I wish I could say that my adventure into adoption exposed me as an altruistic servant of God like so many adoptive parents whose stories I admire. But those touching stories of self-sacrifice are not how I came to adoption. I came laden with all the baggage a inwardly-focused, comfortable mother can carry. Actually, adoption had never crossed my mind until one March evening in 2000, when a sudden and seemingly random thought forever shattered my complacency.
Moments when you believe, or know, that you have heard a word from God are difficult to describe. My moment hit me with the force of a lightning bolt. I didn’t see it coming, nor did have time to take cover. Never before had I encountered the God who is not silent! I was left singed and smoking. God had stricken me with one enduring, unthinkable directive: Adopt an older boy from Russia.
I was far from eager to embrace God’s invitation. I was already the mother of three, all the kids I ever wanted (and sometimes more!) I had one daughter in college and another in high school. And my precious eleven-year-old son had been the baby too long to relinquish that coveted role willingly.
I limped along for months, licking my wounds, blind at first to the reality that the lightning bolt had ignited a shallow faith and was transforming it into one that was electrified! During the months I spent in confusion, self pity, and often deep despair, the God of the universe was at work, reordering my life.
Even so, I did not go easily. I wrestled with God every step of the way. He met my challenges with sleepless nights and strange and glorious hair raising “coincidences” that confirmed that I was to follow Him.
In April, 2002, my husband and I traveled to Russia to bring home seven-year-old Roma. This smiley boy had been relinquished to an orphanage in March of 2000, the same time God had burdened my heart for him. It didn’t take us long to recognize that Roma was definitely Hand-picked for our family.
My anxious journaling on the plane to Russia became the first chapter of a book published last fall about our experience: But the Greatest of These is Love. All profits go to Orphan Care Resources, an organization that trains Christians in Russia and Ukraine to care for the orphans in their countries. In view of Putin’s recent ban on American adoptions, their efforts will be a blessing for 800,000 children in the former Soviet states.
Have the past eleven years been easy? Emphatically NO! But it has been an unsurpassed phenomenon accented with joy which in many ways defines who I am.
My most ardent wish is that readers will understand that God’s Divine plan for us is infinitely richer than the safe lives we plan for ourselves. God has been close to the business of adoption all along. My wish in writing But the Greatest of These is Love is to make Him visible.
About the Author
Debbie Michael lives in Mount Airy, Maryland, with her husband Bruce and sons, Taylor and Roma. Their daughters Heather and Kellie live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with their growing families. Debbie loves spending time with her family, including four grandchildren. In addition to writing, Debbie is an artist who enjoys sculpting and painting. She joyfully serves as a substitute teacher at Linganore High School in Frederick, Maryland.
Debbie Barrow Michael
1706 Fieldbrook Lane
Mount Airy, MD 21771
Image courtesy of Jennifer Ellison / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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