“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…”

James 1:27

Our cell phone number in Ukraine is: +38 097 828 9477. We are 8 hours ahead of Texas time. We can receive text but cannot send them. You can also reach us by email at joniredding@hotmail.com.

Our Adoption Story!

We  have 4 kids – ages 11 to 4, 3 boys and 1 girl.  I always wanted to have lots of kids.  I wanted to marry someone who also wanted lots of kids.  Jody wanted 4 so that was pretty good with me.  After our first  2 children were 21 months apart, Jody decided 2 was good.  I told him that he could not change his mind about that – it was part of our marriage agreement J Anyway, after the kids were a little older he got ready for #3 and once we had the 3rd, what difference does a 4th really make?  Let me back up and tell you that when I was little I dreamed of working in an orphanage – probably since I saw the movie Annie.  I can remember so clearly walking out of the movie theater and picturing myself living and working at an orphanage – I think I was 6.  I had always told Jody that I wanted to adopt a baby someday – a little African American girl was my dream.  I just think they are so beautiful.  I would tease him and beg him all the time.  He said I was crazy.  Right after I had my 3rd, we had a group come to church and they showed us a video of an orphanage in China – babies and toddlers just standing or sitting in beds maybe 30 or 40 with only a few caregivers running around changing diapers and feeding bottles.  There were 2 in each bed and then 2 on a crib mattress under each bed.  It was so sad.  They shared James 1:27 “Religion that God our father considers pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”  It was then that I realized that me wanting to adopt wasn’t because I loved babies and wanted a ton of them but it was about orphans – kids that have no parents and God tells us to take care of them.  I just had a new outlook.  Jody was touched and he now said “maybe someday”.  So for years, I would bring it up and try to convince him why we should do it.  He just got further and further away from the idea.  Our kids were getting older and the thought of starting over was overwhelming to him.  International adoption was completely out of the question because it was much too expensive.  Finally, I just stopped talking about it.  I prayed about it and then I just gave it up.  I knew that if God wanted us to adopt He would let BOTH of us know.  He didn’t need me to try and convince Jody.  Last October when Jody was gone on a business trip I watched 16 and pregnant for the 1st time.  I watched like 6 epidsodes in 1 night.  My heart just broke for those girls and I was wishing that I could have stepped in and parented them.  Most of the girls just basically needed someone to teach them right from wrong, or how to handle it when they make a mistake – to teach them about Jesus.  I started thinking about maybe I could adopt an older child – maybe I could make a difference in their life.  It was just a thought, I didn’t even tell Jody about it.  During that same trip, Jody watched a special on FOX news about adoption.  He even went to the US foster care website that has kids pictures on it that are available for adoption.  He told me about it and showed me the website.  I just looked and didn’t do anything else – which is very unlike me.  Usually if Jody has an idea that I like, I run away with it.  If he says “maybe we should sell our house”, I’m on the internet searching for homes the next minute and I will have houses lined up for us to look at the next day.  But, I just looked at the website and talked about some of the kids but left it there.  Jody kept looking for about a week and then one night he said “I think we should adopt.”  I was stunned.  He said an older kid, not a baby – which a few weeks earlier would not have been ok with me.  It was so awesome how God was preparing each of our hearts – Jody to adopt and me to want an older child.  Jody started emailing people and trying to find out where to start and looking at all these websites.  He ended up on this website with kids from Ukraine.  There was one little girl that he found that we both fell in love with.  The more we read about the orphan statistics from Ukraine, we were drawn there.  We both felt like that was where God was leading us and we decided to try and pursue this one little girl – but being open to the idea that we might not end up with her but God might just be using her to lead us to the place He wants us.  Our biggest concern was the money.  It costs around $30,000 to adopt a child from Ukraine.  We had just finished buying and remodeling our house so we had NO MONEY.  We went back to the Bible to a story in the Old Testament when the Israelites were crossing the Jordan River on their way to Jericho.  In Exodus 3:13 Joshua told them “as soon as the priests….set foot in the Jordan, its waters flowing downstream will be cut off and stand up in a heap.”  They were going to be able to cross on dry land.  So, of course in verse 15, “Now the Jordan is at flood stage all during harvest.  Yet as soon as the priests who carried the ark reached the Jordan and their feet touched the waters edge, the water from upstream stopped flowing….”  The part that stood out to me was that they had to obey God before He parted the waters.  He could have parted it as soon as it came in to view and it would still have been a miracle but instead He required them to act on faith and put a foot in.  I can just imagine walking toward that huge river wondering how it could actually be parted, but I bet they just kept reminding themselves that God said He would do it so they stepped in on faith.  So many times I need everything to be in order or make sense before I act.  This time He called us to obey based only on faith that He would provide.  We decided that we needed to raise $14,000 and we could get a loan for the rest because we would get it back with the adoption tax credits which will total about $14,500.  We have already raised most of it.  People have been so generous.  Even complete strangers have donated money to help us.  We had a garage sale and made $2000.  Only God can do that!  It has been so amazing to see him provide over and over again at just the right time.  It has been a crazy process – the little girl we were trying to adopt has now been put in foster care in Ukraine so she isn’t available.  We were sad but after all God has done, we know He will be faithful.  We know His plan is much better than ours and He has a child selected for us.   It has been amazing to experience God like we have during this time.  There are so many unknowns but even in the midst of them we are able to experience his “peace that passes all understanding”.  We started this process thinking we would bless an orphan by giving them a family and we have been blessed more than we could have imagined.

update 6/1/2011
We are leaving in 3 days for Ukraine to hopefully bring home 2 precious children.  We had a huge hold up with our paperwork in USCIS.  They took forever.  During the time that we were waiting on that, we found out that Ukraine would be closing for the summer for several months and we would not travel until fall or later.  During that time, a friend asked us if we would be interested in hosting 2 children for the summer.  She knew we were only planning on adopting one but it was just hosting.  At first, I wasn't interested at all, but then I thought that it might be a good experience for our kids to get used to communicating with someone who doesn't speak English.  I told her I would ask Jody about it and get back to her. I thought his answer would be a definite NO.  Instead he said, "Hmmm."  They emailed us some pictures of the kids and they are so precious.  We started to get a little attached to the kids and started thinking that maybe if we hosted them and things went great, we could adopt them.  So, we committed to hosting them for the summer.  Then, we found out that Ukraine was going to continue issuing appointments.  If we didn't submit our paperwork we would have to redo several documents that would expire.  By this time, we had communicated with many people that knew the kids and even with the kids themselves a little.  So, we decided that we would just go ahead and pursue their adoption.  It's funny how God works sometimes.  At the beginning of this process I would never have agreed to adopt a 13 year old girl or a boy of any age!  I spent hours looking on the SDA website at the children in Ukraine and never looked at either of these categories.  Now, I wouldn't want any children besides these!  Psalm 37:4 says "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."  He has given me completely new desires and it has been such a blessing.  I can't wait to share the rest of our story with you soon!