This post is from a sweet lady who wishes to remain anonymous for various reasons. Her story is one of God’s perfect timing and how we don’t always understand it.
There’s an old saying…”Want to hear God laugh? Tell Him your plans.” I don’t know if I agree with the theology of this saying, but it is true that our plans and His plans don’t always look the same.
A young mom with a child from a previous marriage desperately wants a baby with her new husband. Because of the child’s age, they never use birth control and desire to have another child soon.
One year after the marriage and no pregnancy, both parents are tested and the mom undergoes surgery to correct damage from a ruptured appendix, which occurred during the birth her first child. Eight weeks after the surgery, a follow-up test reveals the surgery wasn’t successful. There is significant scarring and the likelihood of a pregnancy is very, very low. The faithful husband has to all but carry his devastated wife to the car because she is so emotional. She lies on the couch to recover from the painful procedure, flips on the television and the first commercial she sees is for baby food. The emotions are so raw. It just seems too cruel.
Meanwhile, it seems all of the women in her circle are having babies…not one, not two, not three, but in some cases, four, five or six children. The mom determines she must be a bad mother and therefore God is not going to allow her to have another baby. Baby showers are too painful so she avoids them. She wants to be happy for her friends but it is just so hard. Why can’t she have what she so desperately wants?
Twenty years have passed. Time has healed the disappointment but there is still a twinge of “why” that creeps into her thoughts occasionally.
The daughter is grown. She graduated from college and married within 2 months. Two months after the wedding the now middle-aged mom gets a phone call that will forever change on her world.
You see she (the mom) is at a conference for the pro-life organization she works for. She is daily surrounded by women who do not value life the way she does. Many of these women do not want the child they are carrying. How can this be? The mom just can’t fathom how one person so longs for a child she can never have and another can so easily throw one away (or two, or three…), She spends her days fighting for the life of these precious ones.
So, imagine the joy that this woman experienced when her only daughter informs her she is to be a grandmother. The baby would arrive in 8 months. Downtown Atlanta knows something big is happening because this crazy woman is crying, jumping up and down and generally having quite a celebration. This is news she had waited so long to hear. There is going to be a baby. Not hers, but the next best thing, her grandchild!
The empty-nesters are enjoying their freedom and their beautiful granddaughter. They are happy and content with no plans except spending time with this little bundle of joy that has rocked their world. And then…another phone call…
Mom is still working with the pro-life organization and she answers the phone. On the other end is a friend of the ministry sharing a prayer request about a girl in a desperate situation. The girl’s birthmother was a drug-addict so she was being raised by her grandmother. The grandmother married a couple of years ago and within the past year she has died. The man doesn’t feel adequate to raise the child. Because of her hygiene, obesity and failing grades, questions are being asked by the school authorities and others about her well-being. The elderly man is looking for someone…anyone… to take this child.
Mom has always had a tender heart towards children and always felt she wasn’t meant to just have one child. Inquiries over the years into international adoptions, foster care, infertility measures, etc. had all been closed doors due to various factors.
She goes on with her day and doesn’t think anything else about this little girl. The next day, the phone rings again. Again, mom answers. Same friend of the ministry, same story. This time mom’s heart feels a tug. Could this be something she is supposed to do? She calls her husband. “Now, I know this is totally out of the blue but…” As she explains the story there is silence on the other end. This would definitely be a conversation that would take time and above-all prayer. “We’ll talk about it tonight.”
The conversation involves the various aspects of bringing a child into your home. There are so many considerations and especially with an older child that you do not know. What has she been exposed to? What kind of temperament does she have? What does she like to do? What? What? What? There are so many unknowns.
Are we willing to go back to “middle school”? Are we willing to travel through the teenage years again? How will we afford all of this? Are we willing to sacrifice our freedom to help a child in need? What if she doesn’t like us? What if we don’t like her? What if she has learning disabilities? What if she has behavioral issues? What? What? What?
The decision is so hard. Selfish desires are pulling but so is the knowledge of God’s Word about taking care of the orphans and widows. This child is an orphan and she needs parents. But are we the parents or is it someone else?
The daughter is called. “What do you think?” “Mom, I think y’all are great parents. If you feel the Lord leading you should do it.”
A conversation over dinner the next evening begins a series of confirmations that are too hard to ignore. The decision had been made to share just with the husband’s sister and brother-in-law the possibility of adding this child to the family. The two couples are close and because of their common interests and belief system, their opinion is highly valued.
