Monday, December 24, 2012

Adoption Joy

Adoption Joy
December 24, 2012

Blink. That’s what I did and 2012 is already coming to a close. How does that happen? As fast as each year continues to fly by…. this year by far is the fastest. 2012 started out with the best news ever at the end of January as we finally got the LONG awaited phone call that we had received approval to bring Bella HOME!  I knew what that meant. It was time to whirl around and start getting my head and heart ready to travel to a far away land. So much to do! In February the Indian Courts granted us custody of Bella. We then just had to wait on her passport to be processed in India and we could travel to pick her up in just a few short weeks.  Time was just whipping by as I was grappling at the clock arms to slow them a bit to get everything in order. And sadly they did. March came and went and still, no passport. Hearts sinking we wondered if we’d be in a similar situation as last summer with more long and unexpected waiting.

But finally on April 12th we got word that the passport had arrived and it was time to travel and that painful 4-year wait would finally come to an end. So, on April 22nd of this year, Jeff, Jonah and myself all boarded a plane and traveled across the world into a foreign land. After 2 full days and 5 flights, ending with a tiny prop plane that finally landed us on a small airstrip in the middle of mountains, jungles and rivers (a scene you only see on National Geographic), followed by a 2-hour car trip, winding up a mountain on a narrow one lane road through breathtaking jungles, waterfalls, and bamboo huts, we arrived. Normally, this kind of trip would have had me heaving my insides. But I was just too excited to be carsick. Our eyes just could not believe what we were beholding.  We were on the other side of the world gazing at a little town mixed with both beauty and poverty on terrain that seemed totally surreal. And this….this was the place our daughter awaited us.

Full of adrenaline at this point and with only about 2 hours of sleep, we could not wait to lay eyes on the one that the LORD had chosen for us to call our own. Walking down a steep flight of stairs on the side of a mountain we turned the corner into a little orphanage and there as we stepped foot in, peeked a little beautiful big brown-eyed girl with just as much anticipation to meet us. There are no words to describe that moment. Locking eyes, arms and hearts for the very first time with our daughter all the way around the world. It was one of the happiest and most beautiful days of our lives.  We spent two weeks in the birth country of our daughter, sightseeing, learning her culture, and also getting the necessary legalities in place to get Bella’s visa to finally come home. It was truly the trip of our lives. The things we saw, experienced, and felt will forever be etched in our hearts.

And then, just like that, it was all over. We were back on familiar turf, yet we found ourselves in unfamiliar, “new” family territory.  We were home at last, but no longer as a family of 4. We were now a family of 5, with a new daughter/sister.  Immediately the trials and challenges came, some expected, and some very unexpected.  Though Bella is a phenomenal little girl and has done so well since coming home, the struggles we faced with adjustments as a family were extremely difficult.  In addition, we endured hardships this summer like none we have experienced thus far. Bella struggled with a number of medical issues as her little body tried to assimilate to a new environment and climate. We also dealt with broken bones, injuries, casts, braces, physical therapy, surgeries, and stitches to name a few. Not to mention a mound of medical bills that took a natural toll on our finances.  We were “all” out of sorts in every way with our new little family and the anguish seemed unbearable at times.

I kept thinking to myself, this was supposed to be a year of JOY!!! In January of this year, I was convinced this WAS going to be the year of Joy. After all, we would finally have our daughter home. Not to mention, as a church, our 2012 sermon series was focusing on JOY! The verses I was studying and the bible studies I had chosen also spoke so much about joy that I was confident this was the year for it! Wallowing in my pity and sorrow when most of the year was almost gone I wondered where all this joy was because I wasn’t feeling it. Then the verse came to my mind from James 1:2-3, “Consider it great joy my brothers whenever you experience various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” Joy and trials together? I was reminded of our pastor’s definition this year that joy is the supernatural delight and deep satisfaction in God for the sheer beauty and worth of who He is.

