Friday, October 18, 2013

An Adoption Story | The Amen Family

We are so excited to share Darrel and Taralyn Amen's adoption story with you. The Amens are a family that we know from church. I first new them because their kids attend Kids' Village, which is the ministry I work for, and over time Darrel began serving with us as a substitute small group leader. I admit that I do not know them well, but I have observed their family from afar and watched as they brought Lydi into their family. I have briefly spoken with and been encouraged by Taralyn in conversation at church, so when I began dreaming up the idea of having guest bloggers, their family immediately came to mind. I so love the transparency and humility in her writing and to see the redemption and provision God brought forth for their family. Read their story and be encouraged! 


A good friend of mine told me at the beginning of our adoption journey, “adoption is like a roller coaster, fun, exciting, scary and exhilarating all at once.  As soon as the ride is over, you are relieved but you want to do it again!”  She could not have been more right!

Our story begins with my very sinful heart manifesting itself in relation to my husband…  Without really consulting the Lord, Darrel and I had decided from the beginning of our marriage that we wanted three children.  We wanted two boys and then one girl.  We tried to get pregnant and the Lord granted life very easily every time.  Unbelievably, we were blessed with exactly what we said we wanted…two boys and then one girl.   I was overwhelmed by three babies under the age of 4, and I decided my husband needed to “get fixed” (a vasectomy).   He had some misgivings about it, but I was the typical “dripping” wife and insisted.  He eventually relented and had a vasectomy.  We were done adding children to our family, and I gave all of our baby stuff away.  I got what I wanted, after all, we got pregnant easily and I certainly didn’t want tons of children!

When our youngest daughter was about three years old, the Lord began to change our hearts and minds regarding the blessing of children.  His word says, “Children are a heritage from the Lord.  Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” (Psalm 127:3)  Darrel and I had both grown in our relationships with the Lord, in our marriage, and in our parenting, and we recognized the ironic way we had told the Lord we didn’t want any more of His blessings.  We began to repent and pray about if He might want to “add to our quiver.”  At about this same time, our church was hosting the “Heart Gallery,” a display of children in foster care awaiting adoption.  They were also doing a month-long focus on the ministry of adoption.  At first, we thought that maybe we were being called to foster care.  As we began our foster care training, we both had confirmation in our hearts that this is not what the Holy Spirit was calling us to do.   I knew that we were being called to adopt but my husband was not so sure. We had both grown in our Biblical roles of husband and wife, so I shared my heart, telling him what I believed the Holy Spirit was asking of us and then just prayed and let my husband go to the Lord and lead our family.  We certainly discussed where we were on the issue, but I didn’t nag him like I had done before.  We were not on the same page for at least a year.

As the Lord so often does, He spoke to my husband’s heart in a way that only Darrel could appreciate.  Darrel played college football and loves the sport.  One morning while watching College Game Day on ESPN, the coach of the Georgia football team was sharing his family’s adoption journey.  I walked into the room and my sweet, tenderhearted husband was crying.  He looked at me and asked through tears, “How many and where are they from?”  I cried too and told him I didn’t know!  For the first time we were on exactly the same page at the same time regarding adopting another child into our family!

The Lord led us to an agency run by YWAM (Youth With A Mission) that placed kids from birth moms and from foster care.  We were open to any and all that the Lord had for us.  We were open to siblings and kids with minor special needs.  After a year of waiting and praying, we got a call from our caseworker about a baby girl who was about a month old.  Her birth mother had two other children who were taken from her by CPS (Child Protective Services), and although she was working to earn them back, she could not parent this new baby.  The baby was in foster care with our agency, but they did not have much information on her health or her prenatal care.  We prayed about whether this was our daughter, and the Lord confirmed, “YES!”  By His grace, we got to meet the birth mother and birth father.  Such a bittersweet experience for us, as we saw the agony they were in and how much they loved their daughter.  They knew they could not parent her and placed her willingly into Darrel’s arms, trusting us to love her and raise her.  Although we do not keep in touch with them, we love them and pray for them to this day.

Lydi came home when she was eight weeks old, and the day we brought her home was so full of joy and praise to our God for our whole family.  Our older children had prayed with us for the past two years for their new sibling, and they were experiencing God’s gracious answer.  They have loved her from the moment they saw her and the transition has been seamless.   I cannot imagine our family without our sweet Lydi’s smile, laugh and incredible personality.  She is truly a blessing to us all!  The past two years have flown by, and it is like she has always been with us.  I am so thankful the Lord revealed my sinful, selfish heart and enabled us to repent!  He had Lydi planned for our family from the foundation of the earth!

So…like my friend said, once you get off the “ride,” like a good roller coaster, you want to do it again!  We are now in the process of adopting another precious child.  We do not know for sure where he, she or they (we are open to sibling groups) are from yet, but we have “thrown our hat in the ring” with the same agency and are taking the next steps to adopt from Africa as well.  We shall see what our Sovereign Lord has planned for the “Amen quiver!”

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