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Eli’s Abbreviated Story

I’ve had some new friends ask me recently about our adoption experience. Where do we begin? So I am posting this as a summary but cannot get near how faithful God has been! Nonetheless, here is Eli’s ABBREVIATED story about coming home:

Amanda and I were blessed to have our first son, Obadiah, born May 6, 2008. Little did we know, exactly two weeks later on May 20, our other son, Eli was being born in Ethiopia. Due to the Chapmans’ and other’s influences on our lives, we always knew adoption would be a part of our story, but we did not realize it would be so soon.

As I was completing my last doctoral seminar at Southern Seminary, I came into contact with people who had recently adopted. I asked if they had to choose a place based on the greatness of need and the lack of government corruption, where would they choose and each of them said Ethiopia. That night as I talked with my wife over the phone as she held our other son in South Carolina, I told her the need in Ethiopia. I emailed her links of the situation. I told her that

I couldn’t wait to do that one day.

She responded, “But we have an empty bed right now.”

The empty bed was all we needed. Sure there were issues. Many people had legitimate concerns. What about the race factor? How will this effect your other son? How do you expect to pay for this endeavor?

But we had an empty bed.

While there was a more “right” time for our family to adopt, we began to ask ourselves, when is the “right” time for an orphan to be adopted. We realized that an orphan did not need us to wait to have all of the biological children we might have. An orphan did not care if we were still new at parenthood. An orphan’s perception of financially prepared would probably be a bit different than our American standard of “comfort.”

There was a better time for our family, but the best time for one orphan in the world was right now. So we jumped in. We began to pray for the finances needed for the adoption.

We had enough to start the process, and we believed God would provide every step of the way.

We experienced financial support through many ways. First, we had friends and family support us financially when we did not ask for help. Second, I recorded a music album to sell with the proceeds funding the adoption. One of the songs was written to my two boys called “Your Father’s Arms.” This song not only helped support the adoption but helped encourage others to adopt. Third, Show Hope’s gift to our family was exactly what we needed to finish the process. We prayed for a certain amount in such bad economic times, and God gave us double what we prayed for through Show Hope’s scholarship (Eph. 3:20)!  The financial need was met to the exact amount needed!

When I journeyed to Ethiopia to bring Eli home, I walked into an orphanage and picked up an almost two-year-old from a crib. This child had been malnourished, had developmental delays, and could not walk, crawl, or bear weight on legs when first receiving his information. When I arrived, he was just starting to bear weight on legs.

Holding him in my arms for the first time, I began to sing the song I wrote for him, “Your father’s on his way, to wipe your tears away, no need to be alarmed, you are safe in your father’s arms.” That day, he took his first steps with me in the orphanage to the shock of the nannies. Doctors in the United States told us that Eli’s condition was “atypical for malnourished Ethiopian orphan standards,” and told us that there was a good chance he may never walk or recover. They weren’t sure of what was going on but knew he was in a bad place. When Eli walked into their office holding his chart and talking, the look in their eyes said it all: “Nothing is impossible for our God.”

Only 4 months home, Eli is running and talking and eating and gaining weight. He is wrestling with his brother, kissing his father, and singing with his mother. He is as much of an Agnew as any other member in our home. When we decided to adopt, we thought we were doing a good thing for a child in need, little did we know that we would be the ones blessed most of all and that God’s heart for adoption could spread from our family to others around us.

To those who prayed, encouraged, and supported, a proud father and mother says thank you. You have been a part of our answered prayers. You helped get our precious son home. Obadiah thanks you for giving him such a great brother to tickle and to hug. And Eli thanks you with his smiles and giggles. He is home now. He’s not an orphan any longer. Adoption will forever be a part of his history, but it is not his identity. He is home. And we are grateful.