 There it is. Joy is not based on our circumstances but in who God is! And according to James, anguish and joy can coexist because God’s glory and the testing of our faith, to bring forth what is ahead, is of much more value. Jesus understood this truth as stated in Hebrews 12:2, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Jesus endured the sufferings of the cross because He knew of the joy set before Him. What was that JOY? That we His children would be home with Him forever. That our adoption would be complete.  Ephesians 1:4-5 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  

This is what it’s all about.  Adoption.  The Gospel. That Christ came and died for us so that we might be called the children of God. Adoption will cost suffering. But just last week, as we stood before the judge here in the States, as she officially declared Bella ours, and her adoption complete, I could look back at our year of trials and consider it all JOY.... because of  who God is and what Christ has done.  This Christmas may you experience God’s Adoption Joy.

Merry Christmas
The Wilbanks (Family of 5) 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

India- Journal 3


Landing in India-

So full of excitement we stepped off of air and stepped foot on ground and made our way to pick up our things. There's no doubt we are in India. We stand out and receive stare after stare. We begin to pick up luggage and cheer when first piece comes around the belt. Then we wait and wait and wait. Belt stops and no more luggage. MY LUGGAGE (and Bella's luggage) missing! WELCOME TO have no clothes. :-) Really,  as disappointing as this was, God gave me peace again and nothing was stopping me from losing my joy over the path I was on to see our girl!

We file the report on the lost luggage.... breeze through customs and wonder if our taxi we had requested the day before was even there due to our 2 hour flight delay and then the baggage issues....and there as we make our way outside stands a man with a sign "Brittnie Wilbanks" Krishna Hotel. PTL!! We couldn't believe it. He waited for us all.  that.  time. Our kind driver loads our lacking luggage and we hop in the taxi to make our way to the hotel for a quick shower and a couple of hours of sleep so we could head BACK to the airport for our next flight in just a few short hours.

Our first real experience of India (besides the luggage loss) was the driving. I'm sure most of you have heard if you haven't already experience something like this first hand....the driving system is pure chaos. There were lines in the roads and lights above but I'm not sure why? Cars, people, animals, beggars going in every direction and our driver whips in and out cutting people off and running street lights with ease through this madness and "close calls" and yet there is still peace.

Then it happened. The woman holding her half limp newborn baby and a half empty bottle of milk and she's gently tapping on the window begging us for money to save her baby. (So you wonder anyway.) You hear about this kind of thing... but nothing prepares you for it. A country of so much need and we are there to help...but there is only so very little we can do. My heart breaks. A starving baby laying limp in it's mother's arms? or a pimp forcing a woman to beg for moeny with a baby? This shouldn't be!  I want to be used more!

Our driver finally brings us out of chaos and down a dirty alley to our hotel and we are relieved to finally have a place to "rest". This is the one place we are uncertain of. It's the place that we played with a bit of "risk" at not knowing exactly where this hotel was or how safe it was....but it was REALLY cheap and it had 2 king beds for us all to stay together (me, Jeff, Jonah and Amanda) and we only needed it a few we took a chance. And to our was nice, clean and everyone was very friendly and our driver (Khem Lal) agrees to come back for us in a few hours and take us back to the hotel.

Psalm 126:3 The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!

India-Journal 2


Our 15 hour flight was another perfect one...but by take off time almost 2 hours late my nerves were shot. The stress from all the anticipation and the unexpected death on the plane was too much. The anxiety attacks began to come. I finally settled down and we enjoyed delicious meals and snacks galore and we began to draw some attention with our light skin. Our attendant began to inquire, "what sends you to India?" We shared our story and he was captivated. We joined hearts over children and adoption and great need.

From that point forward...we were treated like royalty by our intrigued attendant. First class treatment was making it's way to the back of the plane to shower us with a touch of God's grace.  We giggled as other attendants would ask, "how did "that" plate (of luxury) get back here? :-) We ate like kings and queens.  We were able to share our Bella Cards with our blog site on it with the attendant (and hope he is reading along now) and we pray our time with him and others around us who were curious to know our "mission" that seeds were scattered and sown.

All praise be to God.

