Their story is non-traditional.
Their story is God’s story.
Joel and Leah Stirewalt met following the unraveling of their previous
marriages. His to divorce. Hers to the death of her husband to suicide. They both agree, in hindsight, there was
no possible way they could have survived both of those tragedies without God carrying them through,
especially on days they didn’t even have strength to walk. Joel had four children from his previous marriage, three of which are now adults. His kiddos are a girl (24), 3 sons (22, 18, and 13). His oldest is married to a wonderful man, and they have two beautiful children – ages 2 and 2 months. Leah also had a daughter, now 17-years-old,
from her first marriage.
When Joel and Leah met, they discussed their love for children and family in
their very first conversation. And Leah shared a potential deal breaker question, “What do you
think of adoption?” She knew that if Joel wasn’t on board from the get-go, it wouldn’t make sense to
continue getting to know each other better. She was happily surprised to learn that God had already
been prompting his heart to explore the avenue of adoption.
Fast forwarding…Joel and Leah married in August 2012, and they began praying
and asking God to let them know when and where to proceed down their adoption journey. They
knew He called them to this…just didn’t know when. In January 2014, they began to feel it might
be time to seriously start moving forward in their adoption journey. But…they still had many questions.
They knew they wanted to expand their family, but they weren’t sure if they were to do that through
international or domestic channels.
There are orphaned children all over the world in need of forever
families…approximately 153 million orphans, and only a small percentage will ever be adopted. Sadly, most
countries with international adoption programs don’t have the infrastructure in place within their country
to provide for orphans. Or – in some situations – children are orphaned, because they are of a
culturally insignificant class and will never be recognized as anything more than outcasts in their own country.
Sad…but true. In time and through prayer, God revealed to Joel and Leah that they are to not only adopt
internationally, but they are to adopt a sibling group! And, a program in Eastern Europe was identified
as a best match for them.
Regardless of the reasons, God clearly indicated this was His plan for the
Stirewalt family, and they fully intend to obey His calling. Leah often shares with those that ask about their choice to adopt, “I was abandoned as a child by a parent, and I felt abandoned as an adult by a husband, but I’ve never been abandoned by the One that created me. Joel and I want to teach our future children that He has never
abandoned them either.”
Leah prayed years ago that God would break her heart for that which breaks
His. He did just that for both she and Joel…He broke their hearts for orphaned children all over the
world.As they finish up their home study process (set to conclude in S June), they
have been actively fundraising and educating friends, family, neighbors, and even strangers about adoption,
in general. This is a very expensive journey, but they trust God to provide every single penny it will
take to bring their children home. They pray that God will continue to raise up an army of prayer and
financial supporters to surround them on this journey! And, they can’t wait to one day share with the
children they have yet to meet how so very much they are loved!
*If you would like to support Joel and Leah Stirewalt on their adoption journey, you are able to do so by placing an order at http://www.for-more.org/pop-book.html for a copy of 'Mommy's Heart Went POP!'. For every copy sold during the month of May, RubyMyles Fund will donate $10 towards the Stirewalt adoption!