As you are reading these words, I am most likely flying over Northern Europe. Or maybe I have just boarded my flight from Frankfurt to Vilnius, no doubt after running through the terminal with a light coat of sweat on me, travel pillow flying behind me, heart racing wildly as I look for friendly faces in the sea of German stocism. Or maybe I have even just landed in Vilnius where I’ll be meeting my friend Ali to be by her side during one of the most difficult, joy-filled, faith-fueled adventures of her life.

Ali is in Lithuania to pick up her son. A son she met just weeks ago for the first time in-person, but who captured her heart over a year ago with his picture on the internet. Chris and Ali felt moved to adopt little Ellis after reading and researching adoption in Eastern Europe (from which Chris’ family hails). Upon discovering a site called Reese’s Rainbow they found their little Boo and have been pursuing him ever since and God has been preparing to bring him home to their family.  She does an excellent job telling their whole story here on her blog. You really should read it because her heart is beautiful. Their story is beautiful. Their family is brave and wholly dependent on God’s grace. But be warned if you are like me you will cry through every post. Feel free to share.

Chris had to come home before they were able to leave the country with Ellis, so I get to go in as the relief team. I like to think of myself as the adoption doula. It’s an honor to be invited into this intimate process. Honestly, I am going with very few expectations other than serving Ali however I can: being extra hands and feet, listening with fresh ears as she processes this whole journey, perhaps just sitting by her as she holds Boo late at night. Ali and Chris are some of my favorite people and we Uhlers miss them terribly since they left Tacoma for Florida a few years ago. Part of the gift of this trip will undoubtedly be getting to hang out together, talk and laugh for hours. We both love to talk. And laugh.

I haven’t traveled internationally since I was 18 and carefree, so the logistics of this trip and leaving 5 people behind have been challenging. Big love to all the friends and family who are covering down for me on the homefront. Sorry the spreadsheet looks like an IKEA instruction manual.

I’ve had many different reactions when I tell people about how Chris and Ali are adopting a little boy with Down’s syndrome. I think the common thread is surprise. Or maybe “Oh, I couldn’t do that.” And, truth be told, I have had the same thoughts. I’m sure Chris and Ali have as well. Yet, I know that there is a much bigger story being told. We are part of a narrative so much bigger than our own comfortable lives. There was someone who loved us so deeply- with a “Never Stopping, Never Giving Up, Unbreaking, Always and Forever Love.” He is the one who is giving Chris and Ali both the desire and the power to pursue this precious little one they way He has pursued them both. I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds.

I would appreciate prayers for Ali’s family and mine. But most of all prayers that I would see and hear God clearly on this trip. One of the things I love most about traveling is being pulled outside of my routine and being awakened to God’s voice in a new way. Even the time on the flight is a gift of hours “alone” I wouldn’t otherwise have and I don’t want to waste it watching movie after movie, (but I do have a few in my queue). I am looking forward to late nights or early morning quiet time talking and listening to him as he teaches me about adoption and gives me some fresh, across the world perspective on life.

What I know: He has adopted me. I am his daughter. I don’t deserve to be. I was once an outcast without a family (see also: Roman practices of baby abandonment). His love was great. He knew my name before I was born. He has already written a story with me as an important character. He pursued me unto death. He bought me at a great price. He has brought me from darkness into light. He has given me his name. He has made me part of His family. (1Peter 2:9, Romans 8:15, Galatians 4:5, Ephesians 1:5)

Hang on little Ellis. That’s all true for you too. It’s almost time. Seattle  documentary photographer05 Seattle  documentary photographer04 Seattle  documentary photographer03 Seattle  documentary photographer02

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