If you’re one of those who only reads blogs on company time, (a) shame on you, and (b) check out yesterday’s post first.

Like all good stories, our adoption story began years ago. When I was a kid, I knew exactly two people who were adopted. They were our preacher’s kids and some of my best friends (when we weren’t getting into fistfights in the back yard of the church). I met adopted friend #3 a few years later. Mike was my college roommate and now is one of my oldest friends. (I mean that literally. You should see the gray hair.)

But even then, adoption was more novelty than normal. It wasn’t weird, it was just…different. And certainly not in my future.

Fast forward to 2009-ish. The Franks Baby-O-Matic had long since made it’s last industrial run. We had three great boys nicknamed Eeney, Meeny, and Miney…and we didn’t want no Mo. But still, everywhere we turned there were friends – mostly within the Summit – who were adopting. Whether they realized it or not, we were being encouraged, mentored, and coached by families like the Atwoods, Moores, Coalsons, FlemingsYoungsPearsons, Sterlings, Treeces, Forrests, Allisons, Whitts, Hanlons, Aulls, McGees, and countless others who either had or were in the process of fostering or adopting.

Now the “different” wasn’t so different. And Merriem and I began asking the “what if?” question quite a bit.

What if we could help a child?

What if we added to our family?

What if we trusted God and just did this thing?

The catch was, nobody else knew we were asking the “what if?” questions. The way I figured, if no one knew that we were asking it, no one could judge us when we ignored it. (I’m pretty dang spiritual like that.)

In summer of 2010, the Summit officially launched its Orphan Care Ministry. Now there was no ignoring it; we had to face the question and figure out once and for all what we were going to do. We showed up at the interest meeting trying to be as incognito as possible. “Nothing to see here, just a Summit staff member, hanging out at a Summit event. Move it along, folks…”

We listened to story after story as my heart pounded out of my chest. Up until that point we’d been assuming we would do an international adoption. I figured there had to be a group discount since all of our church friends seemed to adopt in bulk from overseas. But something didn’t stick with us and the international route. Don’t get me wrong, we love international adoptions. But that seemed to be the story God had for other families, not for us.

And then a couple of friends stood up and talked about their journey with the foster care system, and how they’d fostered over 20 kids (and went on to adopt two of them). As Gary and Aundrea spoke, everything clicked. My very impatient soul loved the idea of not waiting two to three years, but to be able to bring a child (or many!) into our home within a few months.

And so we began the paperwork process to become foster parents. Lots of paperwork. We had to report everything from why we wanted to foster to what flavor ice cream our third grade art teacher liked. And about halfway through the ream of paper, it hit us:

We can’t foster a kid.

It seems that our house is too small and our kids are too plentiful to bring a fourth one into the mix. There’s a matrix I can’t possibly explain which basically says Age Difference of Your Current Siblings x Age & Gender Difference of Foster Child ÷ Square Footage of Your House = North Carolina Says Thanks But No Thanks.

And so we waited. Frustrated, I put the half-completed papers on the shelf. And they sat there for weeks. Months. Through Christmas and into the new year.

They sat there until a springtime lunch turned into a divine appointment.

to be continued

[Yes, I realize you tuned in for the pictures, not the prequel. Here’s one to get you by. This is Haven and her first tea set. I’ve drank gallons of imaginary tea over the last couple of weeks, just like a doting daddy should.]

(That ginormous right hand is mine, not hers.)