6 Months and Counting

Today marks six months since Markus and I first arrived in Nigeria to start the greatest adventure of our lives.

Today marks six months since Markus and I first arrived in Nigeria to start the greatest adventure of our lives. When we left, we only had a little bit of an idea of what we were getting ourselves into. Although this has been an extremely difficult time in our lives, we can both say beyond any doubt that it is worth it. It is worth every heartache, every missed special event (and there have been many), the financial stress, the lack of sleep etc. Olivia Angel Yager is worth all of that and so much more. The time that we have spent in country has allowed us to better understand her culture and to make many special memories with her. Though it has certainly come with its challenges and frustrations, it is a time that we will forever treasure.

During a season of hardship, it would be easy to become angry and bitter towards God. Though there are many times that we have questioned his timing of things, we praise God that we have never questioned his goodness. One simple song we sing every night before bed is “God is So Good.” We believe that with our whole hearts. While pain obviously does not feel good at the time, we know that God is still good. He is faithful, and he will bring about to completion that which he has already begun. We praise the Lord in all of this, and we pray that through our crazy process of adoption our lives and story would be a testament of God’s faithfulness, what he has done, and how much he loves his children.

I would love to share a few things we love and Olivia and how we have seen her grow. Olivia has a very spunky and sweet personality. She can be shy around people that she first meets, but once you get to know her she is far from quiet. She loves to talk and laugh like crazy. Though speech does not come easy for her yet, she has gained so many new words and surprises us daily with what she can say. Olivia also has a really good sense of humor. She loves to joke around with us and has one of the best belly laughs I have ever heard.

Olivia has come so far in her eating as well. When we first brought her home we were a little worried we would need to buy stock in peanut butter and ramen noodles, as that is all she would eat. Thankfully, this no longer seems necessary, as her palate has dramatically expanded. She LOVES tacos, chicken, spicy Jollaf rice, and pizza. However, someone needs to teach her how to eat pizza, as she insists that she is to eat it crust first and upside down. 🙂 This works here in Nigeria, because by the time it is delivered to our door it is at best lukewarm, so the pizza toppings do not fall off.

A question I get frequently is what we do here all day long as we wait. To start, we do very little sitting around! Every Sunday I try my best to plan the week and get our outings all set up. We have a few different restaurants and coffee shops we like to visit for croissants and to use their play place. These are cheap ways to stay entertained and have a delicious snack. I have also gotten over my hatred of grocery shopping that I had back in the U.S. We quite enjoy wandering the aisle of the grocery stores wondering if they will have new or exciting things, or if we will be disappointed and find out that our favorite milk is not in stock. We spend lots of time in the swimming pool, which is always a fun time filler. Besides that we do typical stuff any three year old would love to do, such color, blow bubbles, play babies, do crafts, and read stories. Oh yeah, she also still naps! Finally, we spend a good amount of time on FaceTime with daddy and other family members.

A few things that made me realize I have lived here for a “long” time…

  • We have become regulars at the coffee shop on Saturday mornings. We walk in, they smile and say “the usual?”
  • I literally jump for joy when our supper delivery is actually delivered to my door in under an hour!
  • I have completely tuned out the noise of traffic in the big city and laugh when my family members mimic the cars though FaceTime.
  • I have learned to tell what time it is by listening to the “Call to Prayer” coming from the mosque nearby.
  • The loss of power multiple times a day does not even phase us anymore.
  • I’ve learned that If you find something you like at the grocery store it’s best to buy as much as you can, especially if it’s imported, because you never know if or when you will see it again.
  • Cockroaches, while still unpleasant, are not the horror they once were.
  • I cheer when the stoplight is working because we can actually cross the street! Still, we know that in Lagos, one must never trust that cars or motor bikes with indeed stop. Crossing with a Nigerian is always a good idea!

We are so thankful to the Lord for our family, church family, and friends. Your continued prayers and support mean the world to us – we could not do this without you. Most of all, we are thankful to the Lord for his grace, as his mercies are indeed new every morning. It is grace beyond measure to know that Christ has secured for us an unfading inheritance, and that the suffering in this life is nothing compared to the joys he has in store for his people. It is this hope that enables us to endure day after day, even as we pray that our family is reunited back home before we reach seven months.

We love you all!

One Year & Waiting

Our God is Gracious

As we mark our year anniversary from the date we first sent our “letter of intent to adopt” to the Nigerian government, we continue to wait and trust in God’s perfect and sovereign timing.

We want to let you know how grateful we are to the Lord for everyone who has been praying with us and has supported us financially in our adoption expenses. Thank you again to everyone who participate in our t-shirt fundraiser as well as other ways of giving. If you didn’t have a chance to get in on the first t-shirt order and would still like to do so, we will be opening up another round of orders likely around the end of August/early September. If you want to get put on the list to be reminded when the time comes, let us know!

