Emily Schulz is on a mission. Together with her husband, Andrew, the Schulz's manage four energetic children ranging from ten to three years old. Emily is a teacher, cultivating the young minds of her children. Emily is a cook, and every night there is a standing reservation for six in her restaurant. Emily is a chauffeur, and her clients have active and demanding schedules. Emily is a pediatric nurse with a degree from the University of Texas. But her patients are no longer children she's never met, they are now her own.
Emily is a mom and, in this chapter of life, motherhood is her mission.
Emily and Andrew began their family ten years ago, with the birth of their daughter Caroline. Both Emily and Andrew came from families of four siblings and both knew that a similar family dynamic was something they wanted. It was part of the "plan" for Andrew to continue practicing law while Emily hung up her stethoscope to raise their children. Soon after Caroline, they welcomed Lucy into the family.
And then, five years ago, Emily gave birth to Preston. It wasn't long after Preston was born that Emily found herself working through post-partum depression. Through that pain and God's gentle persuasion, the Schulz's would embark on a new journey; one that would break their preconceptions of an ideal family. The journey would make their family look different from the world, but through the process, it would look a little more like the gospel.
"God used that time to rebuild me and break down the model of who I thought I was and what I thought my family was," Emily explained. "I've always felt called to the purpose of intentionally discipling my children to foster their faith and display redemption to them, so why not demonstrate those by engaging the orphan through adoption into our family?"
In the months following the birth of Preston, God did a work in Emily, challenging her to think bigger than her family. During that time God gently, and constantly, reminded Emily of Jesus' words during the last supper: to serve one another and to love your neighbor. But who was their neighbor?
"God opened our minds up to the facts about the orphan crisis and opened our hearts to the reality that we may be called into this."
The Schulz's felt the tug on their hearts and minds to adopt. It became clear to them that their neighbor was the orphan. Like many adoption stories, they embarked on a journey of paper work, prayer and persistence.
Unified in their call from the Lord, they headed down the long road toward adoption. They researched the process, found a community of like-minded and like-called families. It was there that, through the grace of God, they made connections that only He could devise that would guide their path to Rwanda and to the adoption of their fourth child, Drew.
What makes the Schulz's story different is what makes every adoption story different. No two motivations for adoption are the same. For some, adoption is an answered prayer or a gift. For others, adoption is a call from the Lord to go beyond a comfort zone or earthly notions of what ones family should look like.
"Deciding to walk into adoption is deciding to walk into the pain of someone else."
"People cannot go into adoption thinking, 'This is really going to benefit me and my circumstances,'" she explains.
Raising a child isn't easy. Raising an adopted child isn't easy. Raising an adopted child and three other children isn't easy. The Schulz's didn't adopt to enter into something easy and comfortable. They adopted to live out the gospel the best way they knew how. Each day, Drew is a reminder that we are all adopted orphans by our Father.
"We are blessed abundantly with the addition of our precious Drew-man. God has made a beautiful thing right before our eyes, right in our home. He has transformed his precious child and transformed this family."