Psalm 126:3 The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

India-Journal 1


The 4:30am alarm goes off and I'm already awake. I have been awake most of the night lying in anxiousness over our trip in just a few hours. We arrive at the airport 3 hours early "just in case" and then comes the one part of our trip that I've been dreading. Saying goodbye to those we are leaving  behind. My heart races cause I know it's going to happen...I hate to cry... but its comes anyway....with tears spilling over for the babe I love so dearly who stays with his Nana while we travel 7,000+ miles across the globe. Tears spill also for the one I entrust his care to for the next 2 mom who I love and adore.

But God is gracious and merciful and covers me with peace as we part ways. I leave a piece of my heart in Alabama and take the rest of it to India for the one God has "chosen out" for us to call our very own. Our plane leaves early and we spend most of the day connecting flights across the states. Perfect flights too! I've been asking for prayer for months for smooth plan rides ....since I'm not a fan of flying. We arrive in Jersey late afternoon and eagerly board our last flight to India.... 15 hours across the world....and excited that we'd either sleep/read/watch movies forever on this huge aircraft.... that would tie two worlds together.

The pilot comes over the intercom to announce flight departure and then the unexpected happens....two rows behind us someone calls out to the flight attendant, "someone just passed out in the bathroom". I stare at the door while it bulges out with someones dead weight up against it. The attendant calls out for a response from within. No answer. She tries to open the door and it's jammed. With panic, people spend too much time trying to free this person from the bathroom with no success. Maintenance is called and we all know time is ticking too fast. Someone finally pulls the door free and in horror we watch dead weight drop hard to the floor. 

Flight attendants begin rescue with defibrillator and there is no response. Police come in  -they try- no response. Medical crew comes in -put him on automatic chest compressions and breathing air down his lungs- still NO RESPONSE. 1 hour and 30 minutes go by and we are just beside ourselves as we watch son and wife stand speechless at their dying loved one. I can't make sense of this at all. Would our trip to life begin with death? The team decides to move the passenger from the plane....dragging him down the aisle right passed our feet. I feel sick. We all sit in tears. My heart aches at the same time for the ones who are losing a family member while we sit eagerly waiting to take flight in order to gain one.

No pronouncement was ever made on the plane that night ...but we heard the crews two feet behind us. It was over. Death had come. We heard the flight attendant later say ....."that had a pronouncement been made...the plane would have not left the ground that night". WOW.  That would have been crazy. We were thankful that the LORD allowed us to leave that night for India but we pray for that precious Indian family whose flight home to India left with out them. Our hearts were broken, but we left with a greater urgency and understanding of just how precious LIFE really is!

Psalm 126:3 The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Homeward Bound!

Another blog by Amanda as we travel home today!! Homeward Bound

Thursday, May 3, 2012


I've got several blog posts about our time in India on the way. They are on paper and hope to get them on the blog later today. In the mean is another update from Amanda. :-) Aizawl

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The LORD finishes what He begins!

It's Monday night April 9th 2012 and we are watching Jonah's baseball game and he goes to bat....perfect stance...perfect swing....smacks the ball hard and we scream thrills of excitement and it comes to a screeching halt when we realize the best hit of the season lines drives the pitcher and he falls like a rag doll to the ground. Lying unconscious we inhale sighs of terror....knowing how this could potentially affect both the hitter and the pitcher. We carry the burden home as the pitcher drives off in an ambulance and no one knows the final injury diagnosis.

 It's now 2am and I wake with heart racing and I feel the nausea and know what's coming next. I run for the bathroom where I find myself on the floor in a pool of sweat fighting for consciousness.... Calling out to Jeff for help while he lay sleeping. I have no idea what is going on. After breathing hard in and out hoping for relief soon I find myself back in the bed from arms of love who carried me and I say out loud," this is warfare". I say it with certainty...this is going to bring good news of our getting Bella.

