Can you remember a defining moment in your life? A time where a single choice would alter the course of your future? I recently had one of these moments while visiting South Africa in July of 2014. I had no idea that God was using this trip to fulfill a lifelong goal and dream of mine - but wait, I'm getting ahead of myself...
On July 12 a group of 11 people, myself included, with a heart for orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) set out from South Carolina to spend 16 days teaching, building relationships with and loving on some of South Africa's OVC in East London. After a disastrous time trying to get there (imagine five days, four countries, and seven cities, most of which were unplanned and involved spending nights in airports), I was convinced that there was something important I was supposed to do that the Enemy of Our Souls didn't want me to accomplish. After pouring our hearts into a Vacation Bible School for OVC in the township of Cambridge, I found out what that something was.
On July 22, 2014 I first laid eyes on a little orphan boy in a safe house just days away from being sent to an institutional orphanage. And, by institutional orphanage I mean a no education, no stimulation, "Please Sir, I want some more," kind of place where he would eventually be turned out on the streets with no marketable skills or hope for a decent future. This little miracle, had some minor medical and attachment issues, I was told, but once the Holy Spirit confirmed that Isaiah was my son there was no turning back.
Now, back to that first day... Because of his attachment issues when I finally did get to hold Isaiah, I didn't try to cuddle him close or force him to interact with me, I just held him on my lap. After a few minutes of this he began playing with my fingers, then my jeans, then he turned to face me for a rousing game of peek-a-boo. He seemed like any other one-year-old to me, but the look on the safe house director's face told me otherwise. She went on to explain that in the 17 months he had been in her care, she'd never seen Isaiah interact with anyone the way he just had with me. I asked for more of his story and that's when I was told about the plan for him to go to the orphanage. People say the eyes are the window to the soul. The moment I knew this sweet baby was my own personal miracle was when, as I was discussing his limited options in South Africa with the safe house director, Isaiah looked at me with the most soul-searing look I've ever been given. It was as if he was saying, "Will you be the one to take a chance on loving me forever?" My entire being responded with a resounding, "Yes!" and now my courage, time, resources, and life, really, are devoted to loving him and putting Christ's love and words into action. It would've been easy to walk away, rationalizing that single parenting is too hard and Isaiah's conditions are not my concern, but those sweet brown eyes would have haunted me for the rest of my life. I know this is what God has called me to do, and I am loving being Isaiah's mommy!
As I began the long and frustrating journey of international adoption, it hit me that in addition to reams of paperwork, a $46,000 mountain had to be summited in order to pay all of the adoption fees. That's when God reminded me of his faithfulness to me and his word. Psalm 97:5 says, "The mountains melt like wax before the LORD, " and I trusted Him to guide this process. Was he ever true to his word! I was able to adopt Isaiah, debt-free, thanks to grants, fundraisers and the kindness of the people in my life. I so look forward to sharing with my son the story of how God used a defining moment in my life and the generosity of many people to change his life story and bring him into his forever family.
Written by Isaiah's Adoptive Mom, Aundrea (USA)