(Revised 10/15/2011 and February 2017)
Our adoption story began back in 1949. I was an orphan with no hope and no future. But the Lord promises to be a Father to the fatherless and care for the orphan. In His great mercy and love God cared for me and gave me the best Dad and Mom that any kid could have. My parents lavished me with love and provision, and they taught me about Jesus and God's love for me. Two years later they adopted another little boy and gave me the gift of a brother. My name is John, and my brother was named Jim. You may remember James and John in the Bible, "THE SONS OF THUNDER" - well Dad and Mom had it right when they named us. Five years later Dad and Mom were surprised with our little sister by birth, Catharine Jean Vogt. They had not done anything different to conceive her. Up until that point, Mom's womb was closed. I know that the enemy is at work in an effort to ruin our lives and destroy our hopes and dreams. I also know that all things truly do work together for good for those you love the Lord and that Papa God is the blessed controller of all things. I am so grateful to the Lord that my sister was late coming into our family. If she had been born first, I would not be here today writing this story.
He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord. In 1969 the Lord helped me find Sara. One day when Sara and I were talking about our future together, Sara told me that her doctors have determined that she would never be able to have children. Sara knew how much I love kids and it was important to her that we talked about this before our wedding. I reassured her of my love and told her that God could help us build a family through the blessings of adoption. We wanted a son and a daughter. I can still remember that evening when I had a heart to heart talk with my Mom and shared with her how Sara would not be able to carry children in her womb but would carry them in her heart and that we would be adopting. Mom and I tearfully embraced as we remembered what the Lord had done for us. Sara and I were united in marriage August 21, 1971.
Then one summer night in June of 1973 I was lying on the floor of our living room in Arlington, VA in great pain. I had ruptured two discs in my back, and I could hardly move. I could not sleep in a bed. Sara came in to comfort me and joined me there on the floor. That night as we embraced we realized that we had very little going for us... no home, just a small one bedroom apartment, no money, employment threatened because of my ruptured discs and no children with Sara's womb closed. It was in this darkness that I called out to God. It was actually a proclamation of faith in the midst of total frustration. I believe my exact words were... "If God wants us to have a baby we will have a baby." Approximately four weeks later Sara believed that she was pregnant. The docs said, "no way... that would be physically impossible." But on March 28, 1974, the God of the impossible gave us a son. We named him John Regis Vogt. We call him Regis after my Dad the man who took me in his arms and loved me to life when I was an orphan.
The Lord blessed us with a son but where was our little girl? We knew that the Lord could do the impossible and open Sara's womb again, after all, we had living proof of that in the blessing of our son. As the years went by our hopes for a daughter began to fade. We had moved to Washington, DC and life was very busy. We poured our lives into loving our son and working hard in our broadcasting careers at WCTN Radio serving our nation's capital area. We came to the place where we were no longer thinking about more children. I was over 50, and Sara was now $#%#^& :). For some reason, God never gave us our girl. Sometimes I would think... maybe He couldn't trust me with a girl. Maybe I would break her. Girls are very fragile.
Then one day I got a call from America World Adoption. They wanted to know if we would be willing to do an interview during the morning show to promote an adoption seminar that they would be presenting in the Nation's Capital area. "Sure," I said. I told them that I was adopted myself and had a soft spot in my heart concerning the blessings of adoption. Little did I know at the time what the Lord was doing. I was about to be touched in a profound way by the God of love. The morning I conducted that interview I was absolutely blown away. They were focusing on their China Program at the time. As AWAA's founder Brian Luwis shared with our listeners about these little girls in China, my heart burned within me. I went home that night and talked to Sara about the broadcast. "Do you think that the Lord may be calling us to go to China and rescue one of these little orphan girls and bring her home as our daughter?" Sara looked at me cross-eyed. "Honey, I'm almost 50 years old... we have older parents to care for... I just don't know." I kept my big mouth shut, for once, and just prayed while God began to work on Sara's heart.
