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Kevin & Maria Wilkening

Kevin and Maria Wilkening have always felt certain that God would expand their family through adoption. Their interest in adoption was partially rooted in Kevin’s family background. Kevin first experienced adoption as a young child when his baby sister joined the family by way of adoption. Because it was part of his upbringing, he always viewed adoption as a very normal part of family life. In Kevin’s household, since each member of the family was equally important, Kevin never viewed Faith as his “adopted sister,” but rather as his sister who happened to be adopted, a subtle but important distinction. Kevin has been profoundly influenced by his family experience which fostered his perception of adoption as a normal process by which an individual is invited into full family membership regardless of biological heritage.

Married during the summer of 1997, Kevin and Maria recall early discussions about adoption and their expectations that God would reveal a special opportunity for them. Although Maria’s family experience did not mirror Kevin’s, she nevertheless shared his passion for children and adoption. Their desire to adopt was obviously affected by Kevin’s family background, but God also established in their hearts other equally compelling factors. As Christians, the Wilkenings have been amazed at the work of God in adopting them into the spiritual family of believers. Although humbled by the thought, they were excited that God would potentially use an adoption in their family to paint a beautiful picture of what God has done for His children through Christ. Kevin and Maria also share a love for children. While Kevin was serving as a youth pastor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he and Maria became involved in a ministry serving needy children in the area. Interacting with these children and their difficult family conditions helped to solidify the Wilkenings’ adoption desire. They even pursued two potential adoption opportunities which were identified through their ministry, although both ultimately failed to materialize. They accepted this as God’s sovereign intervention in their lives.

In January of 2002, the Wilkening family, including their young daughter, Sidney, followed God’s direction to Iowa where Kevin had accepted a position as a senior pastor. They plunged into their new roles, enjoying the expanded ministry opportunities the Lord had provided. Over the next two years, two more daughters, Zoe and Janae, joined the Wilkening household. Although Kevin and Maria were settling in as Iowans and rejoicing in God’s goodness at home and in ministry, they continued to cherish the relationships they had established during their years in Michigan. In March of 2005, Kevin and Maria headed to Chicago to enjoy the fellowship of some of their Michigan friends at the Big Ten basketball championship. While conversing in the stands on March 11, Kevin and Maria learned that a girl in their previous youth group was expecting a child in May.

Although unsure of the young lady’s plans, the Wilkenings immediately began to wonder aloud if God had been preparing them to receive this child as one of their own. Kevin and Maria returned home to Iowa with the understanding that their friends would approach the girl’s family regarding their interest in adoption. It soon became clear that God had been working in the young couple who, recognizing that they were unprepared for parenthood, had begun seeking a Christian family willing to receive their child. The week after talking with their friends at the ball game, Kevin and Maria received a phone call that launched a whirlwind of excitement as they began preparations to add a fourth child to their family.

The Wilkenings had much to do in an extremely short period of time, so they opted to work through an agency to ensure that everything was handled as efficiently as possible. They were also confronted with a significant, but unexpected, financial need. Convinced that God would supply because He had ordained the process, Kevin and Maria began to investigate financing options. Through a commercial bank, they successfully secured a loan which would cover all of their adoption-related expenses. An anticipated interest rate of thirteen percent, however, kept them scouring the internet for other possibilities. When they found The ABBA Fund website, two things stood out – a commitment to assisting Christian families with adoption, and the two extremely appealing words, zero interest! On April 27, 2005, the Wilkenings received a call that, due to some health concerns with the birth mother, labor was being induced nearly a month early! On April 28, the birthday of their new son, Kevin and Maria submitted their application for financial assistance to The ABBA Fund. In what could only be described as a providential orchestration of events, the Lord had anticipated the Wilkenings’ need, and provided The ABBA Fund with a donation of stock having a value necessary to meet the Wilkenings’ need. God had again provided reassurance that He had ordained this child to be a member of the Wilkening family.

On April 28, Kevin, Maria, Sidney, Zoe, and Janae arrived in Grand Rapids to introduce themselves to Cade Michael, the sixth member of their family. The girls, although not fully able to conceptualize adoption, did grasp one important and exciting fact – they would soon return home with a little brother! Following their initial meeting, Maria and the girls remained with Maria’s parents in Grand Rapids for another three and a half weeks while Kevin went home to attend to work responsibilities and handle all the final paperwork and legal matters which had to be completed. Finally, on May 20, the long-awaited placement day arrived when Kevin and Maria officially took custody of their son, and what a wonderfully full day of rejoicing it was. The Wilkening family was even invited to join the birthparents and their families for an evening cookout, providing an opportunity for reassurance to the young couple.

At long last, the Wilkening family returned home to Iowa where they were received with a tremendous expression of support from family, friends, and church. Adding one more child to the mix has had the effect of extending the time necessary to get ready for church, but otherwise the transition has been relatively smooth. Reflecting on God’s plan and the process He ordained for their family, Kevin and Maria have been reminded of the sovereignty of God and the correlation between physical adoption and the spiritual inheritance of the believer in the Holy Spirit. As for Sidney, Zoe, and Janae, they are now privileged to share their father’s family experience of having a sibling who just happens to have joined the family through adoption.

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