By Justin Horey
Kirk Bolen likes to run marathons. It’s a good thing he does, because his family’s adoption journey lasted four years and required more than 15,000 miles of international travel.
Kirk and his wife, Amanda, didn’t plan to adopt. Kirk is a worship leader at Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland, and the couple has two biological sons: Asher, 7, and Eamon, 4.
Around the time their second son was born, Kirk went to Uganda on a short-term mission trip with World Vision. While there, he took note of all the needy children he saw. Kirk recalls, “Everywhere we went, we saw lots of kids—in the orphanages, in the streets. They were everywhere.” It made an impression on him, though at the time, he said, “I wasn’t sure what that meant. But I knew it meant something.”
A year later, Mountain Christian Church began a new teaching series called “Epic.” At a staff meeting, cards were handed out with the question, “What epic thing is God calling you to?” Kirk’s answer was immediate, and it surprised him. He wrote: “Adopt a child.” When he got home that evening, Amanda said she had sensed the same calling.
The Bolens immediately began submitting online adoption applications. Shortly thereafter, they joined the adoption support group at Mountain Christian Church, where their vision of adoption was affirmed.
Yet despite their enthusiasm, their support group, and their unity as a couple, the Bolens encountered challenges. They had originally hoped to adopt a child from Haiti, but quickly learned they didn’t meet the country’s qualifications. They shifted their focus to Uganda, but the process took so long that the children’s home with which they were working actually closed down. For 18 months, Kirk and Amanda waited.
In the meantime, God generously provided the funding for the upcoming adoption. One fund-raising event at a local pizza parlor was the largest the restaurant had ever hosted. When a close family friend named Sue Beyer tragically died of breast cancer, her family selflessly asked mourners to donate to the Bolen family adoption fund. That effort raised $6,000 in memory of Sue—almost the exact amount the Bolens needed at the time.
In November 2014, the Bolens received an unexpected (and unexplained) bill from their adoption agency for an international wire transfer fee. A week later, they learned they had been matched with a child. But they heard nothing else for four months.
Finally, in February 2015, Kirk received an e-mail with the subject line “Meet Favour.” That e-mail contained information on an 8-month-old baby girl, whom the orphanage had named Favour—from Proverbs 8:35: “For whoever finds me finds life and receives favor from the Lord” (New Living Translation).
On May 2, 2015, the Bolen family—Kirk, Amanda, and their boys—arrived in Uganda. Two days later, on Sue Beyer’s birthday, they met their baby girl for the first time. In Kirk’s words, “She is and was a gift from the Lord!”
Throughout the trip, God continued to surprise the Bolens with his goodness. They faced visa delays, passport delays, and other complications, but God was faithful. Even their court appearance, with all three children, was faster and smoother than anticipated. (All three kids fell asleep within 10 minutes of arriving in the courtroom!)
The Bolens spent a total of 10 weeks in Uganda, where they stayed at a home for international adopters and developed a strong community with other families, some of whom have remained close. Their newly expanded family of five arrived home in Maryland last July, and Favour is now approaching her second birthday. She is healthy, happy, and adjusting to life with two big brothers.
Another pastor at Mountain, Luke Erickson, has just begun the process of adopting two boys through the same agency that helped the Bolens. The details of the Erickson family’s adoption journey are known only to God, but it could be a marathon!
Justin Horey is the husband of a former foster child, the father of two biological children, and was adopted “to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with [God’s] pleasure and will” (Ephesians 1:5).