by Steve Szewc
As a military family, life is not always predictable. With three children already, my wife and I did not see ourselves in a position to adopt. However, God had other plans. In 2004, we began homeschooling our two youngest kids, and as a part of the curriculum, our family read a biography about Amy Carmichael. Amy’s documented work in India touched the heart of my wife, Barbara, and opened her eyes to the idea of adoption. She was struck by both the past and present circumstances of the young girls we read about, and was appalled by the disregard for life, including the practice of “throwing girls away.” God began to show Barbara how precious life was, and how valuable each child is to Him.
Adoption was my Nineveh. It was a place I needed to go, but I refused to listen to my calling. Barbara and I casually discussed the topic around the house, but it did not make sense to me at the time. Barbara’s heart broke for all the girls who had been orphaned or abandoned. With three daughters, we certainly never thought to consider the of adoption of a boy. In fact, we did not really know that boys were available through international adoption agencies.
As time went on, I still did not see that we were in a place to adopt. I was in the military, with deployments and multiple moves on the horizon. The timing with my job, the money it would cost, and the uncertainly of our future assured me that adoption was not a “logical” choice at that time. We had experienced a miscarriage two years prior, and were now of "advanced maternal" age. This reinforced the fact that children are a blessing, and fuelled our discussions on adoption. We thought the days of child bearing were behind us and adoption would be the means to continue to grow our family.
In 2005, God blessed us with the birth of our fourth daughter. Once again, the topic of adoption came up. There were eight years between the baby and her next sibling. We were in our forties, and if we were starting this parent thing all over again, adoption began to make more "sense". However, I still struggled with trusting God to take care of the resources we would need to adopt.
In 2007 we moved from Northern New York to Virginia and I was coming to some career decision points. Barbara was pregnant again. God threw us for a curve this time and blessed us with a son! I remember the ultrasound appointment when we discovered we were having a boy. We were huddled around the screen with three of our daughters and the doctor said, "You're having a boy!" We all just looked at each other dumbfounded, and Barbara said, "What do you do with a boy?" The doctor had simple advice, "You love him."
During the entire pregnancy, Barbara researched adoption and corresponded with organizations like Show Hope and America World. It was during this time that Barbara began praying, “Here I am, Lord. Send me… (Isaiah 6:8),” not knowing how God would use her but being open to His will. The discussions intensified and became more serious. For me, a turning point was during the eighth month of the pregnancy. We were at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert, and in the corner of the screen there was a ticker. Every 18 seconds the number changed and one more child was orphaned. There was no more denying our call to adopt. In January of 2009, as a family, we prayerfully made the decision to live out our faith, trust God, and adopt a child.
As we filled out our application online, the question of gender came up. We had not even discussed whether we would adopt a boy or a girl, though we assumed we would adopt a girl. Unable to make a decision, we selected "no preference". We also made the critical decision to enter the Waiting Child Program. Unknown to us, God had already chosen a child for our family. He was born four months prior in September, five days after the birth of our first granddaughter!
The next few months were fast and furious. At the beginning of our paper-chase we already had orders to move to Maine. We rushed to get our home study done in Virginia before the move, and then delayed sending it in until the addendum for our new house was done. While we were “homeless” and living with friends, we received our referral for a nine-month-old boy with cleft lip/cleft palate. The referral pictures we received showed a 10 pound, seven-month-old boy, who could barely sit. There was no hesitation in accepting the referral, and little did we know, the lip and palate had been repaired the month prior and he was living in foster care! God was faithful, but now the addendum seemed even more urgent as there was a child with a face and a name waiting for us. After closing on our house and completing the addendum we were able to complete our dossier.
Eighteen months after we submitted our application we were on a plane to China to bring our son home. On July 12, 2010, in a crowded Civil Affairs Office, we met our 22-month-old son for the first time! Benjamin Enyong is truly a blessing; a beautiful precious gift! Over the course of the next few days we held him, and we cried with him as he grieved the loss of his foster family. At times we felt selfish for wanting him to come home with us, but reality was and is, our family is built by God’s design!