In November of 2010, a teenage girl became pregnant with a son, and my husband and I had just begun praying for the children God would allow us to adopt someday and had received our first adoption information packet. We had been trying to conceive a child for some time and decided not to pursue fertility treatment, but to adopt children instead. Over the next 2 years, we went on to explore several different agencies, but none of them worked out, none seemed right. We kept praying for our children. It was so hard to wait, and we couldn’t understand why God was making us wait. We wanted to follow God’s plan for growing our family, but it seemed to be taking such a long time.
Finally, in January of 2013, we got a phone call from a coworker who had received a phone call from Mary at Casa de Esperanza. Mary told us about her agency and encouraged us to apply to become foster parents. We were so scared. We never thought God would ask us to foster children, to love them as our own for months or years, all the while knowing they could be taken away from us at any time. It seemed like it would be an emotional roller coaster ride, and we didn’t think we could do it. God kept asking us to trust him each step of the way. “Just fill out the application,” God said. So we did. All 43 pages of it. We got background checked, fingerprinted, tested for TB. We asked family and friends for letters of recommendation. We labored over drawing a floor plan of our home for the fire marshal’s inspection. We bought first aid kits and a fire extinguisher and covers for every outlet. Then, we waited.
“No one has ever completed this application so quickly,” Mary said when she called to tell us we had been approved to start training to become foster parents. The classes were supposed to start that very week. Again, we didn’t think we could do it. Hours and hours of training classes, evenings and weekends, a binder of information 6 inches thick, books, videos, homework, and CPR dummies. How would we have time for this? “Just complete the training,” God said, “go to the classes and complete the training.” So we did. Then, the next step- the home study. 6 hours of interviews and another intrusive inspection of our home.
How could we tell these people from the agency, these strangers here to judge us worthy or unworthy of becoming parents everything that was in our hearts? “Just finish the home study,” God said, “do the interviews and the inspection. Trust me.” So we did. We told these people everything that was in our hearts. We told them that God had given us the desire to become parents. We told them God had led us to pursue adoption. We told them God had opened us up to the idea of fostering, even though we were terrified. We told them we were open to loving whatever children God would choose for us. We told them that we wanted to foster and adopt siblings. Our final interview was February 27th, 2013, the day after our son and daughter came into care at Casa de Esperanza.
When our interviews were complete, it was time to wait some more. Three weeks we waited for the agency to write the home study report. We were excited and anxious. What would we do when or if they called us about a child? Would we say yes? Then, we received a text message with the most beautiful picture we had ever seen. It was our daughter’s face. I immediately called the agency and asked, “is this our baby?” “It’s one of them,” the woman replied. And then we saw the other most beautiful picture we had ever seen. It was our son’s face. I almost fell down as she told me their story, their birthmother’s story, and told us that we could meet them that day. I called my husband with tears streaming down my face and could hear him crying on the other end of the phone. When I got home, we sat and held each other, shaking and sobbing. We already loved them. Just seeing their perfect, precious faces over a text message, we already loved them. We didn’t think we could do this.
How could we take them home, love them and take care of them as our own knowing we could lose them? It was such a huge risk. It was a leap of faith we didn’t know if we could take. We called a friend of ours and his wife who had fostered to adopt their daughter. We knew that they understood exactly how we were feeling in that moment. They said they remembered it well. He told us how 7 years earlier they had called their parents and how they had minutes to make a decision. He told us what his mother had told them- “Children are never really ours, they are just entrusted to us for a time by God. No parents know how long they will get to have their children, but God knows.” We heard God’s voice once again telling us to trust him. So, we said a prayer, got in the car, and drove to Casa de Esperanza, knowing our lives would never be the same again.
From the moment our son and daughter came into our lives, everything did change. And everything finally made sense. All of the waiting. The infertility. The other agencies not working out. All of the time and the money invested in the training classes and in preparing our home. All of the emotional roller coaster ride of the past few years and months made perfect sense. It was all about them. It had always been about them. We had to be ready for them when they needed us. God had it all planned out. His timing was perfect. They needed us, and we were ready.
