1) Because if I don't tell this story, I will forget the details and they are good.
2) There are lots of people who have gotten bits and pieces, but not the whole story and since you good people love us, pray for us, hug us, and cheer us on, you should know.
So here's the story.
We're expecting. In case you didn't know, I had a hysterectomy about 4 years ago so I'm definitely not pregnant. No, this is altogether different and beautiful and God-sized.
I have to carefully choose my details here because there are threads that are loose, but hopefully in sharing you will pray with me that the threads will be tied up soon.
Dwayne and I never knew if we would be able to have biological children. I was diagnosed with endometriosis at age 15 and had five laparoscopic surgeries to treat it over a period of three years. My doctor told me that if I was ever able to have children, it would be very difficult to get pregnant. When I met Dwayne I told him on the front end that I may not ever be able to have children. He enthusiastically told me that that was okay because he wanted to adopt regardless. (He's a winner, right?!)
So we were led by the Lord after we had been married for four whole months to stop taking birth control and trust Him with our family. To trust that He knew what was best for us and that the only way conception and life could actually take place is if He granted that. (Sperm and egg can meet all day long friends, but it takes a work of God to bring and sustain life.) And we got pregnant two months later. And we miscarried a month after that. And after a horrible, gut wrenching, emotionally exhausting ordeal with the miscarriage--our doctor told us "Try again." And we did. And that was when God breathed life into sweet Cayle. And man those hormones kicked my tail. I had morning sickness for a solid 17 weeks and ended up in the hospital with dehydration. During that time I knew we were going to keep trusting God with our family and so I prayed specifically that God would grant me at least a year before I got pregnant again. That morning sickness ain't no joke!
And one week after Cayle's first birthday, I found out I was pregnant with our precious Alaya. God totally has a sense of humor. :) After that I decided I would ask for two years before I got pregnant again.
When Alaya was 9 months old my breast milk dried up suddenly for no reason and I found a golf ball sized lump in my breast. In March of the next year (2008) I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Hormone positive breast cancer. I lost my breasts, I had radiation, and then the real knife in the heart was that I needed a total hysterectomy. Just keeping my ovaries put me at higher risk for a cancer recurrence, but getting pregnant again...that was downright dangerous territory. So in 2009 I lost my ability to bear any more biological children. And a dream died.
And then God reminded me of His heart for adoption. He adopted us as sons and daughters.
In love 5heb predestined us for adoption to sonshipc through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. 7In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace 8that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, 9hed made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, 10to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.
11In him we were also chosen,e having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, 12in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. 13And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1)
He reminded me that He had given me a vision long ago of adopting children into my family. I believe this has always been on His heart for us. And He wasn't through with our family yet.
So though I grieved the loss of what could have been, my gaze shifted to, "What now, Lord?" I couldn't deny that the Lord wasn't "done" with our family yet. Neither could Dwayne. But I had a lot of healing to do and we knew we had to wait. While we were waiting, I was praying. I was asking God to show us when and who and how. I was asking Him to unite my heart with Dwayne's and that we would be completely one in whatever was to come.
In 2011 we moved to our current home. I was healthy again and for the first time in a long time I really felt like we could begin the process of bringing our children home, wherever they were. Did I say children? Yes, at some point I think we felt like our "magic number" was four children. We already had two, so we felt like there were two more out there somewhere. But Dwayne wasn't feeling ready yet and so I just waited and prayed. And I'll never forget the night he came home from work and said, "I think it's time. God won't leave me alone about this." Ha! I promise all I did during that time was wait and pray.
Then I began researching. I researched foreign adoption and domestic. I research adoption agencies. I researched cost. I researched and I looked and I talked to people. And nothing felt right. So then we decided to go to a CALL meeting. We just wanted to know more about what they did and we wanted to get a feel for what adoption through the state would be like. Fostering was not on our radar. And then we left the meeting that night and looked at each other and went "We're supposed to foster." It was terrifying. But what we really felt the Lord saying was that at some point through our fostering experience He would show us a child/children that needed a forever home and we would know that they were ours. We expected it to take a while. We really did. And we knew, fully, that we were opening ourselves up to heartache. I mean how do you love a child with all of you, knowing that they aren't yours? It's excruciating. And that's how God loves us ya'll. Chew on that a minute.
