(Read part 1 of this series here)

I knew that if I hesitated for even a second, I would be in danger of shrinking back and reasoning my way out of moving forward. So as soon as the words, “Give us one” left my lips, I stood to my feet and headed toward Oz Google for some courage.

America World Adoption,” I typed. It was the name of the agency that helped our neighbor bring home a little boy from China a few months earlier. It was the one and only thing I knew about international adoption, so that’s where I started.

I requested an information packet which, in 2007, wasn’t downloadable like it is today. Instead, it had to make its way from Virginia to Minnesota by donkey (or whatever) while I wrung my hands, paced around our house, and wondered what kind of crazy I had just shoved our family into.

When Ryan brought the mail to me a week later, there was an envelope from Swaziland, Africa resting on top of the package from America World. 

I froze when I saw it.

What are the odds?

Our church started sponsoring children and funding projects in Swaziland that year, and because our sponsored child was so young at the time, one of World Vision’s employees usually wrote to us on her behalf.

Not this time. No, this time the letter was written by her mother–something that had never happened before, something that has never happened since.


I knew better than to dismiss it as a coincidence.

God had dropped a breadcrumb.


After a few days of reading and re-reading about all the different programs America World offered, we decided that Ethiopia was the country we needed to head toward. It made sense given our church’s involvement in Africa, it was by far the least expensive program, and it only required families to travel once (this is not the case anymore, unfortunately). 

The one-trip component was a big deal to us because we knew that our sons (ages 2 and 3), were going to have to stay home when it came time for us to travel. We also didn’t qualify for some of the other programs for a variety of reasons, including that we didn’t meet the minimum age or years-married requirements. Every country has its own rules, you see.

Regardless of all that, though, Africa was simply on our hearts. It had been for months.

All we had to do next was complete the online application, pay a $200 fee, and wait for a response.

There was just one problem: We didn’t have $200.

We were broke. So broke. Embarrassingly broke.

So there we were on our bed one night, me staring at the ceiling with a fire in my belly about all this, and Ryan running the numbers and trying to make sense of the application on his laptop. We were moving forward on a hunch—only 75% or so sure of things—and gun-shy on account of the Cost Of It All.

We suspected our parents might loan us some money to get started. We thought our friends would maybe fundraise a portion of the tens of thousands of dollars it was going to take to see this thing through.  But we hadn’t asked them yet, so we didn’t know. We were pretty tangled up about it and wondered if we should wait to apply until we had more answers.

Eventually that night we decided that the money part of it wasn’t really the issue. The issue was obedience. If we believed that Jesus meant what he said about caring for orphans—and if he was clearly opening doors for us to do just that—then we could either trust and obey him or doubt and ignore him. We could say yes or we could say no, but we had to say something.

“Okay, so let me ask you this,” Ryan said. “What if we tell our parents and friends about this and they decide not to help us with the money part? Are we still going to apply and trust God to provide?”

“Yes. Absolutely yes.” I said.

“Then let’s do it. Right now. Before we even tell anyone. Ready?”



Before I take you to the next part of our story, I want to say this to those of you considering adoption or any endeavor requiring you to set your feet along roads less traveled:

You aren’t going to be 100% sure about any of it, ever. The best you can do is start with what you know, and take a little step. Then another. Then another.

Google something. Talk to someone. Request more info. Keep your eyes peeled for breadcrumbs. See if what your gut is telling you lines up with what God has written. If it does, then do the next thing. If it doesn’t, then readjust. But don’t hesitate. Don’t stand still. Move your feet.

Someone, somewhere, is waiting on your yes.

america world adoption ethiopia transition home