Room for More

Rowe Family Adoption Story

Rowe Family Adoption Story
"Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it..." Psalm 127:1

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ten Years Ago Today...

Ten years ago today we met Victor.  Since there is no pre-selection process when adopting from Ukraine, the meeting was arranged so that we could see him and decide if we wanted to adopt him.  All we knew of him at this point was on a slip of paper our facilitator handed to us after reviewing his file at the adoption center in Kiev.  Somewhere in the middle of the eight hour road trip to his hometown, we knew we were on our way to meet our son rather than having an appointment to determine if we should adopt this child named Victor. We had prayed for 14 months that God would choose our child for us, so we wouldn’t make a mistake.  We were relying on the promise in Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.”  After the confusing selection process in the adoption center, we felt like the only path available for us was one that led straight to Victor. This HAD to be our son.

We heard stories from others who had previously adopted, stories about dreams, signs, circumstances that were more than coincidental and proved God’s sovereignty in the choosing.  We were excited to experience our own magical moment when we would first lay eyes on our new child.  Surely God would give us some kind of “writing on the wall” to confirm Victor was to be ours.

Once we arrived at the orphanage, we were escorted to his room and instructed to sit on a couch in the corner.  One by one a dozen little 2 and 3 year olds walked past us and into the bathroom.  Waiting for further instruction, and having no idea what he even looked like, we were about to burst.  Finally, after all of the children were in the bathroom, a nurse emerged from the bedroom holding the hand of a little boy who could hardly walk.  As they headed toward us, we knew this was him.  Almost immediately after giving him a hug, our facilitator asked, “Is this the one you would like to adopt?”  You talk about pressure!  We knew God had led us straight to him, but we were also remembering advice given to us by  our pediatrician.  She told us to look for signs of things like Fetal Alcohol Syndrome or Reactive Attachment Disorder because these were very prevalent in Ukrainian orphans.  We asked if we could have a few minutes with him alone.  Sveta arranged for us to take him outside and pointed out that if we began the process that day, before the courts closed in 30 minutes, it would save us some time. We were already preparing to be in Ukraine and away from our other child for about three weeks, so her point was taken to heart.

We took Victor outside and begged God for confirmation that he was to be our child. We played with him just for a few minutes noticing the developmental delays (didn’t talk and couldn’t walk on his own without falling), all the while keeping our eyes and ears open for God to give us the “Yes” or “No”.  All we heard was the reminder of what we had decided the day before, that unless no major conditions existed, we would say “Yes”.  About five minutes later, Sveta rejoined us and reminded us of the time sensitive matter. We trusted that God would close the door if it weren’t His will.  Without a reason to say “No”, we said “Yes” and were whisked away to begin the paperwork process of making Victor a Rowe.

Sometime that night, we discussed how God had not given us a tangible confirmation that we could hold onto.  For a few days even, we continued to question if we had made the right choice. “What if he had one of these conditions we were warned about?  What if there were a more serious medical issue being kept from us.  What if…” After getting on our knees and begging God for clarity, He reminded us that Proverbs 3 speaks of not relying on our own understanding of things but to trust in Him.  He reassured us in our hearts that He had big plans for this precious child named Victor, and we would be so blessed by getting to watch those plans unfold.   He didn’t give us an emotional ly charged circumstance or miraculous moment we could share with the world, but rather He taught us that faith meant trusting in what we could not see.  And we would soon see just how blessed we would be for taking this step of faith in making this child our own.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Ten years ago today...

Ten years ago today we sat down at a desk in the Ukrainian adoption center anxiously waiting to be shown a picture of our soon to be adopted child.  Two hours later we left wondering what in the world had just happened.  In order to avoid the whole "Eeeny-Meeny-Miney-Moe" method of choosing from scores of orphans who were available for adoption, we asked God to choose for us, leaving no room for us to make a mistake.  The only two conditions we had previously decided upon were 1.We would not interrupt the birth order of our other child, Tommy, who was four years old at the time, and 2.We would not adopt a child with medical needs greater than what we felt we could handle. 

