It was two years after I saw that first Shaohannah's Hope presentation that we made the decision to adopt. A year after this, last November, we were ready to start the process with our own special Adoption Summit weekend.
It all started when I, through very complex circumstances, won a pair of tickets in a Shaohannah's Hope charity auction. Guess who was coming through the Northwest again! Steven Curtis Chapman was going across the country on a Fall Tour doing concerts and--yes--raising money for adoption.
The tickets were for the show in Kennewick, Washington (about four hours northeast of Portland) so we decided to make a weekend of it. We headed out early on Saturday morning and checked into the hotel right across the street from the Toyota Center. After a few hours exploring the town, we went to the arena.
The people at the booth saw our tickets and called us into the office. Then, they handed us special VIP tickets and sent us outside to wait in line. Once we got inside, we were pointed to the front row, center stage. We were a bit more "important" than I realized!
I had read online that people were supposed to bring signs to the concert that said "WE ARE" for the song "Children of God." (Hey--this was a once in a lifetime thing. I knew the VIP tickets would at least put us in some kind of a position to be seen, and there was a method to the madness. Besides, the Gaithers have their flashlights, and apparently SCC has signs that say "WE ARE.")
I deviated slightly from the standard version and printed out a 3' x 4' sign that said "WE ARE (ADOPTING)." Chapman called everyone with a sign up on stage and he wanted us to introduce ourselves and take a look at our signs. When he saw the modified message on mine his eyes lit up and he gave me a high-5. By the time I went down to my seat we'd shared the microphone and sang, and gave high-5's and slapped the backs of guys on the crew. It was our first public announcement of our intention to adopt and it was celebrated with total strangers.
The show ended with a $3,000 grant given to a couple that was adopting from Ukraine. Some of the money was raised by auctioning VIP tickets like our own. The rest was raised by "Change for Orphans" buckets in the lobby. "Since we started tonight, 668 children have been orphaned, but for THIS ONE there's hope!"
The tickets included "Meet & Greet" passes, so we soon found ourselves being escorted into a back room of the Toyota Center to talk with SCC himself. He talked with everyone--a lot of them families who had adopted or were adopting. I still had my sign. He said he loved it and asked us about our adoption story. I told him about what had happened to Anne-Marie and how God had brought us to our decision. Then I thanked him for being the initial inspiration for a decision that I may have otherwise found difficult to make.
I guess to wrap up this longest post ever, I would once again like to say "Thank You" to Mr. Chapman for being a guy that's willing to use all those GRAMMYs and stuff to promote the cause of 50 million orphans worldwide. I'm much more excited about this incredible dream that has been placed in our hearts than I am about my fifteen minutes of fame in rural Washington state. And, you know, after our conversation I think my friend, Steven, feels the same way.
Pics T-B: "Children of God"; "WE ARE (ADOPTING)" Hi-5; acoustic set; Chapman sings "When Love Takes You In", a song about adopting Shaohannah (on screen) from China; Show Hope grant presentation; us with SCC