I can’t believe it. The week has finally arrived. I’m about to be a father again – times two!

For those who may not know, our family has been in the process of an international adoption from South Africa for over two full years now. And our trip happens this week (and by “our,” I mean – my 4 biological kids, my two biological parents, my marital wife and myself). If you want to know what our adventure will be like (and how you can pray for us) here’s a brief overview of what we can expect for the next two months.

BEFORE OUR ADOPTION TRIP

We leave on Wednesday (July 15). Packing our bags and suitcases is all that remains. It’s currently winter in South Africa (boo!) with a high of about 50 60/70 (and lows below freezing). So, long pants, coats, and sweater vests are going in the suitcases. We also have an entire suitcase full of toys and melatonin for our kids – lots and lots of melatonin.

Please pray for the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual preparedness of everyone. As Proverbs says, “Man plans his ways, but the Lord determines his steps.” Pray that God will do just that.

DURING OUR ADOPTION TRIP

We fly out of Dulles to Johannesburg by way of Amsterdam. Twenty hours in a hollow metal tube soaring through the air at 500 mph with 4 children under the age of 10 is a recipe for mental breakdown. But, that’s what the situation requires and what we’re prepared to do. Pray for lots of patience, love and grace for all involved (especially our fellow passengers.)

After we arrive in Johannesburg, we will have a few days before we actually meet the boys. Via the internet, we have already found a church to attend, Brackenhurst Baptist Church. We will be with them next Sunday. The pastor, Doug van Meter and his members have already reached out to us, welcomed us and prayed for us. It’s amazing what the internet and the Holy Spirit can do. Pray for our “temporary” church family and time there.

On July 22 20, Rebecca and I will meet the boys (ages 7 & 3) for the first time at their current home, the Villa of Hope Children’s Home. Pray that this visit goes really well. I have been asking God to “put a desire for family” in each of their little hearts. Grant it, adoption is not like the movie Annie, where everyone sings and dances towards a “happily ever after” ending – but, we are asking God for a mutual love and desire.

Brief visits with the boys will soon turn into all-day affairs. Near the end of our first two weeks, the boys will go on outings with us and maybe even spend the night. During this time, they will also meet our other children. Pray for good interactions. That all leads up to the week of August 6 when we go to a South African court room.

Once we walk out of court, the boys will be ours and we will officially be “Scarlett, party of 8!” After court, we will make our way – either by plane, train or automobile – to Cape Town. In addition to some sightseeing, safari adventures and basic touristy things – we will schedule a meeting at the US embassy to finalize their naturalization paperwork, get their US passports and plan towards the trip home. In an absolute best case scenario, our entire trip will be 4-6 weeks but we are planning for 6 – 8 weeks, as a real possibility.

AFTER OUR ADOPTION TRIP

We travel back to VA the first week (or so) of September and voila we instantly get back to life as normal, right? Hardly.

While we’ve not experienced it yet, many of our adoptive friends have told us that the first few weeks (and months) back – especially with older children – are a critical time of adjustment for everyone. These boys aren’t infants – and so, we will have to work hard at establishing routine, deepening our bonding, developing language and creating the necessary attachment that family requires. Simple things like dinner time, bath time, and bed time – we’re told – can become a time-consuming, emotionally draining experience for everyone. Begin praying now for this.

Our training and friends have encouraged us to have an intentional “quarantine” time when we return. We don’t mean quarantine for disease-sake, but a quarantine for socializing-sake. Many of you (understandably so) will be “rubbernecking” to see them, eager to meet them and make them feel loved. That’s great! Please do! But, too much of that too fast (from too many people) may be overwhelming to them. We want to help them adjust at a good, healthy pace.

Also, we will have lots of doctors’ visits. We need to get the older son examined for his seizures and get him on some medication ASAP. Pray for this.

I do intend to come back to work soon after we return, but it may take a few weeks or even months for us as an entire family to return to Sunday School, mid-week church and other events. We don’t know, just yet, what all of this will look like – so your patience and flexibility will be greatly appreciated.

A FEW THANK YOUS

Before I forget, I am incredibly thankful for our elders, staff and deacons who will be stepping up in my absence. We have the very best church leaders that anyone can ask for – and they have not hesitated to help shoulder the burden and responsibility during my absence. My thanks to them and their families.

While I’m away, the pastoral care of our church does not stop – there will be elders available to meet, counsel and talk with as needed. Do seek them out. They want to serve the flock. I also want to thank our Personnel Committee for their help to make all of this happen.

 

Our trip, this week, is not the end of this journey – truly, it is just the beginning. We have a lifetime, ahead, to raise our new sons in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We will be praying for you all. You, our church family, will be missed, especially on Sundays. May God grant us all His favor and grace during these 2 months. See you all soon!

 

S.D.G.