We recently had the opportunity to interview the lovely Anda Maria Spencer. She’s a newlywed to Jeremiah Spencer, the worship leader for Encounter at FBC Thomasville. Anda was adopted at the age of fifteen, along with two of her younger brothers (Arvis & Jakeb), from Latvia by her adoptive family in Live Oak, Florida. We loved reading through Anda’s answers to these questions, as her love for Jesus Christ is undeniable.
1. What is your name?
Anda Maria Spencer
2. Where were you born?
3. When were you adopted and brought to the United States?
Our adoption process was finalized on August 8th, 2007.
4. What was your first reaction when you found out you were being adopted?
I did not want to come. I have always and will always love my birth country. But now I see how God had it all planned out.
5. How old were you when you were adopted?
I was 15.
6. Can you tell us a little about your childhood in Latvia?
Both of my parents were alcoholics. Therefore, I was placed in and out of family several times until I ended up at the orphanage where New Horizon’s for children interviewed my brothers and I and a family in Live Oak, FL adopted us.
7. Can you tell us a little about how God has used your adoption to positively impact you?Without adoption I really don’t see myself realizing and truly believing in Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins. I am not trying to limit God in saying that HE could have not saved me in Latvia, but I truly believe that His plan for me was to come and live in U.S.A., grow closer to Him and then share His love with others around the world. I have been able to do that through many mission trips I have participated in.
8. Tell us a little bit about yourself now. (Career, activities, family, etc.)
I know that God wanted me here in US because now I am able to show love towards many children in Latvia. Last year I started a camp for underprovided children. Children from poor families whose parents cannot afford to send them to a camp. This camp is free for all the children. Generous American donors give all the money for the camp’s expenses.
9. What do you hope your adoption story shows people?
When given a second chance, it has to be taken. Don’t waste your chances and then blame the past on your current failures. First of all, believe, truly believe that God can take care of everything and then run after your dreams. Don’t stay in your comfort zone for too long. It was not comfortable learning a new language, getting new friends, learning to love a new family, going to school, or anything else that was new to me. It was all very scary, but I believe it was all what God wanted me to do.
Want to share your Open Door adoption story with us? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being.”
Happy Monday, everyone! We are super excited to release Sarah’s Story. We are so blessed to have Sarah as a part of our Open Door family. We hope this short film inspires you to explore adoption, and bring awareness to the millions of orphans that are in need of a loving, forever home. YOU could be their forever home!
Jennifer was facing an unplanned pregnancy, putting herself through college, and wondering how she could ever provide the financial stability that her baby would need.
Jennifer found An Open Door and decided to make a plan of adoption for her baby. Our counselors supported Jennifer’s decision and offered her continuous support and compassion throughout this emotional journey. Jennifer’s selfless and loving decision will forever be engrained into the life of her precious daughter.
Few things in the world are more beautiful than family. Family is God’s divine plan for his people, and each day, all over the world, He is using adoption to build families. We are blessed to be a part of this, and we love sharing our stories with you. Below, you will find an interview with one of our adoptive couples, Christy and Danny, who recently brought home their precious daughter Abby from Lithuania. Reading their story truly brings unspeakable joy; so, find a comfy place to sit, grab a tissue, and prepare to be encouraged and inspired!
1. How did you find out about Abby? Had you been looking to adopt or was this a complete surprise?
We saw Abby’s photo on Reece’s Rainbow (www.reecesrainbow.org), an adoption grant ministry for children with Down syndrome and other special needs. Our biological daughter, Bailey, is two and also has Down syndrome. Not long after she was born, we were introduced to Reece’s Rainbow and started following the adoption journeys of several families working through the adoption process to bring home children with Down syndrome. In many countries in Eastern Europe, children with special needs are abandoned by their birth families, or given up because the family cannot care for them.
We couldn’t stand the thought a sweet child like Bailey in an orphanage without parents and a family to love and protect her. We couldn’t think of that and not do anything to help.
