23 Oct AN ADOPTION JOURNEY
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
James 1:27 doesn’t make sense without recognizing that God adopted us into His family. He adopted us out of death and into His Kingdom of everlasting love and life, the greatest form of adoption there ever was. Worship in its purest form is caring for orphans in the eyes of the Lord. Adoption shouldn’t be our plan B if natural fertility doesn’t work…we weren’t God’s plan B. Our Heavenly Father delights in our adoption of those orphans and widows – for through it we are displaying the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I wrote the words above on my blog on November 1, 2012. I sat in church on Orphan Sunday convicted by the Holy Spirit in a way I had never felt His presence before. We had been married a year and a half and on the drive home from church, my husband and I looked at each other and knew that adoption would be a part of our story and how we would grow our family. Two weeks later we got pregnant with our first son and when he was a year old, we got pregnant with our daughter. Over those combined two years, I prayed a confusing prayer. “God did you really call us to adoption? Did I hear that incorrectly?” We wanted to be obedient not only to what we are called to as believers, but also to what we felt God call our family specifically to do. And what did God tell us? Be patient. Trust me. Keep praying, I am not finished with your story. I remember it clearly. I heard a song where the lyrics read “You had a purpose, a rescue plan for me to move from orphan, to move from enemy, adopted in Your blessed royalty.” (My King Forever by Jimmy McNeal). I stared down at my 4 month old daughter while my 2 year old son toddled around. It was time.
Through research and prayer, my husband and I signed on with Christian Adoption Consultants to start the journey of bringing home our third baby through adoption. We spent months preparing our home study, curating our family profile book that would be shown to expectant mamas looking to place their babies with adoptive families, and praying. The world thought we were crazy, expanding our family with two young children, but we knew God was faithful. I quickly realized how little control I had over this process, and felt like God was using this time to strip me of my control idol – my deep desire and need to know exactly what is happening and how it will ultimately unfold. (parenting in general has done such a great job of slowly chipping away at idol!) One thing I have to remind hopeful/future adoptive parents, and even the everyday person, is that adoption comes out of sin and brokenness. We saw things and learned things that we can never unsee. Things that most of the world is sheltered from and ignorant to. A bold prayer we had prayed at the beginning of the process was being answered, “God break our hearts for what breaks yours.”
July 5, 2016, we got the call. We had been matched with an expectant mama, who I will call “M,” who was pregnant with a baby girl due November 10th. We were overjoyed! A sister for my daughter. We spent the next 4 months preparing our home and hearts for another baby and loving on M. One thing that no one ever talks about in adoption is expectant moms. They are scared, vulnerable, brave, emotional….loving on M was easy, but foreign. There isn’t any other relationship I had to compare it to, but I made it my goal to love her well and show her who Jesus was. It was the first time since we started our adoption that it wasn’t about the baby. It was about the mama. The woman who was carrying what could be our daughter, hundreds of miles away from where we lived. And it was beautiful. We Skyped, texted, talked on the phone, got to know each other, laughed when we compared how similar our sassy daughters were, prayed together, and we made plans to be family. I loved, and still love M so hard.
The week before baby girl was due, I knew something was going on when I hadn’t heard from M for a few days. I reached out to our social worker who hadn’t heard from her either. Friday November 4th at 12:30pm is when we got the call. M had birthed a beautiful and healthy baby girl the night before and couldn’t place her for adoption. My knees buckled and I started heaving. I had never known devastation and heartbreak like this, and it was one of the only times I’ve ever seen my husband cry. I felt sad, alone, and so fragile – but never angry. Those next 2 days were a blur. We had a slew of friends and family come over to drop off meals, pray with us, pick-up our kiddos, and with each new face I saw, the whimpering tears would start flowing.
