Michael and Maggie Perry share their amazing adoption journey with God and welcoming a new baby boy, Rhett, into their family.
We both have had a passion for adoption for many years, it was one of the first things we talked about on our first date. In February of 2015, with kids not even on our radar, we went as small group leaders on the Grace Church Youth Retreat. Little did we know, that God had big plans for this weekend.
During the first session, Pastor Barry spoke about our calling in life. He told the story of a boy named Peter, who was an orphan with severe special needs in Ukraine. One of the volunteers at the orphanage loved Peter but was unable to adopt him due to finances. Barry was able to connect the dots, and through funding provided from families in America, Peter was adopted. He spent the last four years of his life in a home filled with love and laughter. During this moment, I clearly heard the Lord say "Maggie, this is your time. You and Michael need to adopt NOW." I found Michael and he told me he felt the same way.
That evening, Barry told the story of Gideon who was pretty much a nobody, yet God told him that he was a mighty warrior. Though Gideon did not see himself this way, God did, and He had a specific mission that he needed Gideon to fulfill. At the end of the session, there were words posted all around the room, and the students were directed to find the word that they felt God was impressing upon their hearts about their mission in life. Right away, the word advocate was staring me in the face. I could sense the Holy Spirit telling me, "Maggie, you will be an advocate for these unwanted children. Many people don't realize the need for adoption, let alone special needs adoption.”
Later in the evening, as I was praying, I felt the strongest nudge to open my Bible. Here are the two verses I opened right up to:
Proverbs 31:8-9- "Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves, for the rights of all who are destitute. Speak up and judge fairly; defend the rights of the poor and needy."
Proverbs 31:20- "She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.”
My mind was blown. Advocate. Adoption. I knew from the core of my being that God wanted us to start this process NOW.
The next day, we confronted the big question staring us in the face all weekend, "How will we raise the money?" We were not prepared financially, and we certainly did not have over $30,000 lying around.
Of course, session three was all about obstacles. Barry spoke about the fact that if God calls us to something, most of us will feel that we have obstacles in the way. Many obstacles fall into the categories of weakness, money, and fear. Barry reminded us that when God asks us to do something, HE will foot the bill. Both of us felt the Holy Spirit saying, "See, I've got this. Just move forward and let me provide."
During the session, we continued to get the name and face of a little boy with Down syndrome in Bulgaria named "Royce", who we later named Rhett, in my mind. We spotted him on Reece's Rainbow, an orphan advocacy website we frequent often. I told Maggie that evening that I was confident that "Royce" was the boy God wanted us to adopt. I had NO clue that Maggie had always prayed for me to be the one to choose our child. This was the final confirmation we needed to start the process.
We literally had zero funds at the time, but started moving forward in the adoption process, trusting that God would open doors if this was what he wanted. Within our first week home, we raised $6,000, enough for our home study and the commitment fees in Bulgaria. Within 6 months of deciding to adopt, we raised $36,000 and were fully funded. We were so grateful to everyone who helped us raise the money, and for the grants we received, one of them being from Hands of Hope. God quickly showed us that he would fit the bill.
So many prayers were answered along the way of the journey for Michael and me. I desperately wanted to quit my job as a teacher. We had no clue what Rhett’s medical needs would be, and I wanted to have the flexibility in my schedule to be with him. Two days before the school year was supposed to start, I was offered a job as a behavior technician where I could work with kiddos with Autism and have a flexible schedule. I quit my job on Rhett’s 2nd birthday and started my new position before he came home.
At the end of August, we traveled to Bulgaria to meet Rhett for the first time. Rhett’s orphanage was huge. Crib after crib filled with kids who need homes. We didn’t realize the stigma behind children with special needs in eastern Europe. The kids are looked down upon and families are not provided with the services, schooling, and medical care that we have available to us in the U.S.
We were led into a little room and our first moment with Rhett was pure love at first sight. I think I said, "He's perfect" like 50 times! We found out that because Rhett had Down syndrome, he was abandoned at birth in the hospital. He lived in an orphanage for over two years.
At first during our visits, Rhett was very quiet and reserved. Little by little, he started making more sounds and letting his personality shine. It was truly amazing to us that God knew an ordinary couple from Noblesville, Indiana and a little boy in Bulgaria were made to be family. God prepared his heart for us and our hearts for him.
When we arrived home, we had to wait several months before we could go back and pick up Rhett. During that time, I wrote this in one of my blog posts:
“God continues to give us peace as we wait. This waiting has allowed us to experience an intimacy with God that we hadn't before. I continue to find complete comfort and peace in the fact that God IS Rhett's father. I know that God cares for my son deeply and longs for him to have a family. I know that God has known him since before birth. Rhett is fearfully and wonderfully made. A song that continues to speak to my heart lately is "Good Good Father" by Chris Tomlin:
I've heard a thousand stories of what they think you're like
But I've heard tender whispers of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you're pleased
And that I'm never alone
You're a Good, Good Father
It's who you are, it's who you are, it's who you are
And I'm loved by you
It's who I am, It's who I am, It's who I am
Our biggest prayer after coming home was that Michael and I would get to bring Rhett back before Christmas, due to my time off of work as a teacher. We were told that it was basically impossible. However, God had other plans. On December 3, we received word that we could pick up Rhett on December 14, but we may have to wait longer in country due to holiday delays. So, we went, knowing that we may be stuck in Bulgaria over Christmas. We didn’t care. We just wanted our son! We picked up Rhett on December 14 and walked him out of the orphanage for good. It was so surreal! Though we were told it would be unlikely, everything went according to plan, and we arrived home on the evening of December 23! It was the best Christmas!
When we brought Rhett home, he would sit and rock. He was afraid to explore and he never cried, having been trained that crying wouldn’t get him anything in the orphanage. He was afraid to touch his food, and did not know how to seek us for comfort. It’s been almost two years since we brought Rhett home, and most days we forget that he isn’t even biologically ours. You would never know any of those past things about Rhett, now. He explores, plays, throws tantrums, cuddles, eats, and so much more!
Overall, through this entire process, we’ve realized how God’s love for us and his children is so vast and wide, and that He truly does have all of us in His hands.
~Maggie and Michael Perry
Hands of Hope believes the best place for any orphan is in a family. Learn more about adoption or how you can play a part in helping a child be adopted at: www.handsofhopein.org/adoption