This is the story of how we adopted our precious daughter. My wife and I had 10 years of unexplained infertility. We felt in our hearts that we needed to partner with a Christian adoption agency. Galatians 6:10 instructs us, " … let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith." In my opinion, that means choosing to do business with brothers and sisters in Christ when we’re able, as this helps them provide for their families. I contacted Focus on the Family, which led us to Love Basket, Inc., now Nightlight Christian Adoptions. We had been waiting 3½ years when we finally got the call from the agency that would change our lives forever, joyfully informing us that they’d found a good adoption match and that we soon would be heading for Kansas City, Missouri. There were many friends and family members praying for us; this covering of prayer meant the world to us. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 states, "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."
Some folks might say we experienced a lot of "coincidences." We don’t believe these were coincidences at all. We believe in Emmanuel – "God with us." God is not an absent landlord, nor does He love us from a distance, uninterested in our lives. We give thanks and glory to God, for we experienced His goodness and grace during our 12-day journey.
During the week after we got the phone call, one of my favorite worship songs, which I hadn’t heard in a while, came across my newsfeed: "No Longer Slaves" by Jonathan and Melissa Helser:
"You split the sea so I could walk right through it. My fears are drowned in perfect love.
You rescued me, and I will stand and sing. I’m no longer a slave to fear; I am a child of God."
As we were traveling to our daughter’s birth place we passed a cornfield along I-70, near Casey, Illinois where there were signs every 100 feet: World's ... Largest ... Wind Chime ... Next Exit. Casey is a charming little town, with finely manicured Scottish green lawns, and random "Guinness World Record" giant items ("world’s largest" wind chime, mailbox, rocking chair, etc.) on store front properties. There was a cafe that was closed but I pictured us eating here on the way back home with our baby. (I use the generic term "baby" because, since the birth mother wanted the gender to be a surprise, we still didn’t know at that point if we were getting a son or a daughter.)
We drove further, spending the night in Effingham, Illinois, where there is a giant white cross, 198 feet tall and 113 feet wide. It is forged out of over 180 tons of steel anchored in an enormous volume of cement, so it can withstand hurricane-force blasts of wind (up to 145 mph). At the visitor center, an older woman, Edie, prayed for us. Edie is the name of my wife's beloved three-year-old niece. An altar stands in the chapel with an inscription that reads simply, "Trust in God."
After about five hours of driving under sunny blue skies, we arrived at our attorney’s office just two minutes before our scheduled meeting. He had a calming presence, with a voice like Morgan Freeman narrating The Shawshank Redemption. The next day, we met our social worker from the adoption agency, RoNishia, who exemplified Matthew 5:16: "Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." She was classy in both appearance and personality, with a warm smile and a voice that was gentle and soothing, yet confident. There in the hospital waiting room, the three of us joined in prayer. RoNishia sat with us for hours, answered our questions, and encouraged us during the anticipation of the birth. Finally, the word came … IT’S A GIRL! Our beautiful daughter was brought to us in a bassinet. Our tiny, dark-haired baby girl, wrapped up in a white cocoon, was handed to her mommy, and through tears of joy, my wife fed her for the first time. It was one of those moments where the demands of life are placed on hold and you are completely loving and living in the present moment. The next two days spent caring for our little one were timeless; we didn’t know what time or even what day it was, and we didn’t care. We could relate to the nurses, listening to their own stories about adoption and their children, thankful to finally be parents ourselves. When the time came to leave the hospital, I was wishing I had brought an armored Humvee. (I’m betting other first-time daddies can relate!)
I was anxious while waiting to begin the legal proceedings to adopt our baby. There was another couple there adopting a baby boy; they were naming him Carson. Carson is not a very common name, but it happens to be the name of my brother's son. Incredible! I was just shaking my head at all the little "coincidences." It was as if the Lord was saying, "Why are you still nervous? I’ve got this covered!" All legal proceedings went smoothly, but it was nevertheless humbling and nerve-wracking being asked questions by our 4-day-old daughter's state-assigned attorney.
We visited the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Kansas City. Some 10,000 people witnessed the laying of the cornerstone in 1882. We were dismayed to discover that it was closed, but the cleaning lady heard me tugging at the locked door so she let us in for an unofficial tour. The beauty of the stained glass took our breath away and we had the whole sanctuary to ourselves.
