Joy! Faith! Hope!

February 11, 2017 adopting again, atrioventricular canal defect, complex heart defect, double outlet right ventricle, February 2017 Feature - Heart, heart defect, Heart System, pulmonary atresia, Tetralogy of Fallot 1 Comments

These three little words.

God planted a seed of love in our hearts, and this is the fruit that grew through the adoption of three little girls.

Our story began in 2011 when our biological children were 14, 12, and 10. Our heavenly Father was teaching my husband, David, and I and our family so much about our own spiritual adoptions and His great love for us.

“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1

What an amazing truth. We have been adopted into God’s family; we are children of God! The question for our family became, “If God has adopted us, how could we not do the same for a child?” God began to expose us to families who were doing this exact thing. We were so encouraged. God’s very clear mission for us to adopt was undeniable, and we simply said yes. It was all because of our Father’s love for us and our love for Him poured out on others.

As we embarked on our journey, our eyes were opened specifically to the countless children who waited in China for a family because they weren’t “perfect”. Who had physical, medical, and most likely emotional needs. And, with our mighty God’s help, we were going to love a little one and meet those needs no matter what they may be.

Maybe not as obvious, but even greater, was their spiritual need. We realized that each one is just like every human being who walks this planet – imperfect, lost, broken, hurting, and in need of a Savior.

“For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” – Luke 19:10

And each one is precious in His sight. We certainly know that we are not their savior, but we personally know the One who is. Our decision to adopt became so much more about the spiritual rather than the physical. The eternal rather than the temporal.

Choosing to parent a child who is physically, emotionally, and mentally fragile can be intimidating. But I have learned that God does His absolute best work through our weakness. It’s when we need Him the most that we truly cling to Him, and He receives the most glory. We were so excited for the privilege to point little hearts to Jesus and watch the redemption story of love unfold.

“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” – 2 Corinthians 5:14-15

A few months into our journey, we saw the face of a precious little girl who resided in a foster home in China called Harmony House. We felt the Lord tugging on our hearts to pursue her, and we felt such peace that she would be ours. Our brother-in-law and niece had even met her on a mission trip.

Her file was almost completed, and it was just about ready to be released to the shared list. Her needs were complex with words like heart defect, spina bifida, and hydrocephalus, but we really weren’t focusing on that. We were just ready to love her, bring her home, and tell her about Jesus.

We had already signed on with an agency that we felt good about, and our case worker was ready to find the file as soon as it came up. However, before long we found out that the file had been designated to another agency, and just like that, this little one was already matched. There was nothing left to do but to trust that God was and always is in control, and nothing will thwart His perfect plans. Our hearts were sad, we didn’t understand, but we trusted our Good Shepherd to lead us.

About a month after our disappointment, our agency received their first-ever designated files. And we saw her face! Our precious daughter who we had been waiting and praying for! We were so ready to say “yes”! Her physical needs were bilateral dislocated hips and unbending knees, which turned out to be a joint condition called arthrogryposis. We didn’t even know if she could walk, but we knew with absolute peace that she was ours.

The Lord taught us that when something is from Him He not only gives peace, but He follows it up with incredible joy. Our hearts were just so full of joy! So, we named her Joy! We couldn’t wait to adopt her into our family and introduce her to Jesus!

“The Lord has done great things for us, and we are filled with joy!” – Psalm 126:3

Well, just a few months before we were set to travel to China to bring Joy home we received a phone call. It was from a dear woman who worked stateside with the foster home in China where we had seen that first precious little girl. She proceeded to tell us that this little one’s adoption had fallen through. She knew that we had been pursuing her, and so she then asked us if we still wanted to adopt her.

What? Of course we did!

This was just too amazing, and our faith in God’s sovereignty increased dramatically. Although it was somewhat complicated, we were matched with our Lindy (named after that special woman who gave us the call, Grandma Linda). God had not said no; He had simply said wait.

If we had been matched with Lindy before Joy, we wouldn’t have Joy. We just cannot imagine that!

God granted us faith to trust Him and to believe that His ways are always better than ours. Our Father had double blessings in store. He made it abundantly clear that His plans for our family included both of these precious daughters!

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” – Ephesians 3:20

We met our Joy Joy in October 2012, when she was three and a half.

We found out very quickly that Joy is a vibrant and joyful little girl who brings joy to everyone she meets! Joy’s orthopedic needs resulted in three surgeries on both of her hips and one knee. She spent almost five months in a spica cast. We learned so much about what it means to “count it all joy”. Our little Joy has endured so much, and through it all she never lost her joy!

“The joy of the Lord is my strength!” – Nehemiah 8:10

Joy walks and even runs in her own special way! She is extremely bright and has incredible depth in understanding the truth of God’s word.

Eight months after bringing Joy home, in June 2013, we returned to China for Lindy who had just turned five.

Although it was not possible to bring the girls home at the same time, God continued to grow our faith to trust that He was in control of the timing. He knew that we needed that time with Joy as we nursed her through her surgeries.

Once we got Lindy home, we found out that she received a good repair on her heart in China for tetralogy of Fallot, and she also had a meningocele removed. Yet it was also discovered that her spinal cord was left unprotected. Lindy had surgery to rotate her back muscles over the cord in order to protect it. She has no physical limitations and is a bit of a walking miracle. She does have some pretty significant learning challenges due to the impact of her medical needs, and we are doing everything we can to help her. Lindy has such a pure and simple faith, and she is kind and gentle.

