While I’m normally a very private person and have remained quiet on much of our story here, God has been working on healing my heart, and giving me thankfulness and courage to share. I feel compelled to finally share our journey to becoming a family, difficult though it may be, because of the incredible mercy that God showed to us; because I hope that it will be an encouragement to others; and most of all, because while Gus and Lula are blessed to have us, as many have pointed out, I want people to understand that we are so very, very blessed to have them. So, here goes:
Keith and I desperately wanted children. We both had a deep desire to start a family, yet that desire didn’t seem to be materializing. One, two, three years went by. We decided to see a fertility specialist. This time in my life was characterized by lots of poking and prodding, and a deeply saddened heart. There was so much frustration pent up inside of me – feelings of inadequacy and hurt. I spent many hours praying and pleading with God for children, wrestling with the “why” of it all. Why would God give me the desire to be a mother, and not the ability to fulfill that desire? Why wouldn’t God give us children, when the Bible declares that they are a blessing?
Over the years that I wrestled with these questions and dealt with the deep feelings of sorrow and anger, a funny thing happened. God drew me closer to Him, leading me to rest in His goodness, to feel his presence. He taught me to trust in Him, regardless of the seeming hopelessness of my situation. A verse that I had read and heard many times before now became a promise that I cherished. “ ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” To me, this verse spoke to God’s sovereignty and mercy in my life, and through His great mercy, He gave me faith to believe in it.
I began fertility drugs. The hormonal fluctuations playing on my already fragile emotions was difficult for me, and likely unbearable for those who had to be around me. And still there wasn’t that coveted “plus” sign on a pregnancy test. Months passed, and God reassured my heart. He held me in the palm of his hand, and he had plans for me. Then one day, there it was – the “plus” that I had been waiting years for. There were tears of joy and shaking hands, impromptu visits at five in the morning to share the joyous news with family. Rejoicing and thanking God for His goodness.
My sweet sister even made us a cake: "Oh happy day, a baby's on the way!"
But then, as days went by it became clear that that little “plus” was slipping away. From a mountaintop of joy, I was plunged into a valley of sorrow. But an amazing thing happened through the days and hours I spent curled up crying, mourning this little life that I would never know. God reached down and cradled me in His arms, giving me a supernatural peace. Never before had I felt His presence so intensely. His goodness in those hours was worth more to me than a thousand days of joy. And still, His promise of plans for the future gave me hope.
It was in the aftermath of this failed pregnancy that God began revealing these plans to us. It seemed to me that adoption was everywhere. At church, in books, blogs, and more and more, on my own heart. To every plea I had to God, it seemed that His answer was adoption. So we followed. Keith and I began the home study process and began hoping to adopt a baby domestically. We spent weeks gathering paperwork, remaining hopeful that this really was God’s plan for us, that we would have a baby in our arms in just a few months, as our social worker seemed confident.
But the night before our very last home study visit, I had a feeling that I couldn’t shake. I sat at my computer, driven by a supernatural urge. My heartstrings were being pulled toward international adoption. The process was longer, much longer. And there was no way we’d get a newborn. And we didn’t even qualify for any of the programs because of the minimum age requirements. And then I found Ethiopia. There was a photo of a little girl on the webpage with big dark eyes and creamy brown skin. And I knew.
The next day we told our social worker and started the even more drawn-out process that is international adoption. Finding an agency, like choosing a country, was easy-- there was only one that would work with us before my 25th birthday. God’s hand in our decisions became increasingly clear. His provision during the months that followed was amazing. The funds were supplied time and again. The patience, which is one of my greatest shortcomings, was miraculously given. The assurance to move forward, the confidence to trust – all generously gifted. God continued to work in our hearts, molding them to love the children He was preparing for us, and to yield joyfully to His plans.
Keith and I after our referral in our Amharic "Mama" and "Daddy" shirts.
In late September and October, I felt a strong urge to pray for our children. I prayed fervently for a referral, but none came. And then, as the longest, but most spiritually enriching year of my life came to a close, it happened. I opened an email and saw two precious faces. When I saw that their birthdays were at the end of September and October, the time when I had felt such a strong urge to pray for them, I knew. These were the children that God had chosen for us from the beginning of time. They were ours. And we loved them.
Entirely too much writing for one post, so more to come........