When Bailey turned one we started talking more seriously about pursuing adoption, but the time never seemed right due to job changes, etc. When we saw Abby’s photo on Reece’s Rainbow last April, we knew that we were looking into the eyes of our daughter, and would do anything in our power to get to her as quickly as possible. The time was right and God said very loudly and very clearly that we should do this.
2. When you saw her picture, what were some of the things going through your mind?
We both immediately knew we were looking at our daughter. I still, to this day, cannot put my finger on what it was, other than she and Bailey do have some similar physical characteristics. But more than this instant connection with one little photo, we knew God was tapping us on the shoulder (or shoving, as the case may be!) and telling us it was go time!
3. Adoption is not an easy undertaking. What advice would you give a couple who is beginning the process and might feel overwhelmed?
Take it one step at a time. Yes, when you look at the whole process it looks huge and scary and overwhelming. And yes, very expensive. But take it one step at a time, one payment at a time, pray a lot, keep your faith, and God will see you through it.
And when that feels like it’s not enough, think of that child, half way across the world, and you are their one hope. You are the people that will bring them out of loneliness and merely existing into life and love and family. That will keep you going and make those little road bumps – that will absolutely happen – seem inconsequential.
4. How did your faith affect this journey? What are some things the Lord taught you?
Faith was a huge part of this journey. From the beginning when we stopped to listen when God told us to pursue Abby’s adoption, to later in the process when we were discouraged or tired or wondering how we were going to pay for that next set of fees, God was there. God took a little family of four, and surrounded us with support, love, and people who held us up when we could not do it on our own, and brought us to where we are now – a family of five with our beautiful new daughter Abby, safe and sound at home where she belongs.
God taught us that He will provide when we need it. Oh, the stories we can tell you of the ways that God provided for us – financially and otherwise – at the exact times we needed it. Honestly, we could write a book about this one. It was actually faith building to not have everything we needed sitting in the bank, and to see how God provided it in the most creative ways.
While I would consider our adoption process to have gone well and without too many wrinkles, to say it was a faith journey is an understatement. But God took all of the little details, and made them work just so, and now we have our beautiful daughter home where she is loved and cared for and doing so well, even after just 2 months of being home.
5. Abby has Down syndrome. Tell me a little bit about this, and why you feel it is important to adopt children with special needs.
Yes, Abby has Down syndrome (Ds). Down syndrome occurs when an individual has a full or partial extra copy of chromosome 21. This additional genetic material alters the course of development and causes the characteristics associated with Down syndrome.
When Bailey was born 2 ½ years ago, she brought with her that extra chromosome and a joy and beauty that has literally transformed our lives. When I was still pregnant with Bailey, and knew that she had Down syndrome, a mother of a child with Ds told me that she wished everyone could experience the joy of raising a child with Ds. I didn’t understand it at the time, but I sure do now. There is something extraordinarily beautiful in the way that Bailey lives with joy, happiness, and determination, despite the challenges she has already faced in her short life. Sure she has tantrums and screams and cries (she’s a 2 year old, for goodness sake!) but she has this smile – one you’re more likely than not to see at any given time – that literally lights up the room. When she smiles and giggles she does it with her whole body and soul. It is a blessing and a joy to parent her.
And when we were told about Reece’s Rainbow, and saw the photos of the children who, simply because of their extra chromosome, were given up by their families, it was heart breaking. Many tears were shed while viewing photos of these sweet children abandoned, and waiting, just waiting for someone to tell them that they matter enough to help. We imagined our precious and perfectly-made Bailey rejected because of the way she was created by our God. It was just too much for us to know about these children who desperately need homes and families and not do anything about it.
It is important to adopt these children because they have been born into societies that do not accept them. These sweet babies are given up because the societies they live in say they are not worth helping. The citizens of these countries are not stepping in to adopt children with special needs. The children are waiting and waiting and waiting and we are their only hope and chance for life outside of the orphanage. We are their only hope for love. For family.
