Friendship for the Journey

This is a post I have wanted to write for a few months, but I’ve postponed it because I know my limited writing skills won’t be able to portray this blessing as beautifully as we have lived it.  This is the story of friendship and how God whispers sweet stories into existence for His children–both young and old.  This story is about 2 families in a small town in Illinois, and two little orphaned boys halfway around the world in Bulgaria.

When Andy and I decided to pursue adoption, Bulgaria was always the country we were leaning towards–mostly because of my experience  there–but also because it was the country our agency said we were best suited for (given a variety of variables they take into account).  I don’t remember now, as I look back, if we even knew Matt and Courtney had started the adoption process with the same agency and country, but soon into the journey we realized that we were on similar paths.

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I knew Courtney from high school.  We ran around in similar circles on and off during  our teen years, but were more of acquaintances than much else.  However, I could have never anticipated how the Lord would knit our families together during the last 3 years.

Matt and Courtney were registered to adopt from Bulgaria in March of 2012, and we weren’t registered until February of 2014.  I always assumed that we would watch their family bring home a child, and we would learn from them for a few years before we did the same.  Courtney would always say to me, “You know, maybe we’ll get matched at the same time. You never know.”  I would always smile, and think, “There’s no way.  You guys are 2 years ahead of us, but sure, you never know.” (I might be a skeptic.)

As our families waited, God used our passion for orphan-care and Bulgaria to build strong bonds, and to advocate for the orphans of Bulgaria.  We had the blessing of planning an event to raise money for a special needs orphanage in Bulgaria, and watched God move in our community’s heart.  Over $10,000 was raised, and a new roof covered the Maria Luisa Orphanage before Christmas of 2013.  To be side by side as we witnessed this miracle take place with our friends and families made it that much more special.

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We have spent evenings in each other’s homes dreaming and considering what life might be like with our future children.  Our kids have shared their excitement of adding new brothers or sisters in a unique way……something not many kids their age are waiting for.   We have prepared and eaten Bulgarian dishes, and worked together to incorporate our love of Bulgaria into the very core of our families.  These are moments I will forever cherish.

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We have stood by our kids as they sold lemonade to raise awareness and money for orphans around the world, and we have been blessed by how their hearts have been changed by this journey too.

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And then, in July, Courtney called me with the news of a precious, curly-headed little boy.  I was thrilled!  We rejoiced in God’s goodness.  We knew they would have a few hurdles to cross before the news could be made public, but we quietly celebrated that they would have a son.  Less than a month later, in August, our agency called with OUR referral.  You’ve already read about that craziness, so I’ll spare you the details again, but after immediately calling Andy and my parents, Courtney was the next person I couldn’t wait to tell.  In shock, we rejoiced, and as the weeks unfolded, so did the many miracles and workings of God.  We began to recognize the many ways the Lord had quietly been working in the previous years to cross our paths so intricately.

We agree that it’s as if God required Matt and Courtney to wait a little longer than “average,”  and allowed us to wait a little less than “average”, so that we could meet in the middle.  Both of our families were open to a child of either gender, age 0-3 with varying medical conditions.  We were both matched with little boys, with unique (but also similar medical needs).  These precious little boys were born 5 days apart.  Kircho’s birthday is at the end of November, while Isus was born December 5th.  (We have Bulgarian birthday celebrations planned in our future!)  Matt and Courtney had to wait (what felt like) forever before they could be “officially” matched with Kircho, and yet, we still traveled to Bulgaria in back-to-back weeks.  In fact, of all the flight options and times we could have had, we crossed paths for 20 quick and beautiful minutes in the Detroit airport to hug and encourage each other.  We were returning from our week with Isus, and they were headed to meet Kircho.

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We know now that there is a very real possibility that we might travel to pick up our boys at the same time…..or at least within a few weeks of each other.  The comfort it brings my heart to know we will be experiencing the same trials and joys as we transition home with our sons is unexplainable.

Lastly, when I take a step back from my own perspective on it, I realize that God was writing the same beautiful story for our boys.  He knew that these cherished sons of His would need an earthly mom and dad because of situations they had no control over, and He ordained that they would leave their birth-country to be placed 10 miles from each other in Southern Illinois.  All their young lives, they will have the ability to share similar life circumstances, histories, and similar beginnings  that God is redeeming……and Courtney and I (with Andy and Matt) have the privilege to see it unfold.

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