Sunday, March 29, 2009

Beyond Blessed

So I've been waiting quite awhile to write this entry. With the pending adoption of Chu Chu, I was a little hesitant to follow up on my post of January 27. Since you probably don't remember, I was awake in the wee hours of the morning that day, nervous about the upcoming phone call that would let me know if I was to be one of the Pfizer employees who would be laid off. Well, I got the call, and I was laid off. It was an extremely humbling experience for me. First of all, I realized how very expendable I was. Secondly, I realized how quickly my employer could pull the proverbial rug out from under my family and me. We were going along with a comfortable income and lifestyle when all of the sudden they took that away from us. (To be fair, it was anything but all of the sudden. We knew layoffs were coming for at least a couple of months. Then, when I did get laid off, the severance package was ridiculously amazing. But in this economy, who knew when I would be able to get another job!) On top of the stress of wondering what I would do to support my family was added the uncertainty of how this might impact our adoption process with our new little guy.

A few months ago, Christi was reading in the scriptures and was pondering on the concept of "where much is given, much is required." It occurred to her at that time that the concept was also valid in reverse: "where much is required, much is given." Through the blessings that we call Taylor, Parker, Jesi, Elizabeth, Graci, and now Chu Chu, we have been given so much. But there are also certain unique things that are required of us. This is not to say that we have any more requirements or challenges than any other family. Yet the financial needs that come with adoption and a family of six children are not light. While we always felt that the Lord would take care of us, it was a bit scary not having a long-term source of income. Where much is required, much is given. Less than two months after I received my pink slip, I started another job. I am now employed by Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals. I am doing virtually the same job. I didn't miss a single day of payroll, and I am receiving a substantial severance from Pfizer. Truly, we were blessed at this point. But here is where it gets ridiculous.

When I was first laid off, Christi and I were looking at our financial picture. Pfizer's severance would ensure that we would be OK for several months. However, the severance would be effectively decreased by $10,000. This is because Pfizer has an adoption assistance program which reimburses adoptive parents $10,000 once the adoption is final. Since our adoption of Chu Chu will not be final until long after my last day with Pfizer, they will no longer reimburse me for those expenses. We had obviously been planning on that $10,000 as a way to offset our adoptions costs, but it would no longer be available to us. Of course I was disappointed in this development, but had resigned myself to losing this reimbursement. Christi on the other hand, thought about things and said "Why don't you write an email to the CEO of Pfizer and ask if he will help with the adoption anyway. After all, we made all of our plans for financing this addition to our family while counting on this financial help and while you were still employed." OK. Sure. I'll just whip off an email to the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (#47 in 2008) and ask him for $10,000. I'm sure he'll have the time to read it. And once he picks himself up off the floor from the fit of incredulous laughter, I'm sure he'll make the effort to respond to me. And then I'm sure he'll say, "yeah, the check's in the mail...and Elvis is delivering it!" But...I was once taught by a church leader to listen to my wife, since she's usually more in tune with the spirit than I am. (TRUE! TRUE! TRUE!) So I humbly followed Christi's counsel and wrote a letter to the CEO of Pfizer, Inc.

About two weeks later, I received the following reply:

Thank you for your note—and no need to call me Mr. Kindler, please call me Jeff.

It is very heartening to learn about your wonderful family. I have asked that we extend to you the $10,000 that is the maximum benefit under the policy so that your family can complete the adoption of Dang Xu Chu. You will be hearing from someone in HR soon.

Please accept my sincere thanks for your nine years of service to our company. I wish you and your family the very best.


So it was me who had to pick myself up off the floor. I was absolutely shocked. We of course sent a reply with our deep gratitude. Shortly after my last day at Pfizer, I received the money (unfortunately, no Elvis). Mr. Kindler had not only extended this incredible gift to our family, he actually grossed the check up-he paid our taxes on it! This was worth over $1000 more! How can I begin to express how grateful we are for these tremendous blessings? Indeed, we are truly Beyond Blessed.

We are also so blessed through the wonderful family and friends that we have. So many prayers have been and continue to be offered up on our behalf. We have felt the blessings from those prayers! Thank you, thank you, thank you. A couple of days ago, a very dear friend called me out of the blue. This is a guy I knew when I was a missionary in Thailand. We don't talk often enough. But it's the kind of friendship that doesn't require frequent communication. Whenever we do get in touch, we just pick up right where we left off. Anyway, his main purpose in calling was see if we needed any help with the adoption costs! I was so humbled that he would think of that, of us. He and his wife are not currently in a situation to adopt right now. But after reading our blog over the past several months and knowing I had been laid off, he called to see if they could help us. Again, what great friends and family we have!

One reason I have been hesitant to share this story is because I am a bit worried that the following message might be communicated: If our family is blessed because we received this financial help, then those who do not receive financial help are not blessed. THIS IS NOT TRUE! There are so many ways in which our Father in Heaven can bless His children. There are so many ways each of us are challenged and given opportunities to grow. What I do believe, even know, is that the challenges each of us receive are tailored to us. Each persons specific challenges will help them grow in the areas the Lord knows they need to grow. Although it is not easy to overcome our adversities, we will not be given more than we can handle. And as we work through whatever comes our way, we will become the individuals He wants us to become.