As integral a part of our family as they now are, we almost missed out on the blessing that they've been.
When we got the referral for the girls, ten months along in the adoption process, we said, "Thank you, but...no."
We'd asked the Russian goverment for a brother and a sister between the ages of five and eight. They wanted us to take three children, not two. This referral was all girls, and it even included a child much younger than we thought we wanted to parent. We prayed (or at least told ourselves we did) and informed our agency we'd pass. We'd wait for another referral.
Two weeks later I got that second call while Mr. Beaver was at work. I held my breath waiting for the info on the new children. What I heard instead was our agency contact, Patricia, saying, "It's the strangest thing, but this referral is for the same children. The difference is that this time they're suggesting you just take the older two girls."
Incredulously, I asked, "Do you mean we'd leave the 2-1/2 year old in her orphanage?" Patricia sounded hesitant, but her answer was, "Yes."
Again I poked and proded at the implication, "We'd be separating the sisters? Forever?" And again, Patricia's answer was a reluctant, "Yes. Since the youngest is in a different orphanage because of her age, they can be separated."
Without even consulting Mr. Beaver, I told Patricia that I didn't think we could tear a family apart. After all, we were in the business of adoption to keep siblings together. I told her I thought we'd have to take all three of the girls or none of them. We'd pray about this second referral of the same sisters and get back to her.
The next day as we were wrestling with what felt like a heavy weight, a CD arrived in the mail that I had ordered about two weeks earlier. It was Steven Curtis Chapman's newest release "All Things New."
Included among the songs was one titled, "What Now?." As we listened, we were amazed at how it seemed to speak to our dilemma. As we played it again and again, our hearts were softened:
"I saw the face of Jesus in a little orphan girlShe was standing in the corner on the other side of the world.I heard the voice of JesusGently whisper to my heart,'Didn't you say you wanted to find Me?Well here I am.Here you are. So What now?'"
A second song on Chapman's CD, called "Believe Me Now", bolstered our courage as it reminded us that if we said, "Yes," to adding another three children to our family--including a toddler--that God would be with us, just as He always had been.
The Lord used the music of adoption advocate and adoptive father Steven Curtis Chapman to change our minds. Now we wanted to be part of God's glorious plan to allow these sisters to face the rest of their lives shoulder-to-shoulder, friends forever. Now that God had moved in our hearts, we were determined that they'd have each other's support, encouragement and love for the rest of their lives.
We said, "YES!" to the three little girls in early November, and three weeks later we were on a plane headed to Russia to meet our soon-to-be daughters.
The pictures included in this post were taken at the two orphanages that were their homes. We had only 45 minutes to spend at each, but it was enough. Tatiana, Natasha and Princess Bink won our hearts that day. They've held hearts ever since.
Princess Bink never smiled and never spoke during our time together.
We had no idea she what a zest for life she'd shower on all of us.
Unlike their stoic little sister, the older girls were full of life and laughter during our time together.
Tatiana - age 7
Natasha - age 4-1/2
We colored with the girls and showed them pictures of the children who would be their siblings.
We thank God that He channeled our hearts (Proverbs 16:1), His plan was, of course, far better than ours!
We also thank God for Steven and Mary Beth Chapman's love for the fatherless. They don't know it, but they've impacted the lives of three Russian princesses--and the girls' entire family. (Learn more about the Chapman's orphan care efforts HERE.)