Eight years ago, we were just beginning our journey to adoption. I scrolled through the Family Blogs page on the Katelyn’s Fund web site that used to exist, and I was reading about domestic adoptive families. One of them had a link to a new ministry in India. The ministry was called Sarah’s Covenant Homes and the woman had a blog where she shared her call and journey to rescue special needs orphans in Southeastern India. (This may sound familiar because this woman, Sarah, and I have since become very close friends….but this is a different story.)
One of Sarah’s earliest posts was in regard to a child named Rachel who was about 8 years old. She was one of the first to enter her care and she had significant physical challenges, but more importantly, she was emotionally fragile. I remember reading the post about Rachel where Sarah shared this emotional and scared little girl mostly needed a mama to help her mature emotionally and heal some of the pain of an early childhood that consisted of multiple surgeries without a mother to hold her hand, in the care of the local government orphanage. My. Heart. Broke. Split in half. I wept for this child that night. The next day I asked my husband if we could adopt her…..please, please, please….He said no, of course, because we were in the middle of a process to adopt a domestic infant. I was crushed. I prayed for her day after day. We eventually helped sponsor her with a monthly donation….and I continued to beg God to make a way for her to be my child.
Several years passed and I continued to sponsor Rachel. I became friends with Sarah and partnered with her to love and pray and advocate for the children in her care as best as I could…..and when it was possible…..I planned a trip to India. I remember praying about that trip to India, praying for Rachel. I was on a walk, praying, and God shared with me that “she will come”…..but He never said she would come to my home. I tried to press Him for details but instead I felt his smile. I was granted permission by God and my family to travel to India and see the orphan care center, meet Sarah and all the kids and see what happened next…..so in 2012 I went to India. Weeks before we travelled, I learned that another mother in the US was also praying for Rachel and she and her husband had started the home study process to adopt her. I’m not gonna lie…..that was really hard for me. I was jealous. I was hurt. I was relieved that Rachel would have a family but was so, so sad that I would not be her mama. I had an amazing trip to India and learned so much about Jesus, about ministry, about worship, and about how much the Father loves his children. Only We see them as Fatherless……He knows He is their father……and on the second to last day I got to meet Rachel. She was small and fragile and clueless about how I felt about her. She smiled a sheepish, bashful smile and let me hug her awkwardly….and I choked on sobs. Beautiful Rachel, who I had grown to love and had dreamed about…..there in my arms….if just for a moment. The next day, we boarded the plane to fly home and I cried for several hours, grieving the truth that she would not become my daughter.
I would return to India about 10 months later, to meet the newest children Sarah had accepted….and see Rachel again in a new girls foster home rather than the massive orphanage compound where I had first met her. Sarah’s Covenant Homes was evolving, getting more organized, gaining support. Rachel looked so, so great. She was in school, she was helping the younger girls, she was more confident and healthy……and I loved her more and more. While in India that second time, we learned that the government had denied the family permission to adopt Rachel based on their family size…..they were devastated…..I was sad for sweet Rachel who had been headed to America to a family and never even really understood it. Again I asked Roger if we could adopt her. Again he said “no”. A close friend and her husband wondered if God wanted them to pursue adopting Rachel…..and again…..I had to wrestle with jealousy, frustration, bitterness…..why not me, Lord? Why couldn’t I be her mama?????
Adopting a child from Southeastern India is so, so hard. My friends eventually decided that this was not God’s plan for them, either. So Rachel continued to grow and mature in her foster home in India….. and yesterday, an announcement came that Rachel has finally been adopted into a forever home. A couple from the midwest has been working diligently to bring her home for years……and as I write this today, sweet Rachel is with her forever family. I have been praising God for 2 days now, in awe that He took her straight to the place where he always intended her to call home.
Mercy says that I will get to see her again someday. She is not too far away to visit. She doesn’t know me. Lots of volunteers came through in her season with Sarah’s Covenant Homes. It doesn’t matter. If I get to see her with her mom and dad, and know that she is named and claimed by a family……wow. Wow. She is 15 now….almost a young woman. I can’t just scoop her up in a hug again like I did in India. I cannot tell her how many tears I shed for her, or how many prayers I prayed for her……but maybe she knows already. I hope she knows how special she is. I hope she knows that several mamas begged and cried and fought to bring her home before she eventually found her family. The mama who was denied has also become a dear friend to me. She and Sarah and I together have been celebrating and praying and praising God for this destiny for Rachel to be set in her family. She and Sarah and I have formed a cord of strands of prayers for the kids of SCH…….and perhaps that was God’s bigger assignment for me.
He has a plan for His children. He has a plan for those he calls to care and weep and ask and hope for a chance to set his children in families. We get to be a part of this plan. Thank you, Lord. Thank you so, so much.