We never saw it coming, our social worker kept telling us this was “the best case scenario” and she knew M would go through with the plan. We didn’t protect our hearts and loved with reckless abandon, and I am so glad we did. I talked to M two days after we got the call and she couldn’t stop telling me she was sorry. I felt so much peace and calmness talking with her. This was not my baby, it was hers. There had been a plan, but nothing was promised. This was always her choice to make, never mine. I had so much joy that this beautiful baby girl would not experience the trauma of leaving her biological mother. She would grow up with biological siblings and parents who loved her so much that they couldn’t do what everyone thought she should do. My joy, my peace, and my delight was not of my own conjuring. It was the power of Christ in me. “This wasn’t supposed to happen.” Yes, Ruthie it was. This was your story all along.
Those 4 months were predestined by God for me to tell M about Jesus! To pray for her heart and for her salvation and that she would trust in her Creator, our God. And she did! That conversation I had with her, 3 days after her daughter was born, she told me something that continues to be the biggest source of encouragement to me in my walk with the Lord. It was that my husband and I reminded her who God was and that He was for her. We had never exchanged last names before and I told her what we had planned on naming the baby girl, “Penny Grace Hart,” and she said, “Ruthie, you are not going to believe this! Can I send you a picture of baby girl?” I cried tears of joy when I looked at M’s daughter and immediately noticed the large heart-shaped birthmark on her leg – dark and 100% visible. The Hart family was always meant to be a part of this little girl’s story.
The next day, November 7, 2016, I posted this on social media, asking for prayers and privacy with the announcement of our failed adoption. I had an overwhelming sense of peace that Monday morning and could feel the Lord helping me pick up the pieces of my heart and put them back together. I could smile knowing that He is sovereign, He is good, and His ways are higher than mine.
That evening, I had a group of girlfriends come over to cheer me up with chocolate and girl talk. There were lots of tears, but so many laughs, and I told them that once we start back up the adoption process, I wanted to get a call that a baby had already been born. I couldn’t bear the thought of going through 4 months of waiting in limbo, or another failed adoption. Oh, and I was sure it would be a boy, because right upstairs I had spent the past 4 months decorating an adorable room for our daughter. God is just funny like that, right? Little did I know what God was up to that very evening.
Tuesday, November 8, 2016 at 2pm – my kiddos were napping and a call from our social worker popped up, and I instantly started the word vomit. I don’t think I ever took a breath explaining to her how I felt the Lord healing me in such a miraculous way. I felt Him near me and inside of me. Psalm 103 tells us that God has compassion for us, and in those few days, it was so overwhelming how strongly I felt it. The moment I finally stopped talking she asked me, “Ruthie are you sitting down?” Which of course the answer was “no,” I was pacing around, excited at the thought of feeling whole again. She told me to go get Jon, who happened to be working from home downstairs and the next few hours were again, a blur.
“There was a baby born last night.”
“It is a boy.”
“Are you interested?”
“Can you Skype with the birth mom?”
And the tears were flowing. Not the same tears we had cried just 4 days before, but tears of elation and of truth. God promised He wouldn’t leave us, He is making all things new. That evening we wrote a letter to this boy’s birth mom, and she was shown our family profile scrapbook. On Thursday she chose us to be her son’s parents. On Friday she signed relinquishment and we were on an airplane to get our baby. Seven days. God created the world in 7 days, and in 7 days we lost a daughter and gained a son. This was all a part of His plan. The broken road to lead us to our son.
Jesus, you sit at the right hand side of God on Your throne and are King of kings. You are powerful, glorious, and worthy of all praise. You are a God who suffers with us. A God who came down to earth, took on human flesh, lived the perfect life, and died the perfect death. You suffered in a way that I can’t seem to wrap my head around, and You did it for me. And for my son, and for M and her daughter. You died so You can walk alongside of me in my suffering, because You have been there. I will never again underestimate Your power and what You can accomplish through Your people. Sometimes you do greater things through people than with people. You told me 3 times to name our son “Gideon.” A strong and mighty warrior. Gideon Aaron, you are my Ebenezer stone.
Here is a video we put together about the whirlwind journey to our son Gideon.