We are very thankful to have family and friends who ask us regularly how we’re are doing and if we have any news yet. Even though our answer is “No, nothing new, just waiting!”- it is so encouraging to know that people care.

Waiting with Patience & Anticipation

This waiting stage has been one of the hardest stages yet of the adoption process, probably because there is not a lot we can do. We do not even have a name or a face of the children we are waiting for, but our thoughts are on them continually and we are praying for news soon. We are thankful to our agency, who has reassured us that they are diligently working towards the right referral for our future family.

Since November, we have been excited and honored to watch three other families from our agency go through the adoption finalization process in Nigeria. Following these families has been a good “distraction” for us, and it was a blessing to closely follow along in their journeys and to learn more about what we can expect and some of the potential challenges we may face while in Nigeria. Now, with no one that we know to follow along with we are growing more and more eager for it to be our turn to travel and meet our kids for the first time.

The Lord has been so gracious and given us a huge sense of peace in our waiting thus far. However, as time passes by we long each day to see the faces of our sweet children and to hold them in our arms. Our hearts ache to welcome them into our family and to begin a new life with them. We know our wait time for a referral is relatively short compared to so many adoptions, both international and domestic. And we also know that receiving a referral is just the start of a very crazy process in which so much could happen, both ups and downs. Ultimately we trust that God, the author and creator of all things, has his good and perfect plan and in that we find our hope and rest – even if our adoption process is not anything like what we imagine or planned.

Prayer Requests

Please pray with us for a quick referral of two children and a smooth process to follow. Please pray for continued funds to come in for our adoption expenses, and for the process in Nigeria to be swift so that Markus is able to stay the entire time with us. Pray for the other families that are waiting, especially those who have referrals and are waiting to travel.

Waiting and trusting in the one who holds the whole world in the palm of his hand,

Markus & Sarah

 

Why We Are Adopting From Nigeria

One of the most frequently asked questions that we get when people find out we are adopting is: Where are you adopting from? When we reply with Nigeria, we quickly get asked the follow up questions: Why Nigeria? Did you pick that country? Have you ever been there?

The aim of this post is two-fold: to share with you how we came to join the Nigeria program and to share a little bit with you about a country that has been growing in our hearts for the past seven months.

I know that there are many of you reading this who have heard our story, so for some of you portions of this post may be a little repetitive. For that, I apologize.

Once we chose Nightlight Christian Adoptions to be our placing agency, we were quickly connected with a representative at the agency who gave us a small list of counties which they thought could be a good match for us. By small, I mean two. 🙂 As we looked further at these two countries we arranged to speak by phone with a representative from the agency to learn more about these programs. Our first phone call was with a representative about the India program. At the conclusion of that conversation I was fairly confident that we did not need to have the next conversation because that program seemed right to me. However, that first conversation was soon followed by another phone call about the Nigeria program. As the phone conversation continued both Markus and I grew excited for this program. Though there was no lightning bolt from heaven or an audible voice telling us that this was the right program, we both came to the conclusion that we wanted to proceed with the Nigeria program. There were and are so many scary things about adopting from Nigeria, but we both felt a peace about moving forward with this program.

I know that there are some of you reading this post and you are wondering why our list of countries was limited to just two. For those of you who are not very familiar with the current state of international adoption, you may find it interesting to note that, many countries have closed their international adoption programs for one reason or another. Countries that use to be open to United States citizens adopting their children such as Romania, Russia and Ethiopia, and many more no longer allow these inter-country adoptions to take place, and not necessarily because they don’t want them too. International adoptions are down 80% since 2004, and if this trend continues these adoptions will cease entirely by 2022. This is rightfully described as a crisis, and there is currently a petition for the White House to look into this issue and prioritize reversing this trend. (You can sign here – we have! If you do, make sure to watch for the confirmation email to ensure your signature is counted.)

Another interesting thing we ran in to when looking at different international programs was the fact that the countries that remain open have quite a few restrictions, such as how old both adopting parents must be in order to adopt, how many years the couple must be married, the age difference between parents and children, the birth order of children, as well as the number of children you have. These policies can all play a role as to whether or not you are eligible to adopt. It was some of these restrictions that further limited our country options.

If you are like us and didn’t know or don’t know a lot about Nigeria we would like to share with you a few facts (taken from the CIA World Factbook) about the birth country of our future kid(s).

  • Nigeria is located in Western Africa and shares borders with Cameroon, Niger, Benin and Chad.
  • It has an area that is about six times the size of Georgia and is a little bit bigger than two times the size of California.
  • The country of Nigeria is the most populous country in all of Africa, with approximately 191 million people living there. It is made up more than 250 ethnic groups.
  • The Lagos metropolitan area (where we will be living) is 21 million people, which is slightly more popular than the New York City metro area.
  • Though there are over 500 indigenous languages spoken in Nigeria, you may be surprised to know that English is the official language. This will make things much easier for us while we stay in country and communicate with government officials and judges. It also eliminated the need for all of our documents to be translated into another language.
  • Nigeria is 50% Muslim and 40% Christian. The remaining 10% is a mix of indigenous religions.

