Joy: Dear Matthew, your music has impacted my life in so many ways. You have a way of connecting a story to a song that ministers to my heart and to so many people! My sisters and I come to Lifest every year and your challenge of “What If?” this year really spoke to me. I need to tell my story. God worked a miracle in my life and He wants to do so much more. The Holy Spirit has not allowed me to rest, especially hearing “What If?” on the radio many times throughout my day!
Too many people have misconceptions about adoption and it has to change. Too many babies are being killed through abortion or raised as a “burden” by other family members, because the world still holds many negative ideas about adoption. I have worked with young women who feel it is better to abort, as if this life never existed, than to allow someone else to raise their child. I have had strangers who I have shared my miraculous story of my adoptive kids tell me that it is so sad that someone would give up their children. Really!?! Is it sad to want more for your child than raising them in an abusive, drug-filled environment?
Since the summer of “what if’s” is coming to an end, I have to tell you my story in hopes that you can help. God has given me a powerful voice and a heart to help others. I sing all the time for praise and worship and as a professional at Christmas in my community- I just do not have the gift to write songs. My dream would be to share my story through song with you at Lifest next summer. Let’s change the stigma of adoption and save lives! I am tearing up just writing this, but if I never say ”what if?” it will never happen.
My journey of hope began at 16 years of age when I was told I would most likely never be able to have children biologically. I suffered from severe endometriosis that was not discovered until I had a cyst as large as a grapefruit burst. Prior to my emergency surgery, I was told by doctors that I just had a poor diet, that I was seeking attention, that I had gas, and that I just did not know how to manage pain. I was relieved to know I was not crazy, however this led to two major surgeries within six months and my first of many rounds of medically induced menopause beginning at just 16 years of age. My endo was so aggressive I had to have surgery and change medicines frequently to keep it in check.
In August of 1992, I met the love of my life and we married in 1995. We both wanted a family desperately. I had a deep faith in Christ, but I had allowed a lot of my hurt to distance me from my relationship with Him. We tore apart our marriage but through a series of miracles, God rebuilt our marriage on His solid rock. We are now fully committed to Christ and serve Him faithfully, but that is a story for another day.
After many infertility treatments, I was in severe pain once again. We were referred to a specialist only to find out the endometriosis had invaded my stomach wall and I would need to have yet another surgery. This would be surgery number nine. As we drove away that day, I looked up and saw a billboard and it said in very large letters “Consider Adoption.” Ok God, I get it.
We looked into traditional adoption, but could not afford it. We had been married nine years at this point and all of our peers already had children. We decided to pursue adoption through the foster care system. We were open to adopt older children if that was God’s plan, even though my heart ached for an infant. We embarked on the lengthy process of classes, applications, referrals, fingerprints, etc. From 2004-2005 we were selected for three possible adoptions, but were not selected for any of them. My heart broke each time. We even served as emergency foster care parents hoping this might lead us to a family. Heartbroken, and in need of time away, we scheduled a vacation.
On June 3, 2005, we left to celebrate our ten year anniversary on a Caribbean cruise. I prayed every day I could just conceive and we could begin our lifelong dream of having a family. After all, everyone tells you you just need to relax, right? The topical index page in my Bible for Hope was worn out and tear stained. I spent many hours in my prayer closet seeking answers. I was weary and knew only Jesus could provide the miracle we so desperately wanted. We really had a great time and returned on June 7th. I was reading a Psalm every morning before work and that morning I was up to Psalm 119. Since it is the longest chapter in the Bible, I couldn’t quite make it through before I left. I was relaxed, refreshed, and my skin sun-kissed as I grabbed my coffee and headed off. Work was crazy- file folders were piled upon my desk and the phone was ringing off the hook. I was so busy I was not able to check my messages until I headed off to lunch around 1:00pm. The call was from the Division of Family Services. There was a child available for adoption and they have narrowed their selection down to three couples, and they would like to interview us on Friday!! Could this be the answer to my prayers? I prayed: “Lord Jesus, you know my heart cannot take another rejection right now- You have to protect my heart.”
