Hi all. This one’s pretty heavy. But on the other hand, it’s also really long.
I wrote this letter at the end of a heart wrenching time for Craig and me. We had spent two years trying to adopt a child internationally, and we were rejected repeatedly by agencies because I’m a recovering alcoholic.
I am writing this letter so that down the road, Craig and I will remember the magnificent way God has worked in our family over the past year. I am sharing it with you because you have been such an integral part of our adoption journey, and because I thought you might like to know how it all seems to have turned out. I apologize for not telling the story in person, but it’s so sacred to me right now that I’m afraid if I talk about it I’ll mess up the magic…like somehow using my voice will make it sound ordinary.
For me, the last year has been a brutal battle with God and myself. I have no words to describe the desperation I felt to adopt a baby. It has literally driven me to my knees every day for two years…pleading with God to either answer my prayer of adoption or to take away the burning in my heart to bring an adopted child home. I have never in my life experienced such a relentless “calling,” or such feelings of confusion and helplessness. I have logged countless hours researching adoption requirements and possibilities, scouring scripture for clues about my aching heart, and just plain crying and crying. Every time an agency offered us hope and we started to become attached to a particular country, to a particular little face…..the NO would inevitably come. It never got easier to accept. Each no was as heartbreaking to hear as the first one. There have been many days when the rejection led me to question whether I’d been “called” to adopt at all. I wondered if I was just plain crazy. And I also wondered about my worth as a mother. Because over and over we were told in so many words that these babies were better off in orphanages than in my home. It was humbling, and shook my faith hard.
There is too much history to record in this letter, so I’ll just review the recent past. After the Vietnamese adoption fell through last month, Craig and I found ourselves again wondered if God was telling us to let go. So we tried, but we couldn’t. Icouldn’t. We finally decided one day in the car that we would start a home study, without even having an agency or country that would accept us. We hoped that once we stepped out in faith, God would reveal the next step. We already had a social worker who was ready to get us started and the money we needed in the bank. Our hope and energy were renewed. Once again, I started picturing Chase and Tish holding their new sibling. We discussed names so we could pray for our new baby as specifically as possible, because it looked and felt like things were starting to happen for us.
When we arrived home from that exciting car ride, I went through the mail and saw a letter from All God’s Children, the agency we wanted to adopt from initially… the agency who gave us our sweet sponsored child, Maria. The letter was specifically from Maria’s home, their “Hannah’s Hope” orphanage in Guatemala. The letter began like this. “This is one of the toughest times I’ve seen at our Hannah’s Hope home in Guatemala. My heart breaks to think of the children we’ve had to turn away. Toddlers roaming among piles of garbage, six year olds begging for food, ten year old girls caring for infant sibling on their own.” The letter went on to describe a 4 year old girl named Marielos, who police brought to Hannah’s Hope recently after her mother’s boyfriend raped her repeatedly. She spent her first week at the orphanage “either speechless or sobbing.” Heather, the woman who runs All God’s Children, wrote that she “stayed up with Marielos many nights, holding her tightly as she cried softly.” Next Heather described the miraculous way Marielos began to heal in the arms of her “special mother” at Hannah’s Hope. But then she reported that due to lack of funds, Hannah’s Hope was being forced to turn away traumatized children like Marielos every day. The letter read, “To care for all the children at Hannah’s Hope right now and still keep our doors open to the children who will come to us in the next 90 days $***** is needed immediately.” She then asked for small donations from sponsors that combined, would keep the orphanage running.
I felt my head spin when I saw the amount that the orphanage needed- quite close to the total that Craig and I had saved for the adoption.
Then I sensed a voice that was a calmer version of my own suggest something like, “Here we are. Now what do you want more? Do you really want to help my orphans, or do you really want an adopted child? There is a difference.” I stood in the kitchen, stunned and sweating. The suggestion continued, “You’ve been begging for an invitation from me, and you’re holding it.”
Weird… I know.
I considered not telling Craig about the letter and the voice. Not because I was worried he’d think I was crazy, which is what I usually worry about, but because I was afraid he would know the right thing to do, and then he’d want to do it. But I told him anyway…and he listened, and he read the letter, and then got very quiet. And he said, “You know if we do this it means we won’t have any adoption money left.” And I said, “Yes, it would mean giving that away for this, I guess.” We both agreed to think and pray. We went to bed early that night and didn’t speak about it again… I think we were aware that we were walking on holy ground.
I sent one email to Craig the next morning, telling him that I wasn’t able to make this decision because I was too blinded by my own desire for a baby. I wanted him to decide. And I told him that if he decided that God was asking for this money for Hannah’s Hope, I would be capable of offering up the adoption…of letting it go. Then I promised to leave him alone to make the decision.
That night he came home and during dinner he said quietly that he was positive that the money belonged to Maria’s friends at Hannah’s Hope. He had sent our adoption fund, which was two thirds of the total amount they needed to keep the orphanage afloat, and our entire savings account.
Next: Lots more quiet, a few tears, and then just awe…and peace.
I needed to share this story with you…because when God does something so miraculous and perfect, you have to share it to spread hope and joy and fearlessness. We have spent the past year praying that God would allow us to help one child…and He has answered, eventually, by allowing us to help many. A whole orphanage…OUR orphanage, Maria’s orphanage…the perfection is too fantastic to have been planned by anyone else but God. He could have taken care of those children in a million other ways but He was loving enough to include us, people desperate to be included…to take us through this journey and to end it with fireworks more beautiful than we could have imagined. He answered the prayers of a few Guatemalan children and mothers, a silly American couple and the faithful workers at All God’s Children in one fell, perfect swoop. We are totally blown away…and still unusually quiet.
Why are we still shocked every time God arrives right on time?
The final miracle in this for me is that I have found peace…. desperation gone, yearning gone, emptiness gone, pain gone. Nothing is left but gratitude. Craig feels exactly the same way. We have laid our adoption dream firmly in God’s hands as an offering to do with what He will…never to be touched again with our hands. We are beyond excited to get on with our lives, and we know that this was a burden laid on us by God… removed by God, and that through this process He has changed us forever.
Thank you for walking through this with us. Mom and dad, thank you for knowing that there might be more to His plan then we could see, Mandy, thank you for reminding me in a million gentle ways that this was always about God and children, not me, and Michelle, thank you for teaching me that there is a time to be still and a time to take action. And Craig, thank you for being a hero in every single possible definition of the word.
Oh, and before I forget, I would like to thank the academy for taking a chance on a silly girl like me.
I love you.
“Ask and it shall be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you.”
Maybe not right away, and perhaps differently than you originally ordered. But better.