Immediately after sharing these two conditions with the older gentleman behind the desk, he showed us two pictures of  healthy boys, both five years old.  We thought he must have misunderstood, but when our facilitator, Sveta, explained again that we wanted to stay under the age of four, he shook his head, said something in Ukrainian, and pointed to a book shelf full of binders behind us.  We were so confused. This wasn't going how we expected.  Out of hundreds of thousands of orphans in the country, we were being told there were only 2 healthy children available for adoption that day, and they were both older than Tommy. 

The red binders behind us were full of information sheets on children with medical needs.  Following our facilitator's lead, we began to look through the binders at pictures of hundreds of children who had some pretty serious medical concerns.  We couldn't read any of the information written in Ukrainian, we only saw their faces. We were relying on Sveta to show us the children who had conditions that weren't so serious, all the while, we were praying that the psychologist would cave and show us the files of healthier children. Certainly, I thought, God knew we couldn't handle a child with such serious issues.  The quiet man sat for nearly two hours fiddling with papers on his desk while we watched Sveta nervously thumb through one binder after another, searching for a child who wasn't so sick.  She inquired about a few whom he would call to check on before hanging up and giving us a reason we should or could not consider each one.

Just after he took his glasses off and rubbed his eyes one final time, Sveta said, "I think we should visit this one."  We looked at a page full of Ukrainian words with a tiny picture stapled to the top. We could barely see the face of the infant wrapped in a blanket. His name was Victor. He was 2 and a half years old and according to Sveta, the medical conditions listed were often over diagnosed.  The psychologist called to inquire, then he hung up and gave us a nod and a slight grin.  Within minutes, we were back in the taxi wondering how the magical moment of discovering whom God had chosen to be our child turned out to feel more like a process of elimination.  

Before leaving us at the apartment, Sveta handed me a slip of paper describing the child's medical conditions.  Rather than fretting over the "what ifs", I tucked the list in my pocket and practiced saying his name in my head, "Victor". We soon would find out how God, from this moment, was  opening our hearts to one of the most precious children we would ever meet, Victor Vitalyvich Sova.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

I Could Never...

I remember the conversation like it was yesterday. Tim and I were sitting in the back row of a van, making our way through the streets of Ethiopia. We were on our way to visit our soon to be adopted children and were deep in conversation with two other couples whom we had met only a few days earlier. Like us, they were full of excitement as we prepared to see our children for the very first time. As we rode in that van, each anticipating the moments we had looked forward to for so long, our friendship quickly moved past small talk and onto deeper discussions. One of the couples began sharing their experiences of being foster parents. I listened in amazement and commented, “I think it is wonderful that you can take a child into your home and be able to love on them knowing all the while you have to give them back.” I went on to explain how I could never do that because I don’t have the emotional stability. I was surprised by the husband’s response. With much tact and kindness he replied, “It’s a good thing Christ didn’t say that about you on His way to the cross.” Ouch!

I knew he was right. God had already proven in my life that when He asks me to do something hard, He gives me all I need to do it. A good friend recently reminded me that my fears are not uncommon. Jesus Himself questioned his own emotional stability when just before His death He asked God in Luke 22:42, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.” Thankfully, God didn’t remove it, rather He gave Him the strength He needed to do the incredibly hard thing He was born to do, to die for us so that we might live eternally with Him. In response to that amazing gift He gave us by dying on the cross, the Bible tells us we are to do hard things and die to ourselves so that others may understand what His sacrifice means to them and choose also to live for Him, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it.” Luke 9:23-24.

Today I was faced with that hard thing I once said I’d never be able to do. I should have seen it coming after that convicting conversation in the van in Ethiopia, however, I’m learning that like most challenges we face, we are never fully prepared.  After caring for two precious baby girls for three months through a private fostering type program called Safe Families ( , today was the day we had to take them home. Although we know it is best for them to be with their birthmother and/or father in a safe and stable place, the lump in my throat that won’t go away and the tears I keep trying to push back prove that giving back these babies that I’ve treated as my own is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.  

Thankfully though, God wasn’t surprised by the tough challenge we would face today. He knew well in advance that it would be hard to say goodbye and therefore He had some surprises planned.

First, He showed me the promise of blessings that come from serving in this way by taking me to Psalm 41:1 in my morning Bible reading, “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.”  