The girls became fast friends and are a wonderful compliment to each other. Most importantly, they both love Jesus and know that they are loved by Him and by us, their family!

That could have been the end of our adoption story, but I just could not shake the feeling that God might have one more daughter for our family. Once your eyes have been opened to vulnerable children, it is pretty hard to look away. I continued to pray for each child that came into my view, and I hoped that one of them just might be ours!

My sister’s family was in the process of adopting two little ones with complex congenital heart disease. I began reading story after story at 28 Days of Hearts and No Hands But Ours about many children with complex CHD and the precious families who have adopted them. It struck a chord deep in my heart. To adopt a child with an unrepaired, broken heart who may not live a long life on this earth felt so sad and painful.

Yet, who needs the love of a family and to know the love of Christ more than that?

The Lord was teaching me that it is not only the condition of our physical hearts that matter, but it is the condition of our spiritual hearts that will matter for all eternity. Oh, how I long to maintain an eternal perspective!

As I continued to witness families living out their love for our Savior by adopting little heart warriors and turning them into warriors for the kingdom, my heart soared with hope. Because we have been adopted into God’s family through Christ, we have hope that we will spend all of eternity with Him in heaven, our true home. It is not a “cross your fingers” kind of hope, it is a 100% certain kind of hope. And this hope is the remedy for pain, suffering, and loss.

There is no greater joy than to share this hope with another.

It’s risky to love knowing that it may lead to loss. However, the greatest love of all given freely to us through Christ’s sacrifice leads to love of others. Every child deserves to receive that kind of love. The love of a family, and most importantly, the love of Christ.

“This is how we know what LOVE is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” – 1 John 3:16

And so the story continued. A little over a year ago I saw a little one’s picture and profile on an agency’s waiting list. Three years old and absolutely adorable. Her needs were scary. Complex heart disease: complete atrioventricular canal defect, double outlet right ventricle, and pulmonary atresia. Unrepaired. Unknown prognosis. This is what God had been preparing us for.

I prayed over her. I waited. I wrestled. She looked familiar. The caption above her video said, “Watch her sweet video and get ready to lose your heart.” I did. David and I began having conversations about adopting again. I shared my heart with him, about the little one I was specifically praying for and thinking about, and we sought the Lord together. We were ready to take steps forward to begin another adoption.

I checked the agency’s waiting list again, and she was gone. I actually rejoiced because I believed that she had gotten matched with a family. I looked at the agency’s advocacy site and clicked on the shared list link. (I usually don’t do that because it breaks my heart to know that most of those children were not matched.) And there she was, her precious little face. My heart sank and leapt at the same time. She wasn’t matched, and she had gone back to the shared list just a few days earlier. I showed her to David, he watched her video, and he said, “She looks like a Metzgar.” That’s all I needed to hear!

At this point I contacted the wonderful woman who manages the advocacy site, and I had my first conversation with her which would be the beginning our third adoption journey. She checked the shared list, and this little one’s file was not there. So, that meant her file was most likely picked up by another agency.

We prayed and felt God leading us to pursue her. We just couldn’t let her go. We were told that if we applied to the agency, they could then try to track down which agency had her file. We were hopeful that if this precious little one wasn’t already matched, then the other agency would transfer the file. If she was our daughter, nothing would thwart God’s plans. We knew God could do it; we had seen Him do it before!

As it turned out, we waited for three months while the agency that had her file allowed other families to review it. No one stepped forward for her – probably due to the complexity of her heart and all of the unknowns. However, we believe that it is ultimately because God’s plan for her was that she would become our daughter! Finally, just a few short days before her file would again return to the shared list, we received the news that the other agency agreed to transfer her file. The Lord had spoken; she was ours!

We traveled to China this past September 2016 to bring home our now four year old little girl who we named Presley, which means “from the Priest’s meadow”. She is our precious hand-picked flower, and she is indeed fragrant! She is spunky and spicy and oh, so sweet.

Presley loves to read the Bible and pray to her “Baby Jesus”! She is learning that Jesus loves her, and that He will satisfy her greatest need. She is learning about this thing called “family” and about how much we love her. Presley adores her sisters, and they are completely smitten with her. These three are quite the trio!

Since coming home Presley has received a close examination of her unique and special heart. After her recent heart catheterization, our cardiologist believes that she is a good candidate for a full repair! We stand in awe of our God, and we are rejoicing at this good news full of hope. We also learned that the palliative surgery Presley received in China saved her life. We have no idea how she received this gift, but we know whose hands are holding our precious girl’s heart.

“From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth — He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do.” – Psalm 33:13-15

The surgery Presley now needs will be complicated, and the recovery will most likely be intense. We will need to travel to another state, and we are in the process of figuring out all of the logistics. And just as it was with Joy and Lindy, it will be our privilege to be right by her side, caring for her and whispering into her ear over and over again that Jesus loves her and so do we.

We don’t know exactly what God’s plans are for our girl, but we know with absolute assurance that no matter what, He is in control. He is our Father! He loves us! He is sovereign! He is good! Our hearts are trusting in Him! And we have Joy, Faith, and Hope!

“May the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” – Romans 15:13

– guest post by Debbie

One response to “Joy! Faith! Hope!”

  1. Katie M says:

    If the state you need to travel to for surgery happens to be Georgia, please let me know. I would love to help in any way I can.

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