but that the State of Illinois would never place a black child in a white home. They couldn’t flat out deny us since it was against the law, but they had ways to make it nigh impossible. We were young, and impressionable. We didn’t think we had the power to fight that, so we laid aside that attempt.
Over the years, we looked into adopting from China, India, Russia, Kazakhstan, Poland, Ukraine, and finally Bulgaria. We have been burned by unscrupulous placing agencies, started and stopped home studies, and hosted children with the intention of adopting. We have been blessed with nine children through birth along the way. The desire to answer God’s call to care for orphans never faded.
Two years ago, I saw two little faces on an adoption photo listing. I committed to pray for them, as I do any time the profile of an orphan touches my heart. I know that the timing wasn’t right for us, but I printed out the information I had. Six months later, a friend sent me a message and asked me to consider two children she knew were available for adoption. The timing was still terrible, but I promised to pray about it. And we did. For two weeks.
We were paying two mortgages, trying to run a farm and renovate a house. There were NO savings and it didn’t look like there was going to be anything extra in the budget anytime soon. We knew we would never have the $30,000+ we needed to cover adoption fees and expenses. But we felt that God was calling us – loud and clear. So we stepped off in faith. It felt like stepping off a precipice over a yawning chasm. But we chose to believe, and stay in prayer.
He moved mountains and hearts. Folks gave so generously right from the beginning. Some gave $5, some gave much more. More people than that offered prayers for us and for our children, shared links to various fundraisers. There were times it came right down to the wire, funds were due and we didn’t know where they would come from, but we always trusted. And we asked for your prayers. And always – ALWAYS – we were provided for in lavish and spectacular style. Every single barrier fell before the power of faith. You who have been with us on this journey, you have witnessed faith in action. You have witnessed a miracle.
Tomorrow, we board a flight to Bulgaria to bring our son and daughter home. Forever. And we are so grateful. We can’t wait to see how their lives unfold, to see what things God has planned for them.
And we ask you to go before our Father with one last prayer. Pray for those who still wait. Pray for the children who are “too old” to get a second look, pray for sibling groups who are “too big” to take on, pray for the children with special medical and developmental needs who are “too great a burden” to raise. They are precious and worthy. They need us to do whatever we can for them. They need families and a future. So pray for them. Pray most fervently, and every day. And if God moves your heart to reach out and open your heart and home to one or more of these children; and if you feel that you just don’t know how you can possibly make it happen, you get in touch with me. I promise to pray with you, and to help you in whatever way I can to make it happen. Because so many did just that for us. Maybe one of those people was you. And it will make all the difference in the world.