How often do we find that our greatest joys in life are the unexpected blessings God reveals? Through trials and disappointments, joys and pains, He goes before us, crafting plans for good. Although I did not know Jesus as I grew up, His eye was on me. In hindsight, I see the ways He steered my mistakes, fears, and failures to bring me to Him.
Although I had not planned to commit so young, my husband and I met in high school and married shortly after graduation. By the time I was twenty-two, we had two children. We were blessed and content with one daughter and son, because I was originally informed at eighteen that I needed surgery to alleviate the multiple problems I was experiencing. As my medical problems were worsening, doctors recommended that I undergo a hysterectomy right away. Since we did not desire additional children, my husband and I decided that it was exciting that we would still be so young when ours were grown. We were in our thirties when both of them graduated from high school.
However, God’s plans were different from anything we imagined. Through what had to be His sense of humor, as well as a future blessing, I began to actually desire a baby when I was in my early forties. This was shocking; I had never experienced “empty nest” feelings and was looking forward to doing activities and hobbies in my life that I felt I hadn’t had time for when our first two were growing up.
God does not need to explain His plans in advance.
Yet, my desire for a baby grew stronger and when I told my husband about a “dream” I had of adopting a daughter from China and he informed me that he had experienced the same thoughts. Hearing his story proved to me that God was at work as my husband’s experience matched mine in timing and details. It also reminded me of a time when I was getting in our car after shopping together years earlier. Oddly, I had suddenly felt God instructing me that I would be a mother again before I was forty-five years old, which was strange since I had the hysterectomy. My husband and I never tied it to thoughts of a future adoption.
Through obedience to God, we find the secret cries of our heart.
After much discussion and daily prayer together, God opened doors that led us to adopt our daughter, Marissa, through the Children’s Hope International non-special needs program in 2005. Marissa was adopted from China at ten months of age and is now sixteen years old. We were perfectly content! Marissa was our youngest child, yet being raised as an only, as her siblings were grown and out of the house. We savored raising our girl in ways that we wish we had done differently the first time. This was our opportunity to raise our child with the deeper faith we had grown as we matured in our walk with the Lord.
God is faithful in the midst of sorrow.
When Marissa was four years old, our oldest daughter, Jaime passed away from complications from a blood clot in her brain. Jaime’s death was the hardest, deepest pain I have ever experienced. My relationship with Jesus is the strength that carried me through the devastating loss. I was deeply thankful to still have Marissa and my grown son, who was now married with a son of his own.
We never planned to adopt again, but over the years my husband and I kept busy at church and in activities with friends in the adoption community, as well as many other hobbies and interests. One of those was an adoption ministry and praying for orphans to find their forever families. After ten years of praying and advocating for unknown faces, one child gripped me with a passion I couldn’t ignore.
His eyes and heart advocate for the “least” of us.
Have you ever fallen in love with a face? As I tried to advocate for this child that touched me so deeply, I could not help but grow attached. Everything about her was precious to me. She was named “Brooklyn” by Wasatch International Adoption, the agency listing her. I gathered as much information as I could and asked for more. Soon most of those requests were filled, even though it is usually difficult to receive additional information from China about a particular child, especially before committing to bring them home. Through Facebook, I made a connection with an American woman living in China and volunteering in Brooklyn’s orphanage, who had watched her grow up and could fill in blanks about her history, as well as provide me with frequent photos and videos.
People say I saved her, but Jesus is the One who saves each of us. He knew before we were created that in this broken world, she would be my daughter. We simply listened to God’s call to bring Brooklyn home, filling the missing piece in the masterpiece He designed for our life. It was easy to fall in love with her, but as I was thrust into a world of uncertainty and unknowns, I wondered if her diagnosis of CHD (congenital heart defects) was accurate and I struggled to grasp the meaning of the severity. I sought multiple opinions and conducted research about procedures, technical advancements, future possibilities, and life expectancies I never dreamed I would face. Despite all of the unknowns, I walked into an uncertain future willingly, clinging to my faith. Because of the loss of our first child, and the way God carried us through deep valleys, cradling us in His compassionate arms, it gave my husband and I faith that God would carry us as He had before, despite what happened now or in the future.
“Whatever is good and perfect is a gift coming down to us from God our Father, who created all the lights in the heavens. He never changes or casts a shifting shadow.” James 1:17