Next, He blew us away at church this morning when a friend handed Pavlina an envelope containing an anonymous donation for the mission trip she is taking this summer to Honduras. This amount, when added to what she has made from the jewelry she has sold and additional donations from friends and family, covers the cost of her whole trip. Wow!

God wasn’t finished though. After saying goodbye to the babies and dropping them off, Tim decided that in an attempt to try and cheer the kids up, we would do something we’ve never done and take all eight of them to Waffle House. We had a great time indulging in waffles for lunch and just before leaving, we were shocked when our waitress told us that an anonymous customer had paid for our meal. We were speechless. I immediately remembered what God had said this morning when I didn’t know how we’d get through this day, “How blessed is he who considers the helpless; the LORD will deliver him in a day of trouble.”

 As hard as it has been to say goodbye today to these precious babies whom we have grown to know and love as part of our family, I am so thankful for the experience because it has given us the chance to again witness God’s presence and faithfulness when we obey. My friend was right. Christ did a very hard thing for me and as one of His followers, I am expected to do the same for others and die to myself. Maybe the most important lesson I’m learning in all of this is to trust God’s sovereignty and stop saying, “I could never…”.


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Come to the Party!

"For many are called, but few are chosen." Matthew 22:14

I've read this verse before but never really understood its meaning. It comes at the end of a parable Jesus told about a wedding feast. The story stood out in my Bible reading this morning because it was 20 years ago tomorrow, Feb, 8, 1994, when Tim proposed and we began to plan our own wedding. As I read the passage, I wondered why this verse about being called and chosen was Jesus's conclusion to a parable about a wedding. 

The story is about a king who planned a wedding feast  for his son and invited many guests. All of those invited were too busy with "farms or businesses" and ignored the invitation. Some even killed the messengers who came to remind them of the feast.  This enraged the king who then sent his servants into the streets to welcome any and everyone "good or bad" to the party. When the king came in to look over all the dinner guests, he found one individual not wearing wedding attire. He had this man tied up and thrown "into the outer darkness, in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." And then Jesus concludes by saying, "For many are called, but few are chosen".

Seems a little harsh, right?  I mean, of course someone there might have been a little under dressed. These were people off the street, probably without much clothing at all, let alone a suit for a wedding. God used a cross reference verse of this passage, however, (Revelation 7:14) to explain to me the significance of the clothing,  "...they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The clothing these dinner guests wore was symbolic of what happens when we accept God's invitation to His wedding feast (heaven). As when we accept Christ and receive clean robes, this clothing the dinner guests were wearing had been given to them by the king when they responded to the invitation to come to his party. And did you notice how the invitation was not only to the "good" people but  rather the "good and bad". Now that's good news! We don't have to have it all together to respond to His invitation to come to the party. But we do have to respond. They had to make a choice to leave their farms and businesses (worldly endeavors) and accept his invitation in order to be given the proper attire for the party. After all of this, Jesus ends with, "For many are called, but few are chosen." This story is about salvation, life after death. God offers the invitation to everyone "many are called". Few, however, respond and are therefore "chosen" to come to the wedding feast with Him in heaven.

Oh, praise God that I'm chosen. I get to go to that party. I want you to come too! Have you accepted His invitation? It goes out to everyone. We just have to accept it, making Christ Jesus Lord of our lives and placing everything else (farms, businesses, jobs, money, vacations, even family members) second to Him. I'll never forget the song our church was singing the night I made the decision to accept His invitation and be one of the chosen. It came to mind yesterday, before reading this parable. I looked up the words this morning and of course they seem to fit perfectly with the message in Matthew 22. I hope the words encourage you today as they have me.

