The afghan hanging on Angeli and Todd Skalberg’s wall has five children sewn onto it.
A gift at the birth of their first daughter, next to four of the five children pictured is a name and birth date.
“We had my friend who made it for me, needlework the three girls names on there, then Isaiah was born and all of a sudden we have this little person in the corner that didn’t have a name,” Angeli said.
And it appeared it would stay that way. The Skalbergs decided they weren’t having any more children.
“It kind of bugged me you know, but not a reason to have another one,” Angeli laughed.
But after six years, the nameless little person on the afghan will soon be Sofie, a seven-month-old girl the Skalbergs are adopting from Ethiopia.
Stirrings of the heart
The Skalbergs knew they wanted a big family even before they began having kids.
Wanting five kids and for them to be close in age, they had three daughters in three years, and decided maybe they would have a family of five rather than five kids.
Then eight years later their son Isaiah surprised them. With four kids, the Skalbergs thought for sure they were done this time.
But that was before Angeli said God spoke to her heart and paved the way to making adoption a reality. The Skalberg girls begged their parents for years to consider adoption, two of them having working in orphanages on mission trips to Africa.
The Skalbergs gave it careful consideration and came back with an answer of no.
Angeli said she didn’t mean for it to work this way, but said it took a lot of convincing from God to determine it was the right decision.
“If I’m being honest, I think I was looking for a no," Angeli said. "No would have been easier, and life would have gone on as we know it.”
So Angeli prayed and opened her bible.
“I asked God to show me the writing on the wall,” she said.
She opened her bible and one line stood out solitary on the page, “Yes, this is God’s answer on the matter,” Angeli said.
Other instances such as a breakdown during Bible study a calendar page with the message "listen to the stirrings of your heart" were the writing on the wall Angeli had asked for.
So without the certainty of finances, the adoption process or how the dynamics of the family would change, the Skalbergs decided to adopt.
A loan to adopt?
Costing between $28,000-30,000 for an adoption, Angeli said she and Todd didn’t know where they were going to get the money.
“We didn’t have it, we didn’t have it in savings, and we didn’t have it sitting somewhere. Todd was like, 'ok Ang, God’s asked us to do this, but how?'"
Angeli got online and searched for places where she could get interest-free loans to finance the adoption.
With an upcoming family vacation, planned over six months in advance, the Skalbergs worried that it wasn’t the right thing to do at a time when they so desperately needed the money.
“We almost canceled the trip,” Angeli said. “We had a lady in our small group say, ‘no your family needs this, continue with your vacation.”
When the family returned home, the Skalbergs received an answer to their prayers.
“We get home, there’s all these messages on the answering machine, I’m going through them one by one by one, then there’s this message that says, ‘we’re a non-profit and we’ve heard you’re going to adopt, would you please give us a call,'” Angeli said.
The group said they had heard the Skalbergs story and wanted to let them know they would fund the adoption 100 percent.
Bringing Sofie home
The Skalbergs have been waiting 19 months since they first began the adoption process.
Angeli said choosing to adopt from Africa was the least difficult decision.
“I’ve always loved Africa, even as a child," Angeli said. "But never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be going there to bring home my baby girl. I thought I’d be there taking pictures of giraffes."
Ethiopia was the only country in Africa the Skalbergs could adopt from through their adoption agency, but just as they were preparing to start the process, the Ethiopian Government shut everything down.
Although it’s taking longer, Angeli said it needed to be done to evaluate the adoption process and make it better for the children.
But it makes the wait harder.
“For the first six months we jumped every time the phone rang. You check the caller id until you actually get the call and then oh my gosh, it’s real,” Angeli said.
A picture on the fridge shows Sofie at three months, bright eyed, smiling and tiny for her age, weighing only 13 lbs.
Now, four months later, Angeli said she can’t wait to hold her.
“You see that picture and you just melt,” she said.
Expecting a toddler-aged boy, Angeli said the news that they were getting a girl came as a big surprise to them.
“I don’t know why but I was expecting a boy who was toddler age. But the Lord knows what we need, even when we don’t.”
The Skalbergs will travel to Ethiopia in October to officially become Sofie’s adoptive parents on October 22.
They must go before a court in Ethiopia and say, “Yes, I accept responsibility for this child.”
After that, it can take anywhere from six to twelve weeks for final paperwork to be processed.
Then they can take Sofie home, where the Skalberg’s finally will have a chance to just be with their new daughter.
“I’m looking forward to taking the time to slow down and just sit in the rocking chair with her,” Angeli said.
Darian Warden can be reached at 875-1793 or firstname.lastname@example.org