Prayer Requests

  • That the matching process would go smoothly, and that it would be clear if we are to accept the match when it is presented to us.
  • That God would continue to provide more funding for our adoption expenses.
  • For the Langdon family. They are the second family from our agency and they in Nigeria with their two daughters waiting to get their U.S. visas to come home – pray for this process to go quickly – it can take quite a while!

So thankful to all of you for your prayers and support!

Adoption Update: Waiting for a Match

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Here’s a quick update of where we are in the process of adoption: 

All our paper work has been sent from our agency in the U.S. to Nigeria!  Now we are in the “real” waiting process. During this phase of our adoption we are waiting for Nigeria to match us with a child – or two – that they believe will be a good fit for us. This process could (and likely will) take months. It’s hard to believe we sent our initial paperwork off seven months ago!  If all goes well, we are still thinking we will be traveling in late summer or early fall.

As we wait on the Lord’s perfect timing, we have been very busy looking and applying for as many adoption grants as possible. A few weeks ago I sorted through 100 grants online! I was able to narrow it down to just the dozen or so that we are eligible to apply for, and we have been very busy filling out these often lengthy applications. Adoption is very expensive, and any grants that we can get are helpful in minimizing the amount of money that we will have to take out in loans for our adoption. We are also brainstorming and planning some fundraisers – more on this to come!

Until our next update, here are a few prayer requests:

Praise

  • Our paperwork is in the hands of those in Nigeria!  Pray for grace and wisdom as they look for a match for us.
  • We were awarded with our first grant!  Very thankful to Amy’s Legacy for this blessing.

Prayer Requests

  • That the matching process would go smoothly, and that it would be clear if we are to accept the match when it is presented to us.
  • That God would continue to provide more funding for our adoption expenses. 
  • For the Langdon family. They are the second family from our agency and they are now in Nigeria with their two daughters – pray for them tomorrow as they go to court to finalize the adoption!

So thankful to all of you for your prayers and support!

 

Photo Credit: Natika Nichols

Why International Adoption?

“Ultimately, we are excited to reflect the family of God – from every tribe, tongue, and nation – in a small way in our own family.”

Several people have asked why we chose to adopt internationally instead of domestically, either from Minnesota or elsewhere in the U.S. It is true that there are many children in Minnesota and all across the country that are waiting to be adopted. Some have been born already, others will be born soon, and many are waiting as frozen embryos. My prayer today is that God would be raising up more families to be open to the call of adoption- maybe even yours!

Let me share a little bit with you about our journey to international adoption. When we first seriously entered the process of adoption, we weren’t sure where or how to begin. We had heard the name of several agencies and began to do some internet searches, probing deeper into these agencies and many others. As we dug further, we found one agency nearby that was hosting an informational meeting. Though we didn’t end up using this agency as our own, we are thankful to the agency for the abundance of information that they provided us with. Specifically, they laid out the variety of adoption programs, including foster to adopt, domestic adoption, international adoption, and embryo adoption. The informational meeting exposed us to the beauty of adoption and also the current state of adoption at this present point in Minnesota, in the United States, and globally.

Although we did not have a miraculous sign or audible calling that the international program was the path we should travel down, Markus and I decided that we would begin our adoption story here. There were several factors that contributed to this decision, most notability the shorter wait time and the need in certain countries. Ultimately, we are excited to reflect the family of God – from every tribe, tongue, and nation – in a small way in our own family. We believe that this is the best choice for us.

We do know that international adoptions can be very risky and extremely unpredictable. A country could break out in a civil war, and government elections could occur in either our country or the adopting country that could break down relations for us to complete the adoption. Also, we may not have accurate information on the child/children that we will be adopting. At the same time, domestic adoptions have very real risks too. In truth, any adoption is risky and difficult no matter which path you take. But, as we have been assured by those who have been through this before us, adoption is absolutely worth it.

As we continue to post on the blog we would like to share with you some answers to prayer that we have seen as we have gone throughout the process as well as some prayer requests that we have as we continue on in the process.

Praise:

  • Our dossier is in Missouri and being thoroughly looked over before it gets sent to Nigeria! We are hoping it will be any day now!
  • We have been able to connect with an adoption support system close by and are excited for the opportunities to connect and be involved in a great organization.

Prayer Requests:

  • For our future child/children: that the Lord would, in his divine sovereignty, watch over them and protect them.
  • For the Haff family: the first family from our agency adopting from Nigeria. They are there in Nigeria now just waiting for the visa to be issued so that they can bring back their daughter to the U.S. Pray that this process would go quickly.
  • Adoption costs: this past week we were made aware that the cost of our adoption would be raising just as our dossier payment is due. We are trusting in God’s provision – pray that he would provide and that we would trust him fully.

Waiting with great anticipation and confidence,

Sarah (& Markus)