Or so we thought… How do you ready yourself for parenting a son and daughter who may never become adoptable? How do you ready yourself for the physical and emotional toll of becoming a parent overnight? How do you ready yourself for the mountains of paperwork? How do you ready yourself for the visits- the home visits, the doctor visits, the developmental evaluation visits, the birth family visits, the caseworker visits? How do you ready yourself for parenting in a fishbowl? How do you ready yourself for your marriage to be shaken? How do you ready yourself for your faith to be rocked to the core? How do you ready yourself for the uncertainty of each day as a foster mom? How you ready yourself to love someone with all your heart knowing they could be taken from you at any moment? Truth is, you don’t.
And, to be honest, if we had known ahead of time that all of that was coming, we may not have been obedient to what God was calling us to do. Perhaps that’s why God usually only shows us the next right step. “Finish the application; complete the training; do the home study; say “yes” to these babies not knowing what the outcome will be. Just be their mommy.” That’s how I heard God’s voice- you know, that still small voice in the back of your mind and in the depths of your heart? I heard it saying over and over, “just be their mommy.” God didn’t say “just be their mommy for now,” “just be their mommy for this year,” or “just be their mommy forever.” He didn’t tell me how long I would get to be their mommy- He was just calling me to be obedient to what He had asked me to do. To be their mommy. And to trust Him with the details, the timing, the outcome.
Prayer took on a new meaning for us over the course of the next 14 months. It became our whole life. I felt like I lived on my knees as I prayed over our children, their birthparents, my marriage, my husband’s health, and my relationship with God. I was in constant communication with Him, which is exactly what God wanted from me. Mark Batterson says in his book The Circle Maker, “I felt underqualified and overwhelmed, but that is when God has you right where He wants you. That is how you learn to live in raw dependence- and raw dependence is the raw material out of which God performs His greatest miracles.” I was living in raw dependence on God all right. There was no way we would be able to adopt our son and daughter without divine intervention. God would have to work a miracle.
When you come face to face with the fact that you are relying on a miracle is when you have to become fully dependent on God, to completely surrender to His will. You have to because there is no other option. There is no Plan B. All you have is God. And if you are able to fully surrender to Him, He will use your situation for your good, and He will be glorified through your story. For your good and for His glory. That’s a tough prayer to pray and a tough place to be. I know because I have prayed that prayer and I have lived in that place. That place where you don’t know if God will come through and answer your prayer, but you know that God will still be God and that He will still be good.
I believe we watched God work several miracles over the course of those 14 months. The first miracle happened the day a caseworker decided our children were to be returned to their birthmother- another caseworker discovered she was living in a motel room and not in the home of a family member who had pledged to help her care for the children. The second miracle happened when the birthmother called her caseworker asking about open adoption- after 9 months of working to have the children returned to her, she made the difficult and loving decision that she wanted us to adopt them. The third miracle happened when our daughter’s birthfather, who had been missing for almost a year, turned up weeks after the birthmother had relinquished her parental rights to relinquish his as well. The fourth miracle happened in my marriage- God softened our hearts to each other and helped us to choose to fight for our relationship and seek counsel. The fifth miracle happened when we sat face to face with our son’s birthfather, watching him cry for the loss of the relationship he wanted to have with his son, and seeing him transform from wanting to take us to court to making the decision for us to adopt him.
Today, we have adopted both our son and daughter, and I am so thankful to be done with that phase of our lives. But I am also so thankful for every painful moment, every tear I cried, every sleepless night. Because God showed up in those moments, in those tears, in those nights. God brought me into constant communication with Him by allowing me to live in raw dependence on Him. God answered our obedience with one miracle after another. Where is God calling you to be obedient to Him today? Where is He calling you to take the next right step, remembering that He may not show you what the outcome will be? Where is God asking you to trust Him, knowing that He may not answer your prayer the way you hope Him to or when you want Him to? Where does He want to teach you to live in raw dependence on Him? Where does He want you to surrender to His will for your good and His glory? Where is He leading you that you will have no Plan B? Where does God want to show you that He is still God and He is still good? Maybe He has a miracle in mind for you. Don’t miss it.