When Our International Adoption Turned Local

Today, I share my friend Emily Wierenga with you. This woman has a raw vulnerability with her words  and her pursuit of God. It’s an honor to have a writer in this space who has handled her craft with such poise and beauty and who deeply loves Jesus as she writes.

I was all set to mail the application in.

I’d announced it on Facebook the night before, begging people for prayer and that’s when a friend of mine read my status and connected me with another Canadian–who lived just two hours from me–who had also adopted from Uganda.

We had been told it was nearly impossible to adopt from the Pearl of Africa.

But I’m the kind of girl who, upon being told “Don’t jump!” says defiantly, “How high?”

So we jumped, and we researched, and we made contacts and we felt very much hopeful and terrified. And as I was talking with the local woman who’d adopted years earlier, she said, “I think our adoption case may be the reason every Canadian case is so difficult now.”

I didn’t think much about it at the time.

Not until two nights later, when I felt a nudge, and so I wrote her. “How much did you end up spending, overall?” I said.

She responded in less than a minute.

“$110,000. And bankrupt.”

My heart stopped.

I swallowed.


I’d known it was expensive–and this woman, she’d brought home two children, but she’d also lost everything: her savings, and her husband, in the process.

I never mailed the application.


No, I sat at my desk, the boys napping in their beds, and I typed in “local adoption Alberta” because I know one thing–there are needy children everywhere. Here, and in Africa, and profiles of boys and girls filled my screen and I sent Alberta Government a note, asking how we could get started.

And then I leaned my head on my hands and cried.

Because loving hurts.

And I can still smell her skin–baby Edina–and it smelled like bananas and the sun. Her pale pink dress stained with the plantain I’d fed her for lunch, and no one even knowing how old she was. Somewhere between a year and 18 months and rescued from the slums and she had no one. And now, she didn’t have me either.

I ached like the Grand Canyon, I wept and I prayed and I knew I’d made the right decision because right often feels like dying, and yet there’s a peace, too. Kind of like the end of a long run.

“That must have been so hard for you,” Trent said when he came home from coaching basketball, and I told him. He held me close. “I’m fine with adopting local, as long as that’s what you want,” he said. “And we can sponsor so many children now that we have the money.”

Two nights later, after speaking with the local adoption agency, and signing up for their training, I sobbed into the floor by the wood stove. Asked God to speak to me about our daughter–the one missing from our family since the miscarriage last spring.

And then I went upstairs at midnight and chose five children to sponsor from Destiny Villages of Hope. And even as I sent the email, requesting those children, I received a message from a friend of mine whom I met in Korea years ago.

She was forwarding an old email of mine–and the subject was “Birth Announcement” and it was the letter we’d sent out telling everyone about our eldest son’s birth.

“I found this precious, old email, Em,” she wrote.

And in the first few lines of the forwarded message, I’d written,

“We celebrate, so very humbly, the birth of our beautiful babe: Aiden Grey… born Nov. 12, 12:24 a.m., at 8 lbs, 2 oz, 20 inches. Our hearts are full. We have longed for a child, and God has heard our longing… may you be encouraged, in your own pursuits and dreams. He hears, and He is good.”

It was enough. This random, very much planned coincidence, was enough.

It was God saying, through my own words, “I heard your longing then, Emily, and I hear it now.”

Even as he always does.

(Emily is celebrating the release of her new memoir, Making It Home: Finding My Way To Peace, Identity and PurposeGet your copy HERE!)



Emily T. Wierenga is an award-winning journalist, blogger, commissioned artist and columnist, and the author of five books including the memoir Atlas Girl: Finding Home in the Last Place I Thought to Look (Baker Books). All proceeds from Atlas Girl benefit Emily’s non-profit, The Lulu Tree. She lives in Alberta, Canada with her husband and three children. For more info, please visit www.emilywierenga.com. Find her on Twitter or Facebook.