(Thank you to Sandy for today’s guest post!)
“Religion that our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this; to look after widows and orphans in their distress.” James 1:27
It is hard for me to pinpoint just exactly the date when I first felt the call to adopt, but I remember driving and praying, asking God, “Are you trying to tell me something?” I kept hearing the newly released Steven Curtis Chapman song, “When Love Takes You In” and crying. The vision of a little brunette girl popped in my head and that is when I started praying and talking to my husband. His response was “I don’t know, maybe someday.” You see, we already had three birth children of our own and truthfully, I think he thought I had lost my mind. In 2001, our children were about 14, 10, and 6 and my husband was quite content.
The years past and I continued to feel that pang. God would put a story or something in front of me or I would meet someone who was fostering or adopting. Then I would pray “God, if our child is out there, please be with them and help us to know when your time is right.” Again, I would talk to my husband. He would say, “Yeah, maybe someday, but not right now.” Finally, 7 years later in July 2008, during a rainy, stormy night in Atlanta, at a concert that almost didn’t happen, God spoke to my husband through a broken Steven Curtis Chapman just months after he had lost his sweet Maria. As many people in the Christian community know, Maria was one of three beautiful girls that the Chapman family adopted from China. She was killed accidentally in the family’s driveway when hit by a car. Much of the night was about walking through the grief of losing Maria, but at some point he talked about the 140 million orphans of the world. I think it was Steven’s testimony coupled with that number that really hit Tommy between the eyes. After more discussion the following week, my husband and I agreed that we would pray and seek God’s will of adoption for our family.
What happened in the following weeks blew my socks off. God not only confirmed my calling, but through strangers, circumstances, family, friends, and James 1:27 (which He constantly put in front of both of us); he totally moved my husband from a reserved openness to full on commitment and confidence that this was our call as a family to adopt, specifically “older child adoption” from the US foster care system.
Our then 13 year old daughter, already on board, was eventually joined by her older brothers as well. Being 18 and 21 at the time, their acceptance was slower to gain. However, after prayer and discussion, they both came into agreement with us as a family. So began our journey to adopt our child.
We chose to use Bethany Christian Services. We were warned repeatedly that our very specific description of our child was going to be impossible to find and may take a while. However, during our second home visit with our adoption specialist, she gave my husband and I a flyer about a ten-year-old girl we’ll call Beth. She told me it was very unusual to receive such a thing from a caseworker. It had no picture, just the child’s name and brief description of her, including her likes and dislikes, hobbies, etc. I felt like this was our girl; she was described exactly like the child God had laid on our hearts. Our specialist tried to get more information about her, but never heard from her caseworker. Then one day, we received a call from our caseworker, saying that we were the number one choice for this child and we should know in the next day or two. Still, we did not receive a picture or additional information, just the flyer.
The next two days passed without word until we received another call with the news that the child’s caseworker had quit and her boss was looking at another family because of a logistics reason. I felt like I had just been given the news that my pregnancy test was false positive. I left the house to run some errands and be alone. God gave me comfort through a verse, Hebrews 11:1. It says, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” This verse gave me peace. I knew God was in control, this child was His and He would decide where and with whom He wanted her just like He did with the three He gave us by birth. I didn’t have control, but I knew the one who did and He was working. I knew God was telling me to let go, knowing He would make sure our child found us, whether it was this one or not.
An email came a month or so later from our caseworker. It said,
“You must have been praying hard, because you will never guess who I got an email from today….Beth’s caseworker!”
She went on to tell me that the other family had fallen through and they wanted to know if we were still interested. Of course, we told her we were.
After this, God moved so fast! Our family went on a mission trip to China and when we returned, we had an appointment with Beth’s support team at DFCS. We met our daughter two days later on July 11, 2009, almost one year after that rainy concert. Within two weeks, she had moved in her new home. We had the privilege of celebrating her 11th birthday together.
With the exception of a very short transfer to the fostercare side of Bethany until TPR [termination of parental rights] completion, everything went quickly and smoothly. DFCS was incredibly supportive of us and our adoption of her, and they worked well with our caseworker and Bethany Christian Services to quickly finalize. On February 1, 2010, Beth officially became a member of our family, although in our hearts, she already was. God’s timing was perfect, as always.
I will not tell you it was all easy; parenting is never easy, no matter how you get your children. However, I will tell you that Beth is worth it. Every smile, every new experience, and every victory make it all worth it. God lends us all of our children for a time. Some are given through birth and others, through adoption, but they are all His and none the less given. It’s just a different kind of labor.
(Sandy and I have gotten to know through email and facebook. We had the same caseworker, who put us in contact because our situations were so similar: we are both homeschooling moms with biological children who decided to adopt an older child through foster care — and they were just a few weeks behind us in every step of our adoption process with Lindsey! I’ve been following along with Sandy as they’ve helped Beth overcome fears and do things she never would have thought she could do, like learning to ride a bike, and participating on a swim team when she couldn’t even swim last year! It’s been a beautiful story to watch!
Do you have a positive adoption story of your own to share? If so, contact me!