Missouri law requires adoptive parents to remain in Missouri while waiting for adoption paperwork to be approved, but they may go anywhere in the state. We decided to get a head start on our trip home by driving three hours east, to St. Louis. While there, we visited the Cathedral Basilica, completed in 1914; we thought we’d been transported to Italy. Installation of mosaics in the interior began in 1912 and was completed in 1988. The mosaics collectively contain 41.5 million glass tesserae (tile pieces) in more than 8,000 shades of color. Covering 83,000 square feet (almost two acres), it is the largest mosaic collection in the western hemisphere. Next stop was St. Francis Xavier. On June 8, 1884, the cornerstone for the new church was laid. When we first arrived, we had the whole sanctuary to ourselves – again. At the altar, we prayed for the adoption paperwork to be completed, protection on our drive home and, of course, for our precious baby girl.
Finally, all paperwork was approved and we were released to take our daughter home. It was a five-hour drive to our hotel in Richmond, Indiana, but we stopped first at the Effingham cross. To our great joy, even though she was not scheduled to work that day, Edie was there. When my wife offered to let Edie feed our baby, her smile lit up the room! No other tourists showed up the entire 45 minutes we were there. Edie had sent a card to our home address after our initial visit, telling us that she and her prayer partner were praying for our adoption. Now she knew that those prayers had been answered.
Last stop before our hotel was Casey, Illinois; I was determined to eat at the café that had been closed on our way west. This time it was open, and we ate together as a family. My wife's favorite comic book character is Wonder Woman. How often do you see a poster depicting Wonder Woman for the women’s restroom? Unbelievable, but there it was! The real reason I had wanted to revisit Casey was because I had read about a Christian businessman who built Guinness World Record attractions to revitalize the town. He and other Christians bought most of the store fronts so the creations could be placed on private, not public, property. He placed a scripture on each one, knowing tourists would see them and be exposed to God’s Word. Eleven days earlier, I hadn't noticed the star of David and the Christian fish symbol on the side of the giant wind chime. You can see these creations at www.bigthingssmalltown.com
It rained almost the entire last leg of the drive; a five-hour drive turned into seven hours. We passed two overturned tractor trailers that were heading west. Only four months prior, we had bought a used Lincoln MKZ hybrid; we were thankful for the comfortable and safe ride home with an impressive 44mpg. As I was telling a neighbor about our trip, she said, “All you needed was a rainbow.” I grinned from ear to ear as I showed her this picture I took on our way home.
On Sunday, June 25th, 2017, we took our darling girl to Church for the first time. During communion, there was a worship song that I never heard before called “There is a Cloud” by Elevation Worship.
"Hear the word roaring as thunder with a new future to tell, for the dry season is over.
There is a cloud beginning to swell. Every seed, buried in sorrow, You will call forth in its time.
You are Lord, Lord of the harvest, calling our hope now to arise. We receive Your rain."
The pastor titled his sermon "Joy," and he showed a video of a song I’d never heard before, but which begs for a smile, “Old Church Choir” by Zach Williams.
When the valleys that I wander turn to mountains that I can climb
Oh, you are with me, never leave me
Oh, 'cause there ain't nothing, there ain't nothing gonna steal my joy (except a dirty diaper :))
I got an Old Church Choir singing in my soul.
I saved the best for last. Listed here are the birth mother's requirements for the adoptive parents, in her own handwriting:
We paid our house off last year, have precisely two pets, and have a close family. My wife and I are very active (we got to see a lot of places during the waiting stage of the adoption process). We didn’t have a gender preference listed, but deep inside my wife really wanted a baby girl. The one sentence that I read over and over was, "I want this child to be a longed-for gift or answered prayer." Coincidence? Not a chance.
There is a difference between giving up and giving in to feelings of defeat and accepting the reality of one’s circumstances and moving on. I am so very proud of my wife. There were many tears and frustrations in our struggle with infertility, but instead of allowing herself to become jealous or resentful of people close to us who were able to have children, she poured out love and generosity on them instead. The apostle Paul wrote this in his letter to the Philippians: "… I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." (Philippians 4:11-13)
We prayed, and in His perfect time, the Lord answered. Praise His holy name.