We learned that sometimes in following Him, the path is rocky, and the journey seems like there are many hills. And yet, He reminds us to keep climbing. To hold to the promise that He will steady our feet. Throughout our story, the Father has taught us that regardless of the picture we see in our head, if He has designed something different for us, then it is right and we will walk faithfully.Sheila De Jong
When I think back to how the Father led us into adoption, it seems so simple and yet so complex – as everyone’s story is, I suppose. There were so many times I saw His hands and heard His voice, so many ways He showed up, and I understand now that He had so many things to teach us.
As a little girl, I remember playing with my dolls of many colors. My dear friend, a missionary, lived up the street from me, and I gave her these babies so she could take them to children she was serving. I think back on that story now and recognize the way He was moving, even though I was unaware. He is a seed planter who waits, cultivating and pruning, and when He sets things in place, harvests the crop. He was. stirring within me – even as a little girl without the words to describe it – the longing to help.
I believe He creates the desire for family inside of us, and then He puts things in place to grow our family in the way that He has planned for them to be. He is a Way Maker.
We were blessed with one little boy after five years of marriage, such a precious treasure from the Lord. We lost a baby at 15 weeks and this baby, too, was such a precious treasure from the Lord. We rejoiced in another precious treasure from the Lord with another son, his name reflected that he indeed was a gift from the Lord.
He continued to speak to our hearts about our family and more children, raking over those seeds He had planted, shifting our thoughts for those that needed a family. He is so wise, and He is so gentle. When I look back, I think of the subtle ways that He spoke step-by-step through friends, stories, songs, radio programs, Bible studies, and special times in prayer.
In all of it, I am amazed. He knew in some ways we needed quiet, subtle promptings over and over again. And in other ways, we needed His voice to be loud, so loud we knew with certainty that this was indeed His calling and not our crazy idea. Sometimes He asks us to put on a lifejacket of trust, Him being our anchor, then pushes us to get out of the boat just as the disciples needed to do.
As I was processing through this with the Lord, so was my husband. It was really important the Lord spoke to both of us and there was unity in this decision. We talked and each took time to process and pray. I needed to be still and let the Lord speak and not me. When my husband came to the place of knowing this was the Lord directly speaking and moving our family toward adoption, it was at that point we knew a certainty that not only was He calling us to adoption but He shifted our hearts to a place of us both asking: why would we not go forward in adoption?
We moved forward with a deep peacefulness conviction and admittedly some fear.
We began our adoption journey thinking about foster care. We went through the classes, met many people, and learned a lot about the hard places children walk through. At the same time this was going on, our social worker began to speak with us about the need for international adoption as well. She asked if we had ever considered adopting from Guatemala.
We had not and knew very little about this process or place. We again came back to that place of prayer and that place of Him bringing us into a united heart. It was hard to trust and follow when we thought we were already following, and yet He is so gracious in showing us such mercy as we needed to surrender things again so He could lead us on the path He did. With His affirmation again, we shifted our plan to be aligned with His, and submitted all things needed to pursue an adoption in Guatemala. So many papers, fingerprints, seals, Fed-ex runs.
There were many small triumphs and many tears in the midst. These times of seeking and waiting were difficult and yet so special because they grew us, forcing us to lean into the Lord, seeking His understanding, His wisdom, His plan, His timing, and His peace. Growing in our understanding that what we see is limited, as if we are caught up in the forest of trees, but His view is like breakthrough, light bursting forth in the clearing.
He wastes nothing and His timing is always right. On the day of my grandma’s funeral, we were called by the adoption agency saying there was a little girl who needed a home, asking if we would consider opening our hearts to her. We had open hands before Him, wide to see where He would lead. We asked Him to give us the courage to open our hands to the child that He desired to be in our home, as He knows so much more than we know.
As we drove home to “see” more information and to get a glimpse into this little girl who we knew nothing about and yet would forever change our lives. We saw a few tiny, pretty grainy photos of a little girl, who melted our hearts. We melted in the fact of the Lord’s timing. As my beloved grandma went to be with the Lord, His kindness and sweetness in showing us new life and hope as a family as well.
When we traveled to Guatemala for the first time, we often say this is when our lives were completely ruined. Ruined of the pictures we had in our mind of our own plans, the ways our family should look and quite honestly, the apathy that we carry much of the time as believers. We had gone on mission trips before and helped in different ways, but the Holy Spirit had more to teach us in ways to grow us. To deepen our understanding of His caring for us like orphans and expected us to respond in the same way.
