In 2003, Lysa, a North Carolina mom, and two of her daughters attended a performance by a boys' choir from an orphanage in Liberia, a West African country ravaged by 14 years of civil war. As they sang, Lysa says she felt God speak to her heart. "[He said,] 'Lysa, two of those boys are yours,'" she says. "I did not go there for a major life change. I went to hear this concert, but God had different plans."
After the concert, Lysa and her girls met two of the boys. "They wrapped their arms around me and gave me a big hug and they just called me Mom," she says.
Lysa called her husband, Art, and told him about the teenage boys who were calling her Mom. Although Art says he was initially "shell-shocked," the couple decided to welcome the boys into their home.
At first, Lysa says her four best friends were skeptical about her decision to adopt…until they went to a choir performance and met the boys. "As they started to sing, something happened," says Genia, Lysa's friend. "I just realized that there is a strength in them that resonated with me."
Genia and her husband, Rob, already had two adopted children, but after some thought and discussion, they decided to welcome Robert, another Liberian orphan, into their home. Lysa's three other friends also decided to adopt—including empty-nesters Debbie and David, who adopted six kids!
That fateful concert was just part of the miracle that was about to happen. By January 2007, 14 families from the same North Carolina community had adopted 33 children from the same orphanage.
"We're not famous. We're not wealthy. We're just ordinary people," Lysa says. "Yet when these boys were in front of us, it was no longer a remote social issue. When you see this child in front of you that has real tears and real hopes and real prayers for a mommy and a daddy, we just couldn't walk away."