Our story began as the story of so many others does – with a picture in our minds of how things would look, followed by the unfolding of a completely different reality, revealing just how much our Father sees so far beyond us.
Where we are is not where we thought we would be, but I truly can say, “It is better.” There is nothing about our story that it more significant than any other, but it is ours – a gift we’ve been given to put the Lord on display. It is a story of fighting for faith, searching for truth, and resting in His plan. It’s the story of our family becoming whole and old ideas becoming new.
Before adoption was a part of our story, our family seemed in many ways picture perfect from the outside. God had blessed us with two young sons who were more than we could have asked for. Still, Kelly and I knew we were not finished. We found ourselves in a place of seeking and searching His heart for how He saw our family, and as we listened, we heard Him respond.
In the weeks and months to follow, He spoke profoundly and continually, leaving no room for question, that His plan for our family was adoption. Even as we think back now and recall together the ways He drew us to Himself with such clarity, we stand in deep gratitude. He used that season to grow our faith, reveal our need to hear His voice more, and bring us to a new place of understanding the depths of His love.
In 2001, we stepped into His call with fostering on our hearts. Once again, we thought we knew what we were moving towards only for Him to change the script. I know now that He was already, always, ahead of us. We never did foster, but incredibly beautiful things came out of the initial process, including the prompting from both our social worker and the Holy Spirit to turn towards the path of international adoption.
Again, we stepped out in faith, eager to be wherever He might lead, and as we did, He met us in the most beautiful and intimate of ways. We adopted our first daughter Maria in 2003. I remember the first time I laid eyes on her. She was perfect. My heart was overwhelmed by her beauty and the gentle touch of her little hand on my face. It was as if, in that first moment, the Father Himself was touching me, using her to take my breath away and give me new life. Often times my husband and I have said this was the moment the Lord ruined our lives when the “picture perfect” faded, and something new began. From here on, He would completely rock our world. He would put us in a place of reckless abandon to Him, and provide us with the space to speak boldly about Him and for Him and His heart for adoption.
We knew then that there was more ahead. This was only the beginning, although we never would have fathomed all that was yet to come. We only knew He was asking us to walk again in faith with Him.
So the adoption journey continued. In 2005, we received an unexpected and yet perfectly peaceful call, asking if we would accept two little girls – identical twins – into our hearts and into our home. For two years we had been waiting and now the opportunity stood before us. With great clarity and confidence, we understood why delays had happened and how He had been orchestrating this moment all along. Still, with uncertainty in our own minds of how things would fall together, but with absolute certainty in Him, we proceeded with this new adventure of the twins’ adoption.
What comes next still grieves my heart, but my trust in His goodness is unwavering.
With pounding hearts of both nervousness and great anticipation, we prepared to bring our little girls home. But before we could, our Katelyn passed away from a respiratory virus, and our little Elizabeth was very, very sick as well. We grieved and sought the Lord. We wrestled with our questions and the questions of others. We clung to His promises and unfailing love. And we went to bring our other daughter home.
So much wrestling saturated these moments, yet such profound presence came over me when I first held Elizabeth. While it’s nearly impossible to put into words, I know He was there, even in our hurting. Looking into her beautiful brown eyes, my heart was filled with joy in a way that is hard to describe and even harder fathom. My arms and heart were filled with His presence, and even as my heart ached, I heard the whispers of His closeness. He held us as we held her. Captivated her beauty and overwhelmed by His peace, we spoke out her name – Elizabeth – and prayed that she would be one consecrated to Him. As we gazed upon her curly hair and tiny features, we marveled at the details of the Lord’s design, asking for what more He had ahead for this little girl he had protected. She would always be enough, as He is enough.
And so our new life began.