MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - Tague and Lisa Harding of Lakeville, Minn., have a lot of experience raising kids. The couple has five children. With their youngest being 10 years old, they had been looking ahead to an empty nest.
But after a missions trip in 2005, they had no idea that their lives would not turn out that way.
"We thought we might work with digging wells in Africa because we knew some friends who had done that so we thought maybe we could get on board with that," Lisa said.
Their hearts soon began to turn toward adoption.
Putting Families Together
"It hadn't occurred to us that God might want us to parent African children," Lisa said. For Tague one question kept burning in his mind.
"What are you going to do about visiting widows and orphans in distress? That's a question of obedience and for us, it meant adopting," he explained.
So, a year and a half ago, the Hardings adopted two children from Uganda: 3-year-old Phillip and 4-year-old Zachary.
Christian artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, have become well-known for their spirit of adoption. Steven spoke with CBN News about the importance of adopting and how other Christian artists like himself are getting involved. Watch more here.
Also, Mary Beth talks about the 'Show Hope' adoption grant her family is a part of and how she's seen lives impacted by the extra financial assistance. Click here to watch.
"I think that's really cool that a little family in Minnesota and two little boys not even born yet when God started digging on my heart in regards to Africa and across continents and across time zones and He put a family together," Lisa said.
The family is convinced that adopting Phillip and Zachary is only the beginning of their new life as adoptive parents.
Adoption Summit 2010
CBN News met with the Hardings in Minneapolis for the 6th annual Christian Alliance for Orphans Adoption Summit. The organization works to heighten awareness and motivate Christians to care for orphans. The Hardings were excited to attend for the first time.
"I'm excited about refueling what's already a passion in us because this is not a period at the end of a sentence now that Philip and Zachary are in our house. Now, it's what's next?" Lisa said.
Hundreds from around the country attended the two-day event.
Jedd Medefind, the organization's president, said the adoption summit is gaining momentum.
"The growth has been thrilling," he said. "The first summit six years ago was about 35 people. Each year it has grown significantly. Last year there were a little over 700 in Texas. This year there are more than 1,200 here in Minneapolis."
Kelly Rosati, a senior director at Focus on the Family, said she was excited to attend.
"It's how does God want to use us and that's the spirit you see here at the orphan summit," she told CBN News.
The Reynolds family from Sioux City, Iowa has adopted three sets of triplets from Russia. The couple's biological son John is thankful for that.
"I'm just so amazed at what God has done through the adoptions in our families," John told CBN News. "It's just changed us so much cause the three oldest in our family have talked about if we had never had younger siblings, we'd probably be a lot more self focused."
"Just to have a lot of fun as a big family, people counting us and drive a massive van, it's just a lot of fun so we're just blessed by that," he added.
Kiel and Carolyn Twietmeyer have also taken in children many consider un-adoptable.
"These children are HIV positive and we have a child that was in stage 4 AIDS as well," Carolyn said of her adopted children.
CBN's Orphan's Promise was also on board at the summit. Orphan's Promise supports orphanages in Haiti and has built a training facility in Armenia.
Christian and Colleen Bunse represent Orphans Promise. Colleen explained the excitement of being with like-mined people and the summit.
"It's really exciting to see the networking and how Orphans Promise fits into this whole picture of serving orphans around the world," she told CBN News.
A difference is also being seen here in the U.S. Sharen Ford oversees adoption and foster care programs in Colorado.
She credits God and faith partners in the state for the number of children waiting to be adopted having dropped by more than half over the last five years.
"The ultimate goal is zero," she explained. "I realize that kids are always coming in the door. But wouldn't it be phenomenal to have no waiting kids, none and that we would only have waiting families."
House of Hope
Award-winning music artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth have been champions of adoption for nearly a decade.
The Chapmans adopted three daughters from China. Two years ago, their youngest daughter Maria, died in a tragic accident. In their daughter's honor, the Chapmans opened Maria's Big House of Hope in China dedicated to serving the needs of orphans.
Chapman and his wife have been open about the pain the accident has caused his family.
"This little girl that God brought into our family, and for her five years on this earth, we thought it was going to be 95," he explained. "Still, we wrestle till we see her again and see God why wasn't it. And now this whole new dimension of grieving, and grieving through the process, and this once again brings us back to God's heart for orphans."
Meanwhile Tague and Lisa Harding have learned that the heart of God for their adopted children has reached deep into their own lives, too.
"This story is not about me," Tague said. "I've been asked to join a bigger story, God's story, as it relates to Phillip and Zachary."
"People have said, 'Oh, aren't they they lucky? You rescued them from whatever,'" Lisa said. "And I think are you kidding? I get to be daily rescued from my selfishness and my impatience, things that are just as disease ridden in my soul. Yeah, I'm the lucky one."
*Original broadcast May 20, 2010.