Climbing the Mountain

He walked up to me and tugged on my sleeve, his eyes peeking out from beneathe a mop of white blonde hair. I knelt down so we could be eye level and he jabbered something unintelligable to my untrained ears. With no one to translate nearby, I sat down and pulled him into my lap and did the only thing I knew to do.

I counted his fingers, one by one.

Odin, dva, tre, chiteri, pyat, shest, syem, vosyem, devyet, decyet…

I don’t remember his name or anything else we did that day. I just remember sitting on the floor of the orphanage with a little boy in my lap, counting to ten over and over. I left that day with a seed planted deep in my heart to go back and to bring one of those precious children home with me.

That was nineteen years ago.

We are at the bottom of this mountain called adoption – base camp. The peaks that stand above us are daunting and intimidating. Had we chosen to make this climb ten years ago, or even five, it would have been much easier, much less intimidating, less expensive and less scary.

But we were to climb  the mountain at this time, and by faith we take each step forward knowing that reaching the summit is only hoped for, but is not promised.

Though I am not much of a mountain climber myself, I love to read stories of people conquering the world’s greatest mountains, particularly Everest. The dedication that they put to training and preparing for the climb fascinates me. Climbers go to Everest with a dream. To most of us, it’s a crazy dream. Why put yourself at that much risk for a mountain? It doesn’t make sense.

But to them it does. It’s a singular passion that drives them to grueling training sessions, thousands of dollars raised and spent and all is done with the very real knowledge that they could never actually make it to the summit. There are so many factors that could come into play to end their quest for the top, yet on they push because passion ignited is impossible to put out.

This is the place that Lee and I are in. We are standing at the bottom, looking up, a fire burning inside to reach the top but we know we must take it one step at a time. First, set up at base camp, get acclimated to the surroundings. We are reading and researching, filling out paperwork and communicating with those who have gone before us, who know the path and can tell us what to expect with each turn.

We are leaning on our adoption Sherpas.

Perhaps the most daunting peak that looms high before us now is the cost. It is the piece of this puzzle that shakes my faith the most. And yet, every morning as I pray and lay my fears down before the One who ignited the passion, I hear a very small whisper deep in my soul.

I Am bigger than the mountain. I Am bigger than the cost. I Am the one who still does miracles so great. I Am bigger than your fears and doubts. I Am bigger than the impossible.


I cling to these promises like a lifeline.


Jen Hatmaker wrote a post this week that opened my eyes to so many of the challenges we are yet to face. Before reading her post, I held the likely false assumption that our summit moment would come when we finally step off the plane in Tampa with our daughter in our arms, but I don’t know that this is the case.

That will be a beautiful moment and the view will likely be astounding, but there will still be more mountain to climb. There will be adjustments for us as a family, new dynamics to get used to, new routines to follow and a new person to learn and know.

The summit is still a ways off and there may be some rough climbing ahead before we reach it. But I trust that we will reach it.

Right now, all I see are paperwork and deadlines. Keeping the summit in view is crucial to getting through this phase of the process. Without that hope, without a picture of what might be, we would give up. Because this is really hard.

When I was pregnant with Sloan, I held a picture in my head of what I thought he would look like. He was our first born so I really had no idea, but there were loose images that would float through my dreams. I remember clearly holding him in the hospital after he had been all cleaned up and we’d been transferred to our new room.

I knew him. His face was so familiar to me. All those loose images came crashing together to form the face of this tiny child who seemed to have always been buried inside me all along. It was as though I’d known him my whole life.

I have a similarly loose picture of our daughter. There are no distinct features, of course. Russia is not like many other countries you adopt from. We have no guarantee of a skin color, eye color or hair color and none of those things matter to us. But there is this vague image that is floating and swimming and I cling to it with the hope that sometime in the next year I will walk into a worn building and lay eyes on a face that has been waiting for us since the beginning of time.

I’m climbing the mountain for her.

We are all climbing a mountain of some kind. Ours happens to be adoption and we would love prayer for the process. How can I be praying for you in return? Perhaps your mountain is the need for employment or a financial burden? Perhaps it is life changes or illness? Whatever the mountain you are facing, I would love to join you in prayer.


No one should climb the mountain alone.


  1. Wow! So beautifully put… As one who’s never walked the adoption road, I’m so grateful for your post because it deepens my understanding of what it must feel like. Praying for your continued faith to climb it one step at a time. So excited for your family to reach that mountain top.

  2. This is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing some of your story with us. I’ll be praying for you all as the story continues to unfold.

  3. This is such a great illustration! I love the idea of an “adoption sherpa.” I have never had any desire to climb a big mountain, but I do love the breathtaking views. I have long had a fascination with the sherpas- they don’t always have the latest and most expensive gear, but they know the mountain better than anyone. They have survived it.

    I will keep praying for your family as you set up base camp. This is an exciting adventure, and one day you will be on the summit with a view of how far you’ve come. And don’t forget to breathe on the hard days- oxygen deprivation is bad news for mountain climbers. 🙂

  4. Praying for you today as you just do the next thing in the process. Praying as you trust Him with this dream he has placed in your hearts! Isaiah 26:3-4

  5. Thanks, Karen!

  6. You are so right, Kelli! No one should climb the mountain alone. And it’s a blessing to have people in your life that are ready to share every life page with you. I’m always here to help you. Slavic mentality is my cup of tea. Sometimes just a tiny glimpse into the history or character pecularities will help.


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