Our Story

I was hoping to write our story out but haven't gotten around to it yet. So I decided to post a story someone else wrote about our story! Our friend, Melinda Erickson, from church wrote it for our church in October 2010.

Adoption from Rwanda: Growing in Faith

As Saddleback members for 11 years, Max and Tristen McGhee have experienced God’s hand in their lives in a powerful way as they pursued his plan for adopting a little boy from Rwanda. 

Before you knew me I was searching for you.
Before you knew me I was praying for you.
Before you knew me I already loved you.

Before you knew me, I knew you. *

Before they married, Max and Tristen discussed the possibility of having one biological child, and then adopting their future children from among those whom God had already given life, but who had no parents to care for them.  After marriage, that became their plan.

When their son, Gaven, was born in 2002, his first few days of life were tenuous and spent in ICU.  Although it was obviously a traumatic event for both Tristen and Max, Gaven has developed into a normal, healthy little boy.  When he was two years old, Tristen was ready to pursue adoption, but Max was still recovering emotionally from nearly losing Gaven at birth, and didn’t feel ready for the responsibility of another child in their home. 

Five years later, the Saddleback launch of the Orphan global initiative captured Max and Tristen’s attention.  Their small group studied the curriculum that followed the launch, and they were encouraged through the study and through the discovery that some members of their small group had been adopted.  Max and Tristen found they had a lot to think and pray about.  By the end of the study, God had confirmed in their hearts that adoption was for them, and that now for Max, too, the time was right.  They filled out their initial inquiry with an adoption agency in November of 2009, asking for a Rwandan boy between 9 months and 4 years old. 

Why Rwanda? Many Saddleback families had already adopted children from that country, and because of Saddleback’s partnership with Rwanda, their child would know other kids just like him.  Tristen and Max felt he would have many opportunities to learn about the country of his birth, and be loved by the Saddleback community.

Gaven is now eight years old and is excited about getting a new brother from Rwanda. Tristen and Max are working hard to prepare him for the experience of sharing his parents and home with a boy who will look very different from him.  “There was never a possibility in Gaven’s mind that the child would be a girl,” Tristen said. “One day he told us, ‘if it’s a girl, we’ll pull the plug on the whole thing!’”

The adoption process that began in November of last year is ongoing.  On August 31, 2010, all of the prescribed paperwork and home studies, fingerprinting and verifications over months of labor had finally become a part of their enormous dossier, and that dossier had arrived in Rwanda. “God did some MIGHTY miracles.” Tristen says in her blog, “You would be amazed at the long list I could type right now of all the works of God's hands in the last 24 hours! Our dossier is sitting at the Rwandan Embassy!”

It was a very long process, but one that has kept Max and Tristen in prayer and surrendered to God.  “I didn't realize how much of the paperwork process would be out of our control,” Tristen said. “God had answered our prayers before, but nothing like this!  It was such a complex set of events, that nothing could go wrong.  God had to be the one who did it.”  Max added, “…we knew it would be difficult, so when God made it happen, the results were incredible.  We can only praise him.”

“We are learning through this process that we grow spiritually through difficult circumstances because we trust God – and survive them,” Max reflected. 

“International adoption isn’t easy,” Tristen said. “Especially for children who are not infants.” There is a growing network at Saddleback Church for adoptive families to connect and receive the support they need.  “You hear stories about the challenges but also about how the challenges have been overcome.  Always, the blessings overshadow the difficulties.  If anyone has even had a thought about adoption,” Tristen said, “I would tell them to check out the  “Thinking About Thinking About” meeting of the Orphan care ministry.”

Right now Max and Tristen are still waiting for their little boy.  It could take up to nine more months to receive their letter of approval from the Rwandan government.  God continues to give them patience and sweet anticipation. “It’s all been worth it.”

God adopted me before I adopted you.
God made me His child before I made you mine.
God came to me before I came to you.

Before you trusted me, I trusted God.

Because God did these things for me, I can do them for you.*

  *Excerpt from poem by Tristen McGhee