"Adoption is when a child grows in its Mommy's [and Daddy's] heart, instead of her tummy." #NovemberisAdoptionAwarenessmonth
Sooo...Phil and I are starting the adoption process for a child with special needs from Eastern Europe. Sooner than we originally thought, but God has been laying the groundwork for a while and continues to confirm His call for our lives. Lord willing, we will soon (in the next year) have our new addition home with us! While some of you may be slightly surprised, others knew this was coming.
Let me start from the beginning….I fell in love working with children with disabilities when I was in the 7th grade...heck, I practically grew up volunteering at The Children's Center in Winston-Salem. I received my Bachelor's degree in Child and Family Development with an inclusive Birth-Kindergarten teaching license. I've worked for several years with a family who has a child with Autism (whom I love dearly!). I started out my teaching career in an EC Pre-K class and then taught a More-at-Four class, all the while working on my Masters degree in Special Education. From there I opened up Cabarrus County's Day Treatment classroom and have since moved to teach special education in a resource setting. On another note, I have always loved going on mission trips. So, when the opportunities really began to arise at church three to four years ago, I wanted to jump right in.
(Phil: I grew up with almost no interaction with disabled children. When Celeste began serving at Lake Norman Baptist in the Special Buddies class, I kept my distance—it scared me to be around those children. Now, I serve with her, and I absolutely love those kids! Also, I had never been on mission trips to the extent Celeste had. So, when the topic of going on a mission trip to Eastern Europe got brought up, I hit the brakes. But, God began to work in my heart…)
Now to pull it all together... Phil and I went on a mission trip together to Eastern Europe with LNBC in 2013. It was the most amazing experience to say the least. While there, Phil became buddies with a little girl we met at one of the orphanages. She had mild cerebral palsy and wore shoes that were 2 sizes too small (don't worry, she had stable shoes that fit by the time we left!). She stole his heart! It blessed me beyond measure to see his interactions with her, as well as with the men at the adult handicapped center. We came home talking about pursuing adoption. Little did we know, Paisley had traveled with us to Eastern Europe—which put a hold on those pursuits.
Fast forward to this past summer... Earlier in the spring, a trip to Eastern Europe had been announced at church and I expressed interest in going to Phil. Timing didn't seem right, (Phil: I found the brake pedal again!) so the topic sort of died down. When the opportunity to host orphans from Moldova came up, we prayed about it and took a leap of faith--to host two teenage girls for the month of August. That ended up falling through at the last minute because of an issue in-country. But, God has an ultimate, sovereign plan! After praying about it and receiving support from family, friends, and my school administration, we decided that I would indeed go on the Eastern Europe mission trip. I actually went a few days early to one country in Eastern Europe with a couple of others and we met the rest of the team in a neighboring country a few days later. Another amazing, Spirit-filled experience!
Prayers, events, sermons, and conversations that have happened over the past few months and even years have seemed to confirm God's call for Phil and I to not only adopt, but to adopt a child with special needs. Do we know that this is a life-long commitment? Yes. Is it going to be difficult? Sure. But, we are trusting in the Lord and taking a leap of faith--which is all He asks us to do!
Hence the reason we have created this blog. To journal our thoughts and chronicle our journey.
- Please pray that God will guide our journey each step of the way.
- Pray that each step will happen in His timing.
- Pray that God will prepare our hearts, our home, and our family as we prepare to welcome a new addition.
- Pray that we would be able to discern who is meant to be our son/daughter.
- Pray that God will sustain our faith and provide financial support so we will be able to carry out His call.
- Pray that we will be His light to a dark area of the world as we go through this process.
Look out for a link to our YouCaring page, if you would like to donate towards the adoption. We also hope to figure out some fundraisers to help with raising needed funds. If you would prefer to give a tax-deductible donation, you can send a check to Lake Norman Baptist Church with "Missions-Celeste/Phil Graham" in the memo line. If you don't mind, the church has asked if you would give us a heads-up if you choose to do this, so we can keep records to make sure nothing gets confused.
Thanks for reading this shortened, but long-winded glimpse into our life. We hope you are as excited as we are to embark on this journey! :)