So after our process to become foster parents, we got a call about a newborn baby girl. Baby A. And let me tell you, we have loved this child just like I gave birth to her that day. And we have prayed for her family, her parents, the system. We have prayed that we would know how to love and how to minister and how to protect her. And we have walked down this road the best way we have known how. And it has been hard. And it has been good.
Baby A has siblings. And we have come to know these siblings over the course of our time as foster parents. We have loved and prayed for them as hard and as frequently as we have prayed for her.
Then a few months ago the court system decided that Baby A's parents were not able to remain her parents. We grieved over this because no matter how you dice it, it is excruciating to think about losing your children, for whatever reason. But we also became hopeful that maybe she was supposed to be ours. Our logic, in her remaining with us, was that she had never lived with her siblings and we didn't think they would push for them to remain together, because we have heard how challenging it can be to place sibling groups together. No one ever gave us concrete information on what the plan was, so we just kind of assumed what we didn't know. And we were wrong.
I'll never forget the day that I talked to the adoption specialist on the phone and she told me that they were going to keep the youngest three children together, including our Baby A. I absolutely lost it emotionally. I put down the phone, closed the bedroom door, and I wept. I mean I cried the deep wracking sobs that have only overcome me a few times in my life. In my mind and heart at the time, it felt like someone had died. I was having to truly loosen my grip on this precious child that was my daughter in every way, except not.
I spent two days having what I call an "Abraham and Isaac" moment. I was laying her on the altar. What choice did I have? I had to trust that God was good (He has proven Himself to me over and over) and that He had a plan for her life bigger than my own. I shared with Dwayne that they were going to keep the children together. We had a brief moment of, "Well could we take the three of them?" But I did not want to react out of fear. Hear me on that: It has always been more important to me to be in the center of God's will--even if that hurts--than to self-preserve. Aside from that, it doesn't practically make sense to just decide all of a sudden to adopt two more children just to not lose one of them. I'm sure people do that, but that is some messed up thinking, and is potentially setting your whole family up for failure. So, I didn't put a lot of stock in that conversation, but I did pray. I just laid it all out there for the Lord. I said I was willing to take two more, but I needed to know that's what He wanted and I needed Dwayne to be right there with me without any prodding on my part. I surrendered my will to His.
And then on a Wednesday morning, my husband woke me up and said, "We are supposed to adopt all three of them." Whoa. He told me that all night at work the night before, God wouldn't leave him alone. He kept speaking scriptures about adoption and redemption to him. He said he was up until 3am praying and listening to the Lord about all of it. And God gave him this:
Children are a heritage from the Lord,
offspring a reward from him.
4Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
My sweet, sweet husband looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "God doesn't want to give us just two more children. He wants to make my quiver full." And I knew then that the flame in my heart over these children, the months of praying for all of them (not just the one who lived with us), the moments where I looked into their eyes and saw something familiar and right, and that exact moment looking at my husband--I knew that they were ours. You can't make this stuff up people. It's legit and hard core and Jesus.
That day we called the adoption specialist and told her we were all in. We believe these are our kids. Beautiful babies that God has given us. And now we are waiting. Trying so hard to patiently wait on paperwork and checklists and people to send in things. Will you pray for us? Will you pray for our babies? Will you pray that they will be home soon and that God would go before us and hedge in our family in every way?
For His glory, His namesake, because He adopted us as sons and daughters, because true religion is caring for orphans, because He has promised me/us over and over through scripture that He would give us more children, because we wholeheartedly believe these are ours, because He wants to redeem their lives, their souls, their stories...
...we wait and pray. Thank you to all of you that are on this journey with us. It means more than we can truly say to have friends in our corner. We love each of you.
Enlarge the place of your tent,
stretch your tent curtains wide,
do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
strengthen your stakes.
3For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
your descendants will dispossess nations
and settle in their desolate cities. (Isaiah 54)