Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Where It Began, Part 1...

I love children, I just didn't know how much until... I used to think that I wasn't that great with children until they were much older, but the Lord had a very different plan and for that I am grateful.

Bryan and I were married in 1993, I was just 20 years old. We knew then that we wanted to change our heritage, as there was nothing we could change about our heredity. We wanted to try and follow Jesus (what ever that meant), unknowingly we set out on a journey where we could have never determined the destination.

Early on in marriage we decided to have 3 children, two boys and one girl (as if we could control those details.) By the time our fourth child came along, we found out we were pregnant with twins and sadly lost one baby. Chloe was born sick with more problems than we could count. By the grace of God over about 3 years He healed her to whole. We decided not to have any more biological children. We had enough and each pregnancy got harder and harder for me physically.

In 2005 Jesus decided our boat needed a little rocking. We attended a Steven Curtis Chapman concert. The concert focused on adoption. Steven appealed to our hearts and simply asked the question, "Why? Why wouldn't you adopt?" He went on to say, "If you are a follower of Jesus, and you have a house over your head and love in your heart, why won't you trust Jesus in opening your heart to one of the least of these?"

I went away completely undone. I thought through his questions and decided, "Why wouldn't we? We have love, we have a home. If God is who he says He is then that is enough!" On the drive home I mustard up the courage to ask Bryan, "Honey...have you every considered adoption? I mean, would that be something you would be interested in doing?" Bryan answered very quickly but kindly, "No."

I did not really continue the conversation. I could see that I was undone but he was unmoved. Honestly I was shocked or at least confused as to why my heart ached over the stories that were shared this night just to have a big NO in response. I decided to pray about it, that one of our hearts would be changed to match the others.

Soon the feeling faded and we were back into life as normal. A family of 6 after all is no small family. It is bigger than we ever dreamed. We struggled with all of our bills, keeping up on our mortgage was hard. We were always late paying the utilities, maybe this was for the best, I thought. I am so glad my husband balanced my crazy ideas out, God knew I would need that in a marriage.

A whole year passed and Christmas was upon us, the hustle and bustle, shopping, decorating, Christmas parties and lots and lots of food. We were invited to a Christmas concert, Steven Curtis Chapman and Mercy me, we couldn't pass that up. As we entered the suite where we would be watching the concert, I was handed a concert brochure. Bryan ran downstairs to get us coffee before the concert started and I sat thumbing through the brochure. All of the sudden the Spirit of the Lord nudged me. This was a Steven Curtis Chapman concert, they would be talking about adoption! My heart beat a little faster. I remembered the last concert we were at and how my husband and I were not on the same page. Excitement started to ensue in me out of no where. "Lord, if they do talk about adoption it is going to have to be all You," I whisper under my breath. "I can't, I won't say anything. Lord You will have to move his heart, change it if this is you."

The time came for an intermission. Steven and one of the guys from Mercy me came to speak. Sure enough, they focused on adoption. Steven said, "If you are a parent here, your child is more than likely making out his Christmas list. These kids that we are talking about here tonight have one wish on their list, a mom and a dad to love them. Can you open your heart to just one? You are adopted sons and daughters of Christ, can you extend yourself to make a difference in just one life?" James 1:27. He let us know that if we were interested in more information to head to the corridor and there would be people to help answer our questions.

Tears poured down my face. I was praying that Bryan didn't miss one word. I turned around as we were dismissed and he was gone. I thought for sure he must have ran to the bathroom and not heard a word. I tried to get a hold of myself and wipe the tears off my face, when I saw Bryan. Standing in the corner of the room weeping. Not a gentle cry, but an overwhelmed, over come cry. As I approached him, he looked at me with that look that speaks more than any word ever could. Bryan chokes out, "What are we going to do about this?" I knew what he meant! The Lord knew Bryan's heart, He had cultivated it for a whole year. He didn't need me to say a word. Jesus spoke, Bryan decided to obey. Before I knew it Bryan whisked me off to the corridor, hand in hand we approached the booths with fear and many questions. We were on our way to start our journey of adoption.

There are so many details that I would love to tell you about, like how we decided to adopt from China, or how God showed us that He would provide every dollar for our international adoption. I would love to tell you about the great community He surrounded us with and how we decided that we would adopt a child with special needs. But lets suffice to say that when Jesus asks you to trust Him, He if faithful and HE WILL DO IT!

Almost two years later, after arduous stacks of paper work, interviews, more fundraisers than I can count, tears, laborious work, the time had come to get ready to travel. We went into finalize our paper work and set out to finally meet our daughter.

