Four biological kids later, Amy and I found ourselves pastoring The Journey Church in Plainfield, Indiana. This church isn’t a typical smallish mid-western church, it is FULL of kids who’ve been adopted both domestically and internationally….we have African-American kids, Chinese kids, Mongolian Kids, Korean kids, Latino kids, and coming soon….POLISH kids! As the Lord began developing this awesome community with a heart for foster kids and adoption, He began to rekindle the yearning of Amy and my heart for this. Having a group of biological children ourselves we could not imagine them ever being separated should something happen to Amy and me. This would be just devastating. Yet it’s the reality many orphans who are part of a sibling group face all the time. Few people desire to adopt groups of two, three, four, or more children. So many times these groups of siblings get split up so they can all be adopted out. When we realized the great need our own children were reflected back to us….and we decided when we adopted, it would be a sibling group of two or MAYBE three.

So we prayed, and looked, and prayed and looked. In October of 2013 we found a brother and sister in Bulgaria. They were of Roma descent. Because we had spent time the previous two summers in Eastern Europe working with the Roma, we really prayed and considered these kids. Something was off, though. We weren’t getting those “knowing” feelings we usually get from God when He is in something. So we passed. It didn’t feel good saying no to these kids, but we knew it was the right thing to do. We decided, after that, to let it rest a while, and honestly we stopped looking on international adoption websites for photolistings of kids. Then something happened.

It was June of 2014 and I was on a 21 day fast. We hadn’t really explored, talked, prayed, or anything else about adoption in several months. Frankly, our church, which had just planted a new campus, was consuming much of our life. On a whim one day, needing a mental break, I googled “Best International Adoption Agencies.” The first one listed was called Children’s House International out of Washington State. I perused their website a bit and shot off a general “contact us” email stating the following:

My wife and I have been thinking/praying about adoption for a very long time. We are seriously interested in a sibling group up to three children, though two  is preferable with at least one girl in the group. We Would also prefer the oldest in the group to be no more than 7 or 8 years old. The younger the better. We are open to Hungary, Poland, Moldova, Georgia, or Bulgaria. I’m not sure how to proceed with the application, because any of these would be acceptable to us. Please advise.
We have traveled to Europe on mission’s teams in the past and have a great love for the Roma people, though we are open to other children as well.
Please help us know what the next steps would be and/or what children in a sibling group are currently waiting.
Thanks so much!!!
Pastor Jeff Carlson

As soon as I sent the email I went to the website called which lists photolistings of kids available for adoption around the world. We always searched in Eastern Europe since that is where many Roma orphans are from. As I looked through my search results, I came across the listing of a group of four kids. They weren’t Roma, and I wasn’t looking for four kids, but I was immediately drawn to them….something in my spirit leaped. At the bottom of the web page there is a “contact listing agency” form. I filled it out and shot it off to whatever agency was listing these kids. It simply read:

We are interested in info on this sibling group. We are VERY EARLY in the adoption process so guidance is a plus!!
Jeff & Amy Carlson

All of this happened within the span of about 20 minutes right in my church office. If I didn’t believe in the activity of the divine, what happened next would have been almost ridiculous………