“Come, sit amidst the ash heap; pick up your potsherd and pray.”
That was a phrase borne in my heart from a season of personal lament… a time during which my own sorrowful meditations were keenly focused on the circumstances of the biblical saint of old, Job. How he must have pondered there in that ash heap, with grief-stricken amazement, the magnificent ruin of his life.
My lifelong struggles with “Adoptive Infertility” have often left me in those same proverbial ash heaps. The Lord burdened my heart for the fatherless at a young age. I was eight years old when I accidentally stumbled upon a taping of Wednesday’s Child at a local pet store. The realization that there were children without parents wrecked my perception of the perfectly-sheltered little world in which I lived.
I knew then and there that I wanted to adopt someday.
That day blissfully came as a young wife and mother. I excitedly dragged my oblivious husband to the Wednesday’s Child booth at the annual State Fair. We pored over a large book of “waiting child” profiles. I left feeling hopeful, but much to my chagrin, I found that my husband was not on the same page. He didn’t feel ready to adopt just then; but instead, was desirous of considering a biological brother or sister for our firstborn. I was content to wait.
After all, I had my whole life ahead of me. There would be plenty of time for adoption down the road.
The next twenty years passed, and six more children were born to us. But my desire to adopt did not wane; it only intensified. We tried many different avenues along the way:
Guatemala: a country in which we had an approved dossier and were waiting for a referral, abruptly closed to international adoption due to corruption.
Vietnam: our “Plan B”, closed its doors shortly thereafter.
Russia: we didn’t make enough money.
India: we had too many children already.
Ukraine: the “blind referral” system proved too uncertain.
China: we weren’t old enough.
Mexico: program was too new and still working out the kinks.
El Salvador: not many children were actually being referred and adopted.
When the newly-formed Bulgaria program opened, we quietly rejoiced at the thought of being part of the initial pilot program. A few weeks into the celebration, however, my husband learned that the company he’d worked for since he was a young man, was going under. Within a matter of months, he was jobless, and I settled again into my ash heap, potsherd deftly in hand.
I was fresh out of prayers, but completely amazed by the plethora of ways that God can creatively say “no” to one of His children.
After my husband was once again gainfully employed, we picked back up with our pursuit of adoption. But, by this time, the international programs all seemed closed to us. So we turned to our local Foster and Adopt program in our own State of Kentucky. Surely this was where our child was waiting for us!
We completed all the trainings, certifications, and held the official copy of our home study in hand. We were ready to be matched with our child. The initial six months of waiting was not too difficult. The second half of that first year got a little harder. By the completion of the second full year, however, we were growing very weary. Six months into our third year of waiting would prove to be the breaking point. We had formally inquired on over one thousand children in need of families. I was fed up with the endless promises, subsequent mistruths, and time-consuming training for children that were always hypothetical, never realized. We quit. And relief flooded my body and soul.
We were still licking our smarting wounds from our bout with the U.S. Foster/Adopt program, when the suggestion to adopt from China appeared seemingly out of nowhere. At first, we were unwilling to entertain the idea. But somewhere between suggestion and action, hope began to dawn.
Perhaps our phoenix would yet arise from these ashes?
We worked in tandem to complete our medical checklist, and settled into the oh-too-familiar part of waiting.
Just two months later, we received the call that would change the course of our lives forever. We had a baby girl, and her name would be Faith. She was 16 months old and had a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI).
She was our perfect.
Four months later, we received a second call about another little girl, who was two years old. Though her special needs (spina bifida and incontinence) were scary, a requested video would ease our minds and calm our fears.
Sweet, smiley Hope was to become our beloved daughter as well.
Bringing the girls home from China was the culmination of a dream and we settled into our new role as older parents with relish.
In fact, we loved it so much, that we started the process to reuse our dossier just nine months after arriving home.
We found our son, Silas, on our agency’s Waiting Child page. He was two years old and had been diagnosed with brain damage.
Much later, we decided to add on a second little boy, Benjamin, whom I had seen advocated for, and was medically fragile.
He was three years old and had a whole host of medical issues. His most pressing need, however, was being born with a single kidney that was in stage 3 kidney disease.
Both of the boys came home in January of this year. Though Benji’s medical needs have been much more trying than those of our first adoption, the boys have been every bit as much of a delight to our hearts as our girls.
We are privileged to walk this road with them.
On this side of the decades of waiting, I’m thankful for my time spent in the refinement of the ash heap. It was there that I learned the intrinsic value of patience, endurance, and perseverance; all good things needed to successfully navigate the valleys and vales of adoption. I have doubted and questioned the will of the Lord, along with Job…
“What is my strength, that I should wait? And what is my end, that I should be patient?” (Job 6:11)
I have scraped at my “sores” of disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment. But always, always His sovereignty and majesty have been brought to bear on my heart and mind; so much so, that I’m able to resound with Job.
“What He desires, that He does. For He will complete what He appoints for me, and many such things are in His mind.” (Job 23:13-14)
There is peace to be found when we walk in His will. His paths are sure paths, they “drip with abundance” (Psalm 65:11).
He never fails.