The next day I'm reading through my "read through the bible in a year" and my scheduled reading for the day is in Samuel. And the storyline is on Hannah begging God for a child. Ahhhh. Yes...I can relate to her anguish and I think to myself about last night and realize something is happening. I remember what comes next in the reading....a son is given to Hannah! Samuel. Not only that....I know even more exciting is that Samuel as a young boy and a servant to the LORD and hears the LORD's voice and says,"speak LORD for your servant is listening" At this moment even though I never expected it...I knew what the LORD was doing. He was finishing this adoption story exactly the way he began it.

Let me explain.

 In August of 2008 the following calling of adoption from God came:

" I was spending time with the LORD and was praying through 1 Samuel 3:9 where Samuel answered God and asked Him “to speak for His servant was listening”. I sensed the LORD say to me over and over, "listen to me". So, I began calling on God as Samuel did, to "Speak LORD for your servant is listening". I ask the LORD to tell me what was on His heart and for Him to share it with me. I sat in silence for what seemed an eternity waiting to hear if the LORD had anything that He wanted to say.

Then the words came to my heart, “open My word”. Not being a fan of playing bible roulette, I hesitantly opened my bible wondering if I had heard incorrectly. And there in the pages my bible had opened to was Psalm 99:1-9. The first verse that I saw was vs 6. You’ll need to read it: Psalm 99:6 Samuel also was among those calling on His name. They called to the LORD and He answered them. How bizarre is that? I sat there puzzled as I had just finished reading about Samuel and was also calling on the LORD myself and waiting for an answer. So, I backed up in that chapter of Psalm 99 and began to read the passages from the start.

The thing that captured me most in those verses was vs. 4. which says, “The mighty King loves justice”. Those words played over and over in my mind while I anxiously continued to listen for what the LORD wanted to say to me. I devoted the rest of the day to listen for God’s word to me when it finally came unsuspected later that afternoon while watching a orphan video and seeing Psalm 10:17-18 stream across the screen which says, Lord you know the hopes of helpless, surely you will listen to their cries and comfort them…..You will bring justice to the orphans and the oppressed, so people can no longer terrify them.

When I read those words, I was totally stunned and it hit me like a ton of bricks….The Mighty King was wanting to bring Justice! THIS IS IT! This is what the LORD has wanted me to hear. This is what He wanted to tell me. I sat there and bawled like a baby for the longest time and then trying to compose myself I scrambled for the phone to tell Jeff what just happened. Could this be our answer? It has to be. Were we to be the vessels of His justice to the orphans? Yes!!"

You can find that entire blog on it here.

Fast forward exactly to February 2011 and we are reading our daughters child study report and we realize that she became orphaned the exact month and year (August 2008) that God gave us this calling through Samuel. God? NO DOUBT! And now the time had come. It was time to bring justice to Bella! I hop on Facebook and make a request for prayers for good news the next day knowing what God was doing.

The next day comes and I open my bible again to scheduled reading and I totally forgot what was next. 1 Samuel 7. It hits me again with pure excitement because I remember....last year on April 21st 2011....after our referral and thinking we would be traveling to see Bella in a short couple of months I got an extremely disappointing email from our agency saying there were delays and it could potentially be months before we could travel to pick her up. In tears that day I picked up my bible and read from 1 Samuel 7. In shock over what I just read I sent Jeff the following email:

"It doesn't EVEN surprise me that after receiving that disappointing news that my reading in the WORD would be in 1 Samuel (where our adoption journey began....and Samuel was among those calling on the name of the LORD and HE answered them!) that God would say to me these words in 1 Samuel 7:12.."Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah & Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”" He has indeed helped us thus far..and there is no doubt He will yet help us again! Ebenezer means....stone of help! Today...I’m raising my Ebenezer!!

Reminded today of Gods faithfulness and that He would indeed finish what He started as I read those verses again in 1Samuel 7 my hope was again restored that good news was on the way. And then...right then.....the phone's our agency with good news!! We can finally go and get our daughter!! So....we make travel plans in the next few days and I find myself packing my bags for our early morning trip to India the next day and the date is April 21st 2012!! Exactly one year ago to the day of our Ebenezer...The LORD indeed finished what He began.

Praise His holy name.

With Joy,
Psalm 126:3

Monday, April 30, 2012

We really are in India!

