Come and hearken, all you that fear God, and I will tell you what He has done to my soul…God has heard me, and considered the voice of my prayer. Praised be God, which has not put back my prayer, nor His mercy from me. Psalm 66: 16-17, 19.
I have spent the last fifteen years of my life watching my friends and family members start families of their own. During that time we became one of those couples who “don’t understand, because they don’t have kids” to almost everyone (and you were right, we didn’t understand, ha!)
The sorrow that we have endured throughout our marriage because we could not conceive came in spurts, only when I would allow the reality of our situation to become, well, reality. When I hit 35, (that was the finish line I gave myself) it was time to give up on my mom-at-home goal and get serious about a career path.
And so I did. I started working again. It didn’t fill the hole, so many worthy causes later we ended up in foster-parenting class.
We learned of the most horrific things that these children suffer through, the challenges, and the heartbreak. We were not excited. Time went by with no calls. Soon we would need continuing education in order to remain in the system. We decided it was a waste of time. Three months left.
One day I was out milking my cow, and my aunt approached me with her cell phone stretched out towards me. It was my husband and I was immediately concerned that he couldn’t wait until after milking time to talk to me. It had to be something important.
He said “So-and–so has been trying to call us”. And I said,” So-and-so who? “And he said,” They have a newborn”. And I said, instantly recalling who so-and-so was,” What do you want to say?”, and he said, “Yes!”, and I said, “Me too!”
Twenty minutes later baby E, five days old, showed up in my driveway.
In the months following, I began to experience a love like no other, the love of a mother. This sweet, tiny thing trusted me with her every need and it came naturally, deep from within, to nurture her and love her.
A few weeks into caring and bonding with this little girl, fear started to come over me. They would come take her from me next. I couldn’t look after her or protect her when she was gone. The pain of losing her and worrying for her was too much to bear. I came up with a solution, “I will have to dissociate from this situation, start treating it like the babysitting job that it is supposed to be and protect my heart”.
I shared my plan of defense with a mentor and dear friend. (It’s good to bounce these ideas on others who have more wisdom.) Her response was quite surprising:
“The last thing you need, as a child of God, is to disassociate yourself in any way or try to protect your feelings. You have your Heavenly Father to get you through this and He is intimately aware of and directly involved in your situation….He is in absolute control. This is not a game to Him and it isn’t a punishment for you. This is still about drawing you into an ever closer relationship with Him, as you have prayed.
So cry out to Him with all of your heart. You ( and hubby) cry out together. Completely pour out your hearts to your Lord. Hold back nothing, no reservations. Tell Him the very deepest desires of your heart, your ugliest thoughts about it all, your questions, your anger, your arguments for and against, debate with Him, plead with Him, outright complain and argue with Him….trust Him with it ALL. He can take it. That is what He wants most for us…to experience a REAL relationship with Him….no secrets, no pretense, no holding back. Tell Him exactly how much you want a child, a baby…any baby….and why. Tell Him everything you really think and feel about Baby E’s situation…. After that, pray, fervently and without reservation, for the desire of your heart.”
The Lord will protect and keep you as His providence unfolds. You will hurt yourself and everyone around you if you keep trying to guard and protect yourself. Live it ALL fully…the love, the hurt…all of it. And rejoice and give thanks for God’s love and provision!! I can even PROMISE that all of this will have a beautiful end…because God has promised to work it all together for your good. Read Psalm 66.”
I prayed that wall down, continued to trust in the Lord and bond with this little girl AS IF: AS IF God was going to answer my wildest dreams and prayers, AS IF she was my own and my heart would not break, AS IF it was all about her and not about me, and AS IF God personally assigned this task to me.
As the time drew closer for our court date, I was frightened and full of despair. No one knew her like I did; she would think I abandoned her when it wasn’t my choice. How could a loving God let her leave us? He couldn’t! He did.
Andy and I did not make it five miles away from baby E’s home before we were pulled over weeping in agony over the loss of our little girl. I continued to get up in the night for her feedings and weep hysterically worrying about her. I spent the days alone crying out to God, pleading for His mercy, His intervention, and any relief from this pain of separation. I questioned Him. I was angry with Him. I told Him what I thought. My friend said that I could.
I spent days crying and longing to hold her while looking at hundreds of photos, that’s all I could do. No one could possibly understand what we were going through, I related to no one. I was in the pit of despair and only God could pull me out.
We got permission to visit her on my 37th birthday. And we got to bring her home, and bring her home often. And I began to trust that God would prevail, and His plan would all make sense to me someday.
Then God began to answer our prayers. He heard our cries. With the State out of the way and everyone’s defenses down, our relationship with baby E’s biological dad developed into a trust. He trusted us with her. He needed help. And I offered it readily.
I knew I had to let God do the work. I was going to remain as much a part of her life as her bio dad allowed, and I was going to be satisfied with that while I waited on God to give me something to fill the hole in my heart. His plans were so much better than mine…
On March 6, 2013 we were asked to become the adoptive parents to baby E! To me, it was a chunk of bedrock joy under the soles of my feet that elevated me to a happiness I have never known. It was the complete satisfaction of knowing that God orchestrated the whole thing, He prepared my heart, He heard our cries, and He refined me through this experience.
This is how He works. He brings to light our deep, dark places of pain- the things we don’t want to admit are there. His goal for us is to replace them with His steadfastness, with bedrock. That’s why we are told in scripture to “Count it all joy”…, and “the testing of your faith produces steadfastness… that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
Joy from God is not something that shifts with the surrounding circumstances, something that fades, or is momentary. It is a joy that cannot be disrupted by trivial events. It lacks nothing.
My friend’s suggested passage, Psalm 66, is about being refined like silver. God does it. And as the ultimate silversmith and craftsman, He watches the whole process carefully, He attends to it, He knows the perfect temperature to remove the dross, and He knows exactly what is needed to create His masterpiece.
I believe that He has it ALL planned for us; we are not just leaves in the wind. He knows the number of hairs on my head, the sparrows that fall, babies that need mothers, and women who have desires deep down in their hearts.
Yesterday we met with a lawyer to start the adoption process. If there are bumps and bruises along the way, or if things don’t turn out exactly how we had in mind, we believe our prayer has already been answered. God has heard us, and He has sent us His answer. He is faithful.
Welcome to our family Baby E!
Update: We have sole custody of our daughter now, but we are still in the process of adoption. She is a constant reminder of God’s grace and control.