The following testimony is an amazing example of why God calls us to adopt! What an amazing story! Enjoy!
My name is Ivanca Fox, and I am currently a student at the Teen Mania Honors Academy in Garden Valley, Texas. I was born in Bulgaria and put into a state-run orphanage as an infant. I do not know the reason why I was put into an orphanage at birth. Possibly it was based on an economic need at that time in my country. I remember a woman, who I believe to be my birth mother, coming to visit me in my childhood years. So I did have parents, though I have no memory of my biological father. I remember some very mixed feelings as a child, and my memories of the orphanage are not all good. I remember times of getting in trouble for various things, mostly for stealing food, and being severely punished. But I had good friends and we stuck together. Maybe that is how we survived the hardships.
My life began to change on the day I was adopted by an American family a few days before my 12th birthday. I remember being confused when my new parents came to pick me up. No one at the orphanage really told me I finally had a family that loved me. When my new family arrived to take me to my new home in Arizona, I was dressed in new clothes. My orphanage director told me to go with them so I did, even though I was sure I was being kidnapped. I did not speak English and they spoke no Bulgarian, so it was hard to communicate. But they treated me with so much kindness, something I had never experienced before. For the first time I was given all I wanted to eat and didn’t have to worry about having enough food for the next day. Our first few days together when we were still in Bulgaria, we had an interpreter to help us communicate. I was assured over and over again that I now had a family and they loved me, and that we were going to a real home in Arizona. Yet, even with the promise of a new life, when we left Bulgaria for America, I still felt lost. All I had known was fear and uncertainty. I did not know what love really was or understand why a family would even want me. I don’t remember ever being hugged those first years of my life. I only knew that now all my friends were gone and I was going to a new place to live with a family I really didn’t know.
Despite all the heartache and hardships I experienced as an orphan, one thing I do remember is feeling like I always had hope. I would dream every day to live in a house and have a family like other kids I would see at school or in the village. I was happy for them, even though I felt like it might not happen for me. I tried to look past the hopelessness of the moment and believe that somehow what I hoped for would appear. I prayed that my friends and I would be all right, and eventually find the life we all longed for. As I boarded the plane for America, I was full of so much fear that I didn’t realize God was giving me all that I had hoped and dreamed for—I was on my way to a better life.
My new family was a Christian family and I was deeply loved. I know now that the hope I had as a child in that understaffed and underfunded orphanage in Bulgaria had come true for me.
Although I had some difficulties adjusting to my new life, I came to realize very soon that I was going to be all right. My new family wrapped their arms around my heart and just kept on loving me through every challenge I faced. I had plenty of food, a nice room, nice clothes, everything I could ever hope for. The hope I had while in the orphanage carried me through. My whole life was wrapped up in that hope. I believe the Lord gave me that hope even before I knew about Him, and He let that hope be my support. It was what I leaned on every day.
I ended up attending both a Christian and public school, graduated from high school, and successfully completed dental assistant school in my new hometown of Mesa, Arizona. I am currently enrolled in the Teen Mania Honors Academy in Garden Valley, Texas, and I love it. God had to open a lot of doors to make it possible for me to attend this school, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to do so. I will graduate at the end of this year.
I have been blessed beyond measure. I was adopted, loved, and cared for by my wonderful family, and came to love the Lord. My desire now is to be able to help other orphaned children around the world in any way that I can. My heart is in missions work and I would love to use my dental skills to help others. I may even go back and work in my birth country to help the children who still live as orphans, the life I once lived. I want to share with orphaned children the same hope I held onto. Maybe their hope will take them in a different direction then the way God led me, but without hope, they have nothing. They need to know that God promises a special kind of hope to an orphan. It was His signature of hope written in my heart that gave me the life I have today.
My favorite scripture is one almost everyone knows—John 3:16. I love this verse because it shares the reason why He sent His son into this world, so we all could be adopted into His family. Maybe it’s because I understand what it is like to live separated from a family, and the joy that comes in being welcomed home into a new one. So my personalized version of this beloved scripture goes like this:
“This is how much God so greatly loved and dearly prized Ivanca Fox: that He gave up and personally sent His only Son into the world. This is why: so He could reach beyond my orphanage door and give me the opportunity to believe in, trust in, cling to, and rely on Him. To give me the faith and hope I needed to find my way home so that I would never feel lost again. He came to help me, give me an earthly family, and then welcome me into His eternal family forever.”
His Signature of Hope is inscribed deep in my heart, forever.