Before anything was shared, however, there is conversation about a television show. The statement is made “oh, y’all probably don’t know about that since you don’t have a kid in the house.” With that segue and with a pounding chest, the story is shared. The sister shares that just that morning she had been thinking about the fact that they had never had another child and what a shame it was. There were tears in her eyes when she said she felt this was from the Lord.
The next evening there is another dinner party, this time with a group of people from the woman’s work. It had been determined that nothing would be said. The conversation proceeded and at some point, a little off topic, the wife of the couple hosting the party turns to the man, whom she hasn’t met prior, and says “You know sometimes you have to step out and do the thing that seems impossible.” The man and woman stare at each other, amazed. No one knew what they were considering. Confirmation #2.
The next evening (yes, only three days have passed since “the phone call”) there is a concert at the church. Because of the man’s involvement at the church, he is typically running around and very rarely do the husband and wife actually get to sit together during these special events. As God would have it, the husband and wife were able to sit together. There is a co-worker of the wife and two other couples who are in attendance who have now been clued in on the potential new addition to the family.
The concert is nice. A pretty low key affair, but then there is “the song” that changed the world of the husband and wife forever. Before the first word was sung, the title was displayed on the screen. The wife’s mouth drops open. The husband gasps and drops his head. There was no doubt now what their answer would be.
Here are the lyrics:
The Orphan I’ve seen you looking for me And you darken the doors of the church to find Me I’ve seen you down on your knees And you lift up your hands in the search to find Me But don’t just reach up to Me Reach out! I am behind you I am beside you I am the orphan I am the widow I am the homeless I am the helpless I am the broken I am the fatherless Care for the least of these And you will find Me I’ve seen you longing for more You’re striving to see Me Well just walk out your front door Find the hungry and hurting And they will be Me Don’t just sit there and wait Reach out! I am behind you I am beside you I am the orphan I am the widow I am the homeless I am the helpless I am the broken I am the fatherless Care for the least of these And you will find Me
Phone calls are made. Legal documents are filed. Tests. Forms. Meetings. Tests. Forms. Meetings. Wow! It is amazing how much is involved in adding a child to your home.
The family meets the girl and everyone realizes this is going to be quite an adjustment for everyone but one that is good and necessary (for her especially and maybe for all of them).
The girl begins spending every-other weekend with the mom and dad. There are many discussions about hygiene and the need for showers, teeth brushing, hair washing, etc. This is a routine that is very frustrating for mom especially. It must be repeated with every visit. Every visit includes a covert operation of spraying the girl’s bags and clothing. Everything is filthy and smells of cat urine. The need for the rescue is so apparent.
The girl moves in two months after the initial meeting with the formal adoption to follow a couple of months later.
Move-in day begins “boot camp”. It is necessary on many levels. Hygiene is still a big issue – even after every-other weekend of the above-mentioned routine. A meeting with the teachers reveals failing grades in most classes and homework and special projects are all but ignored.
Mom learns of the dire condition at school and the very real danger of failing the current grade on the same day dad is called away to be with his dying father. Mom is home alone with “boot camp” for the first week. What has she gotten herself into?
Very soon it is understood that the child doesn’t know how to study. She doesn’t know how to do anything on her own. She doesn’t know how to do any kind of household chores. Mom must show her how to hold a broom! This child has been babied and “done for” her entire life. She doesn’t know how to do anything without someone telling her step-by-step how to do it. Mom is beginning to wonder if there is a learning disability.
Fast forward 2½ years. This child is now a teenager. She has lost 30 lbs. She is a beautiful young lady. She has accepted Christ as her savior and been baptized! She missed the “A” honor roll on the most recent grading report by 1 point! She missed the “A/B” honor roll last school year by one grade on one report card. Not bad for a child in danger of failing just 2 years earlier.
Have the years been easy? NO! Are they easier? Yes. Still hard but getting better. We are dealing with a child with baggage. She has 11 years of junk that sometimes surfaces. There have been conversations and situations that I never expected but they are now part of our life.
All-in-all she is very compliant but just like all kids her age, there are times when her frustrations and her mouth react in ways they shouldn’t. (But don’t we all have that occasionally?) Mom and daughter in particular struggle with bonding. It is a hard road. Personalities are so different. When times are tough, it is great to hear about stories of other parents (natural and adopted) who struggle with their kids. The Lord has brought so many situations into my life where I’ve heard other adopted parents say “I know just how you feel.” “I sometimes don’t like my kid either.” And “I really wonder WHY I did this.” When I hear other parents express these thoughts I realize I’m not a monster. I am traveling a road that is both common and uncommon. I am a woman doing the best she can to be obedient to her Lord. Although I feel like a failure more days than I feel successful, I know He holds me. I know that although our plans didn’t match, His is always perfect.