For those of you that have not seen all our Facebook posts and have just been waiting on the might be thinking we never really went to India? :-) With sketchy Internet service and a wild schedule I've not been able to blog as I had hoped. To catch a glimpse of the big day of meeting Bella you can check out this post by our dear friend Amanda who is with us in India. I have so many things to share about our journey. We are in awe of our awesome God and have seen His grace in each step of the way. Hope to share all that He has done soon. To Him be all the glory! Brittnie

Thursday, April 19, 2012


We are going to India!!

It has been a long road but our daughter is finally coming HOME!!

We leave for India this Sunday and will be with Bella on Tuesday!!!!

I hope to be blogging our journey if you want to follow along. Stay Tuned. :-)

With JOY,

Psalm 126:3 The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!

Thursday, April 12, 2012



We are making travel plans and will keep you posted.

More to come on this....and just how AMAZING OUR GOD is on how HE finished this process!
Totally blown away!!

With JOY!

Psalm 126:3 The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Only GOD!

I wanted to give a little update and say first that we are STILL waiting on that passport for Bella to make our travel plans. But we expect it to be ready any day now and plan to hop on that plane REALLY soon. Possibly by the end of next week or weekend? Though we aren't 100% certain...we are hopeful. Stay TUNED. But something else very exciting has happened that I want to share.

There have been many things that have blown my mind along the way of this long journey of adoption to India for Bella. We have seen GOD move in ways we could just not even explain, and Him change us in ways we had not expected....and one of my favorites is the people that He has woven into our story! and it has made this journey SO BEAUTIFUL. Perhaps you've seen in my other blog posts some of these connections....but this one I have yet to mention. This particular person and plan that God has woven into our story..... is so exciting for me on so many levels... and I have been absolutely giddy about sharing this portion of our journey with you. BUT....I am going to let THIS person tell the story for you. You can read it here Amanda Lehman Blog for yourself. ONLY GOD can put these things together....and it's these things that cause us to love HIM even MORE!! More on this later. :-)

With JOY,

The LORD has done great things for us and we are filled with JOY!!! Psalm 126:3

Monday, February 27, 2012

Why the Name- BELLA?

So many have asked questions along the way about our choice for the name, Bella.

*is that her "real" name or a name you gave her?
*how did you decide on the name Bella?
*how will she receive the idea of a "new" name with her being an older child?

So, I thought that I'd share the answers to those questions. :-)

After we dove into the paper work process of our adoption full force and we began to wait on our referral for our daughter.... we entered the phase of the adoption process to which most Adoption Agencies call being "paper pregnant". Kind of a fun analogy for us adoptive mama's. So we did what most mama's and daddy's do when you are "pregnant".....You start thinking of baby names!

Immediately, I knew that after a house full of "J" names for all the guys.....that I wanted another "B" name for us girls! With that in mind I started taking a look at our journey with the LORD so far and all that HE had done to bring us to "this" point. One of the many things that God used in speaking to our hearts about adoption was a movie got it....."BELLA" It's a beautiful film about adoption that really moved us during God's call for us to adopt.

So that was a "B" name for sure. But, because of my love for the study of the Scriptures, I'm all about the biblical meaning behind a name. (That's how I determined our boys names as well.) So I had to check this out first to make sure it was one that described our journey to adopt. Bella means "Devoted to God" in Hebrew....(and of course "beautiful" in Spanish) Yep....I'd say that meaning definitely describes this path we are on. If it weren't for GOD and our following him in devotion and faith....we would have never entered this wonderful journey to Bella to begin with. After all....this is ALL about HIM!

After getting approval from daddy and the two big brothers....we voted a "YES" for the name Bella! As I began to share the name with other family members, my sweet Aunt Robin reminded me that my precious grandmother (who I never met but adored from what I knew about her) was Winnie "Belle".....I knew that it was a done deal after making that connection. Knowing this is the "middle" name of my sweet daddy's mom.... makes it all the more SPECIAL for me. So, Bella it was. No doubts about it.

