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Curtis family realizes their international adoption dream

The great excitement could only be measured by the great exhaustion Lisa and Nate felt upon arriving in Manila, nearly 9,000 miles from their home in Durham. The jet lag was real as they collapsed on the hotel bed. Eyes closed, their minds raced, caught up in the immensity of the moment. What they had waited for so long was now only hours away.

Out of the 25 million people in the city, there were only two that mattered to the anxious couple. The anticipation of growing their family by adding sister and brother Angel and Alex began months earlier when they appeared on a list of children in the Philippines hoping to be adopted.

Standing in the courtyard of the orphanage, Nate noticed a door open. The couple had visited with the children on video chats over the past months—it was not like they would be total strangers. Lisa stepped forward as two caregivers walked into the sunlight with the children. The children’s eyes raced back and forth until they saw their new parents and darted toward them—running. Lisa and Nate bent down simultaneously, just in time for Angel to bound into her mom’s embrace and Alex to jump into his dad’s arms.

Lisa and Nate Curtis met in college. They were both involved in Young Life. Nate rededicated his life to Christ and became a group leader. Lisa gravitated to the group’s emphasis on building personal relationships with Jesus. Friends knew the duo would become “best friends.” They graduated college, married, and began promising careers. The couple put down roots in Atlanta, roots they did not plan to pull up anytime soon.

“God’s plans are not always our plans,” Nate chuckles. “I began working for a company in Chapel Hill, commuting back and forth from Atlanta. Then, Lisa called to tell me she had a great job offer—but she would need to move to North Carolina.”

They pulled up roots. The dust seemed to settle from the bustling beginning of their life together. They bought a home near the baseball stadium with plenty of room to start a family. The couple wanted to make their dream of having children come true.

“It was heartbreaking at first when we did not become pregnant,” Lisa remembers. “We were seriously considering fostering and explored respite care, but later realized God was preparing our hearts for adopting older children.”

The couple planned for a domestic adoption. They found Christian Adoption Services (CAS) online and signed up for a virtual information meeting. They listened intently, Lisa taking notes. When the presentation on domestic adoptions was over, CAS’s Lead Director of International Adoptions Laura Nichols-Virgilio began her presentation. As Laura told the stories of the children and defined the needs, tears began to well up in Lisa’s eyes. She reached for the mouse and clicked the camera off. “I broke down. International adoption had not been on our radar at all, but I knew God was doing something.”

Lisa and Nate were profoundly moved. They would adopt a child from the Philippines. When emails came listing children, the couple prayed over each one.

“A dear friend told us that as she prayed for our future child or children, the name Seraphina—angel—came to her. We started praying the same, praying that God would make it unmistakable to us who our ‘Seraphina’ was.”

CAS is Hague accredited for intercountry adoptions and is approved with the Philippines for international adoptions. CAS has a rich history of working with the Central Authority, National Authority for Child Care (formerly ICAB) of the Philippines.

From the start, Lisa and Nate were open to adopting siblings. Philippine adoptions often come as sibling groups with older children, not infants. As they reviewed children’s profiles and prayed, both agreed their hearts were set on nine-year-old Angel and older brother Alex.

Then COVID came and everything was more difficult. Depending on God’s provision became even more important. There were mishaps with documents, possible quarantines in the Philippines, and the uncertainties of COVID testing and returning to the U.S. But on March 25, 2022, Angel, Alex, Lisa, and Nate were united as a family.

“It is hard to describe what we felt as our children came running to us in that first meeting,” Lisa says. “I remember thinking, this must be what heaven feels like.”

It is often the waiting that takes its toll. Couples plan, dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s, they train and prepare to meet the challenges they will face as children and parents adjust to their new lives with each other.

“Waiting can be the most difficult part,” Laura Nichols-Virgilio says. “I tell families to trust God. Trust in His timing and see how in all things ‘God works for the good of those who love him.’ His timing is always about what is best—for both children and families.”

Growing a family through adoption can be scary, but CAS walks with couples through the process, tackling the downs and celebrating the victories together, creating a bond of trust and purpose.

“The Curtis family encourages me,” Nichols-Virgilio says. “They are so gracious and stay in touch. Seeing how God has worked in their lives and then for them to share their adoption story, reminds us all of God’s love for children around the world. I love it.”

Two years after becoming a family, routines shape the Curtis’s day. There are Alex’s soccer games on Saturday, and dance practice keeps Angel on her toes. They curl up together on the sofa for movie nights, and they read bible stories before bedtime. It is a family’s dream come true—one only God could envision.

If you want to learn more about international adoptions, visit Christian Adoption Services.

Written by Jim Edminson, Editor of Charity & Children

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