When we got to our beautiful adoption agency for our appointment, Margot, one of the adoption workers came in to visit us and was obviously frustrated. The joke ran around the office that all the adults loved our family and wanted us to adopt them too. "So Thiele's, you wouldn't be interested in adopting an eleven year old girl from Russia would you?" WHY we asked. She began to explain the situation. "There is an eleven year old who has been adopted from Russia and the adoption is being disrupted. We need to find this girl a home quick."

Bryan and I were taken back, how in the world does this happen we asked? Why in the world does this happen? Where is she? Can we meet her? All of the sudden the room that once was focused only on our China adoption that was only 5 weeks away was now focused on a possible double adoption from two different countries! Margot who once was only blowing off steam with her candid comment, became very serious. "Thiele's this could ruin your life. I didn't think you would consider it really, I was just venting. Are you sure you want to meet the family?"

Yes, we did want to meet the family. We prayed the whole next week while the family drove across the USA to meet us for the first time. Our lives were already crazy we thought, what is one more thing. My mom had recently been diagnosed with ALS a fatal disease. Once we thought that my mom would be the care givers for our 4 kids while we traveled to China, but now she lived with us full time and I needed to care for her 24/7. She was unable to move from the neck down, mom went from walking to completely bed bound in 4 months. Our lives were up-side down. Still, we wanted to meet the family and they were excited to meet us.

I will never forget the fear and trembling I had meeting Natalia's adopted parents for the first time. We were so scared and had so many questions. Was this the best thing for our 5 kids (well almost 5) and was this the best thing for a dying mom? Was this the best thing for us as parents and our marriage?

Our meeting went well with the family. Long story, but one thing was for sure, they loved Jesus. They knew that Natalia was not thriving in their home. They told us all the stories, all of their fears and that they knew that the Lord used them to bring this little girl across the seas to her new forever family. Bryan and I were so confused. We were filled with more "Why's". We decided with the help of our adoption liaison, that we would meet Natalia for the first time the next evening at a park.

The meeting went well. The little Russian girl of 11 was the same age as our biological daughter and of course they hit it off. We asked Natalia if she would like to spend a couple of nights with us, with big eyes she eagerly accepted, she had never had a friend her age before! The next 4 nights we watched closely and prayed a lot. We didn't share our story with anyone except for a few close friends. Natalia and Coral bonded right away. Natalia even shared deep secrets with Coral like, "I wish we were sisters."

I agonized over if we should say yes or no to this big decision. Who would take her if we said no? What if we said yes and we didn't know how to handle her or the situation? What if we failed. What if? What if? What if? I could hardly sleep those next few nights. My mom bed bound in our living room, Natalia and Coral bonding faster than I liked, phone calls from friends of friends warning us not to move forward and Jesus whispering, "Trust me, I am the Father to the fatherless. I have this Andrea, will you trust me?"

This time, tables had turned. Bryan was sure and confident that we should and I was confused and terrified. On the 4th day I read a devotional. It said, "Is Jesus asking you to say YES to something that is big? Won't you trust Him that the with the "Yes" today?" I went downstairs to my little mama and laid my head in her lap. "Mom, what should we do? I am so scared?" My mom so sweet answered, "Drea, bring that little girl into your home, she needs a mom."

That very day we said YES to the most incredible journey of a life time! Natalia graced our home, and embraced our family, our lives were changed forever. The first night that she was officially ours, we were driving from saying our goodbyes to her "First Family" when she asked in a heavy Russian accent, "So does that mean I can call you Mom and Dad now?" We cried the whole way home, knowing that our God was sovereign and although I didn't understand all the "Why's" myself, I could trust in Him because He knows all the answers!

4 weeks later we traveled to China to pick up our daughter Cyilea and we were a family of eight!

Our first week with Cailee Natalia

Four short weeks later our daughter Cyilea (Lea after my mom)


Lisa said...

I do so love this story ... even more so because I am blessed to be a part of it. ;) LOVE the photos of the kids on the left side of the page, too. Your family has touched my life so, and I am more than blessed to be walking this life with friends like you. May God continue to use you in ways that defy human understanding. If you are thinking of adopting, but are too scared ... talk to this woman ... she has amazing God stories to tell that will put them at rest.


Kelline said...

There has yet to be a time that I've read your posts that I wasn't incredibly blessed. Tonight, I needed peace and assurance that it's going to be ok in my trial. I was on my blog listening to my playlist when I decided to go to bed. I accidentally clicked the wrong button and saw your photo on my homepage of blogs I follow and of course, came straight to see what you had posted. I'm so glad I clicked that wrong button. God said, "Kelline, will you trust me now?" You're a very good writer but I guess when it's a story of the heart, it flows well doesn't it? Bless you Thiele family!!

jennifer anderson said...

such beautiful children

Project Playlist