Just As I Am,
text by Charlotte Elliott, music by William Bradbury

Just as I am, without one plea,
but that thy blood was shed for me,
and that thou bidst me come to thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
to rid my soul of one dark blot,
to thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
with many a conflict, many a doubt,
fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
sight, riches healing of the mind,
yea, all I need in thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thou wilt receive,
wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve
because they promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, thy love unknown
hath broken every barrier down;
now to be thine, yea thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Eyewitnesses of His Majesty

2 Peter 1:16 “For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty.”

After an emotionally draining few weeks, I read this verse yesterday morning and asked God to make me an “eyewitness of His majesty”, to delight me with His presence, WOW me with His power, to let me know He is still near. He did! It had to do with my personal Bible study and it’s not the first time this has happened. About 6 months ago when finishing my reading through the book of Nehemiah, the book about how the Israelites rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days while fighting off the enemy, I wondered if anything significant had happened 52 days prior in our own life, maybe something concerning the property we had recently purchased (acceptance of the offer, the closing, laying of rock, etc..). What I discovered in counting back 52 days on the calendar and looking in my journal was that it was the very day I began my daily study of the book. It took me exactly 52 days to read it. This was even more reassuring than an event related to the property. The numbers matched up with something in my spiritual journey (the beginning of a study of a book about spiritual warfare). It reminded me that God is very much alive and more concerned with my heart and with my desire to grow and know Him through the study of His word rather than the specifics concerning a visible ministry. I love how He used these details to convey that to me!

It happened again yesterday, just after I asked Him to reveal His power. His answer came immediately from His word through the following verses:

Acts 26:16-18 “…to appoint you (Paul) a minister and witness not only to the things which you have seen but also to the things which I will appear to you…”

Mark 3:14 “The sower sows the word.”

Mark 16:20 “And they (disciples) went out and preached the word everywhere, while the LORD worked with them and confirmed the word by signs that followed.”

Acts 8:4 “Therefore those (early Christians) who had been scattered went about preaching the word.”

1 Timothy 4:6 “In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus.”

 It didn’t seem to make sense. When I asked Him to speak to me, His answer seemed to be, “You speak about Me.”  I knew immediately, however, what He was asking me to do. It’s a heart-breaking story, one I’d decided not to share because it has just been too hard to find words. I am trusting though that this is not one of those “cleverly devised tales” mentioned in 2 Peter 1:16 but rather a story that displays “the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So here it is … the story:

A few weeks ago we finished a process to become part of a program called Safe Families. It is a wonderful way to minister to families by temporarily caring for kids whose parents need support. Soon after we completed our application process, we got a call from the coordinator asking us to pray about a situation. “There is a mother with cancer who needs a place for her child to stay while undergoing treatment,” she shared.  We began to pray, trusting that God would work things out according to His will. A couple weeks later we were excited about getting to meet with this mother in person. It was a meeting we will not soon forget. As Tim and I sat by her hospital bed, we were amazed by her strength and bravery to speak with us about keeping her child while she fought for her life. We were touched by the love she displayed as she lit up describing her child’s personality. We were grateful to have been given the chance to meet this beautiful individual who smiled when listening to us go on and on about our own kids while she was clearly in physical pain. Tim and I left the meeting feeling such a peace about the situation, very excited about how God might use us to demonstrate His love by temporarily caring for her child.

Three days later, however, she passed away.

We were shocked, sad and confused. Why did it happen like this? Why couldn’t we have met her sooner? Why does another child now have to live apart from her mother? Why…

I’ve been reading through Job recently. I’m always amazed at how God has us in the right place of His word at the right time. Job asked those same questions. His friends had all the answers, or so they thought.  “Of course he has done something wrong,” they argued. “There must be some unconfessed sin Job is hiding... God is just, blessing those who are good and cursing those who are not.” Job knew they were putting God in a box with this “health and wealth” philosophy. He knew that for some reason, God had allowed this to happen to him, “Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this,” (Job 12:9). He argued with his friends that God's ways were higher than his, “Were He to snatch away who could restrain Him? Who could say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’” (Job 9:12)  And Job was right. God affirmed it in the last chapter. Job 42:7 says, ”the LORD said to Job’s friend, 'My wrath is kindled against you and against your two friends, because you have not spoken of Me what is right as My servant Job has.'” Seeing all of this in the study of Job enabled peace to overrule in the shock, confusion and sadness surrounding this death of our new friend. 
Of course in hindsight, we wish we had said or done more.  We wished we had asked if she knew Jesus as her personal Savior, asked her if she truly believed that He died for her just over 2000 years ago so that she could not only have peace, fulfillment and joy in this life but live eternally with Him after death. We hope and pray that although not discussed openly with her when we met, God used something or someone in those last days of her life to cause her to make the decision to believe in Him and place her trust in Him if she hadn’t already done so.