Of course all of this was decided with the idea that we were adopting an infant at that time. And as you know God changed that scenario quickly. We realize that with Bella now being an older child she may have a preference about her name and we will gladly do what makes her comfortable. However, we do plan to keep her "Indian" name (another post for another time) for sure to be her middle name. And she can have the choice to use either of her names. And until we complete the final adoption papers once she is here in the USA.... nothing is set in stone and can be changed if needed.

After their inquiry...we did tell the orphanage just last week the name we had chosen and their response was...."It's BEAUTIFUL and suits her WELL"! I couldn't agree more....but we'll see how our little Miss feels about it very soon. We realize so many things will be difficult for her and we don't want this to be one more difficult thing. BUT... One way or the other that little girl is getting a NEW last name when she gets HOME and her adoption is final! We can't wait for her to be one of "us"! Until then....more on all this name business.

With JOY!

Psalm 126:3

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Caring for TWO!!!

In just about 3 weeks we should be on a plane to India and holding our sweet girl! Can you believe it? It's finally here! For awhile it felt like it might not ever happen. When we FINALLY received our No Objection Certificate we began to see some light at the end of the tunnel. But when we unexpectedly and miraculously got our Court approval in only 2 short weeks, I began to hyperventilate. This is REAL! THIS IS REAL!! I am just so excited and we know that our Bella is too! She has been waiting just as long as we have.... eagerly anticipating our coming for her! Oh the JOY!

When we began this journey almost 4 years ago we had no idea what in the world the LORD had planned or was in store. As I blogged about before....we started out with the intention of adopting a baby girl. BUT GOD had other plans. He changed our hearts in many ways during this LONG journey and changing our hearts from adopting an infant to an older child was definitely something HE communicated very clearly as we listened to His heart as we walked forward with Him in faith. (I'll blog about that sometime soon)

Another thing the LORD changed our hearts on.... was the number of children we wanted to adopt. Not only did we change our home study to reflect a much larger age range in a child, we also opened our hearts to the idea of a sibling group. We were willing to be used anyway the LORD saw fit for our family concerning the orphan. and if that meant two at one time...we would gladly do it!

And then the time came when we finally received our referral (of an older child) for our sweet girl Bella. Our referral consisted of one child. HOWEVER, what some of you may or may not know is....Bella has a brother. YEP. There are TWO children! We inquired about this immediately and were told right away that her brother who is older than she, was un-adoptable. As happy as we were to finally see and know our daughter, our hearts broke as we stared at the picture of this precious boy and wondered why we weren't able to adopt him too.

Though the reasons for him not being cleared for adoption are still unknown to us, we still hoped there was something we could do. We asked if we could keep in contact with this child and care for him from a distance for any needs that he might have and the answer was YES! There are a couple of neat ways (that God has orchestrated) that we can go about doing this....and so we anxiously await what He has in store. Who knows what might come of all this later down the road. But we are happy to be able to take care of this sweet boy on some level.

So with that said.....we will be CARING for TWO! :-) and not to mention this certainly turns into requested prayer for us and for sweet Bella. We will be able to visit with her brother one last time before we bring her home. This will be a sweet visit but also as you can imagine a VERY difficult one for all of us. My heart breaks already just thinking about it and the hurt our daughter will have leaving her brother behind. So, we ask for your prayer support over this matter.
We are sure there will be some difficult days ahead, but OH....the JOY that is set before us is worth it ALL!

With JOY!

Psalm 126:3

Friday, February 17, 2012


We got word this morning that we passed court!!!! We were all so shocked that we passed COURT so quickly!! Bella's passport is being applied for and we hope to travel in just 2-3 weeks! I will keep you posted. :-)



Tuesday, January 31, 2012


It has been one year almost to the day since our referral.....but today we received word that we finally got our NOC (No Objection Certificate) for Bella!!!

That is all my heart can handled to say for now....but I wanted to let you all know!!!
I will be posting some updates and travel estimates SOON!!

Thank you to all of you who have been faithfully praying for our sweet girl. Those prayers have been heard and we are SO excited and rejoice in our great and mighty KING for answering those prayers!!!