Bringing missions home
February 9 2001 by Craig Bird , BR Correspondent

Bringing missions home | Friday, Feb. 9, 2001
  • Unexpectedly, a Bulgarian family applied to adopt Zoai after the Hines had been approved - and Bulgarians naturally have priority. "We thought the Lord had been so clear that she was the one," Lindsi said. "It felt like the end of the world but I thought maybe God was just getting our hearts prepared for another child." Just as unexpectedly, the Bulgarian couple withdrew their application.
  • Against the odds, and after buying some expensive, non-refundable tickets, all the remaining barriers fell so Zoai and Richie could be back in North Carolina by Christmas.
  • Getting Zoai's American visa, typically an all-day struggle, was cut to an hour.
  • All flights from London to Washington D.C. on Dec. 22 were canceled - except the one Richie and Zoai held tickets for.

    "We had a pretty big prayer chain going," Lindsi said with a grin.

    After just a few months it is difficult to imagine life without Zoai as she ricochets around the house, bottle-feeding and kissing her doll, loudly announcing "night-night" as she puts it to bed. The only visible reminders of her days in the children's home is a fear of entering a dark room and a near compulsive habit of picking up any lint or clutter.

    "At the home they had to keep everything clean and neat so she carries that to extremes now," Richie said. "But the folks in Bulgaria told us she would outgrow all the good habits they taught her in about six months." By that schedule she should be well on her way to being the typical American preschooler and big sister by her fourth birthday May 8. Already her adjustment has been "amazing," her mother feels. A social worker who was formerly employed by Child Protective Services, Lindsi participated in several child removal cases and witnessed the resulting trauma.

    "Zoai has done wonderfully," she said. "After just the first week she already felt secure enough to start testing the limits, to see if we really meant it when we said "No." (Note: They do.) Basking in the exhausted joy of parenthood and the comfort of feeling God's affirmation, Richie and Lindsi still take an occasional moment to pray for Zoai's birth mother, and to express appreciation for her gift of Zoai.

  • Friday, Feb. 9, 2001

    Bringing missions home

    By Craig Bird BR Correspondent How far is a year? For dark-eyed Gypsy charmer Zoai (pronounced "Zo-ee") - and for wide-eyed new parents Richie and Lindsi Hines - the past 12 months stretched a long, long way. From North Carolina to Eastern Europe - twice. Through the legal systems of two countries. To mountaintops of joy and through valleys of frustration. Through the trackless maze of the Internet, mega-byte by megabyte. And to their knees before God, over and over and over again.

    This is their story.

    February 8, 2000 - Lindsi encounters Zoai's photograph on an adoption Web site and announces confidently to Richie, "this is our daughter." For the previous month they have prayed often about adoption. Doctors felt the Hines could not get pregnant but the recommended "in vitro" approach "just didn't feel right," they said.

    April 6, 2000 - Lindsi, Richie and Zoai meet at a children's home in Totleben, Bulgaria. Seventy-five to 100 children swarm them, yelling "mama, mama." They tried to hold back tears, wanting to take all the children. Zoai rejects Richie, pushing his arm away from Lindsi (all the home attendants are female).

    November 20, 2000 - Overcoming staggering obstacles, the Hines legally adopt Zoai. Along the way, paper work got caught in a month-long shut down of the Bulgarian court system. New laws meant many of the procedures had to be repeated. An estimated five-day process at the Bulgarian Embassy turned into five weeks.

    December 22, 2000 - Richie and Zoai fly into Raleigh. Lindsi couldn't make the trip because their doctor's prediction proved to be wrong, and Feb. 17, 2001 is her due date. "Our joke is that since Richie delivered the first child, I get to deliver the second one," Lindsi said. But for the Hines, the pregnancy is more than a joke. "This is just another sign that God wanted us to have Zoai and this baby. If I had conceived when we first started trying, we probably never would have considered adopting. This was the Lord's plan for us. This pregnancy is His blessing on our obedience in getting Zoai."

    The continuing process has been a chance for the Hines to speak about the love of God, their faith in God and the providence of God.

    "There have been lots of questions," Richie said. "Why not back out of the adoption when you knew you would have a baby of your own? Why not adopt a baby instead of a three-year-old? Why not adopt a 'white' baby? Why not adopt a healthy baby?" (Zoai was diagnosed with epilepsy in Bulgaria, though tests in the U.S. have not confirmed it. Lindsi knows something about the disease: She had epilepsy as a child.)

    "Often we just admit we might be crazy - but that we also know God will work it all out," Lindsi said. The Hines have enjoyed the affirmation of a strong support system, primarily their parents and their friends at Fuquay-Varina Baptist Church. Zoai is the first grandchild for both Lindsi's and Richie's parents, all of whom fell quickly and completely in love with Zoai. That came quite naturally for Lindsi's parents, T and Kathie Thomas. They spearheaded the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship's mission outreach to the Gypsy/Romany people, and now live in Florida. Richie's parents, active members of Garner (N.C.) United Methodist, shared in the excitement.

    Lindsi and Richie are particularly thankful for their church's support, including their Sunday School class and choir. Their support went beyond the much-appreciated prayers - during a week of high stress while Richie was clearing the last legal and logistical hurdles in Europe, church friends took care of Lindsi.

    "I was so exhausted I didn't feel like decorating, but they were determined that Zoai's first American Christmas would be done up right," Lindsi said. "They took me out to eat and to buy a tree then came back to our house and decorated!"

    Prayer has been a constant. "We've prayed and our family and friends have prayed with us," Richie said. And these things happened because of those prayers:

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    2/9/2001 12:00:00 AM by Craig Bird , BR Correspondent | with 0 comments
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