“I promise you, with a few years of special needs parenting under my belt, the joy you receive from parenting a child with Ds is 100 fold what you give as a parent. If our girls had a joy-meter, it would be off the charts. We are blessed. Absolutely blessed to parent our girls.”
6. You have other children. How did you explain adoption to them?
Bailey was too young to understand while we were going through the adoption process. I’m pretty sure she was more interested in playing with her toys or eating a snack to hear about a new sister!
Our son, Taylor, is six, and has a very kind heart. We had been talking about orphans and adoption for a year or so before we officially started the process, and he started asking us to adopt 150 kids, and telling us that they could sleep on bunk beds in his room. Not exactly realistic, but by the time we actually did start our process, he never thought twice about us adopting, it was just something we talked about and he was excited to meet his sister Abby.
7. How do you think Christians should respond to the orphan epidemic?
Oh wow. Big question and I have big thoughts about this. Of course, I think we should all be out there helping the orphans. If you can’t adopt, help someone who is. If you can adopt, do! How’s that? 🙂
But to be serious, this is a hard issue for me to address, because it took something very personal and meaningful in our life (Bailey being born with Ds) for us to realize that we should do this, and that it doesn’t take a super hero family to adopt. It takes a family that has love and a home and a willingness to welcome a child. Period.
“It doesn’t take a super hero family to adopt. It takes a family that has love and a home and a willingness to welcome a child. Period.”
I wish that all Christians could have the type of ah-ha moment that we had with Bailey’s arrival that made us realize that no matter the cost, we need to rescue a child from a life of sadness and loneliness. We are not a super hero family, we have done nothing to praise, we are simply people that God put a heavy burden on our hearts and we knew we had to act.
I think that all Christians should respond to the orphan epidemic by seeing it as a command from God, that we care for the orphans. I believe we should all use our gifts and life circumstances in the ways we can to help and bless orphans. Not everyone is able to adopt but we can all help families who are adopting financially, spiritually, physically. As a church we can make supporting adoption so second nature that adoptive families know they are surrounded by support by their church families.
“I think that all Christians should respond to the orphan epidemic by seeing it as a command from God, that we care for the orphans.”
8. You went to Lithuania to adopt Abby. How were your trips?
Our trips were good. Danny and I took one trip in mid-December, 2012. We spent 8 days in the orphanage visiting with Abby, and then had our adoption court hearing, and then came home. I was home for 11 days and then flew back to Lithuania with my mother and niece for Abby’s pickup trip while Danny stayed home with the kids. That ended up being a horribly tough week as Bailey got sick and was admitted to the children’s hospital for 5 days with breathing issues. Meanwhile in Lithuania, we had custody of Abby and were in the hotel in Vilnius when she developed croup. And then the next night developed pneumonia. The poor girl was miserable and didn’t want to be comforted – she was so used to having to comfort herself that she wouldn’t let me hold her. She wanted to lie on the floor and suck her fingers because that was the only way she knew to comfort herself. It was one of the hardest weeks of our lives. But thankfully everyone recovered in time for us to fly home and be together as a family of 5 on schedule on January 12!
9. Abby is home now! Tell me something funny she’s done.
Abby is picking up English SO quickly! After being home about 2 months she speaks over 40 English words, and uses around 35 sign language signs. She is such a smart girl. Her favorite words are poo-poo, NO!!!, and ow. At least 10 times a day she will walk up to me, pat her diaper and say poo-poo! And I’ll ask her if she needs to go potty, to which she will look at me like why in the world are you asking me that question, say NO!!! and walk away. Funny girl!
10. In a nutshell, what does adoption mean to you?
Adoption means life for these children. Adoption means a child that was perfectly made by God is given love and a family and a home. Adoption means ordinary people making room in their hearts and homes for a child who desperately needs them. Adoption means redemption. Adoption means love. Adoption means the gospel. Adoption means our daughter is finally home where she was always meant to be.
“Adoption means our daughter is finally home where she was always meant to be.”