I learned on June 30, 2014 that a miracle had taken place. The child to whom I felt a strong connection was having his file prepared for international adoption, and more amazingly, once complete, his file would be distributed to our adoption agency. A week later, after many prayers and discussion, we decided that this was either our son, or he was leading us back to China for whoever our next child would be.
Since that time, we have been racing the clock. Our home study was completed in 6 weeks - record time! We received our Immigration Approval a little more than 2 months later. Our dossier was authenticated and sent to China 3 1/2 weeks after that. In the meantime, this little one's file was taking longer and longer to arrive. Naturally, our hope that he would be our son grew stronger and stronger, as the arrival of his file was aligning to possibly arrive near our next big milestone: Log In Date (LID) into China's database, which would indicate their acceptance of us as adoptive parents. As our hope grew stronger, we took the opportunity to send the little guy Christmas presents. Shopping for him was very special, and my heart ached for him like it had longed for Tucker when he still lived half a world away. I was dreaming about him at night and imagining him playing with our other three boys.
But not everything we dream will become our reality. Not all of our pursuits will end as we hope. Sometimes we fall in love only to be left mending our broken hearts.
As it turns out, the gifts we sent this precious boy will be the only contact we will ever have with him this side of heaven. After making the decision to adopt again, I initially prayed that God would allow this boy to be our son. However, knowing that there was at least one other family interested in adopting him, as well, that prayer never felt right in my heart. So, I started praying that God would place this sweet boy in the family where he would draw closest to the Lord. If growing up in a different family would lead him to love God more than he would with our family, I prayed that he would be placed with them.
And I believe that God has answered that prayer. He has chosen another family to love, adore, and raise this precious boy.
Upon hearing this news, I will be honest, I collapsed and wept in Ryan arms. My heart shattered piece by piece as I processed the fact that I would never be this little boy's mother. I would never pick him up, kiss his cheeks, or put him to bed at night. He would never play with our three boys, open birthday presents with them, or watch movies snuggled under blankets together. This beautiful, little boy would never be my son.
When I attempted to tell Ryan what our agency had shared, he told me that he heard every word. He said that he wanted to throw my phone, shield me from the words, and put me in his pocket. His heart ached for mine, while my heart ached for what we had lost. Many would agree that for men, they become fathers when they meet their children, while women become mothers during pregnancy. This has been true for us during both our pregnancies and both our adoptions. Ryan grieved mostly for me, while I grieved for the tiny one who was never coming home.
The next day when I awoke, my first thought was driven by the aching in my heart. I went to a breakfast with the women in my Bible Study group and tried to repress the sadness I felt. I wasn't ready to share the news. I volunteered in Noah's class, had lunch with him at school, and spent the rest of the day on the couch sleeping and grieving. My heart was heavy with deep sorrow, and at the same time, my mind was strong with God's Truth.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)
"And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28)
"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything (James 1:2-4).
We always knew, from the very first day, that this was a possibility. We knew that God was possibly using the connection we felt to this little boy to get us back to China. And indeed, he has done just that. The only reason we are adopting again is that this little boy's file was being prepared, and it was being sent to our adoption agency (versus any other agency in the world), and we are 100% certain that we wouldn't be adopting right now otherwise. For that reason alone, we will always be grateful for this precious boy's life and the time we have loved him. It is pretty astounding that without having any knowledge of doing so, he is leading us to our next child. And there is so much beauty and wonder in that alone.
I wrote a sweet friend, an adoptive mom, to ask her to pray for me the day after hearing the news. She wrote back, "I was praying as I was putting [my daughter] to bed...asking God to give me something profound and not cliché to say to you. And all I kept hearing was, "I AM GOOD!" And you know what? She is right. God is good all the time. Even in the heartache, the brokenness, and the loss, God is always good.
I spent most of the following day pouring into my Bible, my devotional, and another book I am reading called, Straight-Up Crazy: A Call to Radical Faith that coincidentally arrived on my doorstep at the same time I learned that the little boy would not be our son. The book was a gift from the same adoptive mom I spoke of previously. The knowledge in my mind slowly began to seep into my broken heart, covering my sadness with love and truth. One line of my devotion read, "You are approaching a crossroads in your journey. In order to follow me wholeheartedly (there are those words again you guys - FOLLOW ME), you must relinquish your tendency to play it safe." The devotion contained three supporting verses:
Psalm 23:4 stated, "...you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me."
Psalm 9:10 read, "And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you."
John 12:26 stated, "If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him." (emphasis mine)
Reading these verses and opening my heart to God's Word provided incredible comfort to me. The news we received was not intended to hurt us but to guide us deeper in our journey with Him. You see, adoption is most definitely about inviting the fatherless into your family, but adoption is also an avenue for growing more faithful and into a deeper relationship with the Lord. Despite our hope not being realized, we have complete trust in God and continue to seek Him as we navigate the unknown waters ahead. My heart has been transforming the past 2 1/2 years from someone who wanted to live a happy life to a woman who wants to serve and follow Christ above all else. In doing so, life hasn't always been comfortable or easy, but being close to the Father is right where I want to be.
The next day, my devotion read, "When your private world feels unsteady and you grip My hand for support, you are living in conscious dependence on Me...trouble can highlight your awareness of My Presence." The first supporting verse stated, "Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand" (Isaiah 41:10). The more I read, the more this knowledge poured into my heart, and I began to feel what I knew to be true. Psalm 139:10 read, "Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me." I love the visual of that verse so, so much. In a time when we have no idea where God is taking us, He is leading us with one hand, guiding our way through the unknown, while simultaneously holding us with his other hand. As we are held, the Lord is comforting us, giving us His strength, and protecting us from harm because He loves us so much.
At the same time, we are rejoicing that this precious little boy will be loved and adored in the arms of his family! We are thankful that there is one less orphan in the world. We celebrate that He will know Christ and how much He loves him. Maybe someday this story will reach him, and he will learn how God used his life to bring another child home.
Just as we guessed, we coincidentally received our Log In Date (LID) on December 9th! Now more than ever we are curious and wondering who our child will be. Will God lead us to a 1 year old girl? A 5 year old boy? Will he have a serious heart condition? Will she need her club feet repaired? There are so many things that we do not know, but this we know for certain. God is always good, and we trust Him above all else no matter where He leads.
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have light of life." John 8:12
And so we follow.