The following is a guest blog written by one of our grant families this year, Josh and Kristi Ausbrooks. Caring for the fatherless, loving the unloved, becoming a family, is picture of what God does for each us. Please read the Ausbrooks’ story. Rejoice with them and pray for the other families who are currently in the process of grafting a new branch onto their family tree. We are humbled and blessed to have been a small part of their story and the story that God is doing in countless families around the world.
This is just a small part of the Biblical account of Moses, but it is his beginning. And our beginnings are very important, they shape us in many ways. I am sure there were lots of encounters and other emotions between Moses and his first family as he grew up under Pharaoh. But we know God had a great plan for Moses’s life, even though it broke him mother’s heart. We have found many parallels between Moses’s beginning and Sophia’s.
You see, she was not safe in Ukraine. People with Down syndrome are treated poorly, sent to adult mental institutions near age 7, which can be a death sentence for some. Our family wants to sincerely thank Families Outreach for granting us help with our recent adoption. Our new daughter, Sophia Joy, has been home 6 weeks and is doing wonderful. At first it seemed like a big deal that we would have a child with Down syndrome, but now that she is here, we don’t even think about it. She is just baby sister! Overall she is very healthy, though we still have a lot of medical check-ups to make sure we don’t miss anything. She eats and sleeps great. She is rolling all around, and we are working on crawling and sitting. She is just 16 pounds at 22 months old, so we have a lot of catching up to do! We want to share just a little bit of her story because God has done such a wonderful thing.
I am sure you are familiar with the story of baby Moses, and how he was not safe in Egypt. Typically we read this story thinking about God’s plan and protection of Moses. But this time, think about the emotions in Moses’s home. His family loved him, like any family loves a new born baby. They must have held him for hours, smelling him and listening to little baby noises. Of course they were trying to protect him there in their home. I bet they lived in fear that at any moment someone could come and take him. How much closer they held him then. Moms have dreams for their boys (and girls!), and she surely knew they couldn’t hide him forever. For him to live and thrive, he would have to get out of their home. It was easier to have him there to look at and hold, but it was best for him if they got him out of there. So they made a plan. I wonder how many ideas they had before they settled on making the basket boat? As she made the basket, what did she feel? Fear, confused, assurance, determination, love? Imagine that last time she held him before placing him in the boat. Did they pray over him? Have second thoughts? Were they ever going to see him again? She must have been desperate to know what would happen so she sent Miriam along to watch.When the princess found Moses, she knew this baby had a death sentence, but she had compassion. And God worked it out for Moses to be with his mother again. When Miriam rushed to find her mother and tell her the news, I wonder if she found her crying over her lost son.
When Sophia was born, her birth parents were shocked to find out she has Ds. They knew little about it, since it is not spoken of there. But they knew they loved their baby and they took her home. They protected her in their home while they researched what to do and how to help her. They were given grim news by doctors and society. They visited a mental institution and found it, in their words, “inhumane”. They held her close, wrapped in soft pink blankets, laid her in their bed, took lots of pictures. All the while, realizing that for her to live and thrive she had to get out of there. And they made a plan. They found out that Americans sometimes adopt children with Ds, and give them education and opportunities. So they researched which orphanages were promoting adoption. They signed over their parental rights, placed her in the orphanage, and prayed that Americans would come.
They continued to visit and take pictures. They had one fear from their plan: what if she were adopted and they never saw her again? They had to take this chance. It was a great sacrifice. I have often wondered in recent weeks if I could have been so brave as to leave one of my children, forever. When we began the adoption process, our hopes were that we could have at least some type of contact with birth family. In this type of adoption it is rare because the families usually don’t love these kids, and are trying to forget they exist. So when we found out her birth parents still visited, we were pleased, but leery. What if they changed their mind? On our second trip there, we received a call from the facilitator telling us that the birth family would like to meet if it was okay with us. Of course!
When we arrived at the orphanage, we saw them. They were in the yard, holding our sweet Sophia, speaking softly to her and looking at her like she hung the moon. This was not what I expected! I could see they loved her. And so we sat together, and through an interpreter they shared with us the story of Sophia. And they asked the question I didn’t realize was weighing so heavy on their hearts. “Can we keep in touch?” Yes, absolutely! It was as if a HUGE burden was lifted from their shoulders. They would not lose their daughter forever. So on this one day, God gave both of us the desire of our hearts. And it is all for the best for Sophia. Her birth mother and I have already grown very close. Just as God had a great plan for Moses, we pray he has a great plan for Sophia. We will send annual reports to Ukraine concerning her progress. It is our hope that through her and other children like her, the eyes of the Ukrainian people will be opened. Maybe someday parents won’t have to make the heart wrenching decision to send their children away. So again, we, along with our daughter’s Ukrainian family, thank you for helping to make her adoption possible. Blessings!
If you’d like to play a part in stories like this, please consider donating to our adoption grant program. All of our grant funds are supplied by donations and all donations are tax deductible.