We first met Julius on our trip to Ghana in January 2015. I stood there - knee to knee, face to face with Julius and his birthmother hearing their story. She, his mother, had AIDS and he HIV. And due to the stigma, no one in their village would buy goods from the mother which was how she made a living. She had no way to provide for her and her son. As I looked into the mother's eyes the Lord gave me an impression in my Spirit that she did not have long to live. Death was coming for her. It felt dark, serious, quiet. Like we were standing right there in the valley of death itself.
About a month later after the trip I was standing in my kitchen talking with some friends that had come over. I had brought up the story of Julius and his birthmother and was discussing their situation with Amber Van Loo - one of my friends who had recently adopted a little girl from Ghana with HIV. I was asking Amber how we could best help Julius. She said it was very important that we get Julius on HIV medication as soon as possible, and that we urgently needed to be praying for an adoptive family for him. She said adoption would be the best-case scenario for him moving forward so that he could receive the life-saving medical treatment that the U.S. could offer.
So I began to pray. I prayed and prayed and prayed for an adoptive family for Julius. I prayed that they would know who they were and that God would place him on their hearts to adopt him.
Days later I was in the kitchen again and went to get something out of the fridge. And that's when I noticed it. Some time ago Jayla had drawn a picture of our family and it had been on the fridge for awhile. But on this day, something jumped out at me.
The magnet. I hadn't noticed it before. But there was Julius, right there in line with our family, waving as if to say, "Hey! I belong in YOUR family." I will never forget the weight of this moment. And as it turned out, that silly little magnet that we had gotten somewhere along the line in a McDonald's happy meal - that would be my burning bush...the confirming Word from the Lord that I would need to return to over and over again as this adoption unraveled and we faced Pharaohs and Red Seas.
Julius' birth mother died from AIDS over Mother's Day 2015. In August 2015 the Lord led me to Ghana to begin the adoption process. By November 2015 we had gotten all of our paperwork ready and were awaiting our case to be filed to court. But it was then that Ghana slowed their adoptions nearly to a halt as they reformed their policies. As the days, weeks, and months went by with no firm word on what was happening with our case, Julius' blood levels were found to have dipped tremendously low moving past the threshold of HIV into AIDS. I clung to the verse the Lord had given me over Julius on my August trip:
Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You preserve my life; You stretch out Your hand against the anger of my foes, with Your right hand You save me. The Lord will fulfill His purpose for me; Your love, O Lord, endures forever— do not abandon the works of Your hands (Psalm 138:7-8).
I felt the Lord was saying He was going to preserve Julius' life through this adoption process, and not only that, but that the Lord had a future and a purpose for Julius' life. Yet, for over 1 year we waited. From November 2015 to December 2016 we waited, praying for our case to be noticed and taken to court. All of a sudden, on December 9, 2016 we received word that the lawyer was ready to begin the process to file our case to court. It felt like resurrection. It felt like when Joseph had been imprisoned for 2 years and the cupbearer finally remembered him (Genesis 41). Within a few weeks we had our court date scheduled. Because Ghana courts closed for Christmas our hearing in Ghana would be held January 24, 2017. However, from here our case would get postponed, refiled, delayed, and adjourned 4 more times inciting disappointment, perseverance, and trust in Jesus to finish what He started. Then finally. TODAY was the day. Early this morning we received word that we passed our court hearing in Ghana and our adoption has been granted. Julius is now a Sullivan.
I cannot even tell you how many times I've had to fall back on this magnet picture through out the last two years. God has taught me to hold onto His promise when over and over what we were experiencing didn't match up to what He had said. In this adoption I have seen the hardest, most Pharaoh-like hearts I've ever encountered be completely changed in the matter of one night by the Lord. I've learned that set backs are really just a set up. I've learned that dead places and disappointing places can come to life by just one Word from the Lord. And I've learned that there is nothing under the Lord's hand that cannot be reversed and restored. We continue to believe this for Julius' life, that no matter how bad his health looks, that ALL things under the Lord's hand are reversible.
We praise You Jesus for this victory, and thank you for the faith you have grown in us for the battles yet to come.