I called them back and was told this has NEVER happened, but this was a brand new infant coming into care. The birth mom had gone into labor after they first called, so they needed to interview all three prospective adoptive couples TODAY! I fell to my knees, overwhelmed by emotion and praise. I called my husband at work, who was serving as an Army Chaplain Assistant at the time. He was in a video conference and unavailable at the time. My message was simple, “Come home!” Finally, he pulled into the driveway, stepped out of his truck, his face strained with concern. Dressed in his uniform, I ran to him and told him the news. His knees buckled as he held me and we cried tears of joy. We quickly composed ourselves and drove to a neighboring town where we had a 3:00 p.m. interview. We were the first of the three couples to be interviewed that day. I remember one of the questions they asked us was, “Why should you be chosen as this baby’s parents?” The clear confident words that poured out of my mouth sounded like someone else’s. “Because we have prayed and waited and if anyone can have a baby in one day it is us.” I knew we had been preparing for this day for ten years, and I knew in my heart this was our answer to prayer. This was our baby!
We drove to Panera Bread to sit and wait. We had called our families when we went on the last three prospective adoption interviews. This time we chose not to tell anyone else until we knew. I opened my Bible to where I had left off that morning. Promise after promise, God spoke to my heart.
Psalm 119:114 “You are my refuge and my shield, I have put my hope in your word.”
119:116 Sustain me according to your promise…do not let my hopes be dashed.”
119:125 “ I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.”
126:3 “The Lord has done great things for us and we are filled with joy.
126:5 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy.
Psalm 127:3 “…children are a reward from him.”
Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in his word I put my hope.”
There were so many more, but when I got to Psalm 139, which I had read so many times before, verse 16 leapt off the page. “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” God flooded me with such peace knowing that if they did not choose us, it was all part of his perfect plan. If they did choose us, it was because He created this child for our family. He was in complete control and His will would be done.
We talked, prayed, cried, and laughed about drinking cappuccinos as we waited. About 6:00 p.m. we got a call, we braced ourselves only to hear that they still had one more interview to complete. About 6:45, Tim took the call that changed our lives. We were about to be parents! We called our parents, and told them the news. We quickly drove to the DFS office greeted by hugs and tears by the team of social workers. We followed our social worker to the hospital where we ran to labor and delivery. The birth mother, still in labor, chose not to meet us, but the birth father decided he would like to. He told us they both struggled with drug addiction. They were in a non-committed relationship and were older, both having teenage children of their own. They knew they could not provide the care this precious baby deserved and decided to give her the selfless gift of a better life. He cried as he shared his story and his regrets of poor choices he had made. He wept as we shared our story of infertility and our hope of one day having a child we could hold and love. We embraced, interrupted by our social worker, “It’s time.” We ran to the elevator and arrived just in time to see our beautiful little girl being carried into the nursery. We knew that after all the years of longing and waiting, “Hope” had arrived!
We were able to return to the hospital the next day, papers in hand, to hold our precious little Hope. Hope tested positive for methamphetamines, but by the grace of God she was healthy and we were able to stay with her that night and take her home the very next day. My verse for Hope is Ephesians 3:20-21 “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, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”
We received not one, but two miracles. Sixteen months later, Hope’s full biological brother came into the world. We did not know anything about him until he was born, but God very clearly had been preparing us for a son. It is also a very amazing story! On October 26, 2006 our family was completed with Corban Michael. Corban tested positive for opiates but God protected him in the womb as well and he is a true miracle just like his sister. Our verse for Corban is Psalm 118:23 “The Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.”
Adoption is not sad…my husband and I have a family because my children’s biological parents chose adoption! Adoption beautifully illustrates what Jesus did for us. Adoption is a huge part of God’s plan. Jesus is from the line of David- the genealogy of Mary is not even mentioned. Biology is not what makes a family. Check out Matthew 1:1-16! There we see the genealogy of Jesus that is traced from Abraham all the way to Joseph, Jesus’ earthly adoptive father. After all, it is what God has done for us! Ephesians 1:5 (NLT) “God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”
So what do you think? If God prompts your heart, would you write my story and help me show the world was a gift adoption truly is?