In praying for comfort for the family and friends left behind, God has given us comfort by already allowing us to see that He “causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28). Soon after hearing the horrible news, we discovered that as a result of our meeting with this mother, word had spread about the Safe Families program and there is now a new interest in participation from individuals who knew about the situation. Although we would have liked for God to answer our prayers for a complete healing of this precious mother, we are comforted in knowing that in spite of this tragedy, He is calling others to this great need of caring for orphans and widows in our area. It gives us motivation and belief to pray fervently for the child left now without a mother because we know “God’s plans are not to harm her but rather give her a hope and a future.”(Jeremiah 29:11)

I began by telling you how I asked God yesterday to make me an “eyewitness of His majesty.” He did that as I sat down to tell you this story. I began by asking God how I should start- a verse, a promise, a question? All I could think of was the book of Job. Realizing I had finished reading it the very day our sweet friend died, I became curious about when I began the study. I looked back in my journal to find something pretty amazing. Like the timing of my reading of Nehemiah, God had worked it out so that my study of Job was perfectly timed so that I would not only read about His sovereignty but experience it in my own life. My reading of this book began back in August as I sat next to my 91 year old grandmother’s hospital bed on the day she passed away. It ended on the very day our much younger friend died. My personal study of God’s sovereignty in the midst of death and suffering had been framed by two deaths of individuals close to my heart, but the lives of each of these individuals were used to make others “eyewitnesses of His majesty.”  Oh, praise Him!

My prayer is that in reading this you will be inspired to seek God daily as you look to His word for clarity and purpose in your life. I can confidently claim the promise in Matthew 7:7 “when we seek Him, we find Him.” I'm also praying that God will use this story to raise up more individuals to participate in the Safe Families program . If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved with this program please visit their website

or contact:

Chesson Hazlewood

Safe Family for Children Coordinator

Office - (502) 498-4765


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Jesus Loves Me

If I had to choose the most important truth my grandmother, Amy Ruth Reeves, taught me in life, it would be that Jesus Loves Me. If you asked her why that was so important, she'd answer with full assurance, "The Bible tells me so!"

It was because Jesus loved her and sacrificed his life for her just over 2000 years ago that she gave her life to Him and in turn gave her ALL to others. She truly was the most selfless person I've ever known. She understood Luke 14:33 "So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not give up all his own possessions." Anyone who entered her house could testify that they would not leave without a few of her possessions.

She gave me an example of how to daily study God's word in order to find purpose, fulfillment and joy. She showed me how to, "not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father but is from the world. The world is passing away and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever." I John 2:15-17. She followed God's will daily and now gets to live forever with Him.

I was given an amazing gift last night. I got to be with Nanny, holding her hand, singing in her ear Jesus Loves Me, as she closed her eyes, took her last breath, then opened her eyes to see her Savior's face. She lived a life trusting that Jesus loved her so much that he died for her. And all of this was because the Bible told her so. Her deeds proved she believed that basic truth and I had the privilege of reminding her of that truth as she left this life and moved on to her eternal one, forever in the presence of God- the life she's looked forward to for so long!

Last night she joined with other saints who, "overcame because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." Revelation 12:11 She was, "faithful unto death" and therefore has received, "the crown of life" Revelation 2:10. Oh, I can only imagine the celebration going on today in heaven as she gets to dance again! I have a feeling, Jesus Loves Me, is on the playlist!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

"'...take courage and work; for I am with you,' declares the LORD of hosts." Haggai 2:4

In response to scripture we have been reading after asking God for clarity in how to proceed with building a home on the property we just purchased, we feel we must begin by building a tabernacle (an outdoor pavilion type structure for the purpose of prayer). We can't see what will come of it or all God has in store for this place, but we are trying to take this one step at a time beginning with getting the posts in the ground. We set our first post last Sunday and hope to get the rest in this weekend.

Psalm 27:5 "For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock."