Sunday, November 7, 2010

Orphan Sunday: Our Adoption Story

The Patterson Family, November 2007
Matt, Lorraine, Parker (11), Mattie (9), Sawyer (7)
(Our Family Photo Just 3 Years Ago)

I remember when it all started.  When God began to open our eyes.  We were sitting at my parent's house enjoying our Thanksgiving gathering (Nov. 2007) when I received an email (on my phone) from a friend.  This email stood out like no other.  The email talked about an orphan in Colombia who needed a forever family.  As I stared at the photo of the girl in the email, my heart raced, like this 9-year-old girl was mine.

Luz Mery's Referral Photo (pic taken 2007)
"Special Needs Orphan" in Colombia (age and history made her special needs)
Became Mery Elizabeth Patterson ("Meribeth") November 10, 2008

But how could this be?  I had never really thought about adoption.  Why should I?  Our family was perfectly complete with 3 bio kids, two sons and a daughter.  And if I were going to adopt, wouldn't I want to choose a healthy baby, not a 9-year-old girl?!?
Then God showed us this verse:
"A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families..." 
Psalm 68:5-6

And we just knew God was calling us to our first adopted daughter. 
And He wasn't calling us to a newborn or even a toddler.
He was clearly calling us to adopt a 9-year-old girl (who would be 11 by the time she entered our family) from Colombia who didn't speak English.
You can read more about our adoption journey to Meribeth (formerly Princesa Luz Mery) by clicking HERE.

This is what our family looked like a year after His first adoption calling on our family.
The Patterson Family, November 2008
Matt, Lorraine, Parker (12), Meribeth (11), Mattie (10), Sawyer (8)
Countries represented:  USA, Colombia

So now our family was really perfectly complete.
Two boys, two girls.
Who could ask for more?

And then God gave me a terrifying nightmare about horribly mistreated orphans, and this is how He began to really open my eyes (and consequently our entire family's eyes) to the plight of the orphan.
"Once our eyes are opened, we cannot pretend we do not know what to do.  God, who weighs our hearts and keeps our souls, knows we know and holds us responsible to act." 
Proverbs 24:12

After my dream/nightmare, God gave me an urgency about an orphan who needed us immediately.  I didn't know who, why, when, or where, but I knew it was urgent.

Within a few days of my dream, God sent me an email to show me exactly the child who desperately needed us.  The email read, "URGENT need in Serbia."  Without even seeing the photo of the child or reading the diagnoses, I KNEW immediately this was the child God was calling us to.  And then I saw her photo, and God vividly spoke to me regarding this precious angel, confirming that she was a Patterson, and her name was not "Barbara" as she was known as in Serbia, she was "Chrissie".  Somehow we suddenly felt like we needed her even more than she needed us!
"Barbara",  Referral Photo (pic taken 2008)
"Special Needs Orphan" in Serbia (significant congenital heart defects)
Became Christyn Joy Patterson ("Chrissie") October 14, 2009

God spoke directly to Matt when we prayed about adopting Chrissie, the very same night we found out about her in June 2009.  It was a huge risk, knowing she may not live long due to her severe heart defects. 
But it was a risk we knew we had to take.
These are the Words God showed Matt that night as we sought His counsel:
"Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is within the power of your hand to do so." 
Proverbs 3:27
 And we ALL knew we had to obey. 
Click HERE to read the beginning of our journey to Chrissie.
Click HERE to continue that journey.

This is what our family looked like a year after our first adoption.
The Patterson Family, November 2009
Matt, Lorraine, Parker (13), Meribeth (12), Mattie (11), Sawyer (10), Chrissie (4)
Stephanie, Samantha and Emily Hall
Countries Represented:  USA, Colombia, Serbia

Surely our family was now complete!  We didn't feel worthy (or even capable!) of receiving any more precious blessings from God, but in December 2009, God laid it upon our hearts that He was going to deliver us a special gift from Haiti.  God's special delivery arrived in April, 2010, in His perfect timing, and oh my word, he was the cutest little delivery ever.
Kenwetchly, Referral Photo (pic taken Dec. 2009)
Economic orphan in Haiti
Became Kiefer Thomas Patterson April 4, 2010

"...for in you the fatherless find compassion." 
Hosea 14:3

Just two weeks after Kiefer came home, Chrissie had open-heart surgery.   After a 31-day battle in the hospital, on May 19, 2010, God called Chrissie home, to live with Him for all eternity.  We were in shock at the outcome He chose, but, at the same time, we were so grateful He chose us and entrusted us to be Chrissie's forever family.  She was pure joy, a precious blessing straight from our Father, and He fulfilled His promise to Chrissie through our obedience while He grew us in ways we never thought possible.
"I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you." 
John 14:18

As we walked the path of grief after Chrissie went to live with Jesus, we felt like we might never ever adopt again.  Our hearts were shattered, we were all quite a mess, but God gently (well, He might have knocked us over the head!) reminded us of why He placed us on this earth:  to care for orphans in their distress.  Exactly one month to the day of Chrissie going to Heaven, God once again displayed His power and glory by delivering another special gift to our family, even when we felt so incapable.  He knew His plan; He knew He would equip us; He knew how to turn our hearts toward Him in obedience.  When we wanted to bury ourselves in the midst of our pain, He entrusted us with another treasure.
Nahomie from Haiti
Welcomed into our family on June 19, 2010 at the age of 17
Became Naomi Faith Patterson August 4, 2010
"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." 
James 1:27

And just when we thought our hands and hearts were at maximum capacity, God reminded us that our love is supplied through Him, who gives us all of our strength and ability.  He reminded us that we are nothing without Him, and He reminded us that He equips us to do the tasks He calls us to.  All He asks is that we obey, regardless of how impossible the task may seem.  He is faithful.  He always provides.  His grace is sufficient.  And as soon as we renewed our vows to Him and affirmed our trust and faith in Him, the Author and Creator of life sent us another special arrow for our quiver.
Asher came to our home July 23, 2010 via a disrupted adoption in the USA.
Asher is currently in the legal process of becoming a forever Patterson.

"And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me."
Matthew 18:5

In a total of two years, our quiver of arrows went from this:
(our 3 "American Dream" kiddos)
To this:
(God's "international dream" kiddos)
(L-R):  Parker (14, bio), Naomi (18, Haiti), Asher (8, USA), Sawyer (10, bio), Kiefer (2, Haiti), Mattie (12, bio), Meribeth (13, Colombia)
Countries represented:  USA, Colombia, Serbia/Heaven, Haiti
(Not pictured above:  Chrissie and The Hall Girls, so their photos are below)

Our Princess Chrissie (forever 4, Serbia/Heaven) who was dedicated to our Lord last year on Orphan Sunday, November 8, 2009, and went to live with Jesus on May 19, 2010.

Our beloved Hall girls:  (L-R):  Emily, Stephanie, and Samantha.   Looking back, Sam and Em are really the first two kiddos God lovingly placed in our family, along with their mom, Stephanie.  In 2006, they presented Matt with the Psalm 68 (father to the fatherless) award.  Thank you, God, for allowing us to begin the journey of living out James 1:27 (caring for orphans and widows) by bringing The Hall Girls into our family back in 2003!  (The Halls, who we consider family, live on our ranch and serve alongside us in ministry.  They are a tremendous god-send for our family, and are a huge blessing in our lives.)

On Orphan Sunday 2010, I want you all to know that our family is nothing special, not much different than any other typical Christian family.  Just two years ago, we were living the "American Dream" with a nice house, two nice vehicles, a few nice hobbies, and the average 2.5 nice kiddos (well, OK, we had the full 3 kiddos, but they were still nice!).  We didn't do anything deliberate or extraordinary to change our lives, other than choosing to obey when God asked us to.  God worked in our lives, in our hearts, in our homes, from the inside out, to show us what His focus is.  He broke our hearts for the things that break His.  He opened our eyes and spoke to us through His Word, showing us that we needed to focus on things of eternal value.  He made it clear to us that a relationship with His children is what He most values, and He made it clear that our family should value His children the same as He does.  All He wanted was our obedience.  He took care of the rest.  We are clay in our Potter's hands.  We don't know the final piece of pottery He will form us into, but we trust Him fully with great anticipation to see the pottery collection He is forming in our family.  I wonder which pottery pieces He will entrust to us in the future.  I wonder what our family will look like a year from now.  I know His pottery collection will be beautiful, no matter what, because it is being hand-crafted by God.

Tell your story next year on Orphan Sunday 2011.
What will your family look like?

"Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves..."
Proverbs 31:8

There's an estimated147 million orphans in the world today.
There's an estimated 6.2 billion Christians in the world today.
Seems like an easy solution to the orphan crisis, agree?
What will you do?

"Take up the cause of the fatherless..."
Isaiah 1:17

November is National Adoption Month.
Take action.
You can do it.
God is faithful.
He will equip His servants. 
Trust Him.
Have faith.

"To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world."  ~Brandi Snyder

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