Things didn’t go as planned and it nearly broke me. As some of you know we have a heart for orphan care but the question is what does that look like for our family. I aimed for the cross but seemed that I fell hard. I come out at the end of this summer feeling broken recognizing more now then the day that I first came to the cross that I need Jesus and am left wondering where He is in all of this. I am so tired and weak.
Let me back up a little bit, I may have bit off more than I could chew. Last fall we started a backpack fundraiser for a ministry that is near and dear to us in Ukraine called the Heritage Foundation. Through the help of the church and the community we were able to send 13 giant boxes to Ukraine full of winter and school gear. From here sprang our desire for a missions trip to the ministry. We wanted to continue to kindle a relationship with the ministry and build a bridge between our church and Ukraine. On top of all this I was graduating college and having to move out of college housing.
And then I saw his picture. Yes, just his picture singular. I know you all saw the picture of A and M and I will share more about that later but for now I will focus on R. From as early as I could remember I wanted to adopt. I wanted to grow my family through adoption. My grandma was adopted, my uncle was adopted, my cousins children were adopted and just this past summer I met my sister who I had never met after 26 years because she had been adopted. What I knew at this point that I was now graduating, my husband has a decent job, and we now had a home large enough to adopt. The other thing I knew was that Ukraine has around 108,000 orphans needing a family, that older children have very little likelihood of being adopted and their future is grim and that sibling groups also have small chances of every finding a forever home so with this information we set off on our adventure. After all if God provided we were willing to walk through the door. God provided immensely, we were blown out of the water by His goodness. Anyways, back to his picture, his picture was R and after asking the hosting program about him his picture disappeared. That’s where A and M came in. The amazingly precious little sibling group that we have shared about in the past, I will share more on them shortly. Although, R’s picture was gone I knew he would be turning 16 soon and asked for the necessary information to move forward in adopting him. This was in April. We kept it to ourselves and just moved forward. Still desiring to host and not completely sure what would happen with adoption we saw A and M. They had a grant and we thought lets just see what the Lord will do. They had our hearts, the one thing was that they will not be eligible for adoption for a year. My heart just kept coming back to R wondering if he could come. A week before fees were do we were able to have the hosting organization reach out to the director and guess what she said yes he could come, the only problem was finances. On his birthday I wished him a happy birthday even though he didn’t know me and maybe he would never see it. A friend stepped up and suggested we do a fundraiser, a last-minute fundraiser, I almost said no but I am so glad I didn’t. That fundraiser brought in the remaining finances we needed to bring all the boys home including R.
April 14th we officially move into our new home, a three bedroom townhouse. May 13th I graduate college and June 13th we leave for Ukraine. We leave for Ukraine from June 13th to June 24th. Right before leaving for Ukraine I find out that the youngest of the brothers was unable to come do to paper work. I was devastated. The last thing I wanted to do was cause more trauma. I asked if we could keep them together and host them at a later date but do to the time frame they said that was not possible. This weighed on me heavily because I remembering needing my sister as a child. I still need my sister. While all this is happening the boys arrived in the states June 17th. The boys stayed with amazing families with huge hearts and huge homes. I share that because that is where my flesh came in, it was that or just satan attacking me. I suppose I have always had insecurities, I always have feared rejection and just really over all want people to like me and after all to adopt is something I have wanted all my life. We arrived back into the U.S. June 24th and immediately flew to Dallas and picked up the boys June 25th. We had troubles in the Minneapolis airport renting a car and got stuck an extra day in Minneapolis. The first month home seemed so hard. I felt completely inadequate and we both felt that the boys had no desire to be in our home. This was hard as our children were so excited to have them. It was like I became depressed or was in mourning. It was as if all my insecurities and lies that satan was telling me were coming to fruition. I cried often. I just felt so sad. I can’t really explain it or expect others to understand but I am being honest. The youngest wanted to go back to the family in Dallas and the oldest said he didn’t want to be adopted. I still feel really sad about how it made me feel at the time. I was so confused we had just been at a camp where two children had asked me to bring them home. The more rejection I felt the harder every day felt. My kids felt it and acted out. I had such high expectations of my kids. I feel bad for placing that on them now. I messaged my pastor just to share my heart and he answered with Romans 8:28-29. It was the encouragement I needed. I had just become so weary.
In the middle of July we snuck away to Montana. My home sweet home! It was so nice to be surrounded by family and to feel normal at least mostly normal. Family to encourage me to quit trying to so hard. We got to go kayaking, hiking, zip-lining, visit Glacier National Park and visit a church I really enjoy. Everyday felt like an amazing day and guess what we were bonding. I was so tired from trying so hard. Wasn’t it God who brought them here, why did I think it was me who was going to keep them here. It was here in Montana that R told me he loved our family and wanted to be part of it. He started making plans for when he returns. He asks what school he will go to, can he get a job, can he have a car for his birthday. He asked almost daily when we will come, will it be six months. He tells me he will pray that we will come quickly. As we packed to return the boys to Ukraine R left clothes here for when he returns. Still there is this heaviness inside of me like I am not good enough wondering if he will really come back. Our return to Dallas was more difficult than when they first came. Do to hurricane Harvey we were rerouted from Houston to Dallas. It was supposed to be a fun weekend visiting friends and then flying out on Monday. Instead we missed our flight and had to be separated and spend the day in an airport in detroit and Minneapolis. We arrive in Dallas around 11 pm and they flew out the next morning. When they left we were all exhausted the boys flight was at 11 am ours was at 5 pm so we just sat and waited. We flew that night back to Minneapolis and drove straight home getting home at 5 am. I can’t tell you much I hated walking to our van at the airport and not having them with us and then waking up the next morning not having them there. There room is empty and all that is left is items they couldn’t fit in their suitcases and what R left behind for when he returns. Where is my faith in all of this and trusting God? Why did I allow the snare of the enemy to trip me up? As we move forward to bring R home we have a big journey ahead of us please pray for our family, for our hearts and for God to be the very center of our lives. Please pray that as we are away from him that he will not forget that we love him. Please pray that God would keep him safe and call him to Himself. I so desperately need rest for my soul to see Jesus so clearly. I know adoption is not about me please understand that, i am just sharing some of my own frailty during this journey. If you would like to support us as we move forward you can send checks directly to Grace International Adoption Agency please just put Ben and Ashlee Armstrong in the memo.
306 Chauncey Avenue E
Bradenton, Florida 34208
Matthew 11:28-29 says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light.”