Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Adoption Story: Gilbert and Kate

A few months ago Gilbert and Kate sat in my living room, on the verge of a possible big move for their family and anticipating the birth of their daughter. With all they had walked through up to that point, with nothing sure and so much of their future unknown, much of our conversation revolved around how faithful God had been to their family and how he could be trusted in the midst of so many changes.

Last week, I met up with Kate again, this time with them settled after moving and with their daughter in her arms. Gilbert and Kate will be the first to tell you their adoption story didn't go anything like they anticipated. But they know it was exactly how God planned it from the beginning...

Our adoption journey began three years ago when a series of events and encounters led us to believe that God was calling us to open our homes to a little one through adoption. This was the first time that I had truly felt called to something that was big and scary, and my first step of courage was approaching Gilbert about this spiritual nudge. We prayed about it for some time, and during that time God revealed to us on several occasions that this was His plan for our family. 

At the time we began the practical steps to adoption, we had six-year-old and three-year-old biological sons, and we felt that it was a good time to get started. I told Gilbert more than once that I didn’t want to be one of those parents who was raising two rounds of kids, so if we were going to do this, we should get things going, so we began paperwork as soon as possible. When asked to think about the types of situations we would consider, we marked “would consider” on every blank—any race, any gender, exposure to any substance, any special needs. We deeply wanted God to use us exactly how we wanted. However, the box we checked that made us the most anxious was the one related to special needs. We felt protective of our boys, and we were nervous about choosing to put our family in a position that would turn their lives upside down in ways other than the normal ways welcoming a baby does. So although we wanted to be open to God’s plan for us, we were most cautious about this type of situation. 

Early on we anticipated that we would have a baby in our arms within a year or two, as we began by working only with a small, new, local agency. After only seeing a small handful of presentation situations during the first year, we made the decision with the encouragement of that agency’s staff to connect with Susan at Christian Adoption Consultants. It was at that point that we imagined things would move quickly for us. Five months after signing on with CAC, we were matched with an expectant mom who was due in May of 2015. The situation was perfect—a little girl to join our boys, and we had so much in common with her mother. We were thrilled and thankful for the way God was rewarding us for our yes. We spent the next three months preparing and developing a relationship with her sweet mother. On the day she was born, we anxiously waited to be called to the hospital, but that call never came. We were heartbroken and confused, and we couldn’t imagine putting our hearts on the line in this way again. Over and over, though, I kept thinking and saying, “This CAN’T be how this story ends. It can’t.” So we mustered the courage to keep saying yes. And we said yes so many times. We had heard many stories of families who experienced failed matches and were quickly afterward matched with the babies intended for them. But we weren’t one of those families. Yes after yes from us and no after no from expectant parents, and many times we questioned what God wanted from us. Maybe we misunderstood his call? And if we hadn’t, how could we possibly end up with a baby more perfect than the one we didn’t bring home? And, the question that baffled me, why did He call us so long before he needed us? It didn’t make sense. 

But six months after our failed match, we received news about a baby to be born with Down Syndrome. As I read about this baby, my heart raced, and it occurred to me that God might be calling me to parent a child with Down Syndrome. So I went to Gilbert and shared my heart. He heard me, but I’m not sure he was quite where I was at the time. Turns out, this specific situation was not the one for us, and months went by that allowed me to decide that I had read too much into my racing heart that day. But this past July, Susan sent us word of a baby girl to be born in August—a baby who had been diagnosed with Down Syndrome. And we were a little more ready this time and a little less caught off-guard, so after a little time thinking and studying and praying, we knew that we should say yes. And finally, three years into our journey and 15 months after our failed match, we got the call that we were matched again. We were nervous and excited at the same time, but mostly excited. We spent the next few weeks (quietly this time) preparing for this little one, cautiously optimistic about the chance we might have to bring her home, and trusting God to equip us for the journey. 

On August 22, we got the call that she had been born and then finally the call to come and meet her. From the moment we laid eyes on her, we truly knew that she was the one we’d been waiting so long for. And we knew we would have waited a thousand more years for her

Now, finally, I can look back and see the answer to the question that had made my heart ache. If God truly called us to adoption, why did he make us wait so long? Why didn’t He wait to call us until He was ready for us? We had watched our little boys turn into big boys while we waited. But now we know. He knew it all along, but we couldn’t know. We weren’t waiting for Him to be ready for us. He was waiting for us to be ready for Him. We had wanted desperately to be open to whatever he wanted for us, but we hadn’t quite been where he needed us to be. So he used that time, our long wait, to shape our hearts for parenting this one perfect sweet girl. And we are so, so thankful that we kept saying yes in the midst of the heartache and the painful wait, because we didn’t know that we were just giving him time to grow our family the way He wanted to. 

And already we can’t imagine our lives without her. 

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