When we met our daughter for the first time, we were swept away by her beauty, by her fragileness, and said what a precious treasure this is from the Lord. We had done as much study as we could and used the resources given to us, but little did we know how little we really knew at that point. Upon coming home, we instinctively loved her, welcoming her genuinely to our family, and tried in the most intentional ways to bond and attach with her. He is gracious in helping us with the things that we know and the things that we don’t know because His grace covers all of those things.
We knew coming home that He would be calling us back, so after about a year and a half we began the process again. This time not asking if He wanted us to adopt but knowing He was calling us. Again, asking the question why would we not but also confessing our continued need for His help in so many ways.
This process began with a little more confidence as having done some of the paperwork before and understanding the process and yet He had so much more to teach us. We waited to hear how His plan would unfold and how He would enlarge our family. We prayed earnestly for His will and His plan and not any hidden desires we might have. We were called by our agency late one weekend night to say our family had come to the top of the list because we had agreed to take more than one child and there was a situation of two little twin girls, who they would love to place together if they could find a willing family.
My husband had an instant peace and it seemed there was an understanding in some of the delays and ways that the Lord had been preparing us to trust in the process. We said yes in our hearts and we said yes to opening up our home to these little girls. We opened up our hands again, submitted to the Lord, that we would take this leap of faith expecting His provision, for Him to provide the things that we needed.
Although what happened next broke our hearts, He is true to His word, and is close to the broken hearted. He did and has provided all that is needed, Himself. Here we were, two daughters legally ours but even more so eternally His.
As we were soon to travel, we received a call that one of our twin daughters, Katelyn, had passed away and our other daughter was very sick as well. This was very unexpected news, the kind of news that takes your breath away. This is a part of the story that would be easy to just shy away from and not speak of; however, by doing this we deny the opportunity to continue to show His goodness, even in this.
We know we cannot, cannot stop moving forward in things He asks of us because of the potential hurt or pain. We continue to look at His face and trust in His voice and actually lean into the place that He is still the same steadfast Father, even when we do not fully understand.
He taught us so much and continues to do so about who He is, who we are in Him and the precious treasure of each child He creates.
As we needed to continue being a mom and a dad, and taking each day at a time, we needed to remind ourselves that He wastes nothing, and His timing is right. Holy Spirit meet us where we are, in the midst of so many questions, so many breathless and speechless nights, staying with us and helping pray for us.
We watched our other daughter in our family, we prayed special prayers over her, that she would be gifted with a sense of joy and peace and always realize that she is enough, made complete in Him. She is now a teenager, in the process of figuring out who she is, looking and seeking to know the Father more. She carries contentment and brings joy to those around her, she indeed is a precious treasure from the Lord.
As I think back to the ways that He stood with us, asking us to step forward into the journey of adoption, I understand that it was about us literally going forward in caring for the orphan, but I also realize in His graciousness it is so much more.
Adoption has opened up our eyes to deep relationship with Him, and the way that He chose us and chooses us over and over again. Adoption has opened our eyes to the needs around us. Adoption has taught us to open our hands freely to release and receive. Adoption postured our hearts in ways we wouldn’t have been able to experience. Adoption has taught our children to see beyond themselves and to understand His fierce Father’s heart for them. Adoption has opened our fellowship and friendship, building a sweet and precious community of people. Adoption has brought us to places of deep despair, asking Him really hard questions and taking refuge that we cannot always grasp or hear the answers.
I’m so grateful for His invitation to us, to me, inviting us to sit at His feet and listen to His voice and hear Him say “you are a precious treasure”.
I thank Him for this, for this journey, that we continue to walk together as a family with His help. We also walk together in the body of Christ.
The enemy speaks lies, speaking in fear, speaking in ways to tell us we can’t do it or we’re not enough, speaking that things didn’t turn out the right way or are too hard. The truth is, God speaks the truth to us and reminds us of who we are and who our Father is. When we feel like we know so little, He continues to be so good to us. He is patient, overwhelming us with His love, showing us that resting in Him is enough.
We learned that sometimes in following Him, the path is rocky, and the journey seems like there are many hills. And yet, He reminds us to keep climbing. To hold to the promise that He will steady our feet. Throughout our story, the Father has taught us that regardless of the picture we see in our head, if He has designed something different for us, then it is right and we will walk faithfully.