It took a few months for Sara to come to terms with hope deferred because that can make your heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12) During this time the Lord kept bringing little Chinese girls across her path. She would meet them in grocery stores and Seven Locks Broadcasting events. We even met a mother and her adopted Chinese daughter in a restaurant outside of Harrisburg, PA while driving home to visit family.
Sara had longed for a daughter, but her womb had been closed. We could not understand why the God of the impossible did not open her womb. As time passed that hope became rekindled as Sara began to embrace the work that God was doing in her heart. I asked myself… Is this what the Lord was doing? He had prepared our hearts for this moment so many years ago. So, is this why God allowed Sara's womb to be closed? It sounds almost too good to be true. But the Lord loves us so much, and he loves orphans so much that he may be calling us to the other side of the world to rescue a little orphan girl and bring her home as our daughter.
Sara needed confirmation. So the Lord sent a precious young women by the name of Lynne Prinzing to represent America World Adoption for another radio interview. This time Sara was co-hosting the morning show with me. We hung onto every word that Lynne spoke and then went to breakfast after the broadcast where Sara asked her many questions. Sara had been praying that the Lord would confirm this call to adopt in her heart and give her a name. A short time passed, and the Lord put the name Johanna on her heart. At that point, Sara had all the confirmation she needed. And so, with help from AWAA and the encouragement from family, friends, and adoptive parents like David and Barbie Barwell we began this great adventure in love. Soon we would be in China to rescue Johanna and bring her home.
We decided to make our announcement public during one of our Monday morning broadcasts. We had voice tracked the morning show the Friday before. In radio-land, that means that we sounded like we were there in the studio but we were actually home in bed listening like everybody else. Our radio alarm went off at 6:30 AM - just in time for Focus on the Family with Dr. Dobson. The morning show would follow at 7:00. As we began to wake up, we could hear the story about a little girl adopted from China by the name of Shaohannah. It sounded like they were saying, Johanna. We held each other close wondering what was going on? As we laid there in bed listening intently, we finally realized that it was Christian recording artist Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife Mary Beth talking about their little girl Shaohannah not Johanna. Steven and Mary Beth had adopted Shaohannah from China. What a wonderful confirmation. Our show followed at 7:00 AM and most everyone listening thought that we had timed our announcement to adopt with the Focus on the Family broadcast with the Chapmans. In reality, we were very surprised on how the Papa God unfolded things.
America World Adoption provided outstanding service assisting us every step of the way. Our visit to China was amazing. The Chinese people were gracious and kind. And on May 21, 2002, they placed Johanna Renee in our arms and life has never been the same. What would we do without her? She is the most loving, kind and talented child that any parent could have. She has a heart of care for others. Johanna loves God and loves people. She is strong academically and athletically. She helps Dad in the office with paperwork, filing, and phones. Johanna plays the violin and even though she is only ten at the time of this writing she is being classically trained through the Strings Program at Mansfield University. We thank God every day for our Johanna.
But God was not finished with our adoption story. The process of bringing Johanna home only made us more aware of the millions of children around the world that desperately need a Mom and Dad and family to love them. The Lord not only makes our dreams come true He blesses us beyond what we can even ask or think. God began to move on our hearts again regarding the blessings of adoption. We believed that the Lord was leading us to rescue and bring home another. Daughter number two would be the frosting on our cake and a blessing upon blessing. The God of the impossible was moving once again in our midst. However, this step of faith would require more perseverance than anything we had faced before.
We began our paper pregnancy for Julianna Elizabeth Vogt in 2005. But this time everything seemed to be working against us. There were challenges with our age, and my employment situation had recently changed. The paperwork and the overall process with China seemed like it would never end. Years went by with one delay after another. The Lord began speaking to our hearts not to grow weary in well doing. He gave us grace and strength to press on with what He had called us to do. The procedure was broken, but the children without hope were still out there. The re-filing of paperwork for expired documents seemed to go on forever. Year after year we would file another round of paperwork and updates. And with the launch of a new multimedia business venture, things were very tight financially. The Vogt family was running out of money.
We prayed and asked the Lord to help us. A few months later we got a call from Shaohanna's Hope asking if we would be willing to come to Steven Curtis Chapman's concert in Williamsport, PA to share part of our adoption story and help encourage adoption. We said YES, of course. Little did we know that the Lord would use Steven and his wonderful staff to surprise us with a special gift. At the end of the concert, Steven Curtis called us to join him on stage and then blessed us with a check for $4,000.00 to help us get Julianna home. This gift seemed to give us new energy and renewed patience all at the same time.
We took comfort in knowing that all of this was unfolding in God's perfect time. If we had been processed one minute earlier or one minute later the first time we adopted, Johanna would not be our daughter. And the Lord knew before the foundations of the earth were set in place that Johanna was meant to be our daughter and that we are ordained by God to be her parents.
Then on Monday, June, 7th 2010 at 12:15 PM we got the call from the Living Hope Adoption Agency that our referral had arrived. The Lord makes everything beautiful in His perfect time. And she certainly is beautiful. After spending time in prayer thanking the Lord for His incredible love and faithfulness, Johanna called our son Regis to let her big brother know that their baby sister would be home soon.
But things were much different for us now than they were in 2005 when we started the process to rescue Julianna and bring her home. With the economic downturn and the rising unemployment in this country, we found ourselves thousands of dollars short and little time before we were scheduled to leave for China. When we adopted Johanna, we had plenty of resources to cover our adoption expenses. With Julianna, it would turn out to be one of the most humbling experiences that we would ever go through.
Like many other families who adopt we had to raise our support from family and friends. I had taught families how to do this in over sixty adoption seminars that we conducted for America World Adoption Association. But, when you are the one who needs assistance you begin to truly understand how difficult it is to ask others for financial help. For most of our 40 years together Sara and I were able to reach out to others who were in need. Now the situation was reversed. Our total expenses to bring Julianna home was around $33,000.00. This included all the legal stuff, investigations, fingerprints, FBI clearances, travel, and lodging. We were about $15,000.00 short. Amazingly, with the help of our family and friends, we raised the amount needed to cover the rest of our expenses. Special thanks to Vineyard Church of Wellsboro and my sister Cathy and her husband Dean for their love, support, and financial assistance. We will always be grateful to all of our family and friends who supported us during that critical time. Some of our dearest friends were not able to help financially but would call or write to let us know that they were holding us up in prayer.
Then on July 26, 2010, in Nanchang, China they placed our littlest princess in our arms. Cen Sibei was rescued, saved and redeemed. She was chosen by us and received a new name and family. She was no longer an orphan without hope or a future. She was now a joint heir with Regis and Johanna. She would now be bathed in love, encouraged and trained in the way that she should go. For Cen Sibei old things had passed away and all things had become new. She was given a new life through the blessings of adoption. Sound familiar? She is now Julianna Elizabeth Vogt.
True religion that our heavenly Father accepts as pure and holy is to care for orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being stained by this world. We thank God for His loving kindness. We thank Him for His grace and mercy and the new life that we have in Christ Jesus our Lord. God has blessed us beyond measure. We don't deserve it. We did not earn it nor could we have ever given of ourselves enough to be worthy of even the smallest of His blessings. Thank you Lord! To God be all the glory for the things He has done… is doing… and is about to do because of His great love for us. By Him and through Him we have received the Spirit of Adoption and cry out Abba Father, Papa God, Daddy. Oh, how He loves you and me.
Update 2017: Johanna is now 15, and Julianna is now 7. They continue to be a blessing beyond measure. We are sinners. We are unworthy. We know what we deserve, and we know what we've got. The two can not